After accomplishing some hikes that actually gained elevation, I decided that it was time to try and add distance to our relatively flat hikes. We decided to hike the green trail in Brookhaven State Park, which is the longest of the three trails located there. Somehow, I keep forgetting that hiking in the pine barren area of Long Island means hiking on trails that consist of sand, and hiking over 5 miles on sand was a bit ambitious. Sections of this trail where so sandy that at one point my hiking partner commented that maybe I should have put the snow cups on my hiking poles; this on top of adding weight to the leg press and hip machines the day before. Needless to say this generated all sorts of complaints from my leg muscles for days following this hike.
As we walked along the first half of the trail, we noticed that the ground cover of ferns that were so green (with the occasional brown fern) back in June were now completely brown; the ferns declaring the season over for another year. The weather this year must have been conducive for Wintergreen and Indian Pipe growth because they were everywhere. I have never seen so many groups of Indian Pipes in one area! A little further on we came upon an interesting yellow flower, which after going back and forth at a number of my favorite identification sites, I think is some kind of golden rod.
About an hour into our walk we reached the first of three ponds that are located in the park. The first was Lake Panamoka, just visible through the trees. The late afternoon sunlight and some dead trees partially obstructing our view, gave the lake a ghostly appearance. We continued on and passed an un-named pond that sits under the high tension wires before arriving at Tarkill Pond. We commented that the water level looked a bit low yet I don’t recall this being an exceptionally dry summer.
Once we passed the ponds, we entered an area consisting of short densely packed scrub oaks. The trail was lower here than the surrounding area and with the dense vegetation on either side of the trail I couldn’t help but feel a little claustrophobic. Despite the starkness of the trail itself, we still found some wildflowers in bloom which added some beauty to the area. We located some late summer flowers which I believe were Fern Leaved False Foxgloves. As in the beginning of our hike with the Indian Pipes, once we came across a specific type flower we would notice an abundance of them as we traveled on.
When the trail changed from sand to hard dirt and the Scrub Oak thinned out we located some Late Purple American Aster, which has less flower petals than a New England American Aster. Unfortunately the picture does not do justice to the deep purple color of this flower. It was a pleasure to see so many flowers in bloom this late in the season. I guess this is another lesson on being aware of my surroundings; to realize that plants do not stop blooming at the end of summer but continue bringing pleasure to our lives well into the fall season.
The beauty I saw on this walk more than made of for the 2.5 hour arduous 5.3 mile walk through some sandy conditions.