Friday, September 4, 2009

Same Trails, Different Lives (Hiking in Duluth V)

Today I followed the same long loop I wrote about in May so this will just be a shorter update. I still haven't done those three long hikes on the west side of town and time's rapidly running out so I needed to wake up my lazy legs.

The Lakewalk is now paved as far as 43rd Avenue East which gave me seven new blocks to check out since that last post. It goes by some nice tall trees in the upper 30s but then becomes very much a neighborhood trail with houses and intersecting streets. Back in the 20s, a gravel pedestrian path has been added between some of those buildings which
never should have been built there and the Lake. This is a nice little birding area with a lot of warblers among the weedy growth on either side of the trail. Vindictive guy that I am, I chuckled at all the construction noise going on across the street from some of those other buildings which never should have been built there and the thought of the residents having a sewage overflow tank to go with their private Lake view.

On up by Tischer Creek where I was happily surprised to find a few thimbleberries still remaining for me. I didn't see any deer from my lunch spot as I did last time, but in place of the last hike's pileated woodpecker (#5 on my favorite birds list) I did watch some strange behavior from a blue jay (#8). He was in a tree about ten yards from me and then seemed to be falling though the undergrowth to the ground, calling as he did so. A lot of movement continued among the shrubbery until he eventually seemed to use one shoot to pull himself back up off the ground. It's difficult to describe but it seemed so odd that I wondered if he was injured or intoxicated on some berries but he did fly away. I later looked around the area but didn't see any fruits or nuts or signs of caching. Over at the pond, I watched a leopard frog stay in one spot for a couple minutes.

I was looking forward to visiting the jewelweed patch along Chester Creek because I hadn't visited it this year and I love the plant--the beautiful orange flower, the exploding seed pods, the soothing juices. Before I reached the patch I was heading for, I stopped in amazement to see a jewelweed dam in the creek. Because of the many boulders in the creek, fallen trees and branches often get snagged during the spring thaw when the local creeks become miniature roaring whitewater rivers. Lots of additional debris had accumulated in this case, with some water going under and some around. Along the length of the natural dam, dozens (hundreds?) of jewelweed sprouts rose high above it obscuring the wooden infrastructure. I stepped on a rock in the water to take a closer look at this impressive scene buzzing with insects among the flowers. As I looked at one area, I noticed movement from the corner of my eye and thought, that's a mighty big bee. A more direct view revealed a hummingbird who visited several more blossoms as I watched. Later at the more convenient trailside patch, most of the seed pods were very early in their development, but I found one which was screaming, "Touch me! Touch me!" And so I did, and it was good for both of us.

Maybe one of those long hikes to report on tomorrow depending on how I feel when I wake up, and the farewell (but not necessarily last) post is coming Sunday.


Woodswalker said...

Sounds like you had a great hike! All that burgeoning life going on all around us, most of it neither exotic nor rare but all of it full of surprises: like drunken jays and exploding seed pods. Good luck on your move.

Allan Stellar said...

Another farewell post? Gosh darn it....the internet will be a lonelier place without your refreshing world view. As one of your fans, tell me it ain't so.

greentangle said...

Yes, Woodswalker, as your posts show, there's always interesting things going on if we slow down enough to look.

Yep, another one, Allan, and just minutes away. The suspense builds. I'm like the boy who cried wolf around here--I've been telling people I'm leaving town for years but it's finally happening this time even though I had a dream last night reminding me that I don't really want to do it.