Yesterday 7 hikers, with clippers and and a hand weed cutter, enjoyed dancing in the rain to push back the encroaching plants on the Wheaton Hill Rd trails. The weather was good for a work crew all day – cool, no hot sun, and dry – until 3:00. Unfortunately, we scheduled maintenance for 4:00. The trees protected us somewhat from the constant rain, and we all wore rain jackets with hoods. By 6:00, pants below the jackets were soaked, socks were wet, and hair had curled. Katherine opened her home for our social, which was much more comfortable than standing in tall wet grass making tacos.
The roses continue to try to take over the trail. We used clippers on a few of the bigger clumps, but Marty was able to get most of the new roses with the hand weed cutter. And he got to practice his golf swing! Melissa noted many ant mounds along the trails and promised to investigate what kind of ant likes this forest.
Check back for a picture of the waterfall at the end of the Pine trail. After clearing the southern Spruce and Red Bud trails, we took a quick walk up the Pine trail to see the benefits of all the rain we have had.
Witchhazel, Hamamelis virginiana is an understory small tree or shrub that is common in the Finger Lakes. In the fall the coarsely toothed leaves turn a beautiful golden color. What is even more remarkable is they start to flower in the fall after its leaves turn. The yellow flowers have four crinkled narrow petals. This is the last woody plant to flower in the area. Pollination is done by a moth and the capsules take a year to mature. So the old brown capsules you see on the plant are 2 years old. The capsules that are ripe now are light green in color. They were flowers last fall. As you hike this week look for the beautiful Witchhazel, it is sure to catch your eye. For more information: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/hamamelis_virginiana.shtml