Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mohican Thaw

A hemlock gently hangs above a thaw-swollen river.  Rivulets of snow-melt are coursing down the sandstone embankments of the Mohican Gorge, filling our river to over-flow.

Eastern Hemlock, place holder for the Mohican's Clear Fork river bank.
Riparian trees are place holders, against the currents of time and water.  They are soil stabilizers and embankment safe-guards, leading the fight against erosion and siltation of our state listed Scenic River.
Jim Davidson studies lichens along the trail.
My friend Jim Davidson and I took a spring-thaw hike along the Hemlock Gorge trail.  We didn't get far,  for the melt water soon made the path impassable.  But we studied both the lichens and trees along the way.
Smokey-eye Boulder Lichen
This four inch lichen, commonly found on rocks had discrete spots he called apothecia, which are gray-blue in this species.  This particular lichen often grows in conjunction with mosses. Jim believed this to be Smokey-eye Boulder Lichen, which is one of the lichen featured in ODNR's excellent new booklet: Common Lichens of Ohio.  I recommend that you call 1-800-WILDLIFE to order your own free copy.  They will mail it right to your door!

Clear Fork State Nature Preserve
Next we ventured to the Clear Fork State Nature Preserve.  This piece of Mohican is most heavily protected from timbering, and it has some old growth trees. Jason Larson will be leading one of our Flora-Quest trips into this very special preserve. His trip will also feature Hog-Hollow, a lovely hike that follows a stream down the hillside to the river.

Joe and Jim stand next to a massive White Pine.
White pine was native to this area and many excellent examples remain along the Clear Fork State Nature Preserve trail. Breath deeply.  This place is good for both body and soul.  It is rather mind-expanding to be in the presence of these giant trees.  It is also pretty awesome to spend a day with giants the likes of Joe and Jim, too!

An over-the-shoulder look as we leave the preserve.  It is almost remarkable how the Hemlocks condition the air in this woods.  It generally feels a good ten degrees cooler than the surrounding woods and reminds us of a hike in Canada.  This is where you will experience the importance of our evergreen Hemlock, a key-stone species.

Turkey Vultures
Oh yeah, these locals said they can't wait to meet you, too!  In the summer, both Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures hang out by the Pleasant Hill Dam and enjoy drafting-off the upward air currents created by the rock formations and the dam.

Feel free to stop-by and have lunch with them, but it is B.Y.O.C.  Bring your own carrion!

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