Trying to get the New Year off to a good start, my husband and I decided to hike Hodson Preserve up to Howe Hill on January 3rd. With the temperatures in the 20s and the day being clear, it was a perfect day for a hike. Although we got a later start than we had hoped, the parking pull-out was almost empty, which was another plus.
The beginning of this trail heads downhill for a brief time before turning almost 90 degrees near a waterfall. Due to the snow and rain from the day before, the water was pouring down over the rocks so I paused for a minute to watch and listen to the roaring water. Whenever I have hiked Hodson Preserve, I have always felt a need to stop at this point and meditate on this wonder.
From the falls, the path follows the brook for a bit before crossing a bridge over to the uphill portion of the trail. The walk up to this point was not overly strenuous but it was rocky enough for me to be cautious in my steps. Shortly after the first bridge, we had an excellent view of a stone wall up the hill. Of course, it required a stop to admire this snow covered structure.
Once we were on the ascent, the weeks of level walking began to make a statement. What should have been a relatively easy hike with only a few stops, warranted more frequent resting periods. Fortunately, we found enough things that required us to pause for further study. The first observation was the melting ice on the tips of the nearby pine needles. It took quite a while for both of us to wait for the light to hit the droplet at just the right angle and individually attempt to shoot the perfect picture. I must say, my husband was the better photographer here.
Since we had decided to spend the winter studying moss and lichen, a little further along we needed to examine some moss on the bark of a tree. When, I first compared my photo to other observations on iNaturalist, I thought it might be Wood Bristle Moss even though the top suggestion was Crisped Pincushion Moss. To me the pictures just didn’t match up. However, later in the week I went back to Hodson to take another look. This time, the moss seemed to have closed up, looking more like Crisped Pincushion Moss. So, I guess that is what it was, however, anyone who wishes to confirm that for me, please feel free to let me know.
We continued on our upward journey, stopping frequently to rest until we came out of the woods. Now we stood at the end of a meadow to our right and blueberry fields to our left. Our journey continued up through the blueberry fields until we reached the summit of Howe Hill. A large, flat boulder engraved with the Howe name marks the top of this hill. We sat there for a few moments taking in the sights of Bald Mountain in front of us, Hatchet Mountain in the distance to our right, the Maiden Cliff cross behind us and the blueberry field surrounding us. After soaking up the beauty around us, we headed back down towards home, pausing for one more view of the falls near the end of our journey.