Another rainy week in the woods of northern Minnesota but I have no choice and must work in it if I am to finish this project on time. My goals were to survey one upland forest and four conifer swamps. The first day was in an old growth sugar maple forest. It was easy walking once I got up the boulder strewn slope and onto the gently rising hill where the sugar maples grow. The weather was mild and partly sunny. A breeze coming from Lake Superior kept the black flies and mosquitoes down. I covered a good portion of the forest I had not been to on my previous visit. The principle tree is sugar maple and many of them are large with trunks 2 to 3 feet in diameter. There are smaller ones, too, growing in the under-story. If or when any of the larger and older trees fall over in a storm or die from old age these smaller trees will quickly fill in the gaps.
Late Tuesday night until Thursday morning it rained. In some places the rainfall was heavy and small streams flooded. The swamps also filled with water from the runoff. Temperatures became much cooler and this was made only worse by the fog and light wind. Everything was soaked. Water dripped from every leaf and pine needle. To grab a branch for balance when trying to climb over dead-falls meant getting rained on again. At the end of each day I was mostly dry thanks to rubber boots, rain pants, and a raincoat. I stayed warm, too, because under the rain gear I was wearing lined pants, thick socks, a heavy shirt and sweater almost like it was winter. My tent and sleeping gear were dry when I got back to camp and that was a relief. I’ve had to sleep in flooded tents and wet sleeping bags before and it is no fun at all.
In spite of the rain and cooler weather, I made good time and covered a lot of territory. I also found a few interesting plants and lichens that will need to be revisited later this summer on a dry day. Now I am home again sorting through data and photos, cleaning my gear, and preparing for next week. And there is weeding to do, grass to cut, gutters to clean, and getting another wall of my house ready for painting. Well, at least there are three or four days of warm weather ahead.