We headed into the wilds today where we didn’t have cell coverage which was quite okay with us. It was a favorite hike, though we weren’t sure what the conditions would be so we brought both snowshoes and micro-spikes.
From the get-go, it was obvious that snowshoes would be the necessary item and so we donned them and headed down the road.
It’s a road I LOVE to walk rather than drive down because there are telephone poles that call for my attention. Do you see what I saw? Nice shiny numbers, yes. But even better, the scratches.
And on this one scratches plus bite marks. All the work of a Black Bear. Whether it’s the creosote on the pole, the hum of electricity riddling high above on the wires, or something new and shiny in their territory, Black Bears are attracted and rub their backs against the object as they turn their heads to nip and bite. The jagged horizontal lines speak to the upper incisors scraping the wood as they reach toward the lower incisors.
Almost a mile in we reached the starting point for our expedition. Much but not all of the Stone House property is conserved under an easement with Greater Lovell Land Trust.
Typically we circle the Shell Pond trail system in a counter-clockwise fashion, but we decided to do the opposite today and so once we reached the airfield, I had to turn back to take in the view of the mountains from part of the runway built in the 1960s by Henry Saunders so that he could fly into the Stone House property. Saunders Brothers owned this property at that time and had a dowel mill in Bridgton, but their main mill was in Westbrook, Maine.
The airfield passes by the Stone House and hikers must stay on the trail. In Cold River Chronicle, local historian David Crouse wrote recently: “The Stone House, located on the Stone House Road (formerly known as the Shell Pond Road) in North Stow, Maine, was built about 1840 of split granite blocks quarried on nearby Rattlesnake Mountain by Abel Andrews (1807-1884), who settled there with his family in the 1830s. Abel’s wife, Lucinda Brickett (1817-1884), was daughter of John Brickett of the so-called Brickett Place at North Stow. The homestead passed to Abel’s son Elden (1836-1914) and then to Elden’s son Ira Augustus (1863-1942), who sold it in 1917. Since 1917, this property has had a succession of owners other than the Andrews family. Between 1951 and 1986 it was owned by Saunders Brothers Company of Westbrook, ME, who built a private 1600 foot airstrip in the field south of the stone house. Saunders Brothers used the stone house as a hunting lodge for their employees and guests. In 1986, the property was purchased by David Cromwell. The Stone House farm property is still in private ownership and is completely surrounded by land owned by the U. S. Forest Service’s White Mountain National Forest.”
Each time we pass this way I give thanks to the owners who allow hikers and hunters and rock climbers to use their trails.
We continued on through the orchard, where we had to start breaking trail as others had turned back.
Rattlesnake Brook flows beside the orchard and in a couple of months wildflowers and ferns will emerge, but for now there’s a lot of snow, with a Nor’easter sitting on the doorstep waiting to enter in a couple of days.
Everywhere, there were Otter trails a few days old and I could only imagine the fun of sliding across the orchard, through the woods and in and out of the water.
As custom has it, we stopped at a bench overlooking Shell Pond and realized it was time for a Double Chocolate Brownie–energy needed to continue the journey.
At another stream crossing, I had to pause again. Spring will come and I will love it, but I’ll miss this.
And I’ll miss having the opportunity to spot sights like this–the track of a Mink. I didn’t have Trackards with me for this trip so I grabbed chapstick from my pocket for size. The chapstick is 2.5 inches in length and the trail width was a wee bit longer.
Hiking backwards, well, not literally walking backwards, but you know what I mean, I was afraid I might miss this guy, but there T-Rex was, donning a winter hat.
Onward and upward my own guy and I trudged, pausing occasionally to take in the view. If you decide to go in the next day or two, we packed a great trail for you to follow.
At a second bridge crossing Rattlesnake Brook, we paused again.
Another Mink track exiting the brook. Probably the same critter.
But this one was even better because a deposit had been made.
In the form of scat, of course.
After several hours of hiking, we found our way back to Shell Pond Road, and I picked up where I’d left off with my game of Phone Tag, checking each telephone pole that I’d skipped on the way in.
Pole number 7 was especially chewed up.
But, the real joy of the game was finding the phone message I’d sought–Bear hair. The color was such for it was bleached by the sun which causes a Black Bear’s hair to turn ginger.
If you do decide to go to the Shell Pond trail and play your own version of phone tag, be aware that you’ll need to park by the first field just over the bridge that crosses Cold River and walk in–trying not to swim in the pool along the way.
Who needs cell coverage when you’ve got such a party line of poles to follow?