Tag Archive | Outdoors

Regained Confidence

After my troublesome exploration of Waldoboro Town Forest, I wanted to try an easy stroll just to prove to myself that I had not developed a fear of striking out on solo adventures. Since the Coastal Mountain Land Trust had published a lovely guide describing all their land holdings along with trail maps, I flipped through the pages until I decided to seek out the St. Clair Preserve and Knight’s Pond.  According to the description in my pamphlet, the land trust trail was a mere 200 yards from the dirt road to the pond. Perfect! This should help me prove that my previous experience was just a fluke.

The fog was just lifting from the pond when I parked near the boat ramp at the end of a long, dirt road. I stood by the ramp for a few minutes enjoying the view of water and the fog drifting through the trees, thinking that this was be a perfect place to to paddle around in the kayaks. Turning north towards a small picnic area where my map had displayed the trail, I searched but could not find any clearly marked path. The section of water near this area was boggier in nature, containing lots of grass and water lilies.

My lack of success did not stop me from exploring the area. After a disappointing search for said path, I turned south back towards the boat ramp and decided to walk along the beach. As the waterfront began to curve west, I discovered a trail nearby. I climbed up a small embankment and soon discovered an orange blazed trail leading through the woods. Since this path was on the wrong side of the boat ramp, it could not have been the land trust walkway. I knew that parts of this area had been previously owned by the Nature Conservancy, so I wondered if this had been part of the Conservancy trail system. I also knew that the Point Lookout Conference Center maintained a trail system that lead down to this body of water, so that was another explanation for this unknown road. In any case, I decided to explore.

As I walked along this wooded road with the water always visible, I studied the forest for the signs of late summer. It wasn’t long before I noticed the bright red berries of the bunchberries, the yellow spotted leaves of the Wild Sarsaparilla, the occasional discolored fern and the reddish-green berries of some unknown viburnum. I continued exploring until a reached a small point jutting out into the water. From here I could see a large expanse of the pond, a small island in front of me, and a shoreline to my left with grass and waterlilies. I felt a calmness here and I knew that my previous adventure had been an aberration. In the future, I would be able to continue my solo excursions into nature.

After turning back towards the boat ramp, I studied some vegetation growing near the edge of the water. I never did find out the identity of this grass-like plant bearing the remnants of white flowers but I thought they were beautiful. When I was done studying this interesting plant, I conversed for a bit with a man throwing a stick into the pond for his dog. We talked about different hikes and this particular preserve. He informed me that you could keep going on that path I had explored and take it almost the full length of the lake. Sounds like a great adventure for another day.

My goal had been achieved. My morning successful. As I drove slowly back up the dirt road, I glimpsed what could have been a trail just near the picnic area. Proof of that path must wait for another day.

 

An Uneasy Vibe

After returning from Seattle, I concentrated more on exercise hikes up the Multi-use Trail in the Camden Hills, but now as late summer approached, it was time to return to some exploration walks. My choice for the last weekend in July was to re-visit the Waldoboro Town Forest, located on Route 1. Since my last visit two winters ago, the town of Waldoboro had worked on the trail loop and held an official re-opening of the trail earlier this summer. I was curious to see what I would find during a visit in a completely different season.

There was only one other car in the parking area when I arrived. This did not disturb me since I had been on plenty of solo adventures during the last few years. I left the parking field, walked past the two Waldoboro Town Forest signs and entered the darkly, shaded pine forest.

Once in the woods, it was clear the work had been done in this preserve. The trail was marked by fresh blue blazes and an occasional brown hiking sign, brush was piled along the side of the trail and some log benches had been created from some of the remains of the clearing work. As I walked, I discovered some of the vegetation was beginning to show the signs of late summer; the Indian Root Cucumber displayed a slight hint of yellow, the Wild Sarsaparilla had acquired yellow spots and the single leaf of the Canada Mayflower was also beginning to turn. Further down the trail I found some tiny bright red mushrooms which could not be photographed due to the abundance of biting insects.

Not far into my walk, I came to the beginning of the loop through the preserve. At the intersection was one of those new benches mentioned earlier. The trail in front of me displayed freshly painted blazes, but the blazes were pretty faded on the trail to my right so I continued straight. It wasn’t long before I encountered a bog bridge that disappeared in the ferns growing over the planks. I’m not sure why but I began to feel a bit uneasy at this point and turned back towards the intersection. Not giving in yet to my sense that something felt wrong, I turned down the intersecting trail, only to discover a little way down the lane that this path also narrowed as the grass and underbrush took over before it disappeared completely. The fact that two marked trails just disappeared within a month of being re-opened, suggested that this preserve was not heavily used. For some reason I was spooked by this notion. I decided to trust my gut on this one and returned to the safety of my car.

Summer Visit to McLellan-Poor Preserve

After returning home from our Seattle trip, we took a few weeks to get back into our normal daily routines before setting out on our next adventure during the July 4th holiday. The local land trust had just recently completed a second entrance to the McLellan-Poor preserve on Route 1, and, since we had been stopped by our previous endeavor to explore this preserve due to an impassible river, we decided to approach the same river from the opposite side of the preserve.

During our approach to the trail-head, we spotted the sign for McLellan Poor just as we drove by, so we pulled into the Belfast Watershed parking area just on the other side of the Little River in order to turn around. Observing the casually mowed trail beyond the kiosk my first thought was that anyone who has the slightest tick phobia would not like this path. But I dressed appropriately for this type of hike, so I wasn’t too worried about the trail conditions.

