Porcupine Mountains Photo Essay


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Porcupine Mountains Photo Essay

  1. 1. The largest remaining old- growth and hardwood forest in the Midwest is here in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The ridges of this area create a shady, moist microclimate with milder windstorms and fewer wildfires, and the steep rugged slopes also spared the hemlocks, sugar maples and yellow birches from the loggers . According to the interpretive signs, some of the trees along the Presque Isle River are more than four centuries old! Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
  2. 2. Our family has a traditional day hike in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park each summer. We walk alongside the Presque Isle River, which cuts northward through the U.P. and empties into the south shore of Lake Superior, about a half mile downstream of this spot. According to the park’s interpretive signs, the local Ojibwa named these falls after the powerful spirit god, Manabehzo. The ancient uplifted basalt is transformed by the river’s power, and this is a beautiful and even scary sight to behold. See the fractures in the rock? In some places they almost look like a stonecutter’s measured and precise work.
  3. 3. Some years the river has been very low, others, incredibly high, fast and roaring. It’s neat to compare the water volume from year to year, depending on the rainfall in the weeks preceding. I think I’d like to dig up earlier year’s photos and compare this side by side.
  4. 4. The Presque Isle River, viewed from a bridge just before it reaches Lake Superior. These holes are formed by rocks swirling and scouring over time. Now that’s a hot tub design.
  5. 5. Eastern hemlock trees abound in this forest. These photos show: how they thrive even when clinging and leaning over the river; their adorable tiny cones; some new growth on a bough.
  6. 6. A huge yellow birch, another of the main species in this old-growth forest. Inset, a close-up of the bark, which I think is very beautiful. It’s quite different from the way it looks on a younger tree, but I’ll have to get a photo of a young one next year!
  7. 7. Look at those holes! Caused by a pileated woodpecker? Were they homes for various birds and other animals during this tree’s life? I’m not sure, but they sure look cool. Also, the inset photo shows how fallen trees become a part of new growth regenerating. In the Olympic Forest in Washington State, these are called nursery trees, which helps to illustrate the important role they play in helping nurture new trees from their own decay.
  8. 8. Check out this tree’s base. It probably started out as a seedling nestled on a fallen tree. Slowly, it grew in, on and then around the old tree. Its roots grew around and down to the ground, and remain even after the nursery tree finally decomposed and disappeared into the soil below.
  9. 9. “These leaves look sort of maple-y, don’t they?” That’s what I would have said before this class, but of course, now I know the correct terms, which sure helped me confirm that they belong to a Mountain Maple, or Moose Maple tree. Check out this description from an Audubon guide: “Leaves: opposite, with 3 or 5 short broad lobes, coarsely saw-toothed; 3 or 5 main veins from base; light green and becoming hairless above, hairy beneath, turning bright red and orange in autumn.” Yep, just as I would have said it!
  10. 10. Is this a vertical split in the tree from sap getting trapped on a winter day? I think this is a huge sugar maple tree, so that would make sense. Hmmm… brightly colored fungus. Do mushrooms use color as a warning also? I am not tempted to find out.
  11. 11. There’s something so beautiful about ferns. I love the variety in this forest, and tried to take enough photos to identify them later. I saw that these were two species here, so I put both into the frame for better comparison later.
  12. 12. I used my hand to convey scale, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I really could have used a fern book, which I still don’t have. However, a great website, www.ontarioferns.com, taught me how to approach their identification. First, vocabulary, of course! The frond is anything above the root. On the blade, look to see how much more the fern divides. Some are only once- divided, some are twice-divided, some are thrice-divided. This is crucial, and my photos usually had enough detail to determine this. Also important, but I didn’t record: the undersides of the frond leaflets, in order to see the spori, which hold the spores. Oh well, I may have had enough for some good guesses: On the right, a Bracken Fern, I think: Pteridium aquilinum var. latiusculumcken. On the left, possibly an Intermediate Wood Fern: Dryopteris intermedia.
  13. 13. I’m not sure about this fern. Its fronds are twice-divided, and my best guess is that it is a Long Beech Fern (Phegopteris connectilus). I also think it’s what was covering the forest floor in some areas.
  14. 14. The fronds of this fern are once-divided, and it’s pretty unique, a Senstivie Fern (Onoclea sensibilus).
  15. 15. I need help identifying this one. Any ideas? Reminded me of honeysuckle, but no flowers were present. Smooth edged, opposite leaves with pinnate veins. A bush sized-plant growing along a stream edge in a shady forest. And the berries, of course! There were only a very few of these.
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