Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Brisk and Beautiful Walk in Herrontown Woods

Sometimes cold weather makes for a good nature walk. The forest is filled with light, the frozen ground eases navigation, and the woods is filled with vistas and the evidence of seasons past and future.

We hiked to the cliff, then when someone asked about springs in Herrontown Woods, we hiked to a spring that had been dug out to make a swimming pool of sorts in the 1960s. Now it serves the amphibian community as a dependable vernal pool in the spring.

On the way back, we walked through a cratered landscape where water had accumulated in sizable holes in the ground and frozen in ornate patterns. This beauty, too, like the amphibians' use of the old swimming pool, was a collaboration of nature and culture. The craters were formed back when some of the large, partially sunken boulders in Herrontown Woods were cracked into blocks and hauled away as part of a quarrying operation. Water accumulates in the cavities left behind, and freezes in the winter. But as the ice is freezing, the water below is also slowly seeping into the ground, leaving the ice with less and less water beneath to support it. The result is a lovely terraced effect.

Having seen some of the special places in the woods, some of our hardy party headed to Veblen House afterwards for cider, hot cocoa and cookies provided by Friends of Herrontown Woods volunteers.