Birds, work, and Mt. Moriah July 12, 2009Posted by Jenny in hiking, nature, White Mountains.
Tags: Carter-Moriah trail, hermit thrush, Mt. Moriah, Mt. Surprise, trail maintenance, veery, White Mountains, white-throated sparrow
It was time for another work trip up Mt. Moriah. Stopped at Camp Dodge to pick up a pair of loppers—a nice sharp pair—then on to Gorham and the Carter-Moriah trail. I feared man-eating vegetation after all the June rains. That fear proved to be well justified.
It took me six hours to lop my way to the top, an all-time record. (My usual work-trip time is between four and five.) Since the first 2.0 miles of the 4.5-mile, 3300-vertical total are someone else’s trail section, and I covered that in 50 minutes, that means it took me five hours to go 2.5 miles.
The stop at Mt. Surprise makes for a nice rest and a snack before getting down to work. This time of year, the sheep laurel is blooming on the open ledges. I love the combination of reindeer moss, lowbush blueberry, laurel, and red and black spruce.
Even after all that lopping, the trail needs more attention. It needs a lot of drainage work, the kind that has to be done by a crew. I apologize to everyone for the state of the bog bridge at 3300 feet. There is a very interesting section at the end of it that has turned into one of those lumberjack-style balancing contests where you try to stay upright on a floating log. I tell the AMC about this on every work report, but I think they are shorthanded. Overall, the trail is the muckiest I’ve seen it in about ten years. This is the kind of mud that makes an ominous sucking noise when your boot goes into it. It is getting almost as bad as Adirondack mud, which I believe, after extensive research, to be the worst mud in the world.
On this particular trip, the forests of Mt. Moriah lived and breathed with songbirds. The melodies of hermit thrushes wove a pattern among the hemlocks and maples of the lower altitudes, their songs looping from branch to branch. The Peterson’s bird guide describes their song as “clear, ethereal, flutelike,” resorting to more poetic wording than usual. The cousin of the hermit thrush, the veery, contributed a variation, playing notes on a similar mysterious woodland flute but in a
different pattern. Peterson: “Liquid, breezy, ethereal; wheeling downward.”
On the summit of Moriah, it was all white-throated sparrows singing and singing among the spruces and firs. Some people think they are saying, “Sam Peabody–Peabody–Peabody!” Peterson thinks they have “several clear pensive whistles, easily imitated.” The tune part of it might be imitated, but not the “clear pensive” part. They pass through my yard in the spring on their way up to northern New England. Peterson: “Patronizes feeders.” (“Why, you’re just a fine little feeder, aren’t you?”)
The sparrows were flitting among the spruces and balsams that upholster the upper parts of the Carter-Moriah ridge. It is a lovely world up there among the evergreens and the ledges, with views of three mountain systems fairly close (east of the Wild River valley, between Wild River and Peabody River, and west of the Peabody) and more unending mountains marching off to the horizons further away.