It was the perfect day for an exploration of the scenic vistas at the Greater Lovell Land Trust’s Heald and Bradley Ponds Reserve.
My journey began with time for reflection at the mill pond, a crystal clear reflection–if only life were so.
It was here that “shook” and cooper mills were located. Reportedly, the men created barrels to hold Caribbean rum and molasses.
At the beginning of the journey, a bit of ice and snow covered the trail indicating that others had passed previously.
Ascending Whiting Hill (801 feet), I paused at the vernal pool–frozen in time.
And then the first summit overlooking Kezar Lake–glory in the making.
When I’d mentioned my hiking plans to a friend this morning, he’d encouraged me to see well–and so it began with the leaves of wild columbine.
On the back side of the summit, a view of Heald Pond.
Wintergreen showed off an Easter display of color against a swatch of snow.
I spied . . . bear trees,
a squirrel cache of pinecones,
and a gnome home. Well, I’m not so sure that the squirrel cache was just that. Though red squirrels do cache pinecones, the gnome home was on the other side of the tree trunk. Just goes to show that things aren’t always as they seem.
Hiking up Amos Mountain, I did find many squirrel tables and this sign–an acorn cache.
Sitting still on a rock along the trail, a furry moth from head to toe to antennae, possibly an owlet–capturing the warmth of the sun.
After lunch, I poked about the summit of Amos Mountain (955 feet) looking for more wild columbine leaves because I know they grow here. Maybe next time, offering a reason to visit again–as if I need a reason.
Traveling down the old road behind Amos, I suddenly found myself admiring the miniature world of candy lichen, its pink disks rising from a pale green surface.
I also noticed a variety of scat from weasel to coyote and realized the importance of this reserve as a corridor for the many mammals who travel here.
And then I saw red maple buds decorating the forest floor. Seems to me a red squirrel nipped the buds in hope of future food. Maybe the squirrel will return or maybe it became food itself.
Though trail signs shouldn’t be nailed all the way in, I chuckled when I saw this one along the saddle trail–not easy to drive nails into a hophornbeam, the hardest of all woods in our forest.
I’m not sure that my ID is correct, but along the way, I found what I think is multi-fruited pelt lichen.
And then on to Flat Hill via Perky’s Path.
Among other fungi, mossy maple grows here.
Beaver works are evident all the way around.
And in the pond, the lodge. Below my feet, otter scat. Lots of otter scat. I have to wonder about the action that passes this way.
The name Flat Hill (891 feet) has always amused me–an oxymoron at best. But really, all three summits are flat.
In the distance, Mount Washington was the only snow-covered summit.
And right before my eyes–evidence of a visitor who frequents this spot.
While we often think of them as only eating hemlock bark in winter, porcupines dine on other species including spruce and beech.
Despite the damage they do, I’m intrigued by the pattern of their works.
Oh yes, and a treat that appeared in my Christmas stocking made for just the right snack.
At the base of Flat Hill, I paused to admire the basswood buds and leaf scars–offering a smile on this day. Another reason to smile, two barred owls calling to each other. I didn’t see them, but loved listening to their “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” call. I contributed my own, but they seemed to prefer each other. Can’t imagine why.
A side trip as I looped back took me to Otter Point. Grape Fern’s winter complexion is so easy to overlook as it blends into the forest floor, but I’m glad I paid attention.
Though a friend informed me this morning that the loons have returned to an open area of Kezar Lake, Heald Pond is still completely coated in ice.
Delicate offerings like this vireo’s nest are delightful surprises.
I’d been encouraged to see well and trust that I kept my focus. It was a solo hike for me and I met no one along all the trails I traversed over the course of six hours–an offering of peace and solitude that I wish everyone could experience.
On this Saturday before Easter, the universe spoke a language of love and hope along the three summits and I had the honor of listening.