The Eagle and the Ring – In Search of the Old Growth Forest – Hemlock Lake – August 10, 2014

2014-08-10 16.46.59 (1)Five hikers believe they have found the old growth forest in the Hemlock/Canadice State Forest at the south end of Hemlock Lake. Although there still doesn’t seem to be an agreement on what constitutes the description, there is definately a diversity of tall trees, including hemlocks, maples, and oaks, some appearing to be between 150 and 300 years old in a section of very steep terrain on the west side of Hemlock Lake, across from the south boat launch heading south. The area also encompasses the original nesting site of the bald eagles. If you attended one of the Finger Lakes Museum’s talks a few years ago called “Back from the Brink”, you would truly appreciate the work that was done by the DEC to reestablish the bald eagle population in New York State, and it all started in Springwater.   One can understand, after hiking through this steep dense forest, the reason behind why the Sierra Club protected this area against logging over 10 years ago. Maybe Springwater Trails can provide this program on the bald eagles in our area, so others can value this historical wildlife project. Thanks to Hugh Mitchell, past president of the Sierra Club, for providing information on an area of environmental concern.

P1110908While the hikers were bushwacking their way traversing through the Hemlock/Canadice State Forest, six other members and two dogs of Springwater Trails leisurely kayaked the west shore line of Hemlock Lake in search of Pati’s secret spot. It was a beautiful warm and calm day on the lake and Mac,Duff, and Mark enjoyed bathing in the sun while Linda paddled their tandem kayak. Finding the stone love chair, the kayakers rested to begin their trip back, making calls to the hikers coming down from someplace in the forest above.P1110897 (1)
P1110895 (1)Thanks to Todd, “Fresh Air Kid” Christopher and son Max for providing a motorboat and others that towed extra kayaks to the pick up point to transport the hikers back across the lake. Thanks to Marty for saving Ellen from going around in circles in a high performance white water kayak that wanted to turn sharply at each stroke!

Dropping from about 1700′ elevation to 900′, Ellen Folts, owner of Amanda’s Garden, identified several plants along the way through the forest, mostly as we approached a lower elevation area: witch hazel shrubs, jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapples with almost ripe green fruit (but poisonous til turns yellow) white baneberry, crinkleleaf sedge, silver sedge, christmas and maidenhair ferns, hepatica leaves, and of course as we came closer to the swamp area many invasives such as multi-flora rose and lots of poison ivy.
Many mushrooms were found along the way,including jack-o-lantern which we now know is poisonous.  Unfortunately our mushroom experts, Georgia and Gene, weren’t with us to identify. It was a good thing many of us had long pants on and sturdy hiking boots to handle the steep slopes! Once we reached the swamp area along the Springwater Creek we traveled faster following well defined deer paths.

After hike social was hosted by Nanette and Steve Smith.  Nanette prepared pulled pork, and many other delicious salads, cornbread, and fresh local blueberries and homegrown vegetables provided a wonderful meal.  Thanks to the Smiths for graciously offering.  We won’t tell where Pam found her lost keys.  It must be a B12 deficiency.

So why did I name this article the Eagle and the Ring? It could become a legend as there is something mystical about this area. A silver ring made out of an antique spoon was lost on the hike when we came upon an unexpected restricted area where the original eagle nesting site was located. The ring silently disappeared right off the finger as if an invisable eagle flew down and snatched it. It was nowhere to be found. Maybe the ring is in her nest or hidden somewhere in the forest for others to find. Anyone want to create the legend? Send your comments in!

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