Towards the end of September I decided to complete my explorations of the Little River Community Trail. Over the past year, I wandered the Route 1 section to Perkins Road and on a separate occasion traversed a segment from Perkins road in the hopes of using a large erratic mentioned in the trail description as my end point. On that trip, the day was rather warm and I never did locate that rock but the arrival of autumn brings perfect hiking weather and so this time I was determined to find that boulder.
To reach the last part of this trail, I parked at the Walsh Ball Field on Route 52, not far from Route 1. From the parking area, I followed a path that ran through a field filled with asters and goldenrod, before entering the woods. I crossed a small board bridge that once spanned a stream. I paused here for a moment, studying the dry bedrock wondering when we would see enough rain to make up the deficit we had experienced this year. Even the lake near our home was down 3 to 4 feet.
Between loose stones used to create portions of this path and tree roots trying to grab my boots it was slow going while I concentrated on proper foot placement. I did look up when I reached a sunlit portion of forest. The timing was perfect, for there before me was a beautiful spider web illuminated by the light. While I admired nature’s artwork, a small plane flew just above the tree line as it made its approach to the nearby municipal airport.
During my last few walks, I have become more aware of how the understory (vegetation under the trees) changes on any one hike. On this journey, areas of ferns gave way to a ground covered with bunchberries which was followed by blankets of Canada Mayflowers mixed with Starflowers then back to ferns. The forest also changed from a mix of birch and maple to pine.
My wandering took me across four wide, grassy paths that could have been access roads and a few dry streambeds before I reached the Little River. Even though this body of water also showed signs of stress from the drought, I could still hear the trickle of water as it found its way through the pebbles. I listened to that mesmerizing sound for a bit before studying the area around me. And there, sitting right by the river but almost hidden by the vegetation was that boulder! Its shape reminded me of the Old Man in the Mountain from New Hampshire as it stared out across the river. I even imagined that the reason why he was no longer in New Hampshire was because he decided to vacation in Maine.
I decided that I would continue on a little further towards the reservoir just to see how close I had been to my goal during my last attempt at locating this boulder. As I wandered, the path crossed a stony indentation. There was no bridge here but I assumed it was a dried up stream. Looking down this gulley I found two small puddles reflecting the canopy, all that was left of a larger body of water.
I probably meandered less than ½ mile before the trail took a steep upwards direction towards a ridge. Since I had abandoned my last hike when I discovered I had to travel down towards a ravine and up the other side, I figured that my summer walk had ended just on the other side of the ridge. Satisfied that I had traversed the entire section during my three hikes, I turned back towards the trailhead.