Shopping is one of my least favorite activities, especially clothes shopping. The consequence in avoiding this chore is that once every 5 to 8 years I am forced to replace the worn items in my wardrobe. I set the last week in October as the time to gather up my courage and get this “shopping thing” over with as quickly as possible. I thought if I could spend 2 hours in Freeport and come out with at least 2 new items for my wardrobe I would reward myself with a hike not far from the outlets.
I arrived at Freeport just before 10 and within two hours I had successfully completed my mission and was heading towards Wolfe’s Neck State Park. With multiple trails to choose from, I decided to take the Casco Bay trail towards the bay. I walked along a wooded path, across a bridge and down some stone steps towards a granite ledge, thinking that moments before I was hurrying out of a crowded town designed for shopping. The views of the water calmed me, so I spent some moments studying the islands out in the bay before continuing along the Casco Bay Trail.
Instead of continuing along the loop back to the parking area, I followed the path along the water until it merged with the Harraseeket Trail. My journey took me through a variety of forest woods; at times the path was arrayed in a variety of leaf colors while other sections were cushioned with pine needles. It may have been the lighting or it may have been the fact that we were close to Halloween but I found a number of signs in nature that mirrored the season upon us. I found a large Ent tree guarding a section of woods, a skeleton like branch on the ground, a plant with finger shaped buds reaching out towards the unsuspecting traveler and a witch tree with roots guarding some ominous entrance underneath.
My intention had been to combine the Casco Bay Trail with the Harraseeket Trail loop, crisscrossing along the Hemlock Trail and Old Woods Trail on the back end of the loop for a nice 3 to 4 mile hike. I did ultimately succeed in this venture but not according to plan. Unfortunately the only trail markers throughout the park were trail signs posted at the intersections of two paths. As I walked along the Harraseeket Trail, I had to stop a few times to figure out where the trail continued. Having seen a few signs to my left indicating the park boundary, I ignored another such sign and continued straight, losing the Harraseeket Trail.
At some point I reconnected with the correct trail, crossing a street in order to continue along that path towards the river. On this side of the park, I admired some rather large linden tree leaves and the autumn colors across the river. I was still a bit confused when the track turned in the opposite direction than was indicated on my trail map. I crossed the road one more time and soon find myself at the Hemlock Trail intersection. It was then that I realized that I had already traveled the Hemlock Trail to the other side of the Harraseeket Trail, which deposited me across the road at a different point, thus reversing my direction of travel along the loop. The sign further in the woods (away from the intersection) was not a boundary sign but a trail sign. Knowing where I was at last, I continued along the Harraseeket Trail towards the Old Woods Trail. With no further mishaps during my 2 hour hike, I ambled along the Old Woods Trail back towards the parking area.