Land Conservancy wraps up 2022 Discovery Series with Changing Leaves Hike

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Erratic boulders, stacked peaks and shelters created by snow-heavy hemlock branches were all talking points as Up Yonda naturalist Rick Landry led a group of hikers to Bradley’s Lookout in the Pinnacle Preserve on Saturday morning. The hike was the last of the 2022 Discovery Series hikes, a program of themed hikes offered by the Lake George Land Conservancy in partnership with the Up Yonda Farm Environmental Education Center.

The series began in May and throughout the spring, summer and fall, hikes were held on a range of topics including bird watching, the Lake George ecosystem, beavers , principles of leaving no trace, life in the ponds and the subject of Saturday’s hike, the brilliant fall. foliage.

Bradley’s Lookout, which overlooks Lake George above Huddle Bay, is a 1.2 mile hike (round trip) along a not too steep trail. Landry stopped along the way to point out notable features. At one point the trail swerved to avoid a large boulder, a boulder Landry explained is an erratic rock dropped in its place by a retreating glacier.

Naturalist Rick Landry stands next to an erratic rock along the trail to Bradley’s Lookout in the Pinnacle Reserve in Bolton.

“We see evidence of that in the Adirondacks and the High Peaks,” says Landry, “because you can actually see glacial streaks. looks like someone came and just scratched the rock where the rocks were trapped in the ice and dragged.

At a time when more snow fell in winter than it melted in summer, an ice sheet carrying chunks of rock was constantly pushing south. Landry describes it as a conveyor belt of ice from northern Canada. As summer melt began to overtake winter snowfall, the treadmill came to a standstill on Long Island. “Long Island is just a pile of glacial debris from northern Canada.”

When the glacier retreated, it stopped in the Lake George area. “That’s what caused Lake George to form,” Landry explained. With the southern end of the lake dammed, each spring snowmelt would fill the basin creating the lake we know today.

Further down the trail, Laundry identified a stand of hemlocks and explained their importance to the Adirondack ecosystem. Not only are they aesthetically important, “but during snowfall they bunch up at the tops of the branches and bend the branches downward.” This provides shelter for animals and hikers who might be in the middle of a storm. Additionally, the wide, flat branches help disperse heavy rains so that water soaks into the ground and can then be reabsorbed by trees or added to groundwater.

Hemlocks along the trail in the Pinnacle Preserve.

Hemlocks in the area are currently threatened by Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, an invasive insect that feeds on hemlock sap, threatening the health of the tree. “As these trees die,” Landry says, “unfortunately what we see happening is any of these big rain events pushing a lot more sediment into the streams, into the lakes.” The sediment clogs the waterways, disrupting the habitat of the trout population, which spawns upstream.

Dead trees play a role in the health of the forest. Landry pointed to a dead tree riddled with large rectangular holes made by a large woodpecker. “With the amount of holes, and especially so low, this tree is not long for this world. Once it hits the ground, it’s going to give other animals a chance to start getting in there and opening it up…all that wood is left to rot and all those nutrients go right back into the ground. Energy continues to flow through this region, Landry says.

The rectangular shaped holes in this tree are the work of a large woodpecker.

Hikers reached the summit of the trail, Bradley’s Lookout, as the morning mist lifted from Lake George. While the deciduous trees that grow on the mountains around the lake had already lost many of their leaves, plenty of fall foliage still colored the landscape. Laundry explained the chemistry behind the spectacular color show.

During the warm months, the leaves are filled with chlorophyll, which is necessary for photosynthesis. Chlorophyll absorbs all colors of the spectrum except green. It reflects green, and that is why summer leaves look green to us. Cooler temperatures and reduced sunlight cause trees to begin to prepare for winter by shutting down chlorophyll production.

Hikers reach Bradley’s Lookout.

“What’s left is that we see oranges and yellows, and those are actually chemicals in structures called chromoplasts – they’re there all summer, we just don’t see them because it there’s so much green in there.” The brilliant red colors we often see in the fall are a chemical reaction that occurs when the days have been dry and cool and when a tree sucks in slightly acidic water. Landry noted that there were several bright red trees this fall along the hillside at Up Yonda Farm.

fall foliage
As sunlight dwindles and the air cools, trees stop producing chlorophyll, allowing us to see yellows and oranges.

Landry says he and the other Up Yonda naturalist have a list of themed hikes they would like to suggest for a 2023 Discovery Series if the program continues. There was no charge for the 2022 rides, which were supported by the City of Bolton and the Mirror of Lake George.

Up Yonda Farm offers public programs year-round. Tickets are available for the Holiday Wreath Making Workshop which begins in November. In January and February, Up Yonda naturalists organize snowshoe hikes (snowshoe rentals available) with instruction in identifying tree and animal tracks, winter adaptation of animals, and snowshoe games .

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