The last day of February, topped out at about 45 degrees. It was unseasonably warm for this time of year and that encouraged me to join my friend on a new outing. Thanks to the author of the Maine by Foot blog, I discovered two new trails right in my own backyard. Both trails were on Aldermere Farm and relatively short. We could have done both trails in one outing but we opted to spend more time on the Ocean Trail, saving the Lily Pond Trail for another day.
As I made my way towards the parking area just across from the Ocean Trail, I passed many people out walking. The warm weather must have encouraged everyone to get out and enjoy the sunshine. There were cars parked by the cemetery just before the farm, cars parked at the farm and the lot by the golf course closest to the trail was just about full when I arrived. Most of these walkers were strolling along the road, either heading up towards the farm or down towards the Vespers Chapel and Beauchamp Point.
Once I found a parking space, I crossed the road to the trailhead to assess the hiking conditions. I met one couple coming out of the woods choosing their steps with care. The path definitely needed something sturdier than sneakers. After forgetting my spikes during two previous outings, I now kept an extra pair in my car. Thank goodness! For the rains of yesterday and the warm temperatures on this day had changed the packed down snow to ice with a layer of water on top. When my friend joined me and we had walked a bit down the trail we wondered how far the couple had gotten before they turned around. Without spikes, I would say the footing was pretty treacherous.
Although the trail was short, we took our time stepping over the ice. Of course we stopped from time to time to study some new find or to try to locate the bird singing a song we had never heard before. Neither one of us found that bird, but it was worth the pause in our journey to listen to it sing.
Further along the path we worked our way around a massive tree that was down across the path. We investigated the remains of the stump which consisted of the outer bark only. For an idea of the size of this tree, the empty interior of the stump was large enough for my friend to stand inside. It had broken off just above her head.
In a few more minutes we arrived at the stony beach. We found some suitable rocks to sit upon in order to soak in the sun and listen to the waves. Watching the waves for some time, it wasn’t long before we were able to predict which ones would be bigger and make a louder noise.
We took in the soothing sights and sounds of nature for about half an hour before turning back towards the trail. As the temperatures had risen even higher, we discovered even more water resting on top of the ice. Some of this action had left interesting patterns in the ice beneath the puddles.
Just before we reached the end of our journey, we stopped once more to admire some moss peeking through the snow. I found myself with the same feeling I get when I find the first flower pushing through the melting snow. As we get weary of the dark days of winter, there is always some sign that points to brighter days ahead.