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Posts Tagged ‘Dwarf Dogwood’

From the beach, the walking group made their way up through the forest to the Pacific Ocean side of George Island. There, they would find an almost forgotten gun site from WWII.

Signpost for Gun Site Walk © DY of jtdytravels; P1110257

Signpost for Gun Site Walk © DY of jtdytravels; P1110257

The pathway up to the gun site was only completed in 2012. Before then, this was a rather forgotten part of World War II history in Alaska and the USA.

.

View back into a bay © DY of jtdytravels; P1110271

View back into a bay © DY of jtdytravels; P1110271

The walk went by some delightful rocky coves.

Rain drops © DY of jtdytravels; P1110264

Rain drops © DY of jtdytravels; P1110264

The rain that had been threatening all morning began,

but it was only a light shower.

Climbing to the top © DY of jtdytravels; P1110273

Climbing to the top © DY of jtdytravels; P1110273

The path was steep at times, but there was always something to see;

a chance to stop for a bit of a rest.

The group spared a thought for the men who pulled the gun up this hill.

Rocky Bay © DY of jtdytravels; P1110272

Rocky Bay © DY of jtdytravels; P1110272

The higher the walk, the craggier the inlets.

Another Rocky Cove © DY of jtdytravels; P1110281

Another Rocky Cove © DY of jtdytravels; P1110281

Rock ‘stacks’ were left by the pounding waves of many a storm.

Aster sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1110278

Aster sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1110278

There were indeed big vistas, but there were also small plants to enjoy.

This Aster sp. was delightful.

Moss © DY of jtdytravels; P1110280

Moss © DY of jtdytravels; P1110280

As with all of the forest areas that we had visited, there was plenty of moss.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110296

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110296

Another rocky bay came into view through the trees.

Platanthera stricta © DY of jtdytravels; P1110284

Platanthera stricta © DY of jtdytravels; P1110284

The Slender Bog Orchard, Platanthera stricta, is one of the Rein Orchards; stricta means slender. This one differs from the White Bog Orchard (photographed on an earlier walk) because it has green rather than white flowers.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110286

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110286

Another beautiful orchid found along this forest path was Listera cordata, commonly called  Heart-leaved Twayblade. The pale green to purplish brown flowers have a long lip that is divided into two lobes. Each plant may have between 5 to 16 flowers that grow in a terminal elongated cluster. It grows well in a mossy, moist part of the forest.

Apparently Charles Darwin was fascinated by this orchid because of the way it blows its pollen away in a explosive puff. The pollen, which is held within a drop of sticky fluid, glues itself onto whatever insect it lands upon, often a fly or a fungus gnat. The flowers lure these insects by having an unpleasant odour. So, they may be delightful to look at, but don’t touch or smell!

© Dy of jtdytravels; P1110289

© Dy of jtdytravels; P1110289

One very different moss in this forest is Hylocomium splendens or Step Moss, so called because its stems are twice pinnately branched. The 3-5cm long, step-like annual increments are clearly visible in this closeup photo. The age of a step moss can be estimated by counting these annual ‘steps’. This moss likes calcium rich soils as opposed to the the Sphagnum Moss , that prefers acidic, organic soils.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110299

Moneses uniflora © DY of jtdytravels; P1110299

Deep in the forest where little light penetrates, David found the lovely Moneses uniflora. This plant, which is called WaxFlower, has two, perhaps more appropriate common names ; Shy Maiden and Single Delight. The latter refers to the single, white, fragrant nodding flower on top of a leafless stalk. The name Moneses derives from the Greek; monos meaning one and hesia meaning delight. And I think you’ll agree, it is a delightful flower.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110295

Penguicula vulgaris © DY of jtdytravels; P1110295

Another beautiful flower is the Common Butterwort, Pinguicula vulgaris.  This plant grows in moist areas which low in available nitrogen. So it supplements its nutrition by trapping insects. The purple flower plays no part in catching prey and it’s held high above the leaves by a long stem, well away from the sticky insect catching leaves. The plant doesn’t want to catch its own pollinators by mistake! One of those amazing survival tricks of nature.

