Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Walk in the Woods

Indian summer is here, with cool nights and delightfully warm days...perfect camping weather! Last week we loaded up the kayaks and headed south to one of our favorite camping sites, Yellowwood State Park.

We drove down this little lane to reach our campsite.

Out of 70+ available camp sites, only a handful were occupied. We were completely secluded in our little corner, surrounded by beautiful trees...

...and beautiful leaves.

And then some...

...and then some...

...and then some!

The usual creatures were hanging around, like this granddaddy longlegs, otherwise known as a harvestman. Harvestmen are not actually spiders, although they are in the arachnid family. They don't possess venom or silk glands.

A wasp takes advantage of late-season flowers.

Some creatures were unseen, like the woodpecker that probably made this hole:

Or the insects that made these smaller ones:

Wildflowers nodded all around our little campground. These little purplish daisies...

...this lovely flower that had already dropped its petals...

This plant is called smartweed. I think the colors are so lovely.

This woodland plant manages to put out a bright display of color, even though it grows in the shade.

Some ferns nearby were completely white!

After a brief hike, we came back to the campsite and made a big fire.

We toasted marshmallows, made s'mores, and played Scrabble until bedtime.

I love many aspects of camping, but I'm a paranoid tent camper who'd rather sleep in the car. A howling pack of coyotes kept me up half the night, running the plot of Jack London's To Build A Fire through my head.

I managed to rally by morning (buoyed by a champion's breakfast of leftover chocolate and Garden Salsa Sun Chips), so before it got too late we headed off for a six mile hike around the lake.

The trees were beautiful in the dimness of the early morning...

This red berry-producing tree is just starting to change color for fall.

Before too long, the sun was up and the woods were beautiful.

Leaves in light are stunning!

Oaks and maples, especially, seem to glow in the light.


We saw other berry bushes, too. Two different types of blue berry-producing bushes proliferated around the edges of the lake. I love the coloration on these leaves...

The lake was absolutely silent and golden in the sun shine.

We saw more beautiful leaves...

...and some really interesting fungus. Some ordinary, like this tree fungus...

...but some unusually colored ones, like this green powdery display.

Or this almost-black one.

This swollen wedges reminded me of marshmallows!

I loved the orange caps on these mushrooms.

We even saw mushroom villages!

Another exciting discovery was the presence of beavers. See the chips around the base of this fallen tree? A beaver did that.

You can check the inside of the fallen tree to see the culprit. A beaver's chisel-like teeth chip away wood until the tree falls, and then it's reduced to manageable pieces that a beaver will roll or drag into the water.

Here's a grove of trees felled by beavers. Their weathered tops show the same shape as the newly-cut trees we saw.

A beaver has just begun to nibble on this tree...

...and this tree is nearly completed! Beavers only work at night, so I'm sure someone finished the job shortly after we saw it.

The lake was completely surrounded by trees in various states of change.

More opportunity to see the beauty of nature!

I hope you're able to take advantage of the nice weather and take a walk tonight. Have a good week!

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