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Posts Tagged ‘Pink Feldspar’

Last weekend I visited a railroad cut that dates from the early 1800s.  I found this rail trail in Westmoreland, a town that’s North West of here, last year and it has become one of my favorite places to explore because of the many different plants that grow here.

 1. Canyon

This cut is deep in places and ice had formed where little if any sun shines. If you have ever stood in front of the open door of a walk in freezer then you know what I felt like while taking this photo. It’s nice and cool in the summer and real cool at this time of year.

 2. Mossy Ledge

Some ice tried to stand up to the weak November sunlight but ion this day it was losing the battle, because it was near 60 degrees. All I could hear was the constant drip of water and the crash of falling ice. I took this photo because at times it was like being in an ice cathedral. This reminded me of a niche where a statue might stand.

 3. Trees on Ledges

Instead of spires this cathedral has trees that soar up to the heavens.

 4. Unknown Plant on Ledge

Instead of gargoyles many different plants perch atop even the smallest ledges. I thought the one in this photo was a spleenwort called wall rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria) but there is a small brook running all along the base of the rock face so I couldn’t reach it. I’ve been able to get close enough by zooming in on the photos that I took to know that it isn’t wall rue, but I have no idea what it is.

 5. Icy LiverwortsThousands of liverworts also grow here, seemingly not minding the ice. The small brook kept me from inspecting these up close, too. These plants have grown here undisturbed for almost 200 years and they obviously like it because there are large colonies of them.

 6. Brook

This is the small brook that runs along the base of the rock face. It’s just wide enough so you can’t straddle it and just deep enough so you don’t want to step in it. If you jumped it you would run smack into stone, so I’ll wait until it freezes. There were some small fish in it but they were so fast that I couldn’t tell what they were. They might have been brook trout-they like cold water.

 7. Unknown Orange Lichen

Some stones were covered with huge patches of orange lichens that looked like moss. I’ve never seen this one anywhere but here and I haven’t been able to identify it. Many lichens are orange, but none seem quite as hairy as this one is.

 8. Shack 

Since the railroad ran through here at one time I’m assuming this was a lineman’s shack, or maybe a storage shed. People have torn off the siding to use as bridges to cross the brook.

 9. Ice on Ledges 

A lot of ice climbers come here in the winter to climb the huge ice columns that form when the temperature gets cold enough. On this day all of the ice was rotten and falling from the ledges, and I made sure I wasn’t standing under any of them when they let go.

 10. Rotten Ice

Rotten ice is ice that has frozen and thawed repeatedly or has layers of snow or water within it or has water or air pockets between its ice crystals. Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes grayish, and sometimes white. Vertical hanging ice usually has bubbles in it that are big enough to be seen without magnification. It is always weak and it sounds hollow when it is tapped, rather than solid. When water gets between the ice and the stone that it’s hanging from it can fall very easily and without warning, so that’s a good reason to not stand under it.

 11. Slipped Ledge

Ice isn’t the only thing falling around here. The face of the slab of rock shown in the photo was about two feet wide and the whole thing must have easily been 10 feet long.

 12. Pink Feldspar

A pegmatite grows quickly in the last bits of magma to cool in granite. They are known for their large crystals of what are often semi-precious stones like aquamarine, tourmaline, garnet and topaz. One of the most common pegmatite minerals is feldspar, which can be white, pink or gray. The photo shows part of a large vein of pinkish feldspar that travels through the exposed bedrock here.  Many fine mineral specimens can be found in feldspar and I used to spend many happy hours searching for them. I think of it as a soup, with feldspar the broth and the semi-precious crystals the vegetables. Feldspar is a weak mineral that is easily broken and it gives off a very distinctive odor when struck with a steel hammer.

 13. Smokey Eye Boulder Lichen

Smokey eye boulder lichens (Porpidia albocaerulescens) are usually a smoky gray color, which is where their common name comes from, but they can also have a bluish tint because of the way their waxy coating reflects sunlight. These are crustose lichens and they form a kind of crust on the substrate that they grow on. The bond between a crustose lichen and its substrate is so strong that it can’t be removed without damaging the substrate.  

14. The End 

I found this on the trail and thought that I might as well get some use out of it.

If nature has taught us anything it is that the impossible is probable ~ Ilyas Kassam

Thanks for coming by.

 

 

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