October 22 – autumn’s adventures

Well, it’s once again been a full week since I was able to sit down and work on the journal, and what a week it’s been!  Over the past weekend, I didn’t get to do a whole lot of obervatin’, as I was in Hampton catching some Phish shows.  But before that, I had a chance to take in some outdoor exploring and adventuring, which I will now share.

This photo was from last Tuesday AM, as I was making my way into C’ville for tofu delivery.  Although it eventually turned into a pleasant sunny fall day, it sure started out eerie and foggy. Image

Delivery was nothing special, but I was able to finish in time to take a walk in the Monticello woodlands, on some forest trails that I hadn’t hiked in several months.  As you can see from the photo below, the overall aspect of the woods is still pretty green– it’s actually interesting, sitting and writing almost exactly a week after taking this photo, to see just how much things have changed in one week.  Hopefully I will get a chance to take and post some more recent shots in the next few days.Image


For the most part, the walk wasn’t all that amazing– the most interesting part of it was that I kept coming across deer in the woods; I probably saw at least three of them.  This one kept still long enough for me to get a decent photograph.Image

For most of the walk, I was again pretty disappointed in the total lack of mushrooms, despite what I thought to be pretty perfect growing conditions– a warm dry day after a week of drizzle.  I was starting to think that I was going to see more deer than ‘shrooms, but towards the end of the walk, I came across a few, including a couple of logs that were absolutely covered with tiny puffballs.Image

A little further on, I came across a large downed oak tree covered with the dried-up remains of what would have been a whole bunch of oysters a few days back… Image

…and even closer to the car, I finally found a small flush of half-decent oyster mushrooms.  Not quite the motherlode, but it was nice to leave not entirely empty-handed.Image

When I got home, I checked on the cute little oysters growing out of the log I inoculated this spring, and saw that they had indeed grown just a little bit.  I’ll check it out tomorrow to see how it’s grown in the past week.Image

So, that was Tuesday.  Then, on Wednesday, I went with my family to Mutton Top cabin, a PATC cabin on the edge of Shenandoah National Park, a comfy “camping” spot that we’ve gone to for the past few years.  The main attraction of Mutton Top is the view from the cabin itself, which is really quite lovely.Image

There’s a large, roomy covered porch all across the front of the cabin, and a happy spider making sure to keep the insect population in check.Image

Here’s another shot, with the edge of the porch and part of the lovely Mutton Top view.Image

crazy-looking earthball mushroom that I spotted on that first afternoon as I was exploring the area around the cabin.  One of a very small number of mushrooms I saw– they just don’t seem to be out these days.Image

Spent the night in the cabin with two other couples and their young children.  Tried to get to bed early, as it was sure to be an early morning what with all the kids in the cabin.  And indeed we were up pretty much right at dawn, which was OK because it was a pretty sunrise.Image

Mist in the valley at sunrise…Image

Early in the morning, I walked down to the spring to fill some water jugs.  The ground all around the spring was covered with delicate green vegetation that made me think of springtime.  I guess that’s why they call it spring!Image

Random photo of fall forest in the vicinity of Mutton Top cabin.  Once we were all awake and breakfasted we set out to explore the area with all the kids in tow.  Image

I thought the pattern of clouds and sky here was quite pretty.Image

shelf mushroom, with secret message!Image

I liked the contrast here of yellow leaf and blue sky.  Image

More fall foliage.  At this point (last Thursday) it wasn’t quite at the peak of color, but getting closer every day.Image

On a previous trip to Mutton Top at this time of year, we feasted on wild persimmons.  We found the persimmon tree, but the fruit was not yet ripe (and if you’ve ever tasted an underripe persimmon, you know how foul it is!).  Nearby, I also found a large wild grape vine, and the grapes were quite ripe.  They’re small and seedy, but also very sweet.Image

close-up of wild grape cluster.  If you don’t mind spitting out a bunch of seeds (or just chewing them up and eating ’em), they can be quite a treat.Image

Another spider I encountered in the woods, with a very pretty pattern on its back.Image

Here were some enormous fleshy shelf mushrooms.  I think they might be some sort of Dryad’s Saddle, which can be edible when young.  These definitely did not look appetizing. Image

The trail wound back and forth through the woods, without any real destination, other than pretty autumn forest and views of Shenandoah through the trees.  It was a scenic time of year, so I didn’t mind, but I think the kids would have liked more of a destination for the hike.Image

My partner Mala with our younger son, coming down a steep rocky trail.Image

When we were still about a mile from the cabin, it began to rain.  Then it stopped.  Then it started again, then stopped again.  When we got back to the cabin and got under cover, we were treated to a cool view of rain clouds scooting through the valley.Image

We took advantage of a break in the rain to head back to the car for our journey home.  The half mile between the cabin and the parking lot was as pretty a walk as any of the hiking trails we took.  Here’s another picture of our younger son making his way down the mountain.Image

The next morning, I was headed off to Hampton Coliseum, where I spent the next few days in an entirely different setting.  Lots of music and good times, but not too much observatin’ of nature.  Over the next couple of days, I’ll try to take some more photos showing how things have changed, since the season has noticeably advanced since I took the photos posted here.



2 responses to “October 22 – autumn’s adventures

  1. Mutton Top seems like a great outing. You’ve had some fine adventures this past week. Our BC adventure was wild and the wilderness was more grand than anything in Montana. The children all agree that their favorite part was the plethora of mushrooms. Never have any of us seen anything like it. After this trip we decided mushrooms and spanish are our next educational objectives. Puerto Vallarta is our next destination. Happy foliage season! Cheers.

  2. Crazy brilliant spider, Ezra. I’ve never seen one that colorful. Any idea what it’s called?

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