April 20, 2012

Ohiopyle Hike - an ephemeral experience

I’ve been rambling the Pennsylvania woods my entire life, and I had never seen wild trilliums in bloom. Recently, at Ohiopyle State Park, I was finally in the right place at the right time. You can imagine my excitement when this red trillium flower was spotted:
Red Trillium
And then this white trillium flower:
White Trilllium
Then red and white trilliums, blooming side by side:
Red and White Trillium
It got better-- we rounded a bend in the trail and found a clump of them, backlit by the slanting afternoon sun:
White Trilliums
It got sublime--around another bend there were some open patches where conditions were just right for a carpet of them, rolling down the hillside.  Trilliums are spring ephemerals, meaning they bloom and develop quickly, before the trees leaf out fully, then retreat for the remainder of the year.  Catching them at the height of their glory was a significant event for me, a bit like the time I got to wallow about in pawpaws.  Being outside and hiking around is its own reward, but a moment like this is truly the icing on the cake.
Trilliums, Ohiopyle State Park
There were small, native yellow violets:
Yellow violet
And another tiny native wildflower that was new-to-me, Stellaria pubera, or star chickweed.  It’s much more refined than the common chickweed I pull, and pull, and pull from my flowerbeds.
Star chickweed
We were a month or so too early for the flowers in the groves of rhododendron:
Rhododendron leaves
But had perfect timing for the “flowering” of the mosses:
Moss with fruiting bodies
A close up reveals the beauty and delicacy of the fruiting bodies on the moss:
Moss with fruiting bodies, closeup
Fiddlehead ferns were also emerging.  Someday I hope to be in the right situation to be able to harvest and taste them; for now, their beauty is enough:
Fiddlehead ferns
The hiking path roughly parallels the Youghiogheny River:
Youghiogheny River
Which tends to run shallow and wide, with lots of flat rock formations.  Note to self--return in summer and go swimming.
Youghiogheny River rocks
 And a reminder to my readers, that all pictures are clickable to enlarge.
Youghiogheny River waterfall
The day held one more surprise--vast colonies of curious botanical structures on the rock faces in a shady glen:
Lichen fruiting bodies
My best guess is that they are the fruiting bodies of some form of lichen, but intensive googling hasn’t turned up a match.  Does anyone know the name of these?
Lichen fruiting bodies on rockface
I would love to know more about the life cycle of this lichen…..Whatever it is, it was a spectacular and otherworldly finish to an awesome ephemeral experience.
Lichen fruiting bodies, Ohiopyle State Park

1 comment:

Vivien Zepf said...

I have trillium in my garden and I love their arrival. They grow in a shady patch above the location of an old well.