August 5, 2011: I thought a trail called "May Valley" seemed...so bucolic and cheerful.
It started out normally, innocent-looking plump salal berries ripening along the trail.
But the day was not sunny and the trail did not match its name. The trail should be called Slug n Snags n Sh*t. It is an equestrian trail and is COVERED in horse poo. Which, apparently, slugs love. So my hike was less Thoreauvian and more Herzogian than I'd been anticipating.
Slug. I am assuming banana.
I'm sparing everyone a photo of the third s.
When I first spotted these, I thought this was a slug eating another slug but a Flickr user advised me this is actually slug mating. User Michael Manas noted: "They are mating Arion slugs. They are connected with their extended penes. These slugs should be in circle, but that one has accidentally fallen down and therefore one of them is accidentally with its sole up."
Slug sex, by the way, can take a turn for the (more) unpleasant.
There weren't many attractive plants to take pictures of. Not entirely sure what this one is (I think it might be fringecup but there were no flowers left to confirm). Feel like it looks like the Incredible Hulk in leaf form.
Piggyback plant or youth-on-age (Tolmiea menziesii), demonstrating where its name comes from (all the new growth resting on the older leaves).
I wasn't actually feeling that great to begin with, and by this point in the hike, I was annoyed by all the horse dung, dim lighting & lack of stuff to photograph. I had seen this flower all over the Cascade Head Trail last week, but something about it irritated me (it's disproportionate, that giant interior and stumpy little petals) so I didn't take a single shot of it there as there was plenty pretty to photograph. But on the May Valley Trail, you have to take what you can get. It's called Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris), apparently, so it will recover from my aesthetic criticism.
After the snail, it was clear that what the May Valley Trail had to offer was...the jolie laide side of nature and that I should just go with it. Next I spotted this, the Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora). AKA Ghost Plant, Indian Pipe, or Corpse Plant. It is very weird. It feels like a mushroom, kind of fleshy and sproingy. Per wikipedia: it "does not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic...Its hosts are certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments as in the understory of dense forest." So basically it's a vampire plant.
Some kind of school bus yellow lichen or mold had taken up residence directly across from the corpse plant.
And a tiny mushroom had collected these dewdrops to decorate itself. I don't know that I would recommend this trail - there really is just SO much horse poop and I am not even particular uptight about that kind of thing - but it does go to show that there is usually something interesting to find whenever you spend time outdoors.