Another one of those survival tricks relates to the way this plant catches and digests its food. The leaves have two special glands on the upper surface. One, the peduncular gland, produces a wet looking secretion that forms droplets on the leaf surface, hopefully luring a small insect in search of water. But it’s not water; it’s sticky and traps the insect. As you might expect, the insect begins to fight for its life, but that only triggers more glands to secrete more sticky droplets. This secretion begins the digestion process and that triggers an initial flow of nitrogen to the plant.  And that brings into play the second type of gland, the sessile glands, which lie flat on the leaf surface. Those glands excrete enzymes which further break down the insect into digestible fluids that can be absorbed into the plant through special holes in the leaf. And that just leaves the insect’s exoskeleton on the leaf. And that’s just another example of what makes learning about plants so fascinating, don’t you think?

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110305

Cornus canadensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1110305

In that same moist area, covered yet again in moss, there were more of the lovely Dwarf Dogwood; Cornus canadensis.  This perennial plants forms a wide mat of oval leaves borne in whorls above the moss on erect stems. White, oval bracts surround tiny greenish flowers. These are followed by the red berries, locally called Bunchberries.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110296

An ocean side rocky cove © DY of jtdytravels; P1110296

The Butterwort and Dogwood were growing beneath trees above this rocky cove.

And out beyond the cove, the Pacific Ocean stretches thousands of kilometres.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110309

The gun © DY of jtdytravels; P1110309

And here at last was the gun; an eighteen ton (36,000 pounds) steel gun.

Yes. ‘Twas indeed  mighty effort to get it up here.

But this gun was never fired in anger.

It was fired but four times after they eventually got it in place in 1942. A target was set up to test the gun. On the fourth shot, the the gun mount sheered and the gun jumped back a few inches. The stand came down on one of the men’s foot and broke his toe. And that was that. The gun was covered over and never fired again. It was also almost forgotten. All of the other guns that the US set up in Alaska to target a possible invasion by the Japanese have gone; broken down or pushed into the sea for the fish to swim around. This is the only one that is left standing. And only very recently, the path to the gun was restored; a piece of history

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110315

The mount of the gun © DY of jtdytravels; P1110315

The gun mount looks sturdy enough!

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110323

Looking down the barrel © DY of jtdytravels; P1110323

Isn’t it amazing, that even in a place like this,

people can leave their trash behind!

What happened to the wilderness etiquette? Pack it in, pack it out!

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110313

The magazine  © DY of jtdytravels; P1110313

The ammunition was stored here. Not much was used!

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110322

Inside the magazine © DY of jtdytravels; P1110322

At least they removed the ammunition when they left the site.

There’s not much to see here now.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110307

What’s left of an accommodation hut © DY of jtdytravels; P1110307

The accommodation quarters have seen better days. Life was tough for the gunners who were posted here.  It’s a blustery, windy, often cold and wet place. Despite the rain, there was very little water; none in the winter, because it would freeze. Most of the men went back to Sitka. Two men remained but it wasn’t long before they also locked up and left.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110312

View from gun site © DY of jtdytravels; P1110312

Looking north from the gun site.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110317

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110317

One last look out across a bay to snow topped mountains beyond.

Across the ocean, by about 4,000 kms, is Kamchatka where David explored a couple of years ago. His experiences of the many volcanoes in that part of Russia, and the wonderful variety of plants and mushrooms he found there, are written up with photos on our other web site: www.dymusings.com

 

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140016

Back at the beach © JT of jtdytravels; P1140016

As the walkers returned from the gun site, the kayakers also came back to the bay.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140018

Returning the kayaks to ‘Sea Lion’.© JT of jtdytravels; P1140018

One last task for the crew; return the kayaks to “Sea Lion’.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1140021

The weather closed in again, but no one was concerned. Lunch was served.

