Tick City: Clear-Cut LTER

I hiked to the far top of an “alternate LTER” site today: a clear-cut slope on Forest Road 1501. Okay, hike is too dignified for what I did. Sweated and scrambled and stumbled would be more accurate. It was a much higher/steeper slope than it seemed at first, partially due to the great HEIGHT of the trees straight-edging the upper boundary of the clear-cut. From a distance, they seemed like regular trees but they were ***REALLY TALL*** so that screwed up my judging of distance. I hiked up the boundary line between the private-property cut, and a “thinning” of a National Forest parcel, and might as well have been hiking uphill in the jungle… thick bushes and thorny brambles… lots of bumble-bees out in the vetches, and I gave wide berth to all buzzing stumps. The slope was littered with slash and branches several feet deep in spots, some of which hid drainages creating hollow bridges of debris over the ditches. All this made walking more like climbing. The underlying ground was loose and crumbly in some areas where great tree roots had been torn loose, above, while in other areas, there was only a thin layer of plant growth and duff over steep rock, which was weeping, a slow spring. Berry canes zigged back and forth, rooting from the tips, creating barbed-wire arches.  The regrowth pines were mostly 10-18 feet, although they’d looked like small shrubs from below. The view from on top was amazing (and sad: views of other clear cuts on other ridges). I sketched and wrote for a while, sitting on a stump. Then I realized I was crawling with tiny dark deer-ticks, and so I crashed my way down-slope in the direction of a shower. Now a new group of students has arrived from Albion College in Michigan, where my late father-in-law Fred was a student. Right away they noticed my truck’s Michigan license plate, and my SAVE THE WILD UP bumper sticker. I believe I’ll be going out in the field with them tomorrow, as Fred Swanson returns to give them a tour! Small world

Scenes from a clear-cut:

Slash pile, recent cuttingVetch
Ridge-top clear cut....Boundary cutting marker
LTER alt site:  Clear Cut on 1501View from atop clearcut

Giant slug!
Berry canes

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