Home / Natural History (page 2)

Natural History

Moose Jaw – A Real One

I hiked past a moose skeleton on my last  Appalachian trail section hike through the Mahoosuc Range, which crosses the border between New Hampshire and Maine. Moose are big animals and it was a pretty impressive sight. The picture above is of the moose's Jaw. At the time, I thought …

Read More »

Black Bear Territorial Displays

  Last weekend, I saw a curious thing on the Appalachian Trail near the Ottauquechee River in Vermont: a series of young beech trees that had been freshly stripped of their bark. The damage was clearly not man-made and just a few yards down the trail I saw another beech …

Read More »

Becoming a Naturalist

For many years, my primary motivation for hiking and backpacking has been to experience a form of meditation practiced by Buddhists called walking meditation. This differs from sitting meditation, because the practioner is moving outdoors with their eyes open, paying close attention to their experience of walking. This level of …

Read More »

Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus

Bears Head Tooth Fungus

Over the past few weeks, I’ve become fascinated by the different types of mushrooms and fungus growing in the New England forests where I backpack. I’m not interested in eating them or even touching them, but they’re a very cool life form tied into forest plant communities and it’s worth …

Read More »

Learning How to Identify Trees

I was out hiking last weekend in the Middlesex Fells just outside of Boston. I am working on a project that I've set for myself, which is to inventory and be able to identify all of the tree species that grow in this natural area. My ultimate goal is to …

Read More »

How to Read the Forested Landscape

I just finished reading an incredible book called Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England, authored by Tom Wessels, an ecologist and environmental biologist who teaches at the Antioch New England Graduate School in New Hampshire. This book teaches the reader how to look at a forest …

Read More »

The Bark of The American Beech Tree

When I was hiking near Canada on the Long Trail last weekend, I saw a lot of beech trees in the woods. I've always loved their smooth silvery bark which is so different from the rough scaley bark of the other deciduous trees in New England like maples, cherries, ashes …

Read More »

Indian Pipe, the Ghost Flower

Indian Pipe

  Indian Pipe, also known as Ghost Flower and Monotropa Uniflora, is a unique and interesting plant found in shady woods that are rich in decaying plant matter. I’ve seen it in many places along the Long Trail, and it’s a real standout, in the otherwise green tunnel of the …

Read More »

Red-spotted Newts

Red Spotted Newt

I took a long day hike this morning in search of the Catskills Aqueduct which flows underground through the Mohonk Preserve. Along the way, I spotted a lot of wildlife including a swimming beaver, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and a unusual congregation of red-spotted newts gathered together on a large …

Read More »

Rock Tripe

Rock Tripe

Rock tripe is an edible lichen found in eastern parts of the US that is commonly found on rock faces and cliffs. It is very sensitive to air pollution, so when you see it growing abundantly, chances are good that the air around you is unpolluted. Anne Gunther, a naturalist …

Read More »

Porcupine Country

When we think about which wild animal encounters to avoid in the backcountry, bears, snakes, and mice are on the top of most backpackers' lists, not the homely porcupine. Perhaps porcupines should be taken a bit more seriously. You see, porcupines love salt, and they will go out of their …

Read More »

A Bear’s Sense of Smell

Bear

If someone were to ask you, “how does a bear smell,” you could answer in two ways. Bears smell real bad – or so I’m told – or bears smell exceptionally well, as I discuss below. Bears are thought to have the best sense of smell of any animal on …

Read More »

Black Fly Season

Black fly season occurs from mid-March to mid-July in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, north through New York and New England, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and into Southern Canada. Some backpackers, campers, and fishermen avoid outdoor activities during black fly season, but the rest of us soldier on despite the …

Read More »

Subscribe to our Mailing List

Get the latest posts and updates once each week. No spam. Just honest gear reviews and backpacking articles. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!