More anon

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

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Petersburg Area Map

Petersburg Area Map by Google

From Petersburg, marked in red, we crossed the channel in our inflatable DIBs to a private landing pontoon on Kupreanof Island. From here we hiked into another part of Tongass National Forest to seek out some more of the native flora of the region.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130786

Kupreanof side of the channel © JT of jtdytravels; P1130786

One of the tricky parts about taking this whole expedition was that most landings were, of necessity, wet landings, requiring “wellington” or “mud” boots to negotiate the landing from the DIBs into icy waters and onto rocky shores. I chose to do none of the wet landings as I was being extra cautious of the slippery, wet, rocky shorelines. Why? My travel insurance didn’t cover any problems with my knees since it had been less than 24 months from my latest knee operation. Without cover, medical help in these parts would have been extremely expensive, to say the least.  I had other adventures which I shall write about later.

However, as no boots were required for this walk, I chose to join David and experience the forest with him. There was just one slight problem… the tide was well and truly out and the ramp from the landing pontoon to the walkway at the top was exceedingly steep! I took a very deep breath and inched my way a little nervously up the wet, wooden ramp.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130787

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130787

At the top, we divested ourselves of our life vests and just left them on the grass in amongst a patch of yellow buttercups. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to trust that they would remain there until our return!

Myosotis sp. ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100522

Myosotis sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1100522

A patch of lovely Forget-me-nots, Myosotis sp., also grew close to the path.

These are not native but were introduced to America from Europe…

Somehow; sometime; by someone.

A forest weed!

Rubus spectabilis ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100525

Rubus spectabilis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100525

Before we left the shoreline and entered the forest shade, we were delighted to find some the  bright red berries of Rubus spectabilis, Salmonberry. We just had to try them and indeed they are quite tasty… as well as being a spectacular berry, as its name suggests.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130788

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130788

Our first stop was at a small wooden ‘kiosk’ where Caroline showed us the map… that’s an important part of forest walking, just in case you lose your way. Not that that was likely to happen as it was a single file pathway and board walk for most of the way.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130790

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130790

I was most impressed that this trail facility had been built by the students in the High School’s construction class; each student has been recognised for their contribution.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130791

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130791

And I was further impressed that this project was a collaboration between several sections of the Petersburg community. That, too, was recognised by a plaque.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130789

Forest Path © JT of jtdytravels; P1130789

This is a National Forest and, as such, logging can be undertaken in a controlled way. The trees along this path by the shore were quite young… reforestation in progress.

© JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130792

Ferns © JT of jtdytravels; P1130792

The path was edged with ferns.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130794

Lysichiton americanum © JT of jtdytravels; P1130794

Lysichiton americanum, Cabbage Skunk was also much in evidence.

The large leaves of this plant were used to wrap things in…

long before paper and plastics!

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130804

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130804

Skunk leaves are not only large, but quite sculptural as well.

This one was close to perfection.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1100476

Large sculptural leaves © DY of jtdytravels; P1100476

There were more wonderful shapes and textures in the leaves of the understory.

Toadstool ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100521

Toadstool © DY of jtdytravels; P1100521

This was a great area to look for fungi.  How elegant is this?

Yes. David was down on his knees again for this shot.

Menziesia Ferruginea ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100481

Menziesia Ferruginea © DY of jtdytravels; P1100481

Another example of the delightful False Azalea; Menziesia Ferruginea.

