Today we decided to try out the Salt Run Trail in the Virginia Kendall area of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It's just outside the town of Peninsula and we've visited that area often but never tried that trail. Park materials said it was "moderate to difficult" hiking and they were not fooling. The warm, humid air quickly brought out the sweat in us as we hiked rolling to hilly forest pathway covering a little over three miles. Along the way we stopped to photograph plants and animals we encountered, shooing away far more mosquitoes than I would have liked to have dealt with… including one little biter who actually tried to enter my ear canal! I swear, I didn't mean to kill it… it was an accident! I saw my first scarlet tanager (bird) and, at the end of the walk, we had a close encounter with a beaver that was gathering reeds on the banks of a stream. The hike was a lot of work but the exercise was good, the woods were beautiful, and the wildlife surprises a treat.
We sighted this great spangled fritillary butterfly visiting flowers in a prairie area of the park. It moved between plants at just slow enough pace to allow me some photo opportunities.
I don't believe I've ever seen a scarlet tanager before. This one was very shy … I had to hide behind trees and brush to simply look at the beauty. The best images were captured with the bird in shadow where, apparently, it was most comfortable — very difficult conditions for photography, however. Four frames exposed at long distance and that was it… off, deeper into the forest, it went!
As we were emerging from the woods, finishing our hike, we crossed an automotive bridge spanning a stream. There, to my surprise, was a large, deep brown beaver gathering reeds from the bank. It finished its work, slipped into the water, and swam under the bridge with a bunch of green plants trailing from its mouth. I couldn't think of an appropriate pun based on the old TV series, so let's just say we'll Leave It to Beaver.