Skunk Cabbage, (Symplocarpus foetidus), a member of the Jack-in-the Pulpit family, emerges in early spring often before snow melts. It is a plant of wetlands and moist slopes, that due to strange internal chemistry uses oxygen to create heat, a process called thermogenesis. The flower sprouts first enclosed by a mottled purple hood called the spathe. Temperature within the spathe can reach 70 F. Inside the hood the flower, (spadix), resides, pale yellow and tubular. The leaves don’t sprout until late spring and die back in summer. The spadix turns black and releases marble sized seeds. Pollen produced by the flower and the warm temperature within the hood are enjoyed by insects including bees, carrion beetles and flies. Although the plant is toxic, causing burning and swelling in the lips and mouth, bears eat the young leaves and the roots, ducks, and grouse enjoy the seeds. The common name, Skunk Cabbage is apt, as the flower gives off a rotting meat and skunky aroma.
Native Americans dried the the plant, reducing the toxicity and used it to treat everything from headaches to epilepsy.
INFORMATION BELOW IS FROM THE MAIN GMC, 25 March 2020
Under Governor Scott’s new “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order for Vermonters, you may be wondering about outdoor activities. During the press conference regarding this order, the governor endorsed getting outside for exercise and fresh air. Please just do this locally (not traveling to the Long Trail or other trail systems), with members of your own household, and stay 6’ or more away from anyone you may encounter. We recommend taking walks right out your door and exploring your neighborhood on any trails, dirt roads, or sidewalks you have available. Trails and parks in other states have been overwhelmed with use and had to close because people were not practicing correct social distancing. If we all enjoy the outdoors locally and responsibly, we may be able to avoid that outcome in Vermont.
This is a constantly changing situation and we are in daily discussions with our land management partners. We will continue to update you here with news when we have it.
Book review: Earl V. Shaffer "Walking With Spring" (1981 )
It seems as if when you can't be out hiking the trail you could just waterproof your boots or you could read about hiking the trail. There are quite a few good books about hiking the Appalachian Trail, but the one to start with is Earl V. Shaffer's "Walking With Spring."
First of all, he was the first to hike the AT continuously from end to end, which he did in 1948 after serving 41/2 years in the Army in World War II. Certainly any 2000 plus mile hike is quite an accomplishment, but in 1948 it was exceptionally difficult. Just following the trail in those days was quite a challenge, and it was made even harder when the maps that Earl ordered from the Appalachian Trail Conference didn't arrive in time, leaving him to depend on gas station maps.
In addition, his equipment seemed to be a little shaky, especially by modern standards. In his "bulky" Mountain Troop rucksack he carried a Marine Corps poncho, a "paper mill" blanket (whatever that is) and an Air Corps survival tent (which he ditched after a week.) When he developed blisters early on, he decided the "…best thing was to put sand in my boots and wear no socks until my feet toughened." (!)
But maybe most importantly, reading "Walking With Spring" gives the reader a unique opportunity to go back in time and experience -even if vicariously - the early Appalachian Trail as it was in 1948, and a very different America along the way . Neither the trail nor the country would ever be the same again.
Finally - and thankfully - Earl Shaffer's writing is more than equal to the promise of his great adventure. He tells you, in quite a bit of detail, with a few photographs, just about everything you might want to know about this first AT thru-hike in a style that's as natural and inspiring as a walk in the woods.
INFORMATION BELOW IS FROM THE MAIN GMC, 23 March 2020
Yes, you can still hike! We want you to get out on the trails and your safety is our top priority. We ask that you limit your hikes to local day trips and avoid traveling and congregating in groups. Please continue to maintain social distance of at least 6’ between people even on the trails.
For the safety of all, we ask that hikers do not use any overnight sites, shelters, or privies until further notice. These facilities cannot be sanitized and may contain surfaces for the coronavirus to spread through. We also cannot guarantee a COVID-19 free experience while hiking.
The current conditions are showing that it is mud season on some trails, while it’s still full winter on others, especially up high. Please be prepared for the conditions and be safe. Please consider that any accidents in the woods are dangerous for you and put a strain on first responders and our already overloaded healthcare system. You can reference more safety recommendations from Leave No Trace.
We know that hiking is good for our mental and physical health and can be a source of inspiration in difficult times. The Green Mountain Club is here to help you find your connection to the mountains. Our visitor center staff are taking calls and answering emails. We are working on virtual activities to keep you connected to the hiking community. Reach out using (802) 244-7037 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit our website for GMC related COVID-19 information.
Please be safe when enjoying your outdoor pursuits.
Click here to find information about hiking during Mud Season.
GMC Director’s Report 3/21/20
The GMC board meeting was held remotely via Zoom.
GMC is currently operating in remote mode – the Visitors’ Center is closed, and staff are working from home. All group events have been cancelled through at least April. Hikers are asked to limit themselves to day hikes both to limit group congregation and because shelters and privy maintenance is not yet underway, as well as the usual caution not to hike above 3000’ until the trails dry out in late May, for trail protection.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, plans had been in place for an active field season in our neighborhood with an extended volunteer project to harden trail with rock placement just south of Sucker Pond, and replacement of the Melville Nauheim privy. Now, the options for group work, housing of seasonal staff and volunteers, and deployment of caretakers are all uncertain. We do anticipate increased trail use and anticipate multiple challenges throughout the state.
Fortunately, our budget is balanced and club membership has increased slightly. Staff will be working to maintain operations as best they can as the situation evolves. The status of the Annual Meeting, June 12-14, at Sterling College, Craftsbury, is uncertain. For updates, visit greenmountainclub.org
The annual meeting and potluck originally scheduled for March 15th has been postponed due to the COVID-19 virus including food restrictions at the UU. We are planning to reschedule in late April, but will confirm as we know more.
Here is the Proposed Agenda for the meeting:
5:30 Gather at the UU
5:45 Potluck begins
6:30 Business Meeting
•Approval of Minutes of 2019 Bennington Annual Meeting
• Elections: new officers are in bold
•President: Reed Goossen (taking over from Lorna Cheriton)
• Vice President: Tim Marr
• Secretary and Director: Martha Stitelmann
• Treasurer and Membership Coordinator: Bill Lyons
• Other officers
• Co-ordinator of Trails and Shelters: Matt Vezina (taking over from PJ Beaumont)
Communications (website and Meetup): Ann and Billy Martin
Newsletter: Hal March and Lorna Cheriton
• Trails: Matt Venzina and/or PJ Beaumont
• Director: Martha Stitelmann
• Communications: Ann and Billy Martin (website); Hal March (newsletter)
• Treasurer's Report: Lorna Cheriton for Bill Lyons
• Other Business
7:00 Presentation: Hubey Folsom will share photos and stories of his 2018 Mexican volcano climb, his 2019 Ecuador trek and volcano climb, and his 2020 Mexico City trip which includes climbing three smaller volcanoes.
7:45 Dessert and Questions for Hubey
Keep up with the happenings around Bennington !
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