A Family Adventure


in the mountains, ocean, and air

Monadnock

September 30, 2023
Emilie Phillips

After chores Saturday, we enjoyed an afternoon hike on Monadnock. We stayed off the main trails until the top to avoid the usual crowds. The fall foliage crowds haven’t arrived yet even though the swamps are turning red.

Red eft hiding under a mushroom

On the way up, we found tons of red efts and a few green newts. Isaac proposed we see who could find twenty first. We each immediately spotted a red eft from where we stood. Tyson found an itty bitty one a few steps farther along. Then we found nothing.

We hiked all the way to the summit and back down to Bald Rock without seeing another red eft. We spotted Tyson’s father giving aerial rides. At Bald Rock, we analyzed ravens circling in lift. Once high enough, they would tuck their pinions and hustle off to the next spot.

Raven

The air was nasty smokey. Tyson had decided to skip gliding because of low clouds and little lift. In retrospect, it wasn’t the best day for a hike. That evening, I felt like I had caught a head cold from inhaling so much smoke.

Half way back down, I finally spotted a red eft. 2 for me! Isaac furiously looked left and right. “I see one” … “no, it’s-a leaf.”
“There’s one!”
“Not-again, another leaf!”
“I saw one, down in that pile of leaves. I’m sure it was there. It must have crawled under the leaves.”

After much digging in that pile of leaves, all I found was a red backed salamander.

Red efts are bright reddish orange with black spots, so they should be easy to see. Their defense mechanism is they taste horrible. Isaac concluded the dead leaves were camouflaging themselves as efts to avoid being eaten. He did eventually find a eft.

Tyson and Isaac

We were now all at two. I proposed we make a truce and call it quits. The hike would go faster if people weren’t off hunting for newts. Just as soon as I made the proposal, Tyson called out called out eft number 3 for him. The competition was back on.

It took another fifteen minutes before Isaac found a one inch long red eft tucked between two rocks on the trail. This is the time of year when the tadpoles emerge and become new red efts. Shortly thereafter I found my third and proposed the truce again. Everyone hastily agreed.

I convinced everyone to enjoy the longer and more scenic route along the Cliff Walk trail and then out the road.

All Photos

GPS Track