Following In The Footpath Of Others

Rain marked this morning’s dawn, but that didn’t daunt our group of six. We donned overcoats, gloves, hats and waterproof boots knowing that we’d encounter mud along our intended route.

And so we met near the former site of the Methodist church in the northeast corner of Sweden–Sweden, Maine, that is. Our intention was to follow the snowmobile trail for a couple of miles and visit foundations and a few other historic sites along the way.

s-you are here map

Maps dated 1858 and 1880 show a network of roads that served the scattered neighborhoods of this town. The trails we were about to walk on follow the footpaths and wagon tracks of earlier people. These were once town roads. We happened to be in the presence of the president of the Sweden Historical Society and she gave us copies of the maps to help us gain a better understanding of our destination. She also printed out a topographical map so we’d have no excuse for getting lost.

s-following trail in

With the sun suddenly shining upon us, we laughed at ourselves as we moved along because we traveled at breakneck speed. Well, for us anyway–1.8 mph when we were moving. Note the phrase: “when we were moving.”

s-stream to Patterson 1

Along the way, we paused to admire the streams that flow toward Patterson Brook and

s-vp 1

checked on life in a potential vernal pool.

s-stream 2-mill site

While we find water so mesmerizing, I couldn’t help but wonder about its potential here for the early settlers.

s-stream 3

Several times we found stone walls on either side of the streams and didn’t know how to interpret their meaning. That was OK–we appreciated not having all of the answers.

s-stream 4

The opportunity to partake of the beauty among friends old and new was enough.

s-cheyenne

Even four-footed friends.

s-single:double wall

The stonewalls, both double and single in structure, indicated that the land had been cultivated. We tried to make sense out of the sudden switch from single to double and back to single in a short distance, but really, they didn’t necessarily build walls according to our expectations of what life must have been like–a single wall meaning keep the farm animals in or out and the double being a garden wall–lots of times it was probably just plain common sense and a need to get rid of the stones that rose with the frost.

s-drilled rock

Eventually, we climbed over the wall and headed up toward this monument. Dave, who lives in this neighborhood and knows these woods well, encouraged us to ponder.

s-drilled rock 2

Why was the top of the rock split off intentionally and then left there?  Was it intended for a foundation stone? Was the neighborhood abandoned before this piece was used?

s-town line 1

We wandered further through the woods and came to the Sweden/Waterford town line. Two stone walls less than ten feet apart mark the boundary. Waterford to the left and Sweden to the right. (Did I get that right, Linda?–my left and right?)

s-town line

Orange paint also marked the boundary line.

s-kneeland foundation

We’d crossed into Waterford and stopped for a break at the Kneeland (1858)/Kimball (1880) residence, a rather large foundation with a center chimney.

s-fdn rocks, squirrel table

Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who paused here for a snack.

s-hidden brook

And then we crossed the snowmobile trail once more and began bushwhacking again. Though you see only tree shadows, leaves and moss here, it wasn’t what we saw, but what we had the honor to hear that made us stop–an underground brook. It felt like we’d stumbled upon a secret spot.

s-stone chair 2

Dave led us uphill to another special spot a friend of his discovered years ago–the stone chair. You have to wonder about this. We’re in the middle of nowhere that was once somewhere. Below this is a large hole in the earth, possibly a foundation of sorts. And beside, a skidder trail. So, who built the chair?

s-stump by chair 100:50

Atop the foundation of sorts was this cut stump–we surmised it was cut about fifty years ago and that it was about 100 years old at that time.

s-group 1

It really doesn’t matter. What matters is sharing the discovery.

s-chair and Sophie

Another four-footed friend also thought it was rather special.

s-cable

Not too far from here we found something else that spoke of logging.

s-goshen 2

We continued our bushwhack to another site of importance–and came upon it from the backside.

s-goshen sign 2

The Goshen Cemetery, circa 1815. Notice the raindrops and blue sky. A few drops fell in the middle of our walk and then it cleared again.

s-goshen cem 3

The cemetery contains stones that had been buried under the duff, but when discovered, were uprighted in spot.

s-goshen stone 2

s-goshen tomb stone

The tombstones are unmarked and as far as I know, two theories exist–an epidemic struck the neighborhood and those who died needed to be buried as fast as possible, or these were the tombs of the residents from the town’s poorhouse.

s-goshen sign 3

One thing we do know for certain. The bears like the sign and it has been remade several times and posted higher and higher in hopes that they’ll leave it alone.

s-bark art 1

Those were our historical finds, but we also made time to enjoy our surroundings, beginning with artwork created naturally.

s-beech elephant

I always say that beech bark doesn’t remind me of elephant skin, but today–elephant legs and feet, for sure.

s-downy rattlesnake plantain

Peaking out from the leaf litter, downy rattlesnake plantain showed off its white-veined leaves. Stained glass windows come to mind whenever I spy this. And though its the commonest of the rattlesnake plantains, I’m always in awe.

s-checkered rattlesnake

We also nearly stepped on its cousin, checkered rattlesnake plantain. I do have to say that if I were in charge of the world, I’d switch their names.

s-artist conks

We found artists conks and

s-hemlock shelves 1

old hemlock varnish shelves.

s-porcupine den

We know where the porcupines denned,

s-moose:striped maple

moose browsed,

s-pileated 1

woodpeckers dined,

s-deer rub

deer rubbed their antlers,

s-deer rub:paw

and pawed the ground. Do you see it at the bottom of this photo? It’s a scrape meant to communicate information to other deer.

s-flying squirrels 1

But one of my favorite sights of the day–the flying squirrels that scampered up an old snag. Notice the flat tail–a rudder.

s-fs 2

And the flap on its side, that furry membrane that stretches from the wrist to ankle–a parachute of sorts for gliding from tree to tree.

s-fs 4

And those bulging eyes–the better to see in the dark.

s-heading home

Four hours and almost six miles later, we followed the trail out, thankful for the opportunity to spend time wondering together and follow in the footpath of others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Following In The Footpath Of Others

Comments are closed.