Scaling the Mono Cliffs

 In Apprenticeship

Story of the Day – Sunday April 30th, 2017

Mono Cliffs


We started our day in the rain.  It was pouring but it was exactly what the plants needed.  We all huddled up underneath some old spruce trees and began our day together.  The rain started to calm down as we began our day with gratitude.  We started off towards the Mono Cliffs, when we came up to the tree line we put our bags down and Alexis taught us the importance of Fox walk and Owl eyes.  We all found some space and practiced our wide angle vision, we learned how to walk like a fox, keeping our weight in our quads as we felt around with the balls of our feet before committing to putting all of our weight down.  We used what we learned to take a wander into the forest, we gathered all of our things and headed individually to walk as quietly as possible through the plants.  

When we got to our meeting spot, we observed the forest, discussing what had previously been in that location.  Some areas were covered in Blue Cohosh, a  ‘sensitive’ native plant, and we were pondering why this could be.  What was the difference in the soil that made it a great place for this plant to live?  We also noticed that there were a lot of two leaved sprouts all over the forest floor that were in clumps.  This started off as a mystery plant but after some great questions we ended up figuring out that they were Jewelweed sprouts!

We slowly made our way over to the cliffs and as we did, two groups developed, the group that wanted to scale a rock face and those that would prefer not to.  The groups divided and made their way down to the bottom of the cliffs.  I was a part of the group who avoided the heights and as we headed down a meandering trail, we scared a Grouse out from her nest under a rocky area, we went to go check it out and saw that she was sitting on an egg!  Amazing!  

When we made it down to the bottom of the cliffs we all met up and decided that it was a good time for lunch.  We shared stories as we continued to get to know each other.

When lunch was over the Ring 2 apprentices gathered a number of ‘pieces’ of nature to use for a game that the Ring 1 apprentices would be participating in.  The Ring 1’s had to close their eyes and they were given a nature mystery and their goal was to use their senses (other than sight) to try and figure out what it was. At the end all was revealed and it turned out that they knew what most of the mysteries were!

As the cold set into our bones we decided that moving was the best thing to do! We moved carefully through the forest stepping over logs and avoiding blue cohosh and wild ginger.  We spotted so many amazing plants and fungi, many of us stopping to take a second or third look at things.  We took a minute to look at some Virginia waterleaf and to look through our field guides to see what it was all about. We also discussed the different books that are out there and the differing information we can get from a book researched by a number of authors verses books written from the personal experience of a specific herbalist.  

At the end of our day we hiked back up the cliff onto an old road from a long gone homestead; we checked out some Dutchman’s Breeches and some Squirrel Corn, we picked apart some canine scat (to learn what it had been eating) and we made our way back to where we started.  When we got to the top and had a few hundred meters to go to our destination, we spotted a porcupine climbing up an old sugar maple.  So beautiful and endearing. Tamara also spotted a nest that had been predated upon, all that was left was some shattered egg shells, another nature mystery!

We ended the day where we started. We formed our circle and shared gratitude.  Goodbyes said and well wishes wished, we all headed out to our cars where the rain started again and we all headed home.  

– Kelly

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