Sourland Mountain Preserve – A beautiful Saturday hike with my family

Sourland Mountain Preserve is located on East Mountain Road in Hillsborough.

Link to map and hiking information.

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It was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning and my husband and I decided it was a good day for a hike.  I have actually never hiked in the Sourlands on the weekend.  I always go on hikes on weekday mornings so I was completely surprised to see a PACKED parking lot!  In all the years I have been hiking these trails, I may see a few cars in the parking lot but never anything like this!  At first we thought about maybe going to a different preserve that wasn’t so crowded, but decided to head into the woods anyway.  I am so happy we did!  Even though the parking lot was crowded, the woods were not crowded at all.  We saw people maybe every 15 minutes or so, but it never felt like it was crowded.

This rain has just been doing wonders for the forest fungi!  There were so many mushrooms, so I need to say a big THANK YOU to Nina for being wonderful and answering all my mushroom questions!

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Hopping like a frog from rock to rock!

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This was another new-to-me plant!  I reached out to the trusty Sourland Stewards and they were able to ID this plant.  I know that I have said this before, but they are such a wonderful resource for all your stewardship needs!  This native vine is Moonseed, Menispermum canadense.  Moonseed is named for its crescent shaped seeds.

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This was another new-to-me plant!  Black Snakeroot, Sanicula canadensis.  This native plant attracts bee pollinators and apparently is unpalatable to deer!

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My kids really enjoyed running over all the bridges in the forest.

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I thought to myself as I took this picture, “I know there is something interesting about Daddy-long-legs but I can’t remember exactly what it is…  Well, this arachnid is not a spider.  Taxonomy identifies classifications of organisms according to Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and species.  Spiders and Daddy-long-legs are both in the Class Arachnida, but spiders belong to the Order of Araneae and Daddy-long-legs belong to the Order of Opiliones.  Daddy-long-legs do not have fangs or venom while spiders most certainly do!.  I find these differences and similarities absolutely fascinating.  You can read more about it here!

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My wildboys (and husband) running through the woods.

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Sometimes, I forget that something which may seem like a small obstacle for me can be quite a large obstacle for someone else. And vice versa…

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A waxy cap, Hygrocybe (H. conica or H. acutoconica).  These species of Hygrocybe often appear late in the season.  I saw a lot of these mushrooms on this hike.

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A boy among giants.

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Another non-native red berry!  Burning bush (Winged Euonymus), Euonymus alatus.  Burning bush was originally used as an ornamental, but has escaped from our lawns and has invaded our forests.

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Evidence of a forest snail.  Truth be told, I had never seen a forest snail until a few years ago.  I was on Baldpate Mountain and picked up a snail shell and was completely shocked.  I am not sure why I was so surprised, but I suppose I had always thought of  a snail as an aquatic animal.  There are many species of terrestrial snails and depending on their species, will eat plant matter and fungi or even prey on nematodes.  Can you imagine watching a snail stalk its prey?  Pretty wild!

A Gilled Bolete, Phylloporus rhodoxanthus.  Apparently the cap will turn blue if you pour ammonia on it.  Read more about Gilled Boletes here!

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I forgot to ask Nina about this mushroom, so I will take a stab at identifying it…  I think this is a Mycena galericulata.  Honestly, I really don’t know too much about identifying mushrooms but I always get so excited when I find them!  I need to go out on more mushroom forays to learn.

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Musclewood, Carpinus caroliniana.  This tree gets its common name from the sinewy look of its bark.  I love these trees and I can never keep myself from running my hands along their trunks.

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Another waxy cap, Hygrocybe miniata.  It was so small and dainty I almost missed seeing it!

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A coral fungus, Ramariopsis kunzei.  These fungi can look pretty wild as they grow larger.

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White Turtlehead, Chelone glabra, a beautiful native.  Yet another new-to-me!  Truly, how wonderful to walk through this world and learn something new each time!

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A millipede!  I tried to figure out which type of millipede this is, but I couldn’t quite decide on a specific identification. What’s the difference between a centipede and a millipede?  A hundredth to a thousandth!  If you don’t find my puns amusing, you can read more about the difference here!

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A Leopard Earthball, Scleroderma areolatum.  Nina told me to “note how each small scale is encircled by a clear area (areola)”.  I thought this was such a cool little find!  I saw it on our way out of the woods.  One of the fun things about an out-and-back hike is that you see all the things you missed on your way in!

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More red berries!  False Solomon’s Seal, Maianthemum racemosum, berries!

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More black berries! Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum spp., in fruit!  I think this is Smooth Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum biflorum, but the plant is in rough shape and my toddlers were tired so I didn’t spend too much time trying to identify it down to its species.

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My heart was bursting while out on this hike with my family.  My wild boys were running, shouting and exploring and my husband and I were in awe of how much they have grown.  I love watching the children pick up acorns, rocks, leaves and sticks and  inspect them while thinking about their next move.  Sometimes, it’s an object to throw or it’s a tool or  it may be a coveted treasure to be carried for the whole journey.  As we walked down the mountain, I held  my oldest son’s hand.  I asked him if he had a nice morning and he shouted a resounding “Yes!”.  I then said, “I love you so much” and my three-year old responded “I love you so much too, Mom.  We love each other the same”.

 

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