Community-centered Mondate

While it wasn’t the first Mondate I wrote about, one of our early Mondates in the past year occurred at the Greater Lovell Land Trust property we headed to today–Back Pond Reserve in North Waterford/Stoneham.

m-eagle 1

On our way we were forced to stop by Bear Pond for a regal sight.

m-Ron

And another regal sight along the trail–I’ve given thanks to Ron before and I know I’ll thank him again (RIP Ron) for his foresight in encouraging the greater community to protect the water quality of the Five Kezar ponds by purchasing and placing “The Mountain” area in conservation easement.

m-climbing view

As we climbed through the beech/oak forest, I paused to take a photo. Lo and behold, my camera didn’t work. I was certain I’d charged the battery, but it wouldn’t click. I tried a back-up battery to no avail. Frustration set in, but my guy reminded me that I could always take photos with my phone. I’m not one-hundred percent convinced that I’ve mastered phone photos, but decided it was better than nothing. This meant, however, less time focusing on photos and more time focusing on us. And that got me thinking about time. We were on a bit of a time crunch today, but the more important thing was that we were spending our time together doing what we love doing–hiking and being in each other’s presence. We spend so much time worrying about all that needs to be done and making money to do those things. But really, in the end will that matter? I don’t think so. I think it will be far more important that we learn to appreciate what is around us and figure out how to share that wealth with others. It won’t always have a monetary value attached because as they (whoever they are) say, “Money isn’t everything.” Is money anything? It certainly doesn’t grow on these trees. Or does it?

m-community changes trail conditions

Though there was snow underfoot for most of the beech/oak community as we climbed, under the hemlocks it was a different story.

m-bare summit

And when we reached the summit of The Mountain Trail, nothing but bare ground due to its southwest orientation.

m-summit phone

We sat on a rock and enjoyed the sun while absorbing the view below and beyond. With the  phone I captured the moment.

m-view

And then I pulled out my camera again. Determination is the name of my game. Turns out I’d been wearing mittens as we began and my big muffs must have hit the wrong setting–creating a 10-second time lapse. Had we wanted to pose for a photo we would have been all set but that’s not our style. Hardly a selfie in our photo album. It is curious to notice the difference in color and wider range of the phone photo. But I prefer my Canon.

m-trailing arbutus

Near the summit, trailing arbutus announced its future plans.

m-connector trail

While trail maps show The Mountain Trail and Ron’s Loop, we long ago learned by chance that the two are connected via a trail down the backside. Today we reminisced about the first time we ever traveled this route and how we struggled to find our way. Though it still has its share of obstacles, it’s now much more obvious.

m-no snow under hemlock

The community changed from evergreens to hardwoods with occasional evergreens. And with that, the snow conditions also changed. We paused below this hemlock to admire the subtle transition.

m-hare

And we recalled our delightful experience of observing a hare in this very spot almost a year ago.

m-snowshoe hare scat

Today only tracks and scat alerted us that hares live in the neighborhood.

m-bobcat 1

Hare tracks weren’t the only ones we saw. All along the trail, though not quite as clear, we recognized that a bobcat had made a pass.

m-first bear tree

We also recognize dmarks we’ve previously admired on some old beech trees.

m-bear claw marks.jpg

I could almost feel the claw grasping the bark–both front and hind visible here. But there’s so much more going on with this tree. It hosts a community of visitors from big black bears to minute beech scales that cause the bark to develop cankers around its invasion. And in between–other insects and woodpeckers.

m-bear tree variety of life

It’s a tree of life even as it reaches toward death. Eventually it will fall and we will no longer celebrate its bear claw marks, but as it decays, it will leave a legacy on which these woods depend. The cycle of life. The work within the community.

m-pileated.jpg

Another beech down the trail displayed its form of the same gift.

m-broken bridge crossing

We reached the first of the crossings–this one still on the connector trail that once served as a snowmobile trail. For as long as we’ve traveled this way the bridge we were about to cross has been broken.

m-new bear tree

Though conditions were good, with my camera working again, my journey slowed. My guy accused me of searching for bear trees. And he was right. And I was further rewarded. I found one neither of us recalled seeing before.

m-new bear 2

m-new bear 1a

One foot atop another. Upward mobility in search of sustenance.

m-beech nut 2

It’s here for the taking.

m-yellow birch scales and seeds

At last, we found our way onto Ron’s Loop, where we turned right at the bridge and continued on. The community changed and here we found the fleur de lis and winged seeds of yellow birches settling onto their community of choice–moss upon a boulder.

m-fungi community

Creating a dense bouquet is the violet-toothed polypore community– a reminder that there’s beauty in age.

m-lonely pine

And beauty in singleness.

m-deer browse 2

We’re in the neighborhood where deer browse red maples.

m-raccoon prints

And raccoons venture forth on semi-warm winter nights.

m-raccoon diagonal

We rejoiced in recognizing the alternate-angled pattern of the trail they leave behind.

m-birch polypores

There were always surprises. Birch polypores decorated this paper birch that masked its condition with a healthy appearance.

m-brook

Despite my caution, we made several successful brook crossings.

m-my guy's prints

And I followed my guy to the end of the Earth–well, at least to the end of the trail–though I suspect he knows I’d follow him anywhere. He’s a good guy. Actually, he’s a great guy.

m-map.jpg

We paused at the kiosk to check the map. Imagination is a necessity–no kidding. For this moment you must connect the summit of The Mountain Trail to the far end of Ron’s Loop–thus re-creating the connector trail between the two.

m-5 kezar ponds road

Suddenly we are back on 5 Kezar Ponds Road headed toward our truck.

m-hornets nest

And here we found remnants of another community that is integral in the overall system of life.

As we drove home, we paused again by Bear Pond and the bald eagle didn’t let us down. Though the ice fishermen and women weren’t about today, it knew this community to be prime hunting grounds.

As for us, our hike was quick today because we had our own community efforts to join–he had a Lions Club meeting and I had a Maine Master Naturalist board meeting. We do our best to provide support in any way we can. It’s important to us to be community-centered–even on a Mondate. And by the way–the Lions are always looking for contributions to support their eye-sight programs; and the Maine Master Naturalist Program is still accepting applications for its Tier One course being offered from May-Sept this year in Bridgton, Farmington and Mount Desert Island.

 

 

 

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