Fire frogs

I've heard that amphibians, and frogs in particular, are a good litmus test if things are going awry in the environment. If a particular place is becoming polluted, the frog population will generally plummet before other animals are affected. From what I've read, I guess it's because they absorb most of their moisture through their skin, and it stands to reason that if the water in the area is polluted, they'll absorb the pollutants directly.

With that little backgrounder, I'm here to say that the frog populations in the Adirondacks seem to be doing just fine -- they were all over the place. Tree frogs, bull frogs, leopard frogs, you name it. They were active and healthy and -- I would be remiss if I didn't mention this -- completely out of their little froggy minds.

After we got to the lake and paddled around for a few hours to find a good site, we unloaded the canoe. Since it had been a lengthy canoe ride, I had a definite need to take a leak, and while my wife was unpacking the gear, I wandered away from the campsite to find a grassy knoll. I was just getting ready to water this hapless plant when something from the grass launched directly at me, hitting me in the crotchal area. I almost screamed like a little girl, because if there is an exact moment in time a guy is at his most vulnerable, it's when his weenie is exposed to cool forest air.

I took a hasty step backwards, and any thought of peeing instantly evaporated. I saw this thing hit the ground, and my mind registered "frog" just before it catapulted itself at me again. This time it hit me a little lower, slightly above the left knee, and stuck. It was a light-brown tree frog, a little over 2 inches in length. (I know this because it was exactly half the length of my...compass. Yeah, that's it. My compass.) I plucked it off of my pants, and dropped it in the grass.

Anyway, that was my first experience of weekend crazy frog. That night, after we ate, we started a campfire and commenced with the sacred Opening of the Unbreakable Bottle of Yukon Jack. After about a half hour, my wife heard something rustling next to the fire. She played her flashlight on this rock next to the fire, expecting a mouse or something, but instead there was a big leopard frog just sitting there looking at the fire.

I joked around and told her that frogs were cold-blooded and he was probably just sitting by the fire to warm up. My wife said, "Hurry! Get the camera and take a shot of this." So I got up, went to my backpack and grabbed the camera. I was about half-way back to the fire when my wife yelled, "OH MY GOD, he just JUMPED INTO THE FIRE!"

I thought she was crazy. Frogs, as far as I know, do not voluntarily jump directly into flames.

"He jumped right in, I'm telling you, I heard sizzling," my wife said as I prodded the logs with a stick and sniffed the fire for any hint of chicken. I dismissed her vision as a side effect of the Yukon, and sat back down.

Later on, when the fire wasn't doing so hot, I added some new wood and started fanning the flames trying to get it to catch more quickly. I was hunkered down, fanning for all I was worth, and the fire was blazing along pretty good when something jumped out from under my legs, and leapt directly into the flames. I saw this:

I have no idea what the hell was going on, but fried frog legs were definitely on the menu. Oh yeah, and about a half hour after that, a woodland jumping mouse rebounded off my back, hopped around the campsite for a few seconds and then bolted into the woods.

Later that night, after we climbed into the tent, I kept waking up because I heard something banging around out near the canoe, which we had dragged onto the grass next to the tent. It sounded like acorns dropping on it from a tree or something. In the morning when I crawled out of the tent and turned the canoe over, about a half dozen frogs jumped out. They had been inside all night, apparently repeatedly jumping noggin-first into the sides.

I have no idea what's in the water up there, but I wouldn't drink it. Hell, I wouldn't even recommend swimming in it. It's a beautiful place though.

Here's a couple pics:

This morning, at about 6:30.

Looking left from our campsite


  1. Ahh pictures of my first love.

    The northern park is doing very well despite lousy conservation. It is one of the largest parks in the world, and it is damn important to this state. I will be climbing there soon!

  2. Alex, mine too.

    Where do you climb? Cascade?

  3. After reading this I really can't imagine why I never go camping. It couldn't because of all the creepy crawly animals jumping all over you all the effing time now could it? Gew, JV. Camping sux.

  4. Where's the pic of that two-inch compass?

  5. It could have been worse, it could have been crazy bears.

  6. 4 inch compass! 4 inch!

  7. Anonymous12:17 AM


    And i just read this!

  8. I just became the proud owner of 23 1/2 acres of forest and pasture near Dolgeville/Oppenheim. It's 3 miles from the southwest border of the Adirondack Park. I wish I could be there right now and your photos make it hurt (a good sort of pain)even more. I live and work in Florida (thanks to my sad deluded family) and each day my face melts off and I have to wring out at least 3 changes of clothes before I sweat myself to sleep. I have to stay here working at my slavin' job so I can go build a house up there in the next few years. I even cancelled cable tv, downgraded to the cheapest dial-up internet access and eat bean soup during the week to save money to build.

  9. We had an uncovered hot tub out back...

    Good times ;)

    One night a big rain storm hit, a bunch of frogs jumped in and filled it full of slimy frog eggs.

    Guess we weren't the only ones gettin' it on in that hot tub.

    It had to be scrubbed out, and of course we bought a cover