Snowshoeing the Hosmer Brook Trail

March proved to be a wild and wintry month. Three snowstorms in as many weeks had left a rather deep layer of snow, prompting our tiny, local ski hill to stay open an additional three weekends. On what seemed to be the first sunny day in quite a long time, we decided to take out our snowshoes one more time and explore a hiking trail just off the ski trail closest to the rental shed.

We arrived late morning at the Snow Bowl and proceeded to hunt for the trail. We assumed that the trail would be clearly marked near the rental shed but we could find nothing that resembled a path leading into the woods. I finally find a staff member who was preparing to start up the lifts for the day and asked about the Hosmer Brook Trail and discovered that we had to head up along the side of that last ski run until we saw a small sign that pointed the way into the woods. From there, the trail was clearly marked with blue blazes.

Once in the woods, we noticed that this trail was also used by cross country skiers so we tried to stay close to the opposite side of the lane to avoid damaging the ski run. The temperatures climbed enough to make some areas of our hike a little challenge. Some of the melting areas revealed hidden streams with a bit of bank on either side; making for some tricky maneuvers with snowshoes.

We stopped here and there to take in the beauty around us; the ravine revealing the brook below, the intricate, swirling pattern in the wood of a remaining stump, the odd shape left on the top of a dead tree, and the snow covered pine forest. After a while we reached a split in the trail indicating that we had reached the Hosmer Brook Trail loop. We decided to continue straight and proceeded to switchback up the mountain.

At this point we were beginning to feel the effects of a sedentary life that this past winter had thrust upon us. We found that we had to stop more frequently, at times it seemed like we paused at every trail marker. Eventually, we reached another fork in the road. This one indicating that we could either stay on the Hosmer Brook Loop or diverge off towards the Ragged Mountain Ridge. Needless to say, we decided to stay on the loop trail, leaving the summit of Ragged Mountain for another day.

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A Snowshoe Exploration

After clearing the roughly 13 inches of snow from the second nor’easter in a week, we decided to take out our snowshoes and explore the woods behind the house. Even though we knew that this had been a very wet snow, we were not expecting to hear the snow squish under our feet. The sound reminded me of walking on supposedly dry ground during mud season. Clearly there was a lot of water running underneath this wet blanket but everything was bright and fresh looking so we continued with our ramble through the woods.

It was early enough that the sun had not yet melted the snow and ice from the trees. I took a moment to admire the icing on the branches before heading off towards the drier side of the property. As we wandered around snow-capped branches and stone walls the white blanket started to melt, and soon we were being pelted by snow falling from the highest point of the trees around us. This still did not deter us from stopping to admire the ice ball crusted around a branch, or the shelf mushroom bearing a rather large white cap. I also paused to study the intricate design of a fungus attached to a twig on the ground. I almost walked by this find but the golden color and the unusual shape caught my eye so I had to stop.

It became harder to maneuver through the snow as we made our way to the wetter side of the property. There were many dead trees on this side and more bushy type vegetation, with a few sticker bushes thrown in. We found it more difficult to find a clear path through this jungle and soon decided to call it a day, but first, we had to force our way through this tangle of growth. Once we reached the road, we walked back towards the house anticipating a nice hot cup of tea.

Stained Glass and Other Finishes

During the down times of the last few winter months, I have taken the opportunity to finish up a few more quilts in progress, or at least bring them closer to the end. As mentioned in my posting about the joint Stained Glass quilt with my daughter, my work has been completed and it is now with my daughter for the finished quilting. She has not only finished the quilting but the binding as well. Soon, it will be back to me to add a label. We are still debating a name for this beauty. I think if the worst comes to the worst, we could just call it Stained Glass, but giving that our friend is an artist who works with glass maybe we can come up with a better name. Perhaps something like Artist Window?

The next quilt on my list is the one I pieced in the fall during an online quilt along. I have been hand quilting this one over the last few weeks by echoing the stars in the star blocks and squares in the lane blocks. In the borders, I have stitched a zig-zag line with a star near each of the points of the zig-zags.  The corners have a larger star than those within the border lines. There are a few places that do not seem to have enough stitching, particularly along the lane between the square and star blocks, so I have added stars there as well. I have decided to call this one Autumn Stars.

Finally, I have pieced a backing for my dinosaur disaster quilt. I thought I had enough of the green to back this one but, alas, I am not even close. I have added a strip of the dinosaur print, only to find that I still don’t have enough. Next? Add a strip of the stars on black background print. I find the backing is still too short. I go for broke and use the last remnants of the fabrics used to piece the top; a strip of yellow and with a sigh of relief I am done. This quilt is now ready to go to my daughter for machine quilting. We have discussed using a dinosaur footprint design but I am still toying with the idea of a design she has shown me using moons, stars and comets. I am not sure a small child would get it and since this is a donation quilt I will not call it Dinosaur Disaster no matter how tempting it is to do so. I think I will call it Dinosaur March.

