What a day. While the temperature was probably in the 40˚s, when the sun poked out from behind the clouds, it felt like 70˚. To celebrate, my guy and I left one truck on Grist Mill Road off Fosterville and drove the other to the Bald Pate trail head.
We skipped the climb to the summit and instead opted to follow the two-mile Town Farm Brook Trail to the pond.
Others had used this trail. We decided to leave snowshoes behind and threw our micro-spikes into the backpack. There they stayed. The snow and ice were so soft that it turned out to be an excellent decision. Otherwise, we would have felt like we were walking on high heels as the snow would have clumped up, and heaven knows–neither one of us are the high heel type.
Since we were traveling downhill, I raced to keep up with my speed demon. But . . . he stopped for me when I spotted a large patch of common scouring rush.
The evergreen stems stand tall in these winter woods.
And so my guy sat on a rock and waited patiently while I knelt before this specimen. Check out that pointed cone at the tip.
And those rough, sand-papery textured ridges on the stem. During pioneer days, this plant was used to scour pots, pans and floors, thus its common name.
But . . . when is a rush not a rush? When it’s common scouring rush (Equisetum hyemale affine), which is actually a horsetail. Horsetails are closely related to ferns (take a look at the spores on the cone). This is where it all gets mind-boggling. Both horsetails and ferns were common during the Carboniferous period (280-345 million years ago), when tree-sized specimens occurred. I’m staggered by that thought, but rejoice that I took the time to take a closer look.
Notice how the whorls of tiny, scale-like leaves are fused together at the stem nodes, forming sheaths that are about as long as wide. The sheaths have a dark-toothed upper band, ashy gray middle band and dark lower band.
We left them behind, crossed Fryer’s Field and walked down Fosterville Road to slip into the Holt Pond Preserve, where no one had carved the trail–just the way we like it.
When I saw the wee bit of a slide under the downed tree and took a closer look at these tracks, I was transported back in time. I think our twenty-something sons were 8 & 10 and we were in this same spot with Bridie McGreavy when we saw a similar slide created by a mink–back then, it was a first for me.
This afternoon, I turned and saw more defined prints and the diagonal bounding pattern. Yes, indeed.
Chivalry is still alive–my guy dusted the snow off lunch rock. I guess he was hungry for that PB&J.
Where the trail briefly offers a glimpse of the pond, we paused and looked toward the quaking bog directly across the way.
Our next glimpse was near the end of the Southern Shore Trail.
As is the way of things around here, we had to walk on Chaplin Mill Road for a bit, which is where we saw this beaver statue–about three feet from the road and perhaps the reason for the flagging tape.
A few minutes later, we reached the Emerald Field, an entry way back into the preserve. Emerald–perhaps, but also red, white, green, gold, gray and every shade between.
Among the bramble in the field–milkweed pods that have almost completed their seed release.
The Muddy River has never been so open at this time of year.
Though there are bog bridges across most of the wet spots, occasionally we had to channel our inner hare and take a leap.
Much to his dismay, I never take ice for granted. Well, I should rephrase that. He doesn’t take ice for granted either. Nor does he spend hours admiring its arty presentation.
We’d left our paddles and pfds home, so a canoe adventure will have to wait for another day.
Through the red maple swamp, we suddenly found ourselves following the steps of others as we moved along the boardwalk.
And then we stepped out to the Muddy river for one last glimpse–looking east, then west.
At the quaking bog, we felt the heat of the sun as we reflected on the beauty of the day.
Then we retraced our steps across the bog and headed through the hemlock groves as we completed our seven-mile tour.
It was time to go home after enjoying a super Sunday together. And now we’re watching the game–especially for the commercials.