Sunday, January 1, 2012

Unseasonably warm weekend ramble

It's been unseasonably warm this New Year's weekend getting up to 50+ degrees yesterday and today.  Went for a walk on Saturday - here's a few pictures and observations from my ramblings...

We've had so much rain this fall that the ground is completely saturated.  Any rain falling now sits on the surface without even soaking into the ground - even several days later.  Here's a view of Undivided Lot Trail on the Mohonk Preserve - a wet, mucky mess.  This part of the trail is always bone dry.  We only had about 0.7 inches of rain four days earlier on Tuesday.

Once we enter the deep freeze of January and February, all of this supersaturated ground will frost heave terribly.  Expect badly broken up roads this winter (and a perpetually-broke County and State slow to repair them).  Also expect flooding in the spring when the snow melts.  Worst case scenario - heavy snow pack, warming in early March, and a heavy rainfall from a slow-moving nor'easter for a couple of days.

I've walked past the following beech tree hundreds of times before (the trail is one of my favorites in the local area).  Never noticed how unhappy it looked.

The trail is also popular with crows, ravens, and vultures.  The vultures are probably sunning themselves in Florida now but the crows were especially vocal and active (didn't hear any ravens - not sure if they winter here).  Here's a flock of crows flying toward the south (probably just to roost somewhere since it was late afternoon).

Crow stopping to rest...

See the white dot above the center tree in the flock of crows picture? That's the first-quarter Moon rising in the east.  Here's a close-up view.  Ever since teaching Ancient Astronomy, I've become much more aware of the phase of the Moon.

I like cliffs and pitch pines.  Don't you just want to walk out along that ledge?

It's a long way down.  Ever stand on the edge of a cliff and wonder what it would feel like to launch yourself off?   I'm envious of birds sometimes.

Here's a good place to sit and contemplate things.

I mostly like to sit where I can dangle my feet of the edge...

I feel fortunate I only live 5 minutes away from this trailhead (and have a yearly membership to the Mohonk Preserve) so I can hike there whenever I need to get out and commune with nature.

I'll close with a shot of the winter Sun, low in the southwestern sky.  Since we've passed the solstice, every day that Sun will get a little higher and a little stronger!

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