It was another beautiful September day, so I decided to explore Prosser Pines in Middle Island. The actual loop trail is not long, (listed in most Long Island hiking books as about .8 of a mile) but I wasn’t looking for anything arduous, just something to get me out into the woods. And what better place to connect with nature than walking through a pine forest!
According to the South Shore Estuary Reserve Council, Prosser Pines is “one of the oldest surviving pine plantations in the eastern U.S. The pines were planted in 1812 on farmland. The seedlings came from a neighbor’s farm, descendants of pine seedlings brought from Quebec in 1759 by an officer in the French and Indian War.” And so I began my walk, not only walking underneath pines that were hundreds of years old but wandering past areas were the next generation was claiming it’s own space.
One of the things I enjoyed about this walk, is that the floor of a pine forest is relatively clean. In another words, one does not have to worry about encountering that smallest creature that puts fear into the hearts of even the bravest hiker – ticks! With little undergrowth, I could wander off-trail and explore some of the wonders that this preserve offered, such as the fungus covering the remains of a fallen tree.
When I had gained some elevation, I gazed down through the trees and watched three deer running along the fence before they disappeared further into the woods. Shortly after, a man with two dogs appeared – obviously the reason for the skittish behavior of the deer. Soon, the trail curved and there were my four legged friends again, blocking my way. The four of us stopped and stared at each other for a time, before I made a slight motion which caused them to turn and run.
Throughout the preserve there was still reminders of the damage caused by Super Storm Sandy almost 11 months ago. As I approached one particularly large uprooted specimen I noticed that one side of the root was a much lighter color than the rest of the trunk. As I came around this tree, I noticed that the off color patch actually had 2 legs attached and realized I was staring at the back end of a young deer. The poor thing was attempting to hide from the two dogs on the trail below us. As the dogs approached the young deer looked back at me before bolting away.
A splash of color caused me to wander off the trail again for further exploration. As I approached, I discovered small blue flowers arrayed in a color I would not normally associate with this time of year. I believe they were some type of Dayflower.
After about an hour of traveling; sometimes along the marked loop trail, sometimes an some other unmarked trail and occasionally off the trail completely, I arrived back at the entrance. Just inside the entrance to the preserve were two rather large red benches which I had passed when I began my journey. Now that I had completed my excursion I thought that these benches would have been better place at the far end of the loop, where the wanderer could pause deep in the woods and observe the gifts this tiny place had to offer.