Meadow Brook Preserve – Hauk-Fry Trail

Over the years, I had come to realize that if I want to explore the outdoors I needed to do so early in the day. There have been too many times when I assumed that I would go on a hike after lunch and it somehow never happened.  So when the second weekend in December brought clear weather and seasonable temperatures, we decided to explore the Hauk-Fry trail of the Meadow Brook preserve in Swanville.

The Meadow Brook preserve consists of three separate tracts of land with a mile long trail on each of two of the tracts. Since the local land trust has been placing highly visible signs on the various preserves, we assumed that we would locate this spot and a parking pullout without any problem. Alas, after we drove way too long, we were forced to turn around and looked more closely for the preserve designation on our return trip. We eventually found a small off-road sign for each of the two pieces of land but neither one provided a pullout. The directions to this piece of land did indicate that we should park on the road and we did so with some reservation since the lane was a bit curvy.

The day was still cold enough that the morning frost had not yet lifted and as we walked along the trail, I marveled at the icy designs on the surrounding vegetation. We walked along a narrow path and across some slippery bog planks along our journey towards Hurds Pond. As we traveled, I realized how each preserve we have hiked has its own unique character. This particular spot of land was punctuated by moss covered rocks scattered around the trail, which created its own challenges for moving around these obstacles. On one rock, I counted at least 3 different types of mosses (actually 2 types of moss and reindeer lichen) and found a 4th on a nearby stone.

As we got closer to the water, we found a number of trees felled by beaver activity. The sharpened stump of the downed trees were all the remained. Of those logs that remained, they were all stripped of their bark and left behind. Walking around this area, we soon arrived at a picnic table overlooking the pond. Directly across from us, we had a wonderful view of a rather larger beaver lodge. We stood admiring the water views for a bit before retracing our steps to another fork that would take us to a stone dam, which according to our guide book could take us to the island across the river. When we arrived at the dam, we looked across at a series of blue blazes but did not feel comfortable crossing the ice covered stones and the beginnings of what appeared to be new beaver construction. I was not sure if this construction raised the water level across the stone dam but it was high enough for me to deem the crossing unsafe. It was interesting to note, that another blogger who had explored the second trail of this preserve, commented that the back end of the loop was difficult to maneuver because the beaver activity in the area had made that portion of the trail very wet. We studied our options for a little bit before deciding to call it a day and turned back towards the preserve entrance and lunch in Belfast.

On the way back I reflected on the frost covered vegetation, the variety of mosses and lichens, the water views and beaver activity and realized that it had been a wonderful, discovery filled morning.


Sagamore Farm

Mid-August we decided to explore a relatively unknown trail system a little closer to home. I knew about Sagamore Farm as a result of an email I received some time back about an organized  walk through the trail system. Unable to attend that walk, I spoke to the person who had led that walk and got directions to the trail head. His instructions included the advice to take a picture of the map at the trailhead before we set out.

The trail was located behind one of the local inns whose owners had generously allowed hikers to park at the far southern end of their property.  We were a bit deceived by the kiosk nearby, thinking that it was where the adventure would begin, but the map informed us that we needed to walk across the property, past the office and behind the lodge before searching for the path. Before setting out to hunt for the trail, we were amused by a chipmunk sitting on a post, eating the local berries nearby. We watched him for some time before moving on.

Once behind the lodge, we walked past the trail and needed to back track to find our starting point and only found it after referring to the map. It was rather hidden to say the least. At the opening that would lead us into the woods, I stopped to study a Queen Anne’s Lace. I had read that there is a dark purple heart-shaped flower in the center of the “lace” and wanted to see it for myself. I did not see the purple-heart on this particular flower but found an equally delightful gift, a ladybug sitting right where the identifying heart would be.

Given the recent town meeting discussions I had read, about the board not wanting to commit to a permanent trail system, I was surprised to find that the paths were clearly marked with blue blazes. Apparently, several years ago, the Midcoast Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association agreed to build and maintain routes throughout this piece of land. Between the blazes and our photographed map we had no problem exploring these woods. Our route did switchback on itself quite a bit but that would be the nature of a mountain bike system. On the other hand, perhaps because the population is considerably smaller than that of my previous home in New York, we did not see the extensive damage that we had witnessed when exploring trails designed for mountain bikers. It was a surprising but pleasurable experience.

