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.


Carriage Road Trail – 2018

The weekend after my adventure up the Multi-use trail a friend of ours was also desperate to get outdoors and hike. After debating our options, we decided to ascend the Carriage Road Trail towards Mount Battie. Suspecting that the trails were just as icy as my hike several days earlier, my husband and I grabbed our spikes and we all piled into the car towards the Carriage Road Trail. A quick glance at the glacial sheet on the hill from the road towards the trail made us realize that our friend was not equipped to maneuver along the path, so we made a quick stop back home to grab the spikes our daughter left behind when she moved to warmer climes.

Once back at the trailhead, we soon discovered that it would have been very difficult indeed to make the ascent without spikes. I doubt if anyone could have made it up that first hill from the road. Although this particular path was also very popular it did not bear the deep ruts that I had experienced on the Multi-use trail. For the most part the ice was fairly smooth on the inclines with only some sections displaying the footprints of those who had gone before.

Perhaps it was a particular aspect of winter or the light on that beautiful clear day, but I found certain things were more clearly defined than at other times of the year. I found that the pattern of the tree lichen to be more intricate than I had ever noticed before. Later on during our journey we tried to determine if some of the buds on the smaller trees were beginning to swell. Given the warmer days during February I would not be surprised if everything burst forth earlier than the previous year.

Soon after our observation stops, we reached the auto road that continued towards the tower. We were all surprised that the road had been cleared and opened, for we had assumed that the road was closed during the winter. I later checked this out and discovered the important word “may” in the statement about the auto road closing between November and May.

We removed our spikes in order to reach our destination along the road. As the summit came into view, I noticed that the sun was directly over the tower, the rays gleaming down around it. After admiring this effect for a short time, I walked toward the edge of the hill for a view of the town and the harbor below us. The day was so clear that I thought it was no wonder that Edna St. Vincent Millay was inspired to write about this little hill:

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked the other way,
And saw three islands in a bay

At some point, we all agreed it was time to find lunch, so we headed back to the trail to make our descent. Even though we had donned our spikes once more, I was more uncertain during the downhill journey. Perhaps it was a mental thing to be more fearful when I could see the steepness of a hill covered in ice but I found that I was much more tentative about where to place my foot during this phase of our hike. Once on flatter ground, we stopped to study the ice sheets, as well as, some of the places where some melt had exposed the running water beneath. Back at the car, we all agreed it had been a great day to be out and went off to find lunch.

Cabin Fever

This winter has not been conducive to outdoor activities. Except for the single digit temperatures in the beginning of the year, we experienced a season that brought 1 to 3 inches of snow followed immediately by an inch of rain.  Needless to say I was itching to get out somewhere. By mid-February I decided to try and hike the Multi-use trail in the Camden Hills State Park. Maybe this would be the time I actually succeeded in doing the Bald Rock Mountain Trail, solo, and so, I grabbed my micros-spikes and headed out the door.

The first challenge was maneuvering across the parking lot to the trailhead. As I looked across the parking field the term “ice skating rink” came to mind. The relentless snow to rain combination had left an ice sheet across the dirt.  I needed the spikes just to walk to the trailhead!

The trail itself was no better. Although there were portions of the lane that were still covered in a crusty snow, the center of the path had been packed down by hikers, skiers, snowmobiles and snowshoers leaving icy ruts up the hill. I did not begrudge those brave souls that had taken advantage of the trail when it was covered with a little bit of fresh snow, but it was going to make my walk just a little bit harder.

Fortunately the micro-spikes worked great! (I highly recommend them for anyone who wants to hike in icy conditions). The spikes gripped the ice so that I had no fear of slipping along the way. It was the ruts that made for difficult travels, so much so that by the time I reached the Frohock Trail I almost turned around. By this time I knew I was probably not going to get to the top of Bald Rock Mountain but I was determined to at least get to the trailhead for it, so I continued on.

Shortly after passing the Frohock trailhead, I heard water running alongside me. I stopped for a few minutes and watched the water running beneath the ice within the culverts. The ice melt was already creating the spring-time rivers along the side of the trail.

I continued my slog until I reached the trailhead where I decided to stop for a bit before turning around. I chatted with the man who had been a bit ahead of me during the entire journey. We talked about the trail conditions, how I was better equipped with the spikes and would probably beat him down the trail. He headed down ahead of me while I rested from the rough conditions and just observed the woods around me. Not far from where I stood, I noticed a series of tree remains peeking through the snow. They reminded me of the remains of a wooden ship. All that was left were the ribs of the boat.

During the difficult descent, I stopped briefly to admire a pine cone resting on the top of the icy snow.  It had been a tough walk and my ankles hurt for 2 days after this endeavor but it had felt so good to be outside at last.



Plaisted Preserve

After finishing our hike around the Ash Point Preserve in Owls Head, we headed towards North Shore Road hoping to explore another  preserve I had read about in a recent blog posting. According to that post, the Plaisted Preserve, not far from the Owls Head Lighthouse, consisted of a short trail that would lead one towards Broad Cove. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the preserve, which surprisingly had a plowed parking area, there was a sign informing us that the trail was still under construction. What to do?

We stood at the kiosk and contemplated our next move. After I peered into the snowy terrain and discovered that some of the trees were bearing either orange or blue markers, or tied with blue ribbons, my adventurous spirit pushed into the woods. I figured if we just followed the ribbons we would be able to reach the cove. Since no one had walked through the preserve before us, I figured that even without trail markers, we would not have to worry about finding our way back. We just needed to follow our tracks through the snow back towards the parking field.

Without a clearly defined trail, it was a little difficult moving forward. We followed the blue ribbons through and around a variety of obstacles along the way. Being the first ones through the preserve after the recent snowfall, we found ourselves in a beautiful winter wonderland and stopped to admire the scenery.  At one point, we heard the tell-tale sound of ice cracking underneath us, but that did not stop us. We continued on until we stood facing a wall of tightly packed trees and brush. There was no way we were going to be able to bushwhack through that to reach the coast. Our exploration of the Plaisted Preserve would have to wait for another day.



Stained Glass

During the last two months of 2017, my daughter and I decided to work on a joint quilt project to present to a friend later in 2018. After tossing around several different designs, we finally zeroed in on a Stained Glass Quilt, a fitting choice since our friend worked with recycled glass.

Once the design was finalized it was time to head out to get some fabric. We threw some quilt layouts, sizes and fabric colors in our design software package so that we could at least get an idea about fabric requirements before agreeing to meet at a quilt shop located half way between us. We met at Mystic Maine Quilting in Chelsea and hoped that we could pull the whole thing together. Once inside I was amazed at how quickly my daughter selected 7 fabrics and a border for this project, especially since I have never seen her leave a quilt shop in less than an hour.

With fabric in hand, I returned home to assemble the quilt. First I entered the new fabrics in the software program in order to print out an accurate layout. To prevent confusion at the end I decided that I would sew the blocks row by row, constructing the row as I completed each block. As each row was completed I would attach it to the previous row. I soon discovered that this printout was essential for the construction of this project. Somehow the second row just refused to cooperate. I swear that every block in that row was taken apart at least once. First I would put the black strip in the wrong orientation so that the colored pieces of fabric were in the wrong place to each other. Then I would put the sashing piece on the wrong side of the block. After frequent use of my stitch ripper I finally got the row assembled. From that point on, I carefully referred to the layout diagram during the construction of each block and checked it off when the block was completed.

After a few days I attached the borders and my part of this joint endeavor was finished. I handed the quilt top over to my daughter to add a backing and complete the quilting process. I can’t wait to see the finished product.