This month, I got to spend a day hiking through some incredible stands of old-growth white pine in Cook Forest State Park in the Forest Cathedral area. This is without a doubt the finest forest in the Midwest.
The largest trees range from 250-450 years old and are upwards of 200 feet tall. These are the tallest trees in the Midwest.
Even their root balls are enormous. Below are pictures of my sister, dad, and I posing with root balls for scale.
We saw some Ghost Pipe growing in the shade of the trees.
Ghost Pipe lack chlorophyll and are parasitic, getting their nutrients through mycorrhizal fungi.
There was an incredible diversity of mushroom species that grew on or under the trees.
The fungi above (from left to right) are Brittlegills (Russula), Brittlegills (Russula), Hoof Fungus, Ochre Bracket, Fomitopsis ochracea, Tricholomopsis, and Beech Rooter. (To learn more about mushrooms and other species, check out my iNaturalist page.)
We heard chickadees, a common raven, and hermit thrushes calling to each other like ghostly piccolos from high in the canopy.
Hermit thrushes have one of the most beautiful songs in America. You can check out hermit thrush song below.
Their song is actually structured similarly to human music.
We also took turns posing next to one of the tallest white pines we saw.
All-in-all, it was an incredible day!