Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Heartbreak's flowers

On Easter Sunday we climbed a low mountain, called Mt. Taurus (or Bull Hill) above Cold Springs, on the Hudson, diagonally opposite Westpoint. The mountain may not be very large but the path did go straight up. Fittingly, this part is known as Heartbreak Ridge.

Everything was brown and grey, with patches of old green moss on the rocks.

The old quarry below looked like an Okavango delta. But no crocs or hippopotamus. Only a lost tourist who had ridden the train north with us. Later we caught the same train to Manhattan together again.

Dun and metal and slate. The pointed suggestion of buds to come on the trees whose rough bark I did not recognize.

One green plant, on the compact path.

Trail markers pointed the way, pinned to the unknown trees.

And in the leaf litter signs that the Easter bunny had passed.

And right at the top of the ridge, where we turned off the path to eat our sandwiches on a rock high above the river, and far below the soaring turkey vultures, flowers.

Several clumps grew within feet of one another, and nowhere else. The rest of the forest remained dry and papery. Later, their leaves made them easy to identify: Hepatica nobilis. At least I think that is the species.

After lunch a mourning cloak butterfly flew through the trees, rested, took off again.

We climbed in T-shirts and descended in layers of sweaters. 

We brought home Japanese knotweed, found on the lower slopes, and an unexpected sunburn.


  1. I'm going to guess Chestnut Oak, though it's tough by bark alone. This felt like one of your southern hemisphere hikes but without the scores of flower species to reward your efforts :)

  2. I agree with Paul W, it looks like Chestnut Oak. The deep grooves in the bark are a pretty good indicator. We've had it on our woodpile on occasion and it takes at least three years to season and dry out before it gives off decent heat without hissing. Really annoying when you heat with wood and it's frigid outside!

    Watch out for ticks in those woods. April is one of the worst months. We've already picked several off of our dog (still unattached). Nasty things!

    Nancy Mc

  3. It's nice to see signs of life in such a grey environment.


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