Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hot day at Harriman.

Today we went for a hike at our old standby spot in Harriman Park--and were we ever in for a surprise! It got up to 90 degrees today and was very sunny, and there were absolutely no leaves to provide shade. Not even buds yet on most of the trees, actually. It was very strange, hiking through the naked trees on such a hot summery day. It was bright and beautiful, and all the colors were blown out. We got a little overheated on our first uphill, because we were going at a 50-degree weather pace on a 90-degree day, but after a wee rest in the shade of a boulder, we felt very good indeed.

We stopped frequently at streams and ponds to dip our feet in, splash our faces, and try to coax Lucius (who was panting up a storm since he's still got a fair amount of undercoat) into the water. Despite Lucius' big ol' webbed toes, he just doesn't like to be in the water that much. He'd rather be climbing boulders and playing King of the Mountain. I managed to splash him down a few times, which caused him to grumble, give me dirty looks, and run away when I tried to cuddle him.

We got a short break from the sun when we reached our lovely little reservoir, about an hour's hike into the park when we take the shortcut (which we did today). The clouds billowed out and swallowed the sun for about 15 minutes or so, and gave us time to cool down. We briefly considered taking a quick skinny dip, but then we dangled our feet into the painfully cold water--when we pulled them out, they felt like they were crackling from the cold.

In the reservoir we saw a pair of fat, dark brownish-green salamanders with laterally flattened, keeled tails. They were swimming about and grasping each other, and then wriggling away. I think they must have been Northern Dusky Salamanders, because those are the only NY salamanders I can find with keeled tails. However, I read that the N. Dusky does not spend much time in the water, so it seems a little strange that we saw two of them swimming. Anyway, one of the little guys came over to say hello, and we got a shot of him.

We hiked directly back from the reservoir using the shortcut rather than taking our preferred long loop, trying not to overdo it on our first really hot day of the season. We made it back to the car, and on the way back to the city, we stopped for a milkshake, which was delightful until Lucius barfed in the back seat. Not that it was really a surprise... barfing in the car is kind of his thing. Well, more than kind of.

Maybe tomorrow we'll go back and hike the longer loop, and try to find some more salamanders!

(Photos by my lovely physicist.)

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