The Crooked Canes Journal


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Walk Amongst the Tupelos in Lincoln Mountain State Forest and More ~ Dec 20, 2016

Journal entry by Wanderer



It has been a couple of years since we last visited the tupelo trees in Lincoln Mountain State Forest and I have to say they haven’t aged a bit in those years – not that one could tell since some of them are over 600 years old.  Just like the last time, the notice for this bonus hike was late and the weather was a tad colder than predicted – I think it was around 10 or 12.  That’s ok since sun was predicted for late morning – that surely would warm things up – NOT!  Still, 7 brave souls came out to enjoy the snowshoe and pleasant company.  There was limited discussion about the route – the choices was a direct route to the tupelos and return or take the circuitous route and visit the handle tree, the tupelos, the kissing tree, check out the view of the once thriving heron rookery and try and find the porcupine den – a resident that has been living in one of the hemlock groves for several years.  The longer route was chosen but the vote was not unanimous.

The route begins at the end of the paved portion of Cohen Rd in the Town of Greenfield and continues on a logging road for some distance, allowing you to warm up a bit before entering the bushwhack portion.  There was 6-8” of snow which made snowshoes a necessity for a change – something we didn’t have to do last year.  The woods are mixed hardwoods with some evergreens, pretty open but we still had to zigzag around blowdowns.  It wasn’t long before we arrived at the “handle tree” area and it only took a few seconds to locate the unusual beech tree with a branch grown in a loop, connected to the trunk, forming a handle. I have visited the tree many times and it still amazes me.  

In most years we can enter the swamp here, heading directly to the tupelos; however, despite recent below zero temperatures and lots of snow the swamp water was not completely frozen so we followed the shore for as long as possible before finally entering.  It was tough going trying to stay on the hummocks and avoiding the slush but we managed and eventually arrived at the grove of the tupelos.  The trees number less than 30 but you don’t have to visit all of them to appreciate their uniqueness.  Don describes them as pretty awful looking - i.e. a telephone pole 50 to 100 ft high with some deformed branches at the top – let’s see how he looks when he is 500 years old! 

Our next destination is the “kissing tree” – a tree that once was split in two – rejoined itself about 10-12’ higher on the trunk and continued to grow – still alive. We carefully exited the swamp and continued on the bushwhack and within a short time were at the famous tree.  Everyone tries to figure out how it happened but there is never a consensus – just fun in trying.  It was lunch time so we located a comfortable place nearby – spread out quite a bit, keeping company with the lonely tree. 

With lunch over we headed for the abandoned heron rookery and to locate the porcupine den.  Unfortunately, my recollection of the exact location of each was off and we wound up zigzagging into and out of the swamp before finally coming upon a view of the old nests of the rookery in a separate swamp.  There weren’t too many complaints about my route finding abilities – at least none that I could hear.  The nests were abandoned a few years back when the water level decreased so much that fish no longer were available to support the rookery but there have been reports that owls have used them to raise their families.  The porcupine den that has been around for the past few years could not be located and only a small amount of activity was found in the hemlock grove – perhaps they moved – an adventure to locate them saved for another time.

We completed the original plans and now were on the way back to our cars – back in the open woods and stable ground to the logging road and out – a total distance of just over 3 miles. Tom said it felt more like 6 miles – everyone agreed with him – it was a tough hike, especially in the swamp but on the positive side it had warmed to a balmy 19 degrees!  Nonetheless, a good time on a nice snowshoe adventure – thanks to Tom and Don for the great idea, Scott, Jim I, and Lenore and Jack.  Peter

12/21/16 - Scott Anderson added 7 photos.

12/25/16 - Wanderer . added 8 photos.

18 photos



Whacking the bushes... - added by Scott



Swhacking the swamp.... - added by Scott



A tupelo tree. - added by Scott



Lunch. Anyone care for a chuck of ice to gnaw on? - added by Scott



Desolate beauty - added by Scott



Abandoned heron rookery - added by Scott



Where art thou, porcupine? - added by Scott



Group at the handle tree - added by Jim



Group & the handle tree - added by Jim



Group - closeup of the handle tree - added by Jim



Scott showing just how hollow some tupelo tree trunks are - and still alive! - added by Wanderer



Deep texture often found on the tupelo tree bark - added by Wanderer



Ice crystals in the swamp - added by Wanderer



Exiting the swamp - saying goodbye to the tupelos until the next visit - added by Wanderer



The "kissing" tree - added by Wanderer



Lunch on a root ball .... - added by Wanderer



.... or alone on a fallen tree. Slim pickins for lunch spots on this day. - added by Wanderer



Always colorful - Jim - added by Wanderer



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