Temperatures had turned more pleasant by the second day of August, so I thought it would be a great day for another solo adventure. Already there were subtle signs signaling the end of a season; ferns and wild sarsaparilla were tinged yellow, tree leaves were not as dark as they had been the month before, the birch tree at the end of our driveway was dropping its leaves, the top of the neighbor’s burning bush had begun the transition to a yellowish-rust color and I even noticed the occasional tree top with a rusty tinge. There would still be plenty of warm days well into September, but the signs were there and I wanted to see what surprises I would find in a woodland setting. With this in mind I set out for Pleasant Point, a wooded preserve down the Cushing peninsula.
Pleasant Point Nature Preserve consists of 1.5 miles of trails in 3 loops. My plan was to begin walking the middle loop to the intersection with the eastern most loop, and on my return, continue along the center loop to the western loop, bypassing the common trail adjoining these last 2 loops. At least that was the plan.
The first part of the path was a bit close but I tucked my pants into my socks, gritted my teeth and went through what I hoped was not a tick infested area. For the most part, this area was well marked with blue blazes, so I had no trouble figuring out which direction to take. Soon, I reached an interesting rock ledge. I stopped briefly to look at a mostly green plant with one single red leaf before continuing on into the woods. The ground cover here was mostly bunch berries displaying numerous clusters of red berries; the splash of brilliant red standing out in the shadowed woodland.
At some point, I realized that I had been walking further than what seemed reasonable to reach the junction with the eastern loop. This worried me a bit, but since this was a loop, I figured I couldn’t get too lost. Soon I reached a turn that I thought might lead me to the eastern, swamp section. I studied the map and turned left on to the new trail. After a few minutes of not finding the boardwalk section listed on the map, I realized I must have missed the first intersection that would have taken me there and had continued on to the fork for the western loop. No problem, I would just finish this loop and try again when I reached the center loop. This was okay until I reached an open area surrounded by trees with no trail markers and no trail. I retraced a dozen steps back into the woods, turned around and saw a blue blaze just before that glade. Heading back into this area, I looked around and… no markers and no trail. I was beginning to have visions of being completely lost on a 1.5 mile trail, never to be seen again but I squashed that thought and looked around the clearing. I stood for a minute studying the area and thought I saw a trail through the almost waist high ferns. I made my way through them and entered the woods on the other side, where I found another blue marker. I was saved!
I thought I might actually be on the trail that joined the two loops, so when I reached the next intersection I turned right. Things began to look familiar once more and I realized I was back on the center loop. Soon I saw a marker drawn like a “T” on one of the trees. It was big enough that I am not sure how I missed it the first time, but turning left on to this trail I soon found the boardwalk that took me to the eastern-most loop.
Here, the ground was covered with pine needles and moss. There was an abundance of yellow mushrooms on this section, many in small clusters of 3 or more. A small rise in elevation led me to a grassy spot with the most perfect sitting rock; a great place for observation and a snack. I continued along this loop, enjoying the idyllic scenery (perhaps my favorite loop since I was no longer lost) and was soon back across the boardwalk and on the center loop. I had been out in the woods about an 1.5 hours but what an adventure it had been.