On the first day of spring, we decided to take a guided hike of the Schoolhouse Pond Preserve on Barter’s Island. The hike was advertised as an hour long exploration, so we made plans to explore another local preserve, Dodge Point after lunch. Filled with the exhilaration of the warm spring day, we set out for the Boothbay Harbor Region in search of this preserve. After navigating narrow, winding roads we finally reached our destination but much to our dismay no one was there; no cars, no people, no footprints in the snow indicating that someone had been brave enough to explore the area. In fact, the parking lot was unplowed and blocked by a mound of snow. It was clear, that this organized hike was not going to happen.
Since the temperatures were everything the first day of spring should be we were not disappointed for long. We simply adjusted our plans, heading over to Dodge Point in Newcastle for a morning of outdoor adventures. Once a tree farm but now part of the Damariscotta River Association, Dodge Point was purchased by the State in 1989.
We began our adventure on the Old Farm Trail which loops through the preserve. This path takes the wanderer through the forest with spurs leading towards the Shore Trail. The first quarter mile of our exploration was rather annoying due to the amount of dog defecation we had to avoid. My husband commented that he had never seen so much defecation in one place. It saddened me that people could be so inconsiderate of others who wish to use the park. This must be the main reason why parks and preserves end up banning dogs from using a place that is supposed to be enjoyed by all.
Things eventually cleared up as we continued our walk and soon we were able to enjoy our surroundings. The snow was packed to a crusty ice so micro-spikes were necessary to maneuver through the park. At one point, we stopped to watch chickadees and nuthatches flitting along the path in front of us. Naturally, they disappeared as soon as I reached for my camera. We waited a bit, hoping they would return but they remained hidden until we lost patience and continued on our way.
Halfway through the Old Farm Trail we were able to catch glimpses of the Damariscotta River. We soon turned down one of the spurs leading towards the Shore Trail, hoping for a better view. We paused for a bit, watching the ice floes drifting along with the tide. I wondered how long it would be before the river would be free of these last images of winter.
After spending some time wandering the Shore Trail, we returned to the Old Farm Trail. This side of the loop carried us through a path lined with pine trees, the snow littered with green needles and tiny cones. We passed a pond, formerly an ice pond used by residents of the area during the winter for cold storage. A little further on, the trail curved behind a private structure before depositing us back at our starting point.