 David had found one of these on his first walk.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130796

Start of Kupreanof Trail © JT of jtdytravels; P1130796

After following the path parallel to the shore, we came to the start of the board walk that would take us along the Kupreanof Trail, up through the old growth forest to a boggy, muskeg plateau on top of the hill. It was a bit of a huffy, puffy walk with a great many steps of uneven height to negotiate, but there was plenty of interest to see along the way.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130797

Moss covered dead wood  © JT of jtdytravels; P1130797

There were several dead or dying trees along the way. When a tree dies and falls in a forest, it continues to play an important role by creating a light gap in the forest which provides the opportunity for new life. To begin with, here in this damp environment, the fallen trunk is quickly colonised by mosses. Then, as it rots, it becomes a ‘nurse log’ on which the next generation of forest trees will germinate and begin to grow. The forest floor here was littered with fallen limbs and trunks overgrown with moss, giving the place a slightly eerie feeling.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130798

The Boardwalk © JT of jtdytravels; P1130798

The boardwalk was still single file but at least it was two planks wide.

©  Jt  of  jtdytravels; P1130805

Lush understory growth © Jt of jtdytravels; P1130805

Further up the hill we came to some lush forest with lots of healthy understory growth.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130808

Moss covered dead tree trunk © JT of jtdytravels; P1130808

Moss had certainly taken up residence on this small, dead tree trunk.

Cornus canadensis ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100482

Cornus canadensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100482

This was a beautiful example of Cornus canadensis; Dwarf Dogwood or Bunchberry.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130811

Moss encrusted conifer © JT of jtdytravels; P1130811

The higher we climbed, the more daylight we began to see.

In this clearing, a brown moss had taken hold on almost every branch of a tall conifer.

Feathery Moss on a Conifer ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130845

Feathery Moss on a Conifer © JT of jtdytravels; P1130845

This tree, a little further out of the dense forest,

was covered in lichen and a cream coloured, feathery moss.

Muskeg plateau ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100487

Muskeg plateau © DY of jtdytravels; P1100487

Up another flight of steps and we had finally arrived at our destination for the afternoon, a plateau of boggy muskeg with quite a different group of plants to enjoy and photograph.

We’ll look at them in the next diary posting.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright ©  JT and DY  of  jtdytravels

More of our travels can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Twilight Cruise ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100362

Twilight Cruise © DY of jtdytravels; P1100362

After a memorable day shared with whales and icebergs, Captain Shawn Nettles took the “Sea Lion” for a quiet after dinner twilight cruise into a narrow fiord. This was a wonderful way to unwind in the peace of the wilderness, shared only by a small fishing boat.

Twilight ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100365

Twilight © DY of jtdytravels; P1100365

The time; 9.15 pm. Summer twilight.

The ship’s lights came on and it was time to think about bed.

What adventures would the morrow bring?

Frederick Sound © JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130763

Frederick Sound © JT of jtdytravels; P1130763

We anchored overnight in a quiet cove and everyone, including all of the crew, had a really good night’s sleep.  So, we were all up bright and early, ready for whatever the day held. While we enjoyed our breakfast and a chat with new friends, “Sea Lion” cruised back up Frederick Sound, to a very special place named Ideal Cove for the first activity of the day, a walk in the forest.

Unloading the DIBs ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130631

Unloading the DIBs © JT of jtdytravels; P1130631

There was only one way to get to the shore, and the forest, and that was by DIB. These inflatables were stored on the ship’s roof, right above our room. They had to be winched down each time we had a shore excursion. Our lady bosun, Nicky, was in charge of these boats and of the kayaks which would be used later in the expedition.

Lee in DIB ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130757

Lee in DIB © JT of jtdytravels; P1130757

Lee Moll, was the first leader ready in a DIB to take walkers over to the shore.  Lee, was our expedition plant specialist and has been leading walks here for many years. She was especially helpful with her extensive knowledge of the area.

Loading a DIB  © JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130766

Loading a DIB © JT of jtdytravels; P1130766

Loading a DIB was quite simple really, especially in these calm waters. The DIB was nosed into a loading ramp at the back of the ship, and one of the crew handed each passenger down into the craft. Before leaving the ship, we each had to ‘log off’ our name on a board (and, of course, remember to ‘log on’ when we came back to the ship!) David is already on board this DIB, in the shadow on the left. Jason, one of the expedition leaders, is his driver.

