Sunday, August 22, 2010

8-15-20 Carter Lake, Carter Notch

Last Sunday was such a glorious day! I was on the trail (Nineteen Mile Brook Trail) early, bound for Carter Notch, and luxuriated in the coolness of the woods and the lovely sound of the river close by.

There are myriad little swimming "holes", water falls with slides of mossy rock that drop into bathtub sized pools for the first mile, or so, of Nineteen Mile Brook.

This pool, a favorite of mine, has a built in shower.

The lower part of the trail has several sentinel hemlocks ( Tsuga canadensis) that are leviathan in comparison to other trees in their immediate vicinity. One wonders how they've been spared through all the logging that's taken place along the brook over years and years.

The woods, as already noted, are full of fungi this year. This one is associated with conifers generally but seems to prefer hemlocks.

A blushing hobblebush leaf.

Being on the trail early insures some quiet, at least for a while, but in this case the trail was suddenly inundated with hikers descending from Carter Notch Hut with tales of mountains of pan cakes dripping syrup and butter. This young woman was hiking with a friend.

Two friends; one's a little shy.


My favorite: father and daughter.

At the height of land gusts of wind rustled in the birch leaves above the lake whispering hints that September's not far off. The lake wrinkles and sparkles in the sun as the wind rushes across the surface.

I found out in July that getting into the lake is a bit of a problem due to the deep, organic sediments on the bottom in around the south end and you can sink in up to your knees which is a not a pleasantfeeling . I found a place behind a boulder in the southeast corner of the lake where I could put on my gear and begin swimming right from the shore. My feet didn't have to touch the muck.

After being in the cold, sterile water of Lake of the Clouds the day before Carter Lake was warm by comparison. This was my first view as I submerged: a rich diversity of plants that was reminiscent of Lonesome Lake. Of the four lakes I explored Carter was the most diverse in plant life.

Here were the tall, grass-like plants that were so abundant at Lonesome that grow in 3-5 feet of water.

These lily stems and leaves, as they rest on the surface above me, were lovely.

The stems go down for several feet. On average they grow well in water depths of 3-5 feet but I found some growing in 8 feet of water but struggling there.

The stems towards the bottom are fleshy, and thick, and supple, and..

are firmly attached to the bottom by a strong, well developed root system. They are very hardy, tenacious plants.

These plants were also fleshy and well attached. I keep saying that I'm going to key these out and find out their names but I haven't had time. When I do have time I will come back and record the names properly. For the moment it's nice just to look at them.

The middle of the lake with the cliffs of Wildcat Mountain jutting steeply up from the west shore of the lake.

Under those cliffs I expected to find a mass of boulders and crevices, dark holes, but the bottom was relatively clear with one or two larger rocks like this one.

And this one.

Looking east towards Carter Dome and Pulpit Rock.

The deepest spot I measured was here at 14 feet. There's still ample sun reaching the bottom and profuse vegetation. I saw small trout swimming in this section of the lake (the northwest corner where it;s deeper, cooler, away from the trail and more shade). They weren't very large so don't grab your fishing gear.

Nine feet deep and still lots of vegetation.

There was a lot of organic debris on the bottom along the western and northern shores of the lake like this balsam log.

This was representative of the bottom along the southern shoreline of the lake where the deep sediments layers are that tend to be loose and undifferentiated.

When I stuck my hand into this sediment layer I could bury it easily to the elbow and beyond.

The sediments were light, not like mud, and took a long time to settle after being disturbed. Note all the mica glistening in the sunlight.

This shows more of the bottom near the southern shore which is rock bound for the most part. The rocks cover the bottom for 10-12 feet out towards the center of the lake.

A typical view.

A blob of algae, I think. It may be another kind of plant that looks like algae.

These look a lot like young Boston lettuce plants in a garden.

And this looks like a bean plant.

This, mysteriously, was the stump of a balsam fir (it's not a prehistoric reptile arching up to take a bite out of me) and it's been here for a quite a while but in three feet of water and well out from the shore. It was firmly anchored to the bottom. It raises historical questions about water levels in the lake and/or shifts in the shoreline.

Tadpoles of the American Toad (Bufo americanus). It seems late in the season for tadpoles but their reproductive cycle may have been disturbed by the hot dry summer we've had.

The 2010 Carter Croo.

It was a lovely summer day. I sat for a long time by the lake enjoying the heat of the sun on my shoulders and listened to the wind as it whipped up the leaves on the surrounding wooded slopes, upending silvery bellies the way it does when rain is coming.

The air smelled of asters that were arching over the trail that swings around the lake. They were hinting that fall was coming, too, and gave the day an added poignancy.

After saying goodbye to the croo I packed my cameras and decided to go up Carter Dome to see what I could see and I spent that beautiful summer afternoon meandering along the Carter-Moriah ridge enjoying the wind, the sun, the clouds and the trail. In late afternoon dark clouds wrapped around the summits of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison making them look fierce. It started to rain just as I reached the road and began hitchhiking back to my car.

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