Bound and Determined

For his birthday in the fall, as you may recall, I gave my guy a baker’s dozen list of geocaches to locate in the wilds of Maine and New Hampshire. Prior to this past weekend, he’d located twelve with one left–burning a bit of a hole in his pocket because we thought we’d get there on Thanksgiving, but rain changed that plan. And then winter happened and we knew the journey would require more time because gates on the Forest Road would be closed and we’d have to trek a longer distance. With the dawn of spring, however, he thought we should take our chances. Oh, we’d still have a ways to hike, but thankfully it’s light later and so we had that on our side.

That was Saturday. But . . . that journey wasn’t enough, and so despite high winds on Monday, I created a mini-list for him and off we went in search of five more geocaches.

Our Saturday adventure found us practicing our balance beam skills, for if we fell off, which we did from time to time, we’d sink into snow that was at least knee deep.

That said, not only were we gymnasts, but we also had to pull some ballet leaps out of the daypack; sometimes the stream crossings like this one, were obvious, but other times we had to guess where the softest spot might be and try to jump to the other side without crashing through the snow bridge. Success wasn’t always on our side.

On a different trail, we outbested the conditions by walking in the stream that was actually a woods road, having chosen different footwear.

And yet again, there was a narrow balance beam to climb across. Thank goodness we had such great training in junior high and knew how to stay on top, otherwise we would have gotten soaked. Haha! I don’t know about him, but I’m pretty sure I failed the gymnastics unit all those years ago.

At one point in our journey, we spotted a gate ahead and thought for sure it would be our turn-around spot, but upon reaching it we found this kind note, which inspired us to pick up downed branches along the private drive since the owners were kind enough to let us venture forth.

And beyond said destination (read: geocache), we continued on to a summit we’d never reached before.

We also spent a few moments on the property of the Parsonsfield Seminary, founded by the Free Will Baptists as a seminary, aka high school in 1832. The eight-acre campus includes four buildings and once served as part of the Underground Railroad. Though the buildings are no longer used for education per se, special events are hosted by the Friends of Par-Sem, and it’s available for private functions.

Over the course of the two days, we crossed the state line between Maine and New Hampshire multiple times, both via truck and foot. Our favorite crossings came in the form of stumbling upon standing split granite stones in the woods.

Maine must have been the poor cousin for we could almost not see the M.

The marker on top, however, clearly established who owned what portion of the land.

and a sign in Taylor City, where Earl Taylor served as mayor until his death at the age of 95 in 2018. Earl was a graduate of Par-Sem it seems. He ran the general store and was quite active in town affairs–on both sides of the border.

Mind you, hiking and history weren’t the entire focus of our time together. Nature also was on display like the underside of lungwort showing off its ridges and lobes that reminded someone long ago of lung tissue. In reality, Lobaria pulmonaria is an indicator of a rich, healthy ecosystem.

There was also a bear nest high up in a beech tree–where last summer a black bear sat for a bit, pulled the branches inward till some of them broke, and dined on the beech nuts.

Multiple times we spotted moose tracks in deep snow . . .

and mud.

One of the creme de la creme sightings for me, was the first Beaked Hazelnut flower of the year. Gusty wind prevented a better photo, but still, it was worth capturing the moment.

And upon the ground, an old bee structure, each papery cell precise and reflective of all that surrounded it.

others medium in size . . .

and a couple on the larger side.

Water always seemed to be part of the scene. We hiked for at least a mile beside a racing brook.

And stood for a few minutes enjoying the sun at Mountain Pond.

There was a wetland that we explored from all sides (actually, there was more than one wetland that we explored and got to know rather personally–from the soles of our feet), full of future life and opportunity.

Spanning it all, we hiked thirteen miles through snow, ice, mud, and water, and found five of six geocaches, including completing the birthday baker’s dozen list.

The fact that we didn’t find one is driving my guy a bit buggy and we actually returned to the location, but to no avail. He’s bound and determined, so I have a feeling we’ll look in that spot again. But overall, we felt successful and appreciated that our quest led us to a mountain lake we’ve enjoyed in other seasons, but not this one, and new vistas/locations where nature provided moments of wonder.

Orange You Glad For Ky Mondate

With a recommendation from Marita, my guy and I hiked a trail new to us today and fell in love with it. But as much as we enjoyed the lay of the land and physical activity of climbing uphill and down, we also enjoyed searching for shades of orange on this last day of October.

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Beside Sanborn River we traversed at first, frequently pausing to admire the flow of the water over the rock formations and noting hints of orange in the display before us.

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And then we began to see it everywhere, beginning with the big-tooth aspen leaves,

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sugar maples,

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and northern red oaks–down low . . .

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and up high.

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We found an orangey display in red oak bark and . . .

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even among an old burl on a birch tree.

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Not all was formed by nature, though then again, nature played a part.

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And sometimes it was easy to spot.

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As was my guy.

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Shades of orange accented Oversett Mountain as we paused beside the pond of the same name.

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We noted its beauty on the huckleberry leaves beside the pond, and . . .

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in reflective patterns on the water.

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It wasn’t just the orange that drew my attention as we circled halfway around, however. The cliff was a wee bit intimidating.

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Despite that, we continued on and crossed an old beaver dam. The dam may be old, but we noted new beaver works gnawed by those famous orange rodent teeth on the man-made bridge beside it.

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And then we began the climb, which wasn’t so bad after all, given a few switchbacks. At lunch rock, our view was dominated by orange as we munched on PB&J sandwiches.

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Shortly after that, we reached the summit, aflame with more of that autumn glow that hints at November.

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And immediately below, another view of part of Oversett Pond. As the universe would have it, the pond appeared heart shaped. Just perfect for a Mondate with my guy and a day of giving thanks for our young next door neighbor, Kyan, who has been dealing with leukemia and is recovering from a blood marrow transplant–talk about intimidating. He’s going trick-or-treating tonight! Orange you glad for Ky? We certainly are.

Happy Halloween!