A Walk in the Woods

We would like to thank everyone who came out last Friday to walk through the North Woods with us! We discussed some of the woods’ rich history, unique plant life, and diverse geology. For example, did you know that about 600 million years ago the woods were under a tropical body of water called the Iapetus Ocean?

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We walked for about an hour along the Spirit Trail, Red Trail, and Blue Trail– and we spotted a toad and more than 30 red efts along the way! It was certainly a fun and refreshing way to start the morning!

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Starting Week 4!!

We cannot believe that we have already spent three weeks as North Woods Stewards! We have been hard at work pulling up invasive garlic mustard in the woods, and today we will start eradicating barberry. We have also been helping out in the garden; building trellises, weeding beds, and snacking on ripe strawberries and snap peas!

Last week we worked with Sustainable Saratoga on their Centennial Tree 2015 Project. The Centennial Tree Project celebrates Saratoga’s Centennial by planting 100 large-growing trees (i.e. oaks, tulip poplars, American elms, maples) in high-impact locations on both public and private property throughout the city. We helped to plant trees at the three Saratoga Springs Housing Authority properties: Stonequist, Jefferson, and Vanderbilt. We were happy to help out with this important initiative, and we hope to work with Sustainable Saratoga again soon!

 Tree Planting!

Happy Exploring!

Katie and Urvi

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Welcome from Your 2015 North Woods Stewards!


We are the 2015 summer North Woods Stewards and we welcome you to a summer of exciting exploration and learning! Over the past two weeks we been removing and mapping invasive species in the woods, removing trash, and planning future events for the community. We have also been helping out in the community garden (see their blog here: http://skidmoregarden.tumblr.com/). Moreover we are working towards creating a field guide for the North Woods, putting together curriculum for future stewards, and creating a video about the North Woods. We are looking forward to the next month and a half! Feel free to contact us with any questions or suggestions!

Join us on Facebook: “Friends of the North Woods”

Happy exploring!

Katie & Urvi

Katie Cuthbert, kcuthber@skidmore.edu

Urvi Kalra, ukalra@skidmore.edu

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Yet Another Wonderful Walk in the North Woods with Jackie Donnelly

Thank you again to everyone who came out to our nature walk in the North Woods with Jackie Donnelly! We caught a last glimpse of some of the wildflowers and other plants before winter comes. Highlights included the American Basswood, which you can spot by its lopsided leaves, and Snakeroot, which was the cause of death of Abraham Lincoln’s mom! Yep, you heard me. There is actually a disease called Milk Sickness that is contracted when a human drinks milk from a cow that has eaten the leaves of a Snakeroot plant, and is poisoned by that milk. Crazy right? Well we also got to explore the variety of wildflowers still present throughout the woods, and reveled in the patch of milkweed as you enter the Woods from Falstaff’s parking lot by the power line. This milkweed is an incredibly vital resource for local pollinators, as species such as monarch butterflies (and bees as well) rely on it for their survival.

If you wanted to come on this walk but couldn’t make it, I will do my best to share the funnest of facts, and more, on the nature walk through the North Woods THIS FRIDAY FROM 2-3 PM for Parent’s Weekend! All are welcome!!!!

Your North Woods Steward,


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The Spookiest of Moonlit Walks a Success!

I am so excited to thank the over 35 people who came out to our Moonlit Walk last week! As we walked through the woods, learned about the Witch of Saratoga Springs, and shared in a *legal* campfire (thank you to Jewels for her help building!) outside of Falstaff’s it was a night to remember for all! Thank you to everyone who attended, and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.
Hope to see you around in the woods this semester. Let’s get out there especially before it starts to get chilly (not that North Woods in the snow is not fun as well!)
Keep your eyes posted for more upcoming events… such as our Nature Walk with local expert Jackie Donnelly this Saturday at 3 PM meeting in front of the Falstaff’s kiosk. See events tab for more info.
– Laura, Your North Woods Steward

Setting off on our walk!

Nothing like some late night s'mores

Nothing like some late night s’mores

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So Long Sweet Summer!

Today marks our last day of work for the summer as North Woods Stewards! While we are sad to leave our summer of days working in the woods and out in the Skidmore Community Garden, we are all pretty excited about what we have accomplished. From extensive work on managing invasive species (we, along with some awesome helpers, pulled 12,000 Garlic Mustard plants these last two months!); to trail signage work (the rest of the signs will be up early fall!); to the development of a Trail Management Plan; to numerous community events in the woods including Kids Nights, a Midnight Walk and a Mindfulness Walk; we have seen the woods remain the wonderful shared natural space that we are so lucky to have right here on campus. We have built awesome lasting partnerships in town like with the Saratoga Springs Farmers Market, and have a bunch of projects up in the works in the woods that will come into fruition in the coming weeks and months. We hope that you all continue to enjoy and respect the North Woods. See you all in the fall when we get back to campus!

