Tuesday, September 2, 2008

September 1st Sleeping Giant State Park

Group picture from Sleeping Giant State Park
From left to right Chris, Barbara, Elias, Me & Gerry

What a terrific Day!
My day started at 3:15am when my cell phone alarm rang. I hopped out of bed, drank the garden patch juice I already had ready in the fridge, popped a couple of multivitamins and climbed into the shower. I left the house at 3:45 and headed over to Green Briar nature center to feed the animals, since I didn't have any idea what time I'd be back, I thought I'd get them taken care of first. I got on the road at 4:15 and headed West. The sun rose in my rearview mirror just as I was crossing over the Connecticut state line. It was a pleasant and uneventful trip and I arrived in Hamden Ct at 7:15. Quickly found Sleeping Giant State park and went in search of a bathroom. While exploring I found a couple of trail maps and tucked them into my bag, thinking it could only be a good idea to have these with us. Gerry pulled in with his friend Chris a little after 8am and suggested we take a ride over to the University to do a little nymph hunting. Gerry, Chris and I searched 300 hundred or more trees before Gerry found a nymph just beginning to eclose. I ran down to the Hummer to grab our cameras then we sat. It usually takes a nymph over an hour to complete the eclose process so we waited.

This is a female Tibicen canicularis nymph just starting the eclose process, you can see the pink flesh just starting to emerge from the slit in the exuvia.

This little lady has wiggled her head free from her shell.

This is a shot looking down on her pretty face, amazing how camaflaged she is with the tree bark

She's free of the upper portion of her shell, she'll hang out this way for quite a while until her legs harden

Good view of her wings here, still all crinkled

She doing the "sit up". She uses her legs to pull herself up so she can free her lower extremities

She's free and begins to pump "blood" through her system to inflate her wings

She's done, fully teneral and now needs time for her wings to harden, which will then lay down like a tent over her body.

Elias and Barbara met us at the University after some directional difficulty, and within minutes of arriving Barbara had secured another nymph. The girl has eyes like a hawk! Once the Tibicin canicularis was out of danger and able to be moved Gerry put her in a jar and we headed back over to Sleeping Giant State park. Our first path was a nice wide switchback, with a few rocky steep paths thrown in for good measure. We easily made it to the tower and enjoyed the view from the top.

Gerry, Chris and I at the top of Sleeping Giant Tower

Elias and Barbara with their home of Long Island in the background

We decended the tower, then after taking an amusing and "unmoving" wrong turn, decided to consult the trail map that I brought along.

Gerry and Elias trying to figure out where we are and which way to go!

After several wrong turns our fearless leader found the way and directed us to an amazing bluff. Along the way we heard several species of Cicada including Tibicens lyricen, linnei, and canicularis. One was just out of reach and Gerry was itching to climb the tree, which we thankfully talked him out of.

Here we are at the summit of Sleeping Giant, it's a great view....but we're hearing the Cicada's on the other hill!

Instead of going back the way we came, Gerry led us down a path that he and Elias had climbed up just a year earlier. It was very rocky and very steep in some places. Chris was swearing at Gerry and vowed at this point to never go on another Cicada hunting expedition. Here are a few pictures of us making our way down...

This is the view to our immediate right coming down Sleeping Giant

We finally made it down, probably took a half hour. We followed the blue (expert) trail for a while until the trail split and we had our choice of going up another rock (the blue trail) or going down (on the red trail) Since Barbara and I were in the lead and her knee was bothering her we chose down. I found a pretty cool big green caterpillar (that I failed to photograph) but that Elias took home. We followed the red trail until we came upon a shallow stream bathed in mid afternoon dapled sunlight. Barbara and I found a place to sit and relax until the guys caught up. Elias arrived and was immediately curious whether they're might be crayfish in the stream. Being a veteran crayfish catcher, I took off my sneakers and went in. After lifting a rock or two I found a very small one and presented it to Elias. Mission accomplished, I went and sat under a tree with Gerry. Elias headed back out to find some more, and Barbara showed our find to some little friends.

We spent a half hour or so here then walked along the stream back to the parking lot. Everybody was hungry and since Barbara and Elias didn't pack a lunch they headed out in search of food. Gerry, Chris and I settled down on the park lawn to have our lunch. We talked for a while. Chris seemed pleased with himself, he'd kept up despite his lack of regular exercise and his smoking habit. We wondered about a family that was acsending the summit as we were descending. This family worried us because there were two older people with dual walking sticks and two young children, one girl of maybe 7, the other a boy of maybe 4. At the bottom the boy was crying that he didn't want to go up. So when we heard sirens we immediately thought of them. Thankfully we saw them coming down another path and were glad they made it up and down safely. The emergency vehicles continued to pile into the park. Two fire trucks, an ambulance, an ATV, multiple police and environmental police cars. At the height of the activity there were 11 emergency vehicles on site. Elias and Barbara made it back and joined us relaxing on the lawn for a while. Gerry wanted to check out some short trees and brush along the road, but since it was nearing 5:30pm and I had a 3 hour drive home, I decided it was time to pack it in. We hugged goodbye and I was on my way.
The ride home was uneventful and I made good time. I watched the sun set in my rearview mirrow going through New Bedford. I pulled in the driveway at 8pm to a family happy to see me, my pictures and my exciting tales from Sleeping Giant.Chris, you can almost seeing him saying...."can we go home yet???"

What I learned this trip? Well Gerry's friend Chris is quite a character, I wouldn't mind hanging out with him agai. Gerry is far more mysterious then I ever imagined and I look forward to getting to know him better, and Elias and Barbara are truly a match made in heaven...I wonder if we'll be invited to the wedding!

Here is the link to Sleeping Giant State Park

And a brief news paper article about the emergency on Sleeping Giant

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