Nearing the end of July, we decided on a hike close to home that would provide some exercise but also leave time to complete some necessary chores. The Rheault Easement at Hodson Preserve, a place we had explored a mere 6 months after my hip replacement, seemed the perfect place. It had rained during the night, and although the day promised to be hot and humid, we did not arrive at the trailhead until mid-morning.
The first part of the trail descends into a dark wood before following a stream. Moss covered rocks littered the area, both in the flowing water and on either side of the path. This wet portion of the preserve combined with the high humidity did nothing to quell the mosquito population. Consequently, we did not linger too long in any one place. Our observations were noted to each other as we moved along, hoping to reach higher ground before we were carried away.
The rain from the night before had encouraged the fungus population and it did seem that most of our discoveries during this trip centered on this life form. Along the stream, we found a log covered with an interesting brown fungus with white edges. After we crossed the stream to begin our ascent towards the summit, we found tiny, white, lacy edged mushrooms. We also noted that small button shaped mushrooms seemed to be everywhere.
The air became oppressive during our climb which made it a bit difficult to breathe. I tried to keep moving, hoping to outpace the bugs but at some point I just had to stop. I did not recall having this much trouble during our first visit so soon after my surgery, but then it was early spring so I am going to say there was less humidity and not admit that 3 years later I was out of shape.
At some point, the moss and dirt floor gave way to a blanket of pine needles. We also lost the biting bugs as we left the stream behind us. This allowed us to pause occasionally to study the world around us. Maneuvering around several stone walls, we stopped by one wall to reflect on a tree punctured with woodpecker holes. The last time we were here, those holes were fresh. Time had dried the wounds, leaving a face with large eyes and an O-shaped mouth embedded in the tree.
Since it was the height of farming season, we still did not reach the summit of the Rheault Easement. The “trail closed” sign informing us of the end of our journey. Shaded by the woods, we stood by an open field, enjoying the sun-drenched view for a bit before turning around.
Making our descent back towards the damp, bug infested portion of the trail we decided to save the Hodson Loop for another time. We have yet to do this loop but considering that the loop trail stays pretty close to the water, and we did not wish to feed the mosquitos any more that day, we decided it would be wiser to explore this loop in the fall. Near the end of our journey, we discovered one more unusual fungus specimen. A small, purple life form reminiscent of an anemone. A tiny gift of beauty to finish out trip.