Natural History

Interview with a Black Bear

Black Bear

Human-bear interactions and how to prevent them are a topic of intense debate on the Internet, but I’ve always found such discussions lopsided because we only hear from humans and not from bears. Therefore, I invited a dominant black bear from New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, named Alpha, to share …

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The Franconia Soaring Association

Glider over Mt Lafayette, Franconia Ridge

One summer, when I was hiking the Franconia Ridge Trail, I was treated to an incredible aerial display by a glider pilot who was soaring over Mt. Lafayette and through Franconia Notch. He’d fly down the ridge from north to south, loop around in the south, fly over Mt Lafayette …

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Hiking on Tree Roots

The Osgood Trail (New Hampshire Appalachian Trail), White Mountains

Hiking in the Northeastern United States? Then you better get used to hiking on tree roots because we have a lot of trees! Seriously, hiking on tree roots can be quite a surprise if you’re not used to them. They get really slippery when wet and can easily snap a …

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Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage is one of the first plants to bloom in spring time along the east coast of the United States and certainly one of my favorites. I love how their bright green color contrasts with the brown leaves of the forest floor and still barren trees. Skunk Cabbage favors marshy …

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Naturalist’s Notes: Catskills Tree Fungi

Crown-topped Coral Fungus

My interest in forest fungi started when I was hiking Vermont’s Long Trail in 2008 and I kept coming across these white fiddlehead looking plants called Indian Pipe or Ghost Flower. I took photos of them and the other new plants, trees, bugs, and animals I saw and started researching …

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Maine is for Mushrooms

Fluted Mushroom

I saw the coolest looking mushrooms on the Maine Appalachian Trail this year, but I’m having trouble identifying what kind they are. Care to give me a hand? Leave a comment if you know their names, or if you’d like to make a plausible name up! It’s Friday! Most Popular …

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What is Krumholz?

Dwarf shrubs, also known as Krummhollz

Krumholz (also spelled Krummolz)is a German word used to describe the stunted trees that grow on exposed mountain tops above treeline. They look like weathered bonsai trees but instead of a human gardener, the wind is their master. These trees grow together in impenetrably dense clusters usually below head height. They’re …

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Meeting a Fisher

I saw a Fisher (also called a Fisher Cat) on my hike up Mt. Passaconaway a few months ago. She was loping down the trail toward me until she noticed that I was standing still about 25 feet away. We regarded each other for about 5 seconds and she turned …

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Lenticular Clouds

Stacked pancaked clouds like this, called Lenticular Clouds, are often the harbinger of heavy rain

Every time I go hiking in the close vicinity of Mt Washington, I’m on the look out for lenticular clouds like these near Mt Isolation, near Mt Washington, This set looks like stacked pancakes. They are shown here hovering on the northern side of Mt Resolution (right) and Mt Stairs (left) as seen …

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Glacial Erratics

Glacial Erratric

Have you ever been hiking in the forest and come upon a house size boulder? Where do these things come from? How did they get there? Last week I learned that these boulders are called Glacial Erratics. The one in the picture above is located near Table Rock in the …

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Fire on the Mountain

I did a short section hike along the Long Path in New York State today along the Jenny Lane Trail in The Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Shortly after leaving the trail head, I came to a large patch of forest where much of the undergrowth was dead, but the surrounding …

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Beaver Lodges

I think beavers are really cool animals and I’m always fascinated by their lodges when I come across them on backpacking and hiking trips in New England. It’s not uncommon to come across lodges that are enormous mounds of wood in the middle of a beaver pond, perfect protection from …

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Close Encounters with Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse

  I came upon a pair of Spruce Grouse on my hike up to Ethan Pond on the AT this past weekend. They are quite distinctive looking with those red eyebrows. There were sitting on a boardwalk, oblivious to my approach, and only moved into the shrubbery by the side …

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Welcome to the Alpine Zone

Help Preserve the Delicate Balance of the Alpine Zone

The area above treeline in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is called the Alpine Zone. It is an inhospitable place for plant life which is exposed to extreme conditions including high wind, heavy cloud cover, high precipitation, low temperatures and a short growing season. Yet many of the plants …

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