Off to the forest! © JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130758

Off to the forest of Ideal Cove! © JT of jtdytravels; P1130758

Ideal Cove it was named and ideal it was…

a blue sky, a warm day and a new activity; a forest to explore

and, for David, plants to find.

Preparing for the walk ©  DY  of  jtdytraveks; P1100373

Preparing for the walk © DY of jtdytraveks; P1100373

Once on shore, after a wet landing in boots, life jackets were left in a pile, cameras and binoculars were made ready and the walk began into the depths of the conifer forest.  So let’s go with David and experience the forest and its plants through his photos.

(Plants are named and notes added to the best of our knowledge.)

© DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100377

Isothecium myosuroides  © DY of jtdytravels; P1100377

The very first thing you’ll notice as you enter the forest is that a great many of the conifers are festooned in a shaggy, cream coloured moss. Known commonly as Cat-tail Moss, it is indeed common. It’s botanical name is perhaps less well known: Isothecium myosuroides. 

Toadstool  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100381

Toadstool © DY of jtdytravels; P1100381

In the dimness of the forest floor, fungi can often be found…

these elegant fungi are non edible toadstools.

Single file boardwalk ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100383

Single file boardwalk © DY of jtdytravels; P1100383

A single file boardwalk protects this fragile environment.

Cornus canadensis © DY  of  jtdytravels; P110039

Cornus canadensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100391

Beside the path are low growing plants like this Cornus canadensis, known as Dwarf Dogwood or Bunchberry. The short stalked leaves are particularly lovely; 4 to 7 of them in a whorl.

Four petal-like white bracts protect the central umbel of flowers. Each flower has an explosive pollination mechanism. When the petals of mature but still unopened flowers suddenly reflex, they ‘catapult’ their pollen loads into the air.

The fruit of the Bunchberry are bright red berries, fleshy and quite sweet. Bears love them! And this was bear territory so the group needed to keep a good look out for bears on this walk.

Toadstool cap © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100412

Toadstool cap © DY of jtdytravels; P1100412

Another delicate toadstool cap. You have to get down low to really see these…

and taking photos down to low is something that David does really well.

We can enjoy the results.

Shelf Fungus ©  DY  of  jtdytravels;  P1100398

Shelf Fungus © DY of jtdytravels; P1100398

This ‘shelf’ fungi, attached to a tree, was much more at eye level height.

Shelf or bracket fungi are resilient and may live for a very long time. They gain nourishment from the host tree and may in fact contribute to the death of that tree, feeding off the dead wood for years to come.

Sphagnum squarrosum © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100418

Sphagnum squarrosum © DY of jtdytravels; P1100418

Many types of sphagnum moss can be found in these forests; this one, known as Shaggy Sphagnum, is Sphagnum squarrosum. The leaves, which are formed in dense, shaggy, rough rosettes, can absorb a great amount of water. Plants such as these are very common in the forests and were used by native Alaskan peoples as baby diapers (nappies) and bedding, by women for personal hygiene and also for the dressing of wounds.

Vaccinium sp. © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100421

Vaccinium sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1100421

This berry is probably well known to most as a popular fruit for the table. However, the ones we eat are much sweeter and larger than these native blueberries, a Vaccinium sp. In David’s words, “ours have been horticulturally tinkered with to satisfy our sweet tooth palettes”. But the locals enjoy these native blueberries… and so do the bears.

Webbing on board walk ©  DY  of  jtdytravels;  P1100422

P1100422  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

The boardwalk is covered with the netting used by purse seine fishermen to catch fish; an ingenious use of a ‘ready to hand’ product in this area. It’s use makes the usually wet boards safer for walkers. And speaking of walkers, where are they?

It looks as though David’s been so busy checking out the plants, that the rest of the group has gone ahead! Time to catch up. And time to finish this post and resume from here next time.

Jennie and David

All photographs ©  Jennie Thomas and David Young of jtdytravels

More of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com 

and more travels photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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