Report by Aleda Koehn – On a lovely morning that got clearer and sunnier as the time went by, twenty hikers did the five mile round trip to Mud Lake in upper Riddle State Park. After a short but strenuous pitch, the remaining two miles were a pleasant gradual uphill walk. The forest was a mix of green, yellow, and brown with an occasional bright red spot from maples. Some leaves had fallen but the trail was relatively dry except for a few low areas. Because the brook was low there were several options for the crossing–hopping from rock to rock, balancing across on a log, or stepping over wet areas from one high spot to another. All options were tried and everyone managed successful crossings both ways. Several hikers had not been to the sphagnum bog that surrounds the small open pond. “Do not stand too long in the same spot or your feet sink in the soft moss.” We saw pitcher plant leaves and a few old flower stalks, American Larch, Black Spruce, dried remains of summer bog plants, and the almost leafless highbush blueberries that edge the pond. Building a walkway to the opening and a small platform along the edge of the sphagnum would save tramping over the vegetation. A great project for someone!! After a short rest at the junction to Mud Lake it was basically downhill all the way! The hike took just over three hours. Four people opted for the alternative hike around Pine Lake that was led by Jann Ewen. The spectacular specimen found growing on wood and photographed is the “Hemlock Varnished Shelf” fungus. Photo Credits: Upper row, Fred Johnson; Lower row, Jennifer Hyypio; Tag Photo “The giant and the little people” by Jennifer.