We walked through a dark wood of mostly pines and oaks, with plenty of ferns and moss for ground cover. At one point during our adventure, we found some yellow stagshorn fungus partially hidden by the leaf litter. A little further on, we startled a toad that hopped off the path to hide beneath a fern. He was a fairly big fellow, one of three that we found during our walk. It was turning out to be an outing of animal discoveries; first the chipmunk, then the ladybug and finally the toads.

After following the twists and turns of the trail uphill, we soon noticed the path taking a downward trend. Along the way we discovered a tree so littered with pileated woodpecker holes that it was amazing there was anything left. Arriving at a more open area near the end of our journey, we found a Mountain Ash bearing brilliant red berries, its bark mottled with a ring of sapsucker holes the entire length of the tree. We attempted some tree identification at this point, both the Mountain Ash and the Mulberry Tree nearby, but these identities had to wait until we arrived home and could consult our guide books. Done with our hike we returned to our vehicle just as the rain came in.

Seattle Japanese Garden

After finally acquiring a trail map for the Washington Park Arboretum, I meandered a bit more, admiring the different sections of the park before making my way back to the my starting point at the Pacific Connections section of the gardens. I sat there for 20 minutes or so enjoying the scenery while waiting for the Japanese Gardens across the street to open. Nearing admission time, I exited the arboretum and strolled towards the next item on my list of Seattle places to visit.

Typical of Japanese Gardens in most places, I entered a sanctuary that enveloped the visitor with a spirit of tranquility and invited the weary wanderer to leave their worries behind. I walked along structured garden paths admiring everything from the placement of teahouses and pagodas, to the reflecting pool and the pink water lilies. I sat near the lilies just letting the serene atmosphere take over before moving on.

It was a small garden and I spent no more than 45 minutes there but it was enough to recharge my nature senses before having another go at the city. The next day promised rain and it would be a museum day, so I was glad to have this nature moment to carry me through.

Washington Park Arboretum


Butterfly Gardens and Quilt Shops

Back in April, my daughter and I had participated in the annual Quilt Shop Hop. We had dutifully gotten our “passports” stamped at each shop we visited and mailed them off to the coordinator in May. This would allow us to take part in the drawing for various prizes based on the number of shops stamped on our card. Near the beginning of June, I received a letter from the Shop Hop coordinator that I had won one of the third place prizes. The down-side was that I had to go to the shop to pick it up which was a 2 hour ride from our home.

Since the shop just happened to be near Acadia National Park, we decided to make a day of it and found some moderate hiking trails nearby. We would visit the quilt store first (of course) and then head to the trails. I fully expected that when we got to the shop, I would be given a quilting tool or some fabric and we could go on our way, but when I got there I discovered that I could pick out $100 worth of anything in the store! Wow! This was going to take longer than I anticipated. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I circled the store multiple times, while I selected fabric. My husband encouraged me to go over the allotted amount and increase my stash saying that I always bought too little of what I needed. Imagine a spouse encouraging a quilter to buy more fabric! He really is a keeper. When I was done I had a wide piece of red fabric to back my current project, 3 yards of a blue fabric, 3 yards of a green “fossil fern” fabric and 2 cool red, orangey bundles of 10 fat quarters. Mission accomplished.

After we left the shop, we crossed the street towards the Charlotte Rhoades Butterfly Garden. I had been told about this place by a friend who works at one of the campgrounds near Acadia. He mentioned that he and his wife would get coffee and just sit in the garden enjoying the views. The minute we stepped in the garden, I understood why they liked this little gem. The garden was small but I could just imagine the abundance of blooms and butterflies at the height of the summer, not to mention the benches situated with great view of the water.

We wandered around for a few minutes admiring the early Spring blossoms and the sculpture of a rather large caterpillar sitting on a boulder before continuing on towards the trail.