After a week or more of either heavy rain or hazy skies obscuring the mountains, the Saturday of Father’s Day weekend promised to be a crystal clear day. It was the perfect day to organize a walk through Fernald’s Neck with some friends. The plan was to pack a lunch, hike and finish up on one of the ledges by the lake for a picnic.
When we arrived at the kiosk, we found several small butterflies with brown and orange markings, flitting about. We spent some time trying to photograph these tiny creatures but they persisted in playing with us by staying perfectly still until we tried to get closer or were ready to snap a picture, at which point they moved on. Tiring of this endeavor, we headed into the woods. Not far from the trailhead, we found a Swallowtail that did sit for a photo. On closer examination, we discovered its tail was damaged and we wandered if that was the reason for its patience.
Once we reached the beginning of the Blue Trail loop we decided to take the path in the opposite direction than our usual routine (my how we really do become creatures of habit!). This would allow us to walk the Red Trail as well, before finishing up at Balance Rock for lunch. It is funny how things look different when approached or viewed from a different perspective, but I swear we made new discoveries by reversing the orientation of our walk. As the trail ascended, we came to an area of trees covered with a beautiful shelf fungus. Not only was the color unique but the varnish-like shine enhanced its beauty. I latter discovered that this growth was known as a Hemlock Varnish Shelf Mushroom. As my daughter pointed out, it was one of those instances where the name really does make sense (what we might call a “Duh” moment). It was growing on hemlocks and looked like it was varnished.
We continued our ascent to the rock ledge overlooking the lake, where we spent some time admiring the view. A much better view without the haze that was visible during our last visit. From there we continued on towards the Red Trail. Although this path still traveled through the woods, it took us closer to some bog areas. Consequently, we did not pause long to admire any views, for that meant having to contend with the mosquitos and deer flies. Our thoughts on these sights were, “yes very nice. The bugs are biting, let’s keep moving.”
It wasn’t long before the trail gradually descended, becoming level with the lake. Occasionally, the path led us to a ledge right on the water. Any one of these would make a nice spot to enjoy lunch. Some had the added benefit of being approachable by kayak and I thought we really must plan that, one of these days. But Balance Rock was calling, so we continued on. Walking beyond this erratic, we found the perfect spot on the ledge to enjoy our lunch.