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A Morning of Mindfulness

Mid Walk down the Spirit Trail

We could not have asked for a better way to start our Saturday. Suzanne Rancourt led the community in a wonderful Mindfulness Workshop, where we were able to become more aware of our own presence, each others’ presences, and our connection with the natural world. With no words being spoken on the portion of the workshop where we walked down the Red Trail and Spirit Trail, it seemed to be a perfect atmosphere for all the attendees to use the time and space as they needed– whether to think, or to just be. We want to thank everyone who came out, and Suzanne for guiding us in the activity. It was so nice to see the mix of the Skidmore and surrounding Saratoga community members come together for this event. We hope to have more programs like this in the future, and that the North Woods can continue to be used as a space to foster the mind-body relationship, even if just on our own.

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A Walk in the Woods with Jackie Donnelly

On Wednesday we had the incredible opportunity to go on a walk through the North Woods with Jackie Donnelly. Jackie was the former editor of Skidmore’s Scope  Magazine, and has a vast knowledge on the variety of natural life in the North Woods– especially the wildflowers! We walked along the Red Trail and learned about the variety of plants found there, from milkweeds to geraniums to mayapples to ferns. Did you know that New York State has 60 species of orchids, which is more than Florida and Hawaii?? Well it’s true! The orchid we find right here in our limestone-abundant woods is Yellow Lady’s Slipper. Jackie also showed us a huge Boletus mushroom (shown in the picture below), which she knew was part of this genus due to its pores. We were particularly interested in the variety of plants found only in the area, such as Green Violet. Jackie thinks it is possible that this plant is only found right here in Skidmore’s North Woods!

After spending a large chunk of our summer so far as North Woods Stewards focusing on the variety of invasive species we have in the Woods (Garlic Mustard, Knotweed, Burning Bush, oh my!) it was great to take a step back and learn about (and appreciate!) all of the native wildflowers we have. It is this type of knowledge that keeps us inspired to continue our work to protect these native species, and also remembering the importance to resist the tempting urge to pick these beautiful flowers!

Hope you are now inspired to take a walk in the North Woods and check out the native plants!

See you out there!

Nick and Laura

This stringy organism is Dodder Weed. It is part of the Morning Glory family, and is parasitic to a wide variety of plants. Dodder needs to be parasitic because it does not contain chlorophyll (or has very low levels), and thus relies on the host plant for food. It does this by attaching itself to the host plant and wrapping itself around it. At this point, the dodder produces and inserts haustoria into the vascular system of the host and takes its nutrients.

Jackie and a Boletus Mushroom

Jackie and a Boletus Mushroom

Beautiful moss found in the North Woods

This beautiful moss found in the North Woods is called Rose Moss (Rhodobryum roseum) and is known for its leaves that look like flowers. Rose moss is versatile in that it can grow in acidic or basic conditions, and is often found in large patches on limestone rocks– like we see here in the North Woods!


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A Fun Rainy Kids Night in the Woods!

We just want to report on our first Kids Night in the North Woods of the summer! Since it was a rainy night and we were worried about puddles and mud we decided to stay inside and do some activities indoors. We learned about different ways to identify animal tracks by looking at the footprint itself and at where the tracks are placed.

After some fun animal imitations during introductions, we explored our own footprints by doing a rubbing of our shoes, and then did some detective work to identify who’s footprint belonged to which person.

Then we learned about the way that footprints will make a different pattern depending on whether the creature is walking or hopping down the trail.


Lastly, we read through Whose Tracks are These? by Jim Nail, which taught us about the different animals we might see in the forest–everyone was really good at guessing which animal’s tracks were which! We’ll have to come up with some harder ones next times…

Thank you to all who came out! Our next Kid’s Night will be in July–we’ll be announcing an exact schedule of events soon!

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Memories on the Alumni Tour 2014

Last Saturday, we had the opportunity to take a walk in the North Woods with a group of alumni who shared their experiences with us. These alumni ranged from Class of 1974 to Class of 1999, and had many different stories about the woods.


Some of the ’74 alumni remembered that there used to be a ski slope in the woods, which has since been reforested–they confessed to stealing trays from the dining hall and going traying down the slopes! However, they were excited to learn about the trails, which weren’t accessible while they were on campus. Other alumni remembered taking walks in the woods and a few had visited with geology and biology classes.

We shared that the woods are now used for over 30 classes and many research labs. Our network of trails is available for everyone at Skidmore and in the Saratoga (and larger) community. On our walk we got to show some examples our work in the North Woods, as well as discuss our future plans, but mostly listened to the many stories they shared with us! Thank you!

We’d be excited to hear your own memories of the North Woods in the comments below. Also, I know there were a few alumni taking pictures, which we’d love to see! As always, contact us at ngraver@skidmore.edu or lmindlin@skidmore.edu.

Also, check out our upcoming event, Kid’s Night in the North Woods!

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