Lichens are slippery

April 21, 2010

It seems to have become spring quite suddenly.  The maple trees outside the kitchen windows are full of fat red buds unfurling into little wrinkled leaves, and the trees across the street are leafy enough to filter the light in that way that makes me think of lazy summer afternoons.  Hypothetical ones, anyway.

Looks like spring.

Looks like spring.

I went hiking on Saturday during the couple of hours when it wasn’t raining.  I thought the ground would be squishy from all that rain; it wasn’t, but the rocks were covered in slimy wet lichens. I had intended to start on the Braintree Pass Path and branch off onto the Skyline Trail, heading west into the part of the park I haven’t explored yet, but I saw a smaller trail I hadn’t noticed before, and decided to follow it to see if it connected with someplace I knew. (This is my other favorite game: developing my ability to recognize familiar parts of the landscape that are not all that dissimilar, and not distinguished by obvious trail markers. Kind of like learning to drive in Boston.) A lot of the walk felt familiar – lots of steep rocks, which I navigated by finding the pockets of dirt and pine needles, where it was easier to get traction. Finally I hit the tree line and found myself in my favorite spot, the summit of Chickatawbut Hill. Not that I needed confirmation, but the big rock with “LOVE” spraypainted in blue left little room for doubt:

Rock of love

I haven’t brought binoculars out in a while — there hasn’t been much to look at — but I will now, because it’s pretty hard to play the track-that-birdsong game when there are five different birds calling simultaneously in various directions. I’m also used to peering up into the canopy, so it’s different when I’m actually above most of the trees. I only found one this time, a robin, but next time I’ll come better prepared.

I was careful enough to avoid slipping on rocks while climbing up the path, but I fell twice on the way back down, and now I’ve got some mossy stains on my jeans and a fascinating bruise on my thigh. Fortunately I fell on my right side both times, since my phone/camera was in my left vest pocket. I kind of understand now why people like trekking poles, although I don’t think I’ll be getting my own anytime soon.


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