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Pygmy Pine Plains 1 - Beth Sawickie

Nature Stroll – Pygmy Pine Forest & Oswego Lake in NJ – Feb. 8th 2015

What a day it was!

2 days ago it was 25 degrees – today, high 50’s!  WOW!

I’d still like more snow, but I can’t say no to a beautiful day full of sunshine and blue skies!

Today we (me, Doug and Soc – the dog) went on a little adventure to the Pygmy Pines in the NJ Pine Barrens and headed to Spring Hill then over to Oswego Lake.

You may have heard that the last time we tried to get to Spring Hill we got stuck in an icy puddle!  This time we went a different way 😉  No stuckage! lol.

Here’s the video I made for you that shows some of the beautiful scenes we saw today:

There’s more info about the location and biology of the Pygmy Pine Planes towards the bottom of this article.

 Photos from the day…

Here we are starting out on our adventure…

Beth Sawickie

The Pygmy Pine Plains…

Looking out over the Pygmy Pine Plains near Spring Hill.

Pygmy Pine Plains 1 - Beth Sawickie

About the Pygmy Pitch Pine Trees:

The Pygmy Pine Plains (or Dwarf Plains) of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey are upland forests that have long intrigued biologists.

Early in the 20th Century, Witmer Stone described them as “desolate stretches of white sand barrens … for the most part devoid of trees higher than one’s knees.” The Pine Plains are dominated by dwarfed Pitch Pines and Blackjack Oaks in the low canopy. Pine Barrens Heather is frequent in the understory. Ground cover includes lichens, mosses, and the sub-shrubs Bearberry and Teaberry.
Source: Pinelands Preservation Alliance, http://www.pinelandsalliance.org/ecology/habitats/pygmyplains/

Where to Find the Pygmy Pines:

The “pygmy” pines, a stunted variety (of) the pitch pine, can be seen at their best on Route 72 which runs northwest from Stafford Township through to Burlington County and beyond to the Philadelphia area.   County Route 539, running from Little Egg Harbor north, also has many great views of these mysterious trees in the southern area.

Source: Piney Power!, www.PineyPower.com

 There are a bunch of sandy trails that wind their way through the plains.

Here is Doug and Soc standing in the plains.  Notice how TINY the pines are! Doug is 5’10”.

Pygmy Pine Plains Size by Beth Sawickie

Now here is Doug standing next to a regular NJ Pine Barrens Pitch Pine.

Tall Pitch Pine by Beth Sawickie

What a difference !!

Here’s the view from Spring Hill.  This photo really doesn’t do it justice.

View from Spring Hill in Pine Barrens by Beth Sawickie

Tweet About This Nature Stroll 🙂

 

There are a few Geocaches up there.  We found ’em 🙂

Here’s Doug filling in a log for one.  Notice how tiny the trees are.

Do you Geocache? (tell me about it in the comments).

Geocaching in the Pines - Beth Sawickie

Here’s Doug surveying the scene and pointing towards another trail in the distance.

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There’s a lot of elevation changes in this area of the pines.

Well, a lot for THIS area which is typically rather flat.

I’m looking up a hill here, Doug is all the way up top (at Spring Hill).

Trail to Spring Hill by Beth Sawickie

I find that often the really special things in the Pine Barrens go unnoticed because they are so small.  This definitely goes for the flowers like orchids which aren’t out yet.

Here is this neat mushroom/fungus that doesn’t look like much from a distance.

And notice it is sitting on a bed of sand and rock.  I believe most of those rocks are quartz – I have a bunch in the tumbler now – shining ’em up 🙂

Fungus in the Pines - Beth Sawickie

Fungus in the Pines 2 - Beth Sawickie

We left the Pygmy Pine Plains and headed towards Oswego Lake…

Along the way we ran into this icy puddle.

Icy Puddle in Pines - Beth Sawickie

Would you drive over it?

We did – even though we had gotten stuck in a much smaller icy puddle a few weeks ago!

Luckily, we made it through! Phew!

Here’s  another one of the dirt/sand roads we drove on.

Glowing Pine Barrens Dirt Road by Beth Sawickie

Here is Oswego Lake:

Oswego Lake in NJ by Beth Sawickie

About Oswego Lake:

Oswego Lake is a great “get-away” spot to picnic and experience the remote beauty and serenity of the Pine Barrens. White cedar and pitch pine forest provide a scenic background to the beauty of the lake. The best way to experience the lake is by kayak, but there are also miles of sand roads through Penn State Forest where a beginning or avid naturalist could spend hours exploring white cedar swamp, pitch pine forest, red maple swamp, and other habitats. The lake and surrounding forest offer the chance to encounter a plethora of wildlife, including snakes, lizards, turtles, birds, various insects and rare plants. 2010 marks the 100 year anniversary of Penn State Forest.

Sourde: NJ Wildlife Trails

We have kayaked the Oswego and it is BEAUTIFUL!  If you like to enjoy the serene beauty of nature in peace, I’d suggest not going in the summer.

And here’s a shot of the Oswego River flowing into Oswego Lake.

Oswego River by Beth Sawickie

It was such a treat to see plants coming back to life. Green starting to pop out and buds becoming noticeable!

I LOVE moss!  This guy caught my eye!

Green Moss by Beth Sawickie

And it inspired this image:

Green Moss Glow by Beth Sawickie

I have no idea what this plant is – do you? (let me know in the comments below!)

red green plant

And I don’t know what this one is either (young Swamp Maple ???)

tree-buds-02-09-2015-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)

Swamp Maple Tree Buds

Swamp Maple Tree Buds by Beth Sawickie

Blackjack Oak Tree Buds:

Blackjack Oak Tree Buds

And this one would be a Pitch Pine 🙂

Pitch Pine Glow by Beth Sawickie

Well, that’s all I have for you today 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the video and photos!

Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

And, hey, pass this “Nature Stroll” along to a friend using the buttons below 🙂

Wishing you many warm, sunny days!

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P.S. For me, being in nature is a MUST!  It fills my heart and soul with peace and joy.  Even though this is something that makes me happy, I spent a long time not doing it very often.  This was during many years when I was being challenged by depression.  It’s been a long journey but I’ve turned from “blah” towards “BLISS!” and I’d like to share my journey and tips with you.  Go check out my Blah to Bliss Toolkit where you can get a free copy of my book that shares my story and actionable steps to move from Blah to Bliss!