Winter at Belfast Watershed

During one of the nicer days in early March, a friend and I decided to explore the Little River Community Trail in Belfast. The portion of the trail that we planned on hiking ran through property belonging to the Belfast Water District, a piece of land that was being studied for purchase by an aquaculture firm for salmon farming. Several questions had been raised by the community regarding polluting discharge into the water, transporting waste through the area since this town had dealt with these issues during a time when chicken and sardine processing had made the locality rather malodorous, and the future of the beloved Community Trail.

It was not a done deal for the firm but on the day we visited we could not help but notice the crews performing well testing and the surveyors as we walked into the woods. Indeed, the noise of machinery followed us into forest as we sought some place to experience the tranquility of nature. I wondered if this cacophony would become a permanent part of this trail and those seeking a peaceful place in nature would have to find it somewhere else.

Not far into our walk, we paused at the edge of the water to take in the views of the reservoir. I looked across the ice covered surface back towards Route 1 and the bay beyond. We then looked down at the fragments of ice at our feet. I was intrigued by the feathery slivers underneath the surface, adding a whole new composition to the crystalized formation above.

Our plan had been to travel this portion of the path to Perkins Road before turning back but we were not that far into our walk when we realized that decision would have to be amended. From the top of the ridge we looked down the hill towards an ice covered bog bridge and the steep snowy incline on the other side. My friend had undergone shoulder surgery in the fall and I was always concerned about falling even though my hip replacement was over five years ago, and so, reluctantly we turned back, leaving this adventure for another day.

Since our walk had been a short one and we weren’t ready to return home, we opted to visit the McLellan-Poor preserve on the opposite side of the reservoir. As we entered the woods, my friend noticed an old stone foundation buried in the undergrowth. Funny, I had not noticed this when I visited this trail in July, perhaps the vegetation in full bloom at the time kept this structure well hidden.

As the reservoir came into view once more, my friend noticed the light catching a damaged piece of bark. This particular piece of wood had been painted red (wound paint?) at some point and the sun was illuminating it in an interesting way. We studied this intriguing find until the light shifted and the image disappeared. We traveled a little further before being thwarted once more by a rather large section of snow and ice. It felt good to be out even for a little while but oh, the trials of traveling woodland trails during the in-between seasons.

Winter at Pleasant Point

After a week of some very warm temperatures for February, we decided to re-explore Pleasant Point in Cushing. I had last visited this interesting preserve in late August a few years ago, so I thought it would be a nice comparison to see what Pleasant Point offered during the winter months.

With the warm weather we knew that the trails would probably be clear and a quick assessment of the two paths at the kiosk confirmed our thoughts. There was just enough ice left on the ground to make things a bit interesting; not enough to wear spikes but enough to have to find a work around. Most of the frozen sections were really just patches here and there so we were able to maneuver a little bit off the lane without too much difficulty.

I was glad my husband had joined me on this adventure, for this was the same preserve where I missed some of the blazes and got completely confused as to which trail I was actually on. At that time, I had visions of having to bushwhack towards the road to find out where I was. Now, with minimal foliage I was embarrassed to see the road just yards away from the trail. After completing this section, we headed towards the boardwalk to explore the wetter parts of the preserve. It was here that my husband decided to let me lead. As I got in front of him, heading straight on the trail, I missed the blue blaze to my right. Naturally, I had to listen to “I can’t believe I let you lead for 5 seconds and you got lost!” as I corrected my course.

This part of the preserve consisted of more boulders than the previous sections. Here we found trees, moss and other foliage growing on the tops of these stones. Further on we found a small cave opening within a pile of rocks; home to some animal I was sure. Soon I found an interesting display of icicles hanging underneath one of these stones. We paused for a short time to study this artwork before moving on.

We soon completed this loop, reaching the boardwalk that would lead us toward the end of our journey. It had not been so obvious during the summer but with the ice sheets spreading out on either side of the trail I realized why it had been necessary to lay down such a lengthy section of planks. Safely on the other side, we continued along the path until we reached the blue T-shaped blaze indicating the final part of our journey. And it was here that we ran into some trouble.

As far as the ice was concerned, the end of our hike was a different story and while I was trying to navigate around a rather lengthy stretch of icy trail my boot must have landed on the edge of this slippery section and I quickly felt my leg slip out towards the side and found myself on my knees. Now I was stuck trying to figure out how to get back on my feet. Since my pride and dignity was already tarnished at this point, I crawled to the edge of the ice where I was then able to regain an upright position. Once on my feet, it was just a few more minutes before we reached the car.