“Adirondack Dinosaurs are far from extinct. In fact, certain species are quietly expanding their territory, migrating. Ancient carnivores slowly reclaiming what was once their domain. Patiently biding their time while they plot their next move. Watching us. Waiting to reclaim their Adirondack apex predator throne.”
Ever since I was a young boy, there have always been three things I’ve dreamed of being when I grow up: major league baseball player, writer, archeologist.
My major league baseball aspirations were probably best summed up by the year book inscription left to me by our SLHS varsity 1st baseman:
“It was really fun playing baseball with you and you’re not too bad even though you can’t hit worth a damn.”
As to my career as a writer-well- I guess the jury’s still out.
As an archeologist though, I may yet have potential.
I’ve always been fascinated by fossils, cavemen, and all things dinosaur. During my 3rd grade stint in Northville, I joined the local “Rock & Mineral Club”. I remember going on field trips with my rock hammer hoping to unearth a trilobite. Then in Lake Placid, during my painfully itchy 4th grade winter convalesce, I wrote a seven page term paper on the coelacanth while I recovered simultaneously from the chicken pox and a broken collar bone, the latter of which occurred as a result of an ill-advised ice hill sledding incident involving me, a runner sled, and a big maple tree.
To this day I remain fascinated by fossils & rocks, and can still be found wandering hither & yon digging, diving, searching for and finding some pretty cool old stuff, which I have written stories about previously, including some that have appeared either in The Adirondack Almanack (“High Peaks Treasure at Livingston Pond” & “Message in a Bottle”), and/or on my adirondackoutlaw.com blog (“When the Ghost Whispers “Dig”, “Outlawed”).
While we lived in Lake Placid, my dad bought two aluminum Grumman canoes. We took canoe trips everywhere in the Adirondack Tri-Lakes region surrounding us. Shortly after our family moved to Saranac Lake, one of those trips was along a route that remains my most frequented favorite to this day, the canoe route into Middle Saranac Lake via South Creek. Dad and my brother Raymond (my younger brother was always called “Raymond” then, never “Ray”) would man one canoe, while my Mom and I would paddle the other.
Early in our pre-Bull Rush Bay family canoe camping career, we would cross the lake, past Umbrella Point, Halfway Island, and Windy Point up into Hungry Bay. There we either laid camper’s claim to the lean-to at Martha Reben, or made our way further up through the boggy, buggy, frog filled lily pad creek to pitch camp on Tick Island, Weller Pond.
Other than “Middle Saranac”, “Weller Pond” and “Martha Reben”, I did not know any of the names of the other points, islands, and bays back then. I was more focused on important kid stuff, like fishing, swimming, devouring the contents of Mom’s camp food cooler, and the ever-exciting discoveries of exploring.
Of all those many Dad guided, canoe mounted, exploring expeditions, one that remains amongst the most fascinating to me, to this day, were and are forays into the primeval confines of Little Weller Pond.
Little Weller Pond sits nestled against the foothills of Boot Bay Mountain, about halfway between Hungry Bay and Weller Pond, up a shallow not always easily boat navigable narrow boggy creek flow. Little Weller is a quiet little pond. Its water is tannin-stained mucky tea dark. It’s rimmed with beaver huts, tamarack trees, stunted red maples. cedars, and water lilies. About eight foot deep in the middle, Little Weller Pond not more than about a hundred and fifty yards across.
Notwithstanding my nephew Forrest’s mythical monster pike legend, and Dad’s wishful thinking that dinosaur sized pike lurk in those waters, the primary residents of Little Weller Pond, by my observations, are black ducks, mosquitos, painted turtles, and frogs.
However, despite the distinct lack of dinosaur pike direct evidence, there is one prehistoric carnivore that still lurks in those Little Weller Pond bogs. It doesn’t have fins, flesh, feathers or teeth, but it’s a survivor, and it eats meat.
What is the dinosaur survivor to which I refer? Of course- it’s the Pitcher Plant!
They thrive in that bog in small clumps and clusters, luring in insect prey with their sweet smelling nectar and pretty red flowers, before ravenously drowning, dissolving, and devouring them, bones and all, dinosaur style.
In all of my Adirondack adventures and travels, I had never seen or encountered pitcher plants anywhere else but in that one Little Weller Pond bog. To me, they have always been prehistorically special.
Then, about three years ago, I was once again rowing my Zen boat canoe in along my familiar South Creek route on a summer day trip with my wife Robin. We were taking our time, enjoying the day, taking snapshots of sunning turtles, water lilies and frogs, when suddenly, I spotted something I am quite certain that I had not ever seen there in South Creek before. I recognized it immediately. The dinosaur pitcher plant’s distinctive red flower. We immediately stopped and snapped photos.
As we continued towards the lake, I saw several more colonies lining South Creek’s shore. I looked out across Middle Saranac Lake. Pitcher plants had migrated from remote Little Weller Pond to firmly establish themselves on the near side of the lake.
All of my pre-historic childhood dinosaur memories came flooding back. I was excited. A dinosaur migration! Occurring right there in front of us!
As is generally the case, my mind wandered. My imagination took over: “I wonder how big “Jurassic Park” pitcher plants got?” “What did they eat way back then?” “Were they big enough to devour dragon flies?” “What if they were big enough to consume frogs, snakes or turtles?” “Did they ever grow big enough to eat cavemen and dinosaurs?”
I studied the migrating colonies with increasing caution as we paddled the rest of our route for a day on the lake.
“What were they up to, these pitcher plant carnivores, quietly migrating?”
“Were they simply biding their time? Slowly building their numbers as they plot their next rise, beyond humans, to re-claim dinosaur carnivore pitcher plant pre-eminence?”
“Am I to them but a potential future food source?”
“To Pitcher plants are humans nothing but fat juicy North Face clad dragonflies?”
Now, as I row my Zen boat along that familiar South Creek route, I remain far more vigilant.
“Are Adirondack dinosaurs watching me, salivating?
Sometimes I wonder.
Photos by Richard Monroe