Yesterday I went on a seven hour hike through some interesting Southeast Alaskan rainforest.
The following pictures will show you a bit about the area that I live and the forests and sphagnum bogs that I've grown up in and have come to love.
The trail head is a an old stretch of boardwalk that is pretty unnerving to walk at dusk or night time!
The board walk ends and some dilapidated water tanks make a good....
Vantage point to scan the horizon. I'm headed somewhere I have never gone before so I need to get my sense of direction oriented.
Having set my sights to the direction I want to head, I plunge into my "trail"
After a scraping and intensive bit of warm-up bushwhacking I stumbled across the first section of true sphagnum bog.
I find the micro-flora of the sphagnum bog (or Muskeg as we call it) very charming and fascinating, here we have some sort of clubmoss with a very small form of Ground Juniper in the background.
And an interesting Lichen formation with more ground juniper.
These muskegs are not tennis shoe friendly, and walking amongst the deep sphagnum moss is one of the best feelings in bare feet (I'm wearing sandals). These types of bogs can be home to Drosera rotundifolia, Drosera intermedia, Pinguicula vulgaris, and some Utricularia, however this particular bog was not rich in any of those.
However, whatever kind of bog it is, there is bound to be some beautiful forms of decay
And this patch of Muskeg did contain the somewhat common Bog Blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) which strangely rarely produces fruit and when it does has very few, though they are of a most desirable and interesting flavor.
And there was no shortage of the charming, very petite, yet bountiful Bog Cranberry (Oxycoccus oxycoccus) and vibrant orange Sphagnum moss.
The bog ended and I plunged back into thick forest still dominated by bull pine and yellow and red cedars. Here the much more common and more widely known blueberries preside, the Oval-leafed Blueberry (Vaccinium ovalifolium) on the left, and the Alaskan Blueberry (Vaccinium alaskanense) on the right, both of which have very delicious berries with their own distinct taste.
Despite the feeling that I was the first and only person to go through these woods there is always a reminder that someone has passed by before. I'm just glad it wasn't a beer can. Watch your toes!
Dozens of blueberries later, a few eerie rustlings of the bushes nearby and I came to a break in the woods, not what I was looking for...
But beautiful nonetheless.
And the rotundifolia grow right up to the shore.
Unmistakable paw prints tell me that now is no time to stop making the clanging noise with the piece of iron that I had brought with me.
Along the shore there were some interesting plants growing.
And also the Dwarf Blueberry, the fourth of our four species of Blueberry that grow on the island and perhaps the rarest, although the plants are not hard to find, finding a berry on the plant can be almost impossible, this was a rare shot. On the whole four mile hike I went on, I found maybe ten of these berries. The worst part is that they are so delicious! (Vaccinium caespitosum)
And there was a cranberry patch worthy of stopping and picking. (I'm munching on these right now )
Just nearby there were some Red Huckleberries (Vaccinium parvifolium), a very common, extremely tasty and high yielding berry bush that all the locals are familiar with.
And why not add some interesting cotton grass that was growing on the shore.
But the truth is I've already been to this small lake before so no time to stop, I plunged back up into the woods on the opposite side and kept going until I entered the magical Yellow Cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) forest. Whether living or dead, these trees are majestic.
Yellow Cedars are the oldest living tree in the region and I once counted the rings on a tree that was maybe eight inches in diameter, it was roughly 150 years old.