My reasons for heading up to this, the 500th State Natural Area, were twofold; first to see the old growth forest and its towering trees, and second; to paddle Lake Salsich inside the preserve.
I got one goal fulfilled, but the other.
Not so much.
Although Lake Salsich is entirely within the SNA, it is named for Lake Laura which isn’t entirely part of the preserve, and has many houses and cabins on it. From the main public boat launch there is an ATV trail leading to the right out of the parking lot – this isn’t into the SNA. On the other side there is a trail that goes in the right direction. It peters out after a few hundred feet though. If the water wasn’t so high I could have walked the shoreline of Lake Laura, but I’d have needed taller boots. And it was super windy so I had no desire to put the kayak on the big lake.
After taking a pass or two, I located the small parking lot and trail that leads to Lake Salsich. Unfortunately it was a really long way to carry my kayak. Without a dolly, it isn’t something I want to do. So instead I wandered the trails and found plenty to keep my camera eating batteries.
Most of the images here come from the spur trail branching off the main one that leads to Lake Salsich also; the one you could use a kayak dolly on. The spur trail is narrow and hilly, but a shorter distance to the lake. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a decent way to photograph it, so I stuck to wooded scenes and fell in love.
After descending this hill you come to the edge of Lake Salsich and a dense grove of eastern hemlocks. How different it is to the mixed forest, but equally enchanting. I find it difficult to capture the atmosphere in a hemlock stand, but I keep trying.
Even though the forest floor is carpeted in needles and branches, mushrooms usually grow in abundance in hemlock stands.
Then back into the mixed woodland –
The light was so perfect – not too harsh, but with enough intensity to create highlight and shade areas. Everywhere I aimed the camera was an incredible wooded landscape. It had been a while since I’d done this type of photography and I was really happy to be into it again. And the bugs weren’t ferocious either. Bliss.
While processing I decided to play a little with the Infrared preset in Lightroom. After using it once before I thought would be a different, but effective way to show the lush beauty of this forest. Does it succeed?
But soon I headed back to the car with plans to visit another part of the SNA. This time a snowmobile trail that intersects a nearby dead-end dirt road. The light changed with the cloud cover and threatened rain, but never actually did. I didn’t wander too far in case the skies opened though.
Not many of the trees I saw were huge, but I did see this very big white pine. The base is over 3 feet across.
And of course, mushrooms! From far down the trail I could see the orange of this mighty jack-o-lantern – my first time photographing them.
Oh the mushrooms. An old growth forest has more of them than a forest that is routinely logged. When a tree is harvested it disrupts the chain that connects it to the rest of the plants and fungi around it. Take a lot of trees all the time and the mycelium layer starves and mushrooms don’t fruit as abundantly as a forest left alone. That’s why old growth preserves are so important; they help us understand the intricacies of how this kind of ecosystem works.
But back to the mushrooms. No, I didn’t take pictures of all of them.
Ok, ok, ok.
In the field, I eventually did. The light was fading and my feet were a little sore. So I rambled back. Not hurrying. Getting caught by small wonders at my feet.
If I get a kayak dolly, I might go back to paddle Lake Salsich. It’s the one place I have found that really needs one. Other long trails are just too crowded with hazards to make it feasible, but this one would work just fine.