Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lake Champlain - Record Flooding

Lake Champlain has now surpassed the 102 foot "maximum known lake level" recorded at Rouses Point in May of 1869 and is not expected to reach its peak until Saturday morning.  The water is flooding lakefront homes, closing roads, eroding shorelines and creating various problems throughout Vermont.  These photos were taken at Perkins Pier and Delta Park.  Delta Park is a large floodplain where the mouth of the Winooski River meets Lake Champlain.

At Perkins Pier the benches remind us of the grassy park now submerged by the spring melt and rains.  Unfortunately, the bike path in this area will need some work to repair it.

The following photos were taken near the mouth of the Winooski River at Delta Park.  Here you can see the sand and silt of the Winooski River being deposited in Lake Champlain.

 Low lying homes and roads are flooded.  


The animals of Delta Park are doing what they can to find higher ground and wait out the abnormally high water.  Here, some groundhogs wait for the water occupying their den to retreat.

Muskrats can be seen in abundance at Delta Park. 

Lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a mink.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Champ sighting on Perkins Pier

Champ taking advantage of the free meals associated with the high waters of Lake Champlain.

Whether you believe it or not, spring is here. Waters are rising, tree buds are swelling, flowers are sharing sweet volatile oils, and my nose is tingling. With the coming of spring we may be unlikely to see alien organisms swimming towards the municipal dumpster, but we are sure to see a peculiar swamp plant peaking its head out from the decomposed matter dressing the soil. This strange entity is Symplocarpus foetidus, otherwise known as skunk cabbage.

The name is a Latin-Greek derivative meaning stinking (fetid) connected (symploke) fruit (carpus). The odor, revealed by damaging the flower parts, echoes the musky smell of a fox den. The flower, called a spadix, produces many fruits and is protected by a marbled magenta hood known as a spathe.


The flowers arrive as early as mid-February slowly melting the snow surrounding them through mammal-like metabolic activity. They are pollinated by flesh and carrion flies attracted to their putrid odor. You may be familiar with its relatives the wild calla, and jack-n-the-pulpit.


I found the skunk cabbage in a swampy wetland within Leddy Park in Burlington, VT.

The new seeds take 5-7 years before they produce flowers and can persist for many years. To me they look prehistoric and alien compared to the Trillium growing alongside them.

By now they are rotting away, the purple alien claw shriveling in response to the impetus of Spring. The strange visitors will soon be a mutated memory replaced by their large ovaloid smaragdine leaves, the delicate curves of trillium, and the robust blooms of the silver maple, more signs of proof that spring is here.

This is not skunk cabbage (in case you were confused), these are Trillium shoots.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Recycled That......

The late afternoon light filters through the clouds guiding our eyes away from the shoreline to the picturesque views typical of postcards and magazine covers.

The intimate reality on the flooded sandy shorelines of Lake Champlain is a colorful array of synthetic polymers (Anyone want a guess as to what this green object is?). 

I often wonder if our lips could survive without lip balm, so small, so easy to drop unawares. How many have I dropped unknowingly in my lifetime?

Styrofoam, didn't we outlaw this stuff a long time ago? Brought to us by the Dow Chemical Company and potentially lethal when ingested by animals in large amounts, Styrofoam is cheap, but not when it comes to the recycling process.

Plastic is light, less expensive to ship, and doesn't break in comparison to glass products.

I was surprised to find this full mayonnaise jar, but not tempted to open it.

The most common plastic objects still intact were bottle caps. But most of the litter consisted of small rainbow shards of broken plastic.

Seeing the red object below brought back childhood memories of walking to the corner store with a dollar bill in hand to buy an over-sized sweet strawberry gem. I enjoyed flashing my "bling" to the cars passing by.

Ah, the infamous lighter litter. So easy to drop off the side of a water craft. Never found without a cigarette butt within five feet of its vicinity.

I guess all litter isn't bad. What's that people say, "One dog's trash is another dog's treasure."?

If you think that plastic is no problem click here: Plastic is no problem.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Haven River Kayak Festival

The New Haven River Festival took place Saturday in Bristol, VT.   Spring temperatures arrived just in time to melt the snowpack and increase the flow of the river.  The water was frigid, after only five minutes of photographing from within the river my legs had gone completely numb.  It was incredible watching both pro and amateur paddlers give it their all in the head-to-head, double elimination tournament, everyone competing for a $1,000 grand prize.  Enjoy the photos…

Monday, April 4, 2011

April Fools!

A snowstorm of epic proportions predicted for April Fools Day was dominating the local news early last week. Initial predictions were stating 16-20" in the mountains!  Well..... April Fools!  It didn't turn out to be as fruitful as initially predicted, although it did leave a nice coating of 5-8" in the mountains.  Danielle and I, along with our friends Chris and Evan, took advantage of the cream cheese like snow to enjoy the glades and chutes of Smugglers Notch Saturday.


Danielle and I decided to hike the Teardrop ski trail on the west side of 
Mt Mansfield on Sunday.

The Teardrop was cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930's. Initially an 800' rope tow and lights for night skiing were installed on the Underhill side of Mt Mansfield. Fortunately, for those who enjoy backcountry ski touring, Stowe Resort installed a single chair in 1940, diverting much of the ski traffic to the other side of the mountain. I'd rather spend a bluebird day skinning on my splitboard for one run than fork over $89 for a lift ticket!