Photo of Macoun member taking picture of salamander in her hand
Late autumn on a cold, rainy day: what is there to see in the woods? We dragged a small sheet over the ground but collected no ticks at all. Apart from a solitary Raven circling high overhead when we walked away from the cars, there were no birds. Two types of mushrooms were seen several times: Destroying Angel and Jellied False Coral. Three individual wildflowers were in bloom: Heart-leaved Aster, Bunchberry, and Sweet White Clover. But at lunchtime on a high granite ridge covered with scattered White Pine trees and Reindeer Lichen, the gathering of firewood was interrupted by the discovery of one salamander after another. In all, four Red-backed and one Blue-spotted. (One of the Red-backed Salamanders was tiny, about 3 cm long.)

There had been enough of a lull in the days of rain for the fine pine twigs we rely on to become less soggy, but it still took much care and a couple of handfuls of birch-bark slivers to bring the fire into full strength. Then we were able to continue cooking even when the rain picked up again.