By Maddy Hunt, SCA Interpretive Ranger

The other day I hiked the North and South Hancock loop located right off the Kancamagus Highway. It was a lovely foggy day in the Whites. Upon firing up my camera on top of North Hancock, it became immediately apparent that my camera’s battery had decided to “check out early”. But that was alright with me, because sometimes I find cameras to be distracting when I am trying to get lost in a nature.

So on I hiked through the sub alpine zone section between the North and South peaks. With no camera or landscape views (it was quite cloudy), I checked out some of the small vegetation around me.  I stopped and admired the way boreal bearded lichens gracefully dangle from tree limbs; inspected the way british soldier lichens, ever so regal and poised, held fast to a tree trunk; got overly giddy when I found my favorite lichen species, Tuckermanopsis, growing around a Balsam fir twig. Ah, bliss.

But then of course, reality hit: “Mad, lichens are really boring”, my sister said to me on the phone a little later that day.

I know that’s just, like, her opinion, man (this dudette clearly abides), but I wasn’t gonna stand for it! I knew there could be only one way to respond to such a claim:  devote one of my New Hampshire State blog posts entirely to lichens to share with everyone how varied, beautiful, fun and unique lichens are. Plus, its not everyday you get to play out a sisterly quarrel in a public forum – unless your a Kardashian, of course.

So for the remainder of this blog, I am going to post a very modest selection of  lichens that I have found along the way this summer. I hope you, dear reader, find them as beautiful as I do, and that you will check them out on your own adventures someday (this includes any quests that take place in the realm of Dungeons and Dragons).

British soldier lichens have two or more red blops on the top of each stalk; Lipstick lichens, though very similar, have only one blop of red.
My favorite lichen of all time, Tuckermanopsis wrinkled rag lichens. During periods of draught, lichens get very dry and brittle. But with just a little moisture, they take on a more spongy feel!
Common antler lichens: A very favorite food of the caribou. Aren’t they cool to look at, they look just like antlers!
Dragon horn lichens! The name is awesome, enough said.
I’ll end the photo montage with a favorite for the kids: trumpet lichens. Whenever I teach kids about this one, I always make them guess what they think it looks like.  The most interesting answer I got was from a 7 yr old who thought they looked like golf tees!

Thank you for reading my blog this week! As always, Hike Safe, Hike Smart, and have fun out there!

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