Walktober 2017 – Hawley Bog

Walktober '17I’m joining Robin at Breezes at Dawn for her annual Walktober meme. Anyone who wants to share a seasonal walk is encouraged to join posting by Oct. 28. Click the link for details and watch for the round-up post at the end of the month to see where other folks have been walking. A beautiful way to armchair travel through October.

For my fourth Walktober, I wanted to share a place that is very special to me. Hawley Bog, a 65-acre preserve in Hawley, MA, is one of the last examples of a high-altitude acid bog in New England. A fragile wetland with a floating mat of peat 30 feet thick over open water, it hosts rare plant species that thrive only in bog habitats, including many species of orchids, carnivorous bladderwort, sundew and pitcher plants.

Red maples

Red maples

Even though I’ve lived here most of my life, I only just discovered this spot a few years ago and it has become a favorite. Desolate, remote and unspoiled, I am grateful that it has been preserved by a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and the Five College Consortium, who use it as a teaching and research field site.

Next to the small carpark, there is a kiosk with information about the bog and an aerial map of the short trail. While only half a mile or so round trip, I find this site sacred, a church of Nature if you will, and walk it meditatively, shinrin-roku style, immersing myself in this ancient wilderness. I can easily spend a couple of hours there.

Entering the forest, there is a hush and one can feel there is something indescribably different about this place. Red maple, birch and beech trees line the path. Pine, spruce and hemlock overhang ferny glades.

A short way in there is another info board showing plants one might encounter and a sign-in box to let researchers track visitors. Once the boardwalk begins, because of the sensitive habitat, only two people are allowed per section.

The day I visited I had the place to myself, seeing only birds (migrating White-throated Sparrows, resident Chickadees, Juncos, Blue Jays and Ravens, which flew overhead calling out their distinctive ‘cronk’), as well as insects and plants.

Bog rosemary, laurel, cranberry and winterberry thrive here. Out on the bog, the plants become stunted. Being at high altitude, the wind nearly always blows, making it quite frigid during the cool seasons and arctic conditions in winter.

While I took hundreds of photos, I had to limit myself to these few. I hope you enjoyed this walk as much as I did!



About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
This entry was posted in Field Notes, My Photos and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to Walktober 2017 – Hawley Bog

  1. Jim R says:

    I certainly did. I will go back thru those pictures again in the morning.

  2. Pingback: Walktober 2017 – Hawley Bog – The Militant Negro™

  3. Anne says:

    What a magical place! I can imagine the different scents wafting through from the trees, the water and from the under storey. A Beautiful place for quiet contemplation.

  4. I enjoyed wandering along with you Eliza. Beautiful place and wonderful photographs. You chose a good day!

  5. Cathy says:

    A lovely place to walk Eliza, and especially if you can be alone there. We always choose walks where there won’t be many or any people. 🙂 Will try and get aome photos on our next walk!

  6. Christina says:

    Thank you for sharing this delightful place to walk. Your images really capture the soul of the place.

  7. Alice Pratt says:

    No wonder you enjoy being there…what an awesome place to spend lots of time. So much to see in such a small area.

  8. Rita Pichette says:

    I love bogs! We used to kayak at a pond which had a large bog at the end of it. It was very cool to paddle in among the pitcher plants. We even got up close to a loon there which was a treat (they’re bigger than you’d think!). Nice “report” with beautiful photos as always!

  9. thank you for the journey today, Eliza 🙂

  10. naturebackin says:

    What an amazing place – its rarity and antiquity must resonate in subtle and powerful ways. Thank you for sharing and for the evocative photos.

  11. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Looks like a wonderful wild place.

  12. Val Boyko says:

    What a wonderful walk Eliza 💛 Thanks for bringing us along!

  13. Robin says:

    Thank you, Eliza. I loved this walk. I can see why it feels like sacred space to you. Bogs are magical places, I think. I hope you’ll share some more of your pictures with us as time goes on. 🙂

  14. Beautiful photographs of your walk, Eliza.

  15. albert says:

    I did enjoy it! So much that I’m going to take it again. And then again with friends!

  16. Samuel says:

    It’s beautiful! Looks like a good place for birds 😉

  17. Kris P says:

    You’re lucky to have such a wonderful place close by, Eliza. We have to drive hours away to be embraced by nature in a similar way.

  18. InfiniteZip says:

    so lovely Eliza, like a walk in the nature glade in beautiful weather ❤

  19. Anca Tirca says:

    Looks like a magic place, thanks for sharing your walk with us!

  20. Christy B says:

    It must have been difficult to choose which photos to keep! I enjoyed our walk 🙂

  21. arlingwoman says:

    This is fascinating. It’s so nice to have places like this nearby to go walk in, even for a short time. I’d like to see this place. Making not of it for my so far unplanned trip to western Mass…

  22. Rebecca says:

    How lovely, Eliza. I had lived at Aldinga Beach for a few years myself before I properly discovered the Aldinga Scrub, which I post about so frequently now. I knew it was there, but not how precious it was nor how rare the flora and fauna within it were. There is a special joy to finding such a rare remnant of native land close to home, isn’t there? 🙂

  23. It just looks like the sort of place where you would feel calm and at one with nature. Just wonderful.

    (And funny you should mention juncos – I was thinking on my walk this morning (with our first frost) that they have yet to return to my bird feeders. I’m not in any hurry for them to get there, as then summer really is over.)

  24. Brenda says:

    I seem to remember going on a field trip there (along with a an-old-growth forest) many decades ago in a botany class at UMass. I love bogs. They seem so prehistoric, with the spring, dense sphagnum and carnivorous plants. Thanks for sharing.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Brenda. Yes, prehistoric is a great description…it does have a primeval feel to it. Fun that you went there once! There is an old-growth forest just down the road in Charlemont.

  25. Wonderful choices! I know the agony of choosing from among hundreds of shots – the right ones always pop out though, don’t they? 🙂

  26. Laurie Graves says:

    Wowsah! What a beautiful place. And your pictures and words made me feel as though I were walking along with you.

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  28. What a delight! I recently read (in a scary story) that in some parts of the U.S., they used to call tree skeletons in the marshes a “snag.” Thank you for showing us the beauty of the bog.

  29. What a beautiful and special place, I enjoyed my visit Eliza.

  30. MK says:

    Yes, there are places on our Earth which are “indescribably different”, as you say. It’s a privilege to share the air with them.
    Thanks for this lovely walk.

  31. NorCal Zen says:

    Thank you for bringing us on the walk. I enjoyed it very much!

  32. Peter/Outlaw says:

    A special place to be sure. Thanks for introducing us to it! I’ll be sure to join Walktober next year!

  33. Thank you for taking me along on this beautiful walk! I felt like I was back east for a moment. I especially like your looking up view of the red maples.

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  35. aFrankAngle says:

    You capture fall so well! Cheers to your sunny day with the variety of colors that the season brings.

  36. Debbie says:

    Eliza, I enjoyed walking with you through this beautiful place — thanks for letting me join in.You selected some gorgeous photos piquing my interest in participating in next year’s Walktober!

  37. I love bogs too, and your photos are great! Thanks for sharing your walk. 🙂

  38. Love the photos! Beautiful countryside 🙂

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