i woke up this morning and took another walk through the mt. olga trail. conditions were perfect for eft sightings since it had rained the night before. i was hoping to see maybe another eft if i was lucky. instead, i saw 8 more in the 3 hours i was hiking within the mountains. that early in the morning, 7am, nobody would even consider going into the woods to go hiking (although some people were awake, taking showers, packing up their gear). i had a great time though, all by myself in the forest, looking for cool things to take photos of. as much as i'd like the company, what i do out in the wilderness can be boring for anyone who's not as into nature photography as i am, so i would never subject anyone to that kind of boredom (although it's not boring for me). it was still early enough that there was a fog, and depending on where i was, sometimes it was pretty dark, or other times a shaft of light would penetrate the canopy. i kept walking through cobwebs on the trail, which was a sure sign that i was the first person out there today. like yesterday, there was hardly any sound. it was just quiet (occasionally i'd hear the babbling of a brook).

the first one i saw (designated "eft 2") was sitting off the side of the trail. how i was able to find it i'm not sure, i think most people would've missed it, but after having seen one already, i knew what to look for, and trained my eyes to pick out anything remotely red colored. i dropped my bag, rolled up my sleeves, put on my headlamp, and crouched down to take some photos. feeling that i didn't get enough of the eft from yesterday, i was determined to shoot the hell out of this one. this particular eft was a little more animated that the one i met yesterday. it eventually tried to walk away (i don't think they're capable of running), but i cupped it in my hand, and tried putting it on a piece of moss for better visual appeal (it didn't look good, it was very dry moss, and that seemed to bother eft 2).

eft 1

eft 2

eft 3

eft 3 was this tiny little thing that i saw standing behind a rock on the trail, and one of the only two i saw actually on the trail (all the other ones were found off on the side). while searching for some moss to spice things up, i can across a big eft on top of some leaf debris. i quickly forgot about eft 3 and focused on eft 4. it seemed to be caught on something, a loop of some kind was constricting its hind legs. i took a stick and gently pried off the ring, setting it free. i like to think that some how i saved its life. since i still had the moss, i used it as a backdrop for eft 4 and took some nice contrasting photos. i had to pick it up (i try not to touch the efts unless i absolutely have to), and it felt cold and slightly wet in my hand. i wonder how old it was, and tried to see if i could figure out if it was almost an adult newt or not.

eft 4

eft 5

eft 6

eft 5 i saw a little bit beyond where i found 3 and 4. it too was also on the trail, and was only slightly smaller than eft 4. eft 5 was the last one i saw before reaching the top of mount olga. the fog (more like the clouds) was much thicker here, and hardly anything could be seen from on top of the fire tower. i came down from the tower and continued onwards with my descent. eft 6 i saw while i was taking photos of a yellow patches mushroom. and pretty much all the remaining efts i saw were spotted that way, i was taking photo of something else before glancing off to the side and seeing a red eft.

eft 7

eft 8

eft 9

it got to the point where i didn't want to see anymore efts. not because i wasn't interested, but because i was too interested. everyone that i saw, i had to take photos, and at that rate, i would never leave the forest. besides the efts, there were also a lot of mushrooms of all shapes and sizes and colors. my favorites are the deadly panther mushrooms, the little white spots on the round cap reminds me of a satellite photo of planet earth with clouds. i also like the purple bloom russula, purple isn't a very common mushroom color. the "funnel" mushroom was also a nice one to photograph: with the headlamp, i could light it up from the top to really show the details of the semi-transparent gills.

i finally made it out of the forest by 10:20. my parents were getting worried and almost had to go searching for me (we had to check out of the campsite by 11). i was starving, and wolfed down breakfast of rice porridge and pancakes (searched with natural maple syrup, good enough to drink on its own). i noticed my parents had already packed up and were all ready to leave. after we left the state park, we drove through brattleboro, visiting the factory store to look for shoes. we started to head back home, my parents dropping me off in cambridge by 2pm. i was happy to be home, to take a hot shower that didn't require pushing any buttons. never noticed it up in vermont, but i realized i got a bunch of mosquito bites on my legs. i wore shorts the whole time (occasionally i'd have a long-sleeved pullover), and didn't spray because i didn't see many mosquitoes. apparently i was wrong. when evening rolled around, i biked out to belmont to have dinner at my parents, wonton soup. my sister's friend was staying over, and she had brought some longans from new york city, which my parents gave me to take back to cambridge.