Friday, April 20, 2007

Honey? Can you call Cranberry Lake Preserve?

"Honey? Can you call Cranberry Lake Preserve and find out which trail goes to the Nature Center? We're on the red trail heading north. And hurry, because they close the gates in a half hour..."

Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and I was in need of nature. So I suggested we head to Cranberry Lake. This is a beautiful preserve that is very close by.
Some of you may remember how much rain we had here earlier this week. Cranberry Lake is very close to one of the reservoirs. The reservoirs that are over 101% of capacity. Can you see where I'm going with this?
It was so pretty, but also pretty muddy. There were many areas of the trail that we had to squelch and squirch our way through. With the background music of the spring peepers, we picked our way along the trails. My plan was to reach the actual lake, because I was hoping we might spot some turtles and maybe even a snake sunning itself. I haven't hiked here in a while, so I followed my vague memory of where things are.
tree sky chipmunk
Marina took the tree shot. I can't believe I managed to get this shot of a chipmunk!
mossy way Waterfall
We walked along a beautiful mossy path at one point, which led to a waterfall. The kids loved the waterfall, and I was doing great! We were almost at the lake crossing where I remembered seeing snakes long ago. But much to our disappointment (OK, my disappointment) there were no snakes today and the lake was still swollen, which meant the path was now underwater.
trails end
No problem, the blue trail is out. We still had an hour to make our way back to the car. We started back, past the waterfall and the mossy trail and came to the purple trail. I love purple, so we decided to follow it and see where it led. We found a beautiful area enclosed by rock cliffs made up of large rectangular boulders that looked like they were stacked haphazardly by a giant. There was a quiet pool I had never seen before on one end of the trail. We also found the rusted out remains of two cars that must have been at least 60 years old! All that remained were the fenders, a few tires, and bits and pieces of their frames, the steering column and the engine. Here we see Chase pretending to drive it. I made this one larger so you could see the fan. Both cars still had their engine fans!
car skeleton
We continued following the purple trail, but after awhile the path seemed to become overgrown. We also realized it had been a while since we had seen a trail marker. We could see a real path below us, but a cliff separated us, and Sierra was so prepared for muddy rock climbing in her white dress. When we finally found a passable spot to climb down I had lost all sense of direction. We followed the red path because we were sure that that had to lead back to the nature center, but when it crisscrossed with 5 other paths I got a little confused.
Did we come this way? Now that we had been here for 2 and a half hours, everything looked alike. Luckily, I had had the forethought to grab my cell phone, which I had been charging in the car. Luckier still, I managed to get a signal. Which brings us to the beginning of my story.
We did manage to get back to the car in time, but I suspect the kids will think twice the next time I suggest we go for a walk in the woods!

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