It was a chilly, rainy Easter Sunday in Freeville, but that wasn't going to stop me from getting outside. I pulled out my $5 umbrella and headed out to the car for a short drive to the Genung Nature Preserve, which, strangely enough, lies right across the creek from my property. Since it had been raining for a little while, I was a bit surprised to pull into the parking lot and see another Subaru already sitting there. I had figured that I'd have the soggy grounds to myself.
I went in search of the trailhead and found a short path. Along it was a fallen birdhouse. I had to wonder how well this place was maintained...
The grounds were somewhat swampy. I'm guessing that this area has been undeveloped (but probably logged) for all of Freeville's existence.
After realizing that the short path that I'd found wasn't the main trail, I went to the other end of the parking lot and found it. The first "major attraction" was a large fallen tree, with much of its root system still intact.
The trail itself was well-maintained...if a bit muddy in places.
The vegetation reminded me quite a bit of the vegetation around my house...shorter shrubs mixed with taller trees.
It looks like the trail was marked, at least right here, by a stripe of bark removed from this tree.
Not all of the trees were alive:
I came upon a small clearing in the brush. This might be a popular place for deer to take a nap or a night's rest.
Soon, I could tell the creek was near, not just by the sound of the rushing waters, but also because a couple of smaller channels that had dug narrow ravines were headed for it.
And of course, a bridge was needed to cross:
The waters trickled on toward the main body of the creek.
Most of the trees I'd seen to this point has been deciduous, but suddenly I came upon a striking conifer.
The trend of strange refuse - along with the broken birdhouse - continued as I ran across an abandoned bungee cord.
And finally, I came to the creek.
Where I found it, it's in the middle of a big U-turn.
After the turn, it continues to wind on down toward my house.
Then there was another small ravine with another bridge.
The ravine dumped right into the creek:
The trail then ran right alongside the creek for a short while.
I spent a lot of the walk looking at the vegetation. I wanted to get a sense of what "natural" vegetation looks like in this area so that when I add plants to my yard, they don't look too out-of-place.
Judging by the mud on the opposite bank - and knowing how high it had gotten by my house - the creek had been a couple of feet higher not to long ago. And after all of yesterday's rain, it's certainly risen again.
It was somewhat of a drab scene, between the clouds, rain, brownish shrubs, and fallen trees.
But I imagine the birds don't see it that way...I'm sure the plants and surroundings offer plenty of food for them, and the preserve, in return, offers them places to live:
I was struck by how high the bank I was on was compared to the opposite bank. It had to be at least 10-12 feet of difference.
More downed trees. I see that this isn't just a problem in my yard.
And here's a little tree stump:
I came upon a smaller home for smaller birds:
Don't think anyone was home, though:
Humans aren't the only ones who have blazed trails through the preserve. Here's a little deer trail:
At times, I was noticing the big things, while at other times, I stopped to appreciate the smaller things, like these little berries:
The tangled intertwining of trees and shurbs had its own beauty.
And just as I was thinking that the area was too plainly brown, a flash of green caught my eye:
The more I looked, the more color I saw: the clear raindrops collecting on branches, and the red of the thorny plants.
And yes, now that I was looking for it, there was moss everywhere. I saw what appeared to be a side trail, and I tried to go down it.
But my umbrella got tangled among the thorns and took a couple of minutes to extract. In the process, my fingers absorbed a couple of small punctures from the thorns.
I folded the umbrella and pressed on down the side trail, and my camera lens got foggy.
I cleared the lens just in time to capture some evidence that the deer had been there. Maybe I should have left the lens foggy for this one!
While in some places the shrubs and trees grow independently of the others, in other places, they make a big tangle of branches.
A few more pictures of the austere beauty of a rainy day in Freeville's Genung Nature Preserve before I pick up the hike with part 2 tomorrow: