You might have guessed it was going to happen . . . here’s wilderness ranger Mackenzie Baxter with yet another cool update on the state of all things wild
It occurred to me the other day- after hearing “specials” for back to school supplies on the radio- that for many people, the summer is coming to a close. “How can this be, I thought? It’s barely just started!” In my mind, I haven’t been working all that long and there is still so much I want to do. Summertime always seems to be a blur of activities, fun and friends and luckily for me, it is only halfway done. This week has marked the midpoint of my term of service with the Mt. Adams Institute and Forest Service. It’s a bittersweet thought- on the one hand, I’ve accomplished so much in a few short weeks and on the other hand I don’t want to see my summer of exploring new places, working hard, and enjoying the outdoors come to a close.
While building and finalizing some new trail again this week, we’ve seen a lot of wildlife. There were wild turkeys on the side of the road, a herd of deer with a two fawns that still had their spots, and my favorite, a trio of coyotes. One of the coyotes was a young pup who clearly just wanted to play. Unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough with my camera to snap a photo of the cute little guy but he still had little puppy fur and gangly legs to grow into.
Most of the flowers have bloomed and gone already, so the only pop of color on the forest floor is from an invasive, noxious weed called bull thistle. The leaves are covered in harsh, sharp spines (that love to poke you through your sleeves) and the bulb of the flower (as you can see in the photo) is covered in spikes as well. These thistles are by all means not very desirable in the ecosystem, but in the afternoon light, and with the swarms of bees fervently collecting pollen, there was a certain beauty to the scene.
It may seem like all I talk about in these blogs are the flowers and the animals we’ve seen. Part of that may be that we don’t run into many people in our trips in the back country. Sometimes we give directions, or have quick chats with passing hikers and bikers, but for the most part we have the solitude of the forest. So I find that I contemplate the sights and sounds of the natural world around me much more than I used to. My ears have become more accustomed to the cries of the peregrine falcon, the rhythmic tapping of the pileated woodpecker, and the hooting of the owl that I hear while working. These encounters I have with the animals and the flora are exciting to me, and I can’t help but want to share them.