In the open meadow near the kiosk, there was an abundance of wild vegetation to study and identify, so we spent a few moments there. Near the sign was a rather tall plant with multiple flowers forming a crown at the top, similar to Yarrow but the leaves were different. I later identified this as a Valerian. The field was also filled with Cow-Vetch and some rather nasty looking Thistle Leaves. I assume the rather tall thistle not far from the path was a Bull-Thistle. There was also a number of small flowers about ½ inch across which I identified after we returned home, as Common Stitchwort

Once, we were done marveling at all the flowers in the field, we continued our journey towards the woods. The trail was still very narrow with vegetation alongside the path close enough to brush against our clothing. I knew a number of acquaintances in our town who would get the heebie-jeebies walking through this.  In fact, during this part of our adventure we followed the barely visible line of trail through a stretch of what we could only call a fern forest. Here again, we stopped multiple times trying to identify the various ferns.

It wasn’t long before we passed through the ferns and found ourselves deeper in the woods walking on a wider forest trail. We were occasionally treated to glimpses of the reservoir to our right. In a few places, the trees became more widely spaced and we were able to stand on the ridge for a few moments and enjoy a much better view of the water. As we journeyed towards our destination, we crossed several bog bridges. At the edge of one of these bridges I found a cluster of Wood Sorrel, which I carefully stepped over as I crossed the bridge.

During this adventure, we took the two loops displayed on the trail map in order to cover the entire preserve on this side of the river. Just beyond the intersection of the last loop with the Reservoir Trail we came to the waterway that had prevented the continuation of our winter explorations. We actually did not recognize it devoid of the snow covering the rocks, the footprints of those who went through the ice in an attempt to cross and the lower water levels. This time of year one could easily cross along the rocks that formed a small island in the middle of the river. I had heard that the field near the original trail-head was filled with lupines but it was getting a bit warm so we decided to turn back and prepare for our July 4th celebrations.

 

Volunteer Park – Seattle

The day after our adventures through Discovery Park, my husband started his conference and I was on my own to explore Seattle. Well, not quite. On discovering that I was planning on visiting Volunteer Park, our friends decided to join me, along with their dogs. We had agreed to meet in front of one of the many coffee shops, grab a cup and walk to the park. Along the way, we stopped at a local Farmer’s Market to buy strawberries and cherries for a shared snack later on.

Once at the park, we had to dodge our way around the barriers set up for a bike race before we could ramble along the greenery. We circled a reservoir, which had a nice view of the Space Needle. After passing the reservoir, we stopped at a small pond to watch the ducklings hiding among the vegetation before continuing on. Deciding it was time for a snack, we sat on a stone ledge near the Thomas Burke Monument enjoying the garden views and the fresh fruit purchased earlier in the day.

Refreshed, we made our way to the water tower within the park, where we climbed over 100 steps to the observation floor. There were wonderful 360 degree views of Seattle, the Space Needle and the mountains beyond (at least that is what I was told since I could barely make out the mountain range and certainly no Rainer). Around the observation floor was the story of the Seattle Parks. Here I learned that Olmsted was a key factor in developing many of the green spaces in Seattle. It was a gift that the local residents still enjoy today.

Once down from the water tower, we continued meandering through Volunteer Park past the conservatory and the temporarily closed Asian Art Museum. Behind the conservatory we let the dogs run a bit before leaving the park. From there, we crossed the street to step foot in another green space which I believe was Interlaken Park. We stayed a few seconds to look at the views before calling it a day.

Discovery Park – Seattle

Our out-of-state adventure this year was to head west and explore Seattle. Before leaving on this expedition there were plenty of well-meaning acquaintances recommending things that we absolutely had to see; places such as Pike’s Market (it was okay), Pike Brew Pub (meh), and the Space Needle. Not being the kind of people who like crowds, we quickly crossed those items off our list then made our way towards the green spaces of the city. The son of one of our close friends resides in Seattle and he graciously agreed to spend some time with the “old folks”, recommending places to explore while guiding us through the transportation system.  Our first stop was Discovery Park.

Discovery Park was exactly our idea of exploring a new area. Our guides led us through a number of trails within the park system that took us through several different habitats. The first portion of our hike went through a wooded section where one of our friends pointed out western sword ferns and other local vegetation which I quickly forgot.

Our meanderings eventually brought us to the information center where we picked up a trail map to better contemplate the best route to the shore. This path first went through some additional forested areas before depositing us in a field with views of the water and hazy images of the mountains beyond. Our friends proclaimed how spectacular the mountain views were on the clear days, stating that you could see Rainer, the Cascades and the Olympic Mountains from the city but we never did see them. During the course of the week our failure to see any mountains in the area became a running joke.

We crossed the meadow and a road before taking a trail towards the water. As the trail curved around up a small hill, we found a cleared area overlooking the beach below. It was here that I took my first fall, tearing the knees of my slacks and hurting my pride. Looking around, I noticed some small holes around the area (possibly from a child digging in the dirt). It was one of these holes that tripped me up and for whatever the reason I could not recover and just went down. I fell once more during this trip, with a near miss a third time, each time the result of an unevenness in the ground. The only explanation I could come up with is that when I am hiking in the woods I know the ground is uneven and therefore pay closer attention to what is happening on the ground as opposed to an area that by all appearances should have been flat (at least that is my story and I am sticking to it).

After my mishap, we continued walking by the shore until we reached the lighthouse at the western point of the park. From there we took a shuttle to one of the park entrances where we caught a bus back to town. Our two parties split up for a bit before regrouping at a local wine bar before dinner.