Martin Hollow - from the forest floor to the sky

Southern Indiana's deep woods have evolved into a lush, green mass this time of year. So, as I drove along Tower Ridge Road to the Martin Hollow Trailhead under a brilliant, mid-day sun on Friday, my photographic plan was to keep an eye on the sky, watchful for the visual interplay of canopy, sky and cloud.

The woods had indeed turned a dense shamrock green along the three-mile trail in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness. For the first time this year I picked up trailside sticks to clear spider webs that span the sometimes overgrown path, which begins at the Hickory Ridge Lookout Tower and bears west to Grubb Ridge, crossing Tower Ridge en route. And after what seemed like an eternity of steady rain, the trail itself featured extended stretches of pure muck that required a wide-straddle balancing act to traverse.

My perseverance and skyward gaze paid off, as the day's Photo Album illustrates. But, as is always the case, downed trees and combinations of sun and soil offered up isolated patches where wildflowers thrive on or near the forest floor.

Among the brilliantly petaled flora catching my eye were a two-flowered Cynthia, left, (my best guess) and the invasive multiflora rose, bottom. There were also a couple fleabanes, Philadelphia I believe. It's possible the yellow flower is a rattlesnake hawkweed, which is on the state watch list for rare and threatened species.

One trailside project this summer is to improve my species ID skills, especially for wildflowers. Pistil, stamen, petal and sepal, along with compound, pinnate and ovate, are becoming part of my woodland lexicon.

I also shot a few short video clips and recorded some ambient sound that I hope to parlay into a slide show this week.

From the deep green,

Photographs: Charles C. Deam Wilderness, Martin Hollow Trail: Left, two-flowered Cynthia; Bottom, multiflora rose. 


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