During our frequent trips to Maine, prior to our move to the Midcoast, I would notice a small park just off route 90 in Warren. From the road a playground was visible, and at first I thought it was just a place to take small children on an outing for the day. But then I noticed the bridge spanning the river and I was determined that someday I would explore the area beyond the park.
The opportunity came one fine day in October. Meeting my youngest daughter for lunch, I mentioned that I would be spending the afternoon exploring Merrill Payson Park. As a person who is always seeking new adventures, many more daring than I would attempt, she decided to join me. So off we went to Warren.
After spending enough time in the playground for the mid-20 year old to try out all the equipment, we made our way across the river. At the midway point we paused to meditate on the view, noting that route 90 was visible from one side of the bridge. It was an interesting contrast; standing at a spot where we could hear the water and the birds overhead, while observing a modern day world whizzing by in the distance. I wondered if anyone was even aware that this place existed.
On the opposite side of the bridge, there was a sign explaining the history of this place. The waterway we were following was once a canal built in 1794. Apparently, it was poorly built and lasted only several years. In 1847 it was rebuilt but the canal was not a financial success and ceased operation in 1850. Since then, the Georges River Land Trust created the Canal Path so that all can enjoy this tranquil area.
At this end of the canal, the trail was a bit overgrown as we made our way from the river into the woods. Once under the trees, the path became easier to navigate. Occasionally, we noticed small steps leading up to a ridge and it wasn’t long before the adventurous one decided to ascend the stairs for further exploration.
I probably should have known better than to follow someone who is a bit more daring than I. I certainly would not have gone as far as I did if I had made this a solo trip, but figuring there was safety in numbers I followed along. Along the ridge, we were rewarded with some beautiful views of the rushing water below us and so we continued along this narrow path admiring the views until misfortune knocked me down.
There were some places where the trail was slightly cut away. Instead of stepping over I must have hit the cut away just right and before I could correct my balance found myself lying on the ground. Although my hip was okay, my shoulder took the full weight of the fall. It would be weeks before I would regain the full use of my dominant arm.
One would think this would be enough to encourage us to turn back, but reason was not with me that day and so with a very sore shoulder I followed my daughter deeper into the woods. We eventually reached a point where our options where to turn around or to climb down a slope and continue on. Knowing I would not be able to climb down, I sent the explorer forward to investigate. After examining a large rusted wheel, possibly a remnant of the canal system, she found the path looped around below me. I backtracked to a place where I could descend from the ridge so that we could continue our investigations.
The path continued along the river, providing us with some excellent views. Eventually, the stream opened out to a pond with ample places for a fisherman to try his luck. In fact as we headed back towards the playground we did pass a few people traversing the trail carrying fishing gear.