It was time for the first service on my car and though I did not have the recommended miles for that service, we wanted to at least get it ready for the winter. Since this required an hour’s drive to the dealer in Augusta, we planned on walking around the Augusta Nature Center before heading home. Of course, this meant I had to go through the two rotaries on the way to the dealership and then back towards the nature center but for once I did not cross the bridge multiple times in my attempt to exit either rotary. Safely back on the correct side of the Kennebec River, we parked at one of the Coney Street entrances and set out on our exploration.
This time, we headed left towards the Hawthorne Trail and Blueberry Bend. Not far into our walk, we found a small teepee structure leaning against one of the pines located in this section of the woods. When we reached Blueberry Bend there was some confusion as to which direction we needed to take in order to stay on the Hawthorne Trail. Fortunately, we remembered to bring the trail map with us this time. After studying the maze of trails, we headed across the blueberry field along a barely visible path.
We continued along the Hawthorne Trail, past Ovenbird Corner then on to the Lower Hemlock Trail and the Red Line Trail which loops along the border of the preserve. We walked the Red Line Trail for only a few feet, before turning right on the North Brookside Trail and the Quarry Road Trail(as you can see it really was a maze of trails). I had been hoping to verify that I had reached Dead Man’s Cave during my last visit but things looked different approaching it from the opposite direction and I never found any signs suggesting we were there. From our position on the Quarry Trail, we did see a clearing below us that may have been the Granite Quarry but since it was blocked off, we could not get close enough to confirm this.
Further on, the South Brookside Trail branched off from the Quarry Road trail and headed down towards the water. Here there was a clearing that may have served as some sort of amphitheater. Granite ledge created a natural border for this area, where wooden structures had been placed to provide some seating.
Our expedition took us along the brook, past bridges and a lily pond. On the far side of the preserve, we explored Bruce’s Wood trails. Here I found a white fluff (a feather or seed perhaps) stuck in a bush, fluttering in the wind but firmly stuck to the branch. On the loop back towards the Whitney Brook Trail, I noticed quite a few yellow maple leaves bearing an interesting black splotch. I wondered if the discoloration was caused by some kind of fungus or if it was just the natural autumn progression of color for this particular leaf. Heading back towards the parking area, we climbed on to Beaver Bridge to meditate on the view from the bridge.
As we made our way back to the car, there was some confusion as to whether we were actually on the Red Line Trail. Our original thought was to take the Red Line Trail back to the parking area but since we seemed to be going in circles between that trail and the White Oak Trail, we bailed out when we found a sign for the Hemlock Trail. Once on Hemlock, we easily found our way to the exit and headed home.