It was a beautiful early fall day on Friday so I decided that my dog Mikey and I needed to explore the big woods to see how things were progressing towards autumn. I always take a bag to collect fall things – acorns and pretty leaves, bits of lichen and moss. Our property is a mix of gently rolling hills and streams with some acres of hardwood (red and white oaks) up on a hill. It is one of the highest places around and one of my favorite escapes.
Beginning of the walk through the east bean field.
I usually don’t head up to the woods in the deep summer – too buggy and too many weeds. So I was eager to see what had happened since I’d last been up to the big woods last spring. Of course, this called for long pants and long sleeves, and some bug spray. Dang, I hate chiggers and ticks! And biting flies!
An old weathered tree stump on the dry creek bed.
Through the hickory grove. Love the way the light strikes the dead cedar on the left. My companion Mikey waits almost around the bend. He’s very patient.
Another almost dry creek bed. Look closely and you can see plenty of deer traffic through here, especially some very large prints.
I’m always fascinated by interesting patterns of fungus and lichen.
It’s a little early for many of the leaves to have changed color here but there were the beginning signs. And, as expected, the creeks were really dried up after the past few weeks without rain. Normally everything is very lush, even in the deepest of summer.
Mikey loves to go into the woods and runs about 20 feet for my every step. Of course, one will never see any wildlife as he chases it all off. But I eagerly look for signs and wasn’t disappointed to see some pretty big deer prints in the mud near one of the creeks.
Getting ready to cross under the powerline. Usually this is a cleared path but since we’ve added another path, this one has grown up over the summer. The weeds were taller than me! I’m heading towards that dead tree on the hill on the upper right.
Wading through chest high weeds, I appreciated the brilliant colors of this late patch of goldenrod.
I actually just walked through this (looking back). Path is totally grown over with some fierce briers, snatching at my hat and clothes. I can’t imagine the early pioneers and explorers wading through this kind of terrain, although deep woods really have little undergrowth. This is caused by the open spaces that were created when some trees were taken out.
Reached my “resting” chair, an old chair that we dragged up into the woods on a favorite lookout space. I had to clear the weeds off just to sit down.
Over the past 30 years, we have done some selective timbering. The last time was a few years ago and a new path was cut to the big woods on the hill. The old path had grown over but I wasn’t prepared for just how much it had grown over since last spring. I almost got myself into more work than I anticipated as I had to practically hack my way through the overgrown weeds and briers. It was a relief to come around to the new path (and mowed) area. I sure don’t know how the pioneers did it except that real heavy woods don’t have much undergrowth.
We’ve hacked our way through the briers and have come out on the downside of the loop with the cleared new path. Yay!
Now the hiking is much easier, exactly what I was anticipating.
Coming out of the top woods, heading back under the powerlines.
The view from the top of the woods on the hill. If you enlarge this photo, you’ll see farms in the distance which is about a mile or more away.
Easy walking through the lower woods. These are mostly hardwoods, red and white oak.
Poor Mikey was as tired and thirsty as I was. I have never seen him lie down to drink. I think he really wanted to roll in the water on the cool sidewalk.
Mikey and I had a good hike (about a mile and a half for me) and much more for him. But we were both exhausted by the time we returned to the house. An immediate shower was called for to help prevent any chiggers or ticks from digging in. So far so good. Lots of good material for future paintings and a pleasant way to spend a fall morning.