One plus one equals two on an average day. And so today, Marita and I set out to conquer at least one trail, with a couple of others as additional options. We ended up “bagging” as they say in hiking terms, two–including one that was totally unexpected.
Our morning began with an exploration of the new trail on Long Mountain, a 2.5 mile climb that twists and turns beside Mill Brook on property owned by Mary McFadden and Larry Stifler. Near the start, bog bridges pass through wet areas now dry.
The climb is moderately gradual and the brook ever present, its rocks creating falls that added a pleasing sound and sight to our hike.
Occasionally, we needed to cross and the way was well bridged.
At times, the brook was dry, but those moments made us realize that we must return in the spring when we assumed torrents of water pass over the rocks.
Moss dangling today, however, mimicked the flow that wasn’t there.
As we climbed, we noticed works of art. I’m not always a fan of cairns, but in this case, each had a flair that bespoke someone’s creative mind.
Others were simply simple.
We found water bars that were equally artistic in nature.
Just over a mile and a half into the hike, the trail turned and though it wasn’t as well cleared, it was certainly well flagged and losing our way wasn’t an option. There would be no getting fake lost on this climb.
Eventually we came to a third section where the trail was again cleared and we found signs indicating the crew might be ahead.
Again, we admired their work, from the stone stairs to wooden steps, all created with materials found within feet of the trail. Work gloves left behind made us wonder if perhaps they wanted us to lend a hand. If you find the gloves, then I’ve a feeling you are good at “Where’s Waldo?”
The extra sturdy ladder was created on site from a red oak (and some hefty hardware).
We were chatting companionably when we heard some movement above. And then heard their hellos. We’d found the crew–Bruce, the property manager and Larry, his right-hand man. Bruce and Marita had communicated previously, so he wasn’t surprised to see us and we were full of admiration for the work these two have done–all by hand. In fact, if you ever think you want to do some trail work in your neck of the woods, I highly suggest you locate these two and spend some time working with them for theirs is the best I’ve ever seen. We chatted for a bit, learning about their good works and the good works of the property owners.
And then it was time for us to move up a few more hundred feet and out to the ledges. We didn’t reach the summit of Long Mountain, for that is owned by someone else, but the ledges with a view of Round Mountain (also owned by the Stiflers), Evans Notch and the White Mountains beyond was the perfect setting for lunch rock.
As we ate, we noted that foliage peak had passed in this part of the woods, but still, the tapestry was worth a closer look.
Eventually, we followed the 2.5 mile trail down, repeatedly singing the praises of all who made this hike possible.
And then we traveled down another road we’d never been on before and located a mailbox Bruce had told us about as an indicator to the trailhead also owned by the Stiflers. We didn’t find the trail immediately, but did find this huge wasp nest, now abandoned.
It took us a few minutes because it’s rather hidden, but within a few feet of the trail sign, we recognized Bruce’s artistic mark–sign attached to stump atop rock.
And other trail signs that we admired mostly for their coloration in contrast to the paper birch to which they were attached.
This trail led us from one town to another in a matter of inches.
And out on the power transmission line, we turned toward the mountains. with the Whites again in our view–especially Washington.
At last we reached Upper Speck and turned to the left as we started on our way to hike around it and Lower Speck in what was described to us as a bit of a figure 8. I think really it was more of a calligraphy “g” in design with a bit of a line between the two ponds.
Again, our views were delightful, including leaves of different species offering contrasting colors and shadows.
For a few minutes, we had the pleasure of admiring a painted turtle as it sunned itself before I disturbed it. I just wanted to get closer.
Again, bridges helped us ford the wet spots and we admired the workmanship.
It wasn’t just human workmanship that drew our attention. We saw at least five lodges, some beside the bank . . .
and others in the wetlands adjacent to the ponds.
We found lots of old works . . .
some not entirely successful.
And beside a substantial beaver dam . . .
we spotted a wee bit of new works–but it wasn’t much.
Again, the colors kept us in awe, much as they had done atop the ledges of Long Mountain.
And finally, we completed our “g” loops and made our way out with all of these and so many other photographic memories in our minds.
Today was not an average day for it’s Friday the 13th. And we had the pleasure of learning that one plus one=five–five stars that is, for we gave such a rating to each trail we traveled, and thanks to all who made them possible for us to wander and wonder. Thank you Mary and Larry and Bruce and Gary. And Marita for inviting me to join her.