Winter hiking is our favorite, but what to wear on our feet is always a question. Today, we chose our hiking boots over winter boots and micro-spikes rather than snowshoes.
We trusted L.L. Bean would have approved, especially given that we would be hiking in his hometown of Greenwood, Maine. We were, after all, wearing hiking boots purchased in his flagship store and various other products featuring his name. Don’t tell him that while our snowshoes, which remained in the truck came from his place, we’d purchased our micro-spikes at EMS.
Before turning onto Willis Mills Road and heading toward the trailhead parking area, we first past by a cemetery of sorts, where old trucks and various truck-related equipment have gone to rest.
And then, in a matter of minutes we were on the trail and our focus changed to all things natural, including weasel tracks. Notice the diagonal orientation in the pattern.
It made perfect sense to see weasel prints because we were near the Sanborn River and though I didn’t take the time to measure them, but the size of the straddle I assumed mink.
For over a mile we walked beside the river and loved the sights and sounds it offered, and especially the splash-created icicles.
When we weren’t focused on the river, we noted its neighbors including snowshoe hare prints that were rather fresh. Some will remember that I refer to them as snow lobsters, for quite often the impression of the four feet (front two being their hind feet which swung around and landed parallel; back two on an angle being the front feet) looks rather like the large marine crustaceans visitors often equate with Maine.
With David Brown’s Trackards as a reference, it was easy to imagine the hare’s motion. (Note: visit my book review linked to Trackards in the sentence above and you can locate David’s website. His books and ID cards are available for sale and he mentions that you can get a good deal just in time for Christmas.)
It wasn’t only tracks and ice that drew our attention. As we crossed from the river to the pond via a connector trail, we noted a huge burl that looked like two bear cubs holding fast to a paper birch.
Along the way there were also some examples of my favorite shrub, hobblebush. We always refer to their buds as being naked for they aren’t covered in waxy scales like most. And look at those leaf and bundle scars. Following them down the twig, its fun to note the changes in age from the fresh tan scars to the two below getting grayer and more wrinkled in age–much the way we do.
As we continued on, the snow depth increased, but fortunately a family of four had passed through before us and created a trench.
We knew we were close to the pond when we began to see canoes tucked among the trees and snowed in for the season. I’d say “for the winter,” but winter is still a month away.
At last, Overset Pond stretched out before us.
And Overset Mountain in the background became our next destination.
But first, we had to walk the length of the pond as it narrowed, and then cross over a series of bog bridges below an old beaver dam.
As I waited for my guy to get to the other side before I ventured forth, I noticed something on the dam that brought yet another smile to my face.
But first, I had to get to the other side–which I surprised myself and did without hesitation. Prior to this crossing, we’d walked on at least ten other bog bridges, some easier to conquer than others. This was the longest and featured several different levels, but we were both successful in our attempts.
And so I rewarded myself with another look at the dam–and the otter slide that crossed up to the pond. Do you see the otter’s prints?
Feeling great about the crossing (because I’d been dreading it), we began the upward climb. Our spikes were a good choice because they gave us some traction on slippery leaves and rocks, but they did gather occasional clumps of snow. We got into the habit of banging them against any available rock to declump the frozen snow. As we moved upward, the snow depth deepened to about a foot.
The family we’d passed on their way out had told us the mountain had been challenging, but they had neither snowshoes or micro-spikes and we could see where they’d slid frequently on rocks hiding below the snow. We moved with relative ease even as our heart rates increased and at last my guy looked down over his kingdom. Actually, it’s the kingdom of Mary McFadden and Larry Stifler. Through their generosity, many trails in the area are open to the public. And through the work of their employee, Bruce Barrett, those trails are well maintained.
