Forest Route 17 took me up a hard-pack road up towards Moses Pond, but the road did not actually go up to the pond... it stopped a mile short. Fortunately, there was a trailhead parking area, so once I had applied bug spray, packed up my water, binocs, camera, and iPhone, I trekked up towards the pond. The mosquitoes were relentless, despite my heavy application of bug spray; I kept hiking because there was no way to stop and focus my attention on a bird in the woods because of the attacks. I birded mostly by ear, knowing that at the higher, cooler elevations the mosquito attacks should abate.
Finally the trail comes within view of Moses Pond, and my feelings lift. Moses Pond is almost uninhabited; I could see one canoe on shore at the eastern end, but there were no camps or clearings. Just moss-covered tree stumps, and the enclosing hemlocks. Once I spied a relatively easy route thru the woods to the shore, I left the trail and headed downhill. I found a small fringe of hemlock that protruded out into the pond, which struck me as the perfect place to settle down and enjoy the setting. The ground was soft with thick sphagnum moss, with sedges and a few low-bush blueberries.
I relaxed against the outermost tree, enjoyed a snack, and just listened. Paradise! Dragonflies and Tree Swallows skirted over the water, while a family of Wood Duck paddled along the far edge of a pad of water lilies. Chickadees were still calling in the woods behind me, and a Ruby-crowned kinglet was singing from high in a hemlock nearby. This tranquil setting and soundscape was twice pierced by the call of a Barred Owl, far up on the hill opposite me. "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?" The call echoed off of unseen hills.
Eventually it was time to move on. I decided to hug the shore for a bit, then return to the trail and trek onward. Just a short distance from where I'd spent the last half-hour resting, I spied a few small, thin growths with staggered leaves, rising from the sphagnum at the water's edge. Orchids! Oh, I immediately got down on my knees and elbows to examine these dainty little green flowers, just 6 inches above the moss. I knew immediately that this was an orchid species I had not seen before. I spent a few minutes photographing and committing the flower structures to memory, so I could look it up in my reference books back home. Platanthera clavellata. Apple green flowers on green stalks, a small lobed lip, lateral sepals held upward -- as opposed to downward with most other Platanthera species. My 18th orchid species observed in Vermont!
Back on the trail, I continued to the west end of Moses Pond, which is where I found its outlet There was a series of little beaver dams, creating a chain of small ponds. The trail crosses the chain of ponds on a wooden snowmobile bridge; the beavers had commandeered the bridge and had built one of their dams under, into, and onto the bridge, causing the bridge to start to tilt under the increased pressure.
One good thing about these little ponds was that they provided a view towards the west; dark clouds had been building, and I could see they were moving in my direction. I didn't want to hike one and a quarter miles back in the rain, then have a 2 hour drive home, damp, so I made an about-face and started my way back to the car. As I descended towards the trailhead, I could feel the air freshening and the breeze increasing as air was sucked into the bottom of the storm... a thunderstorm was closing in on me. I made it back to the car, and was actually about 1/4 mile down the road when the rains caught up with me. Sometimes life really is a ra
Recalled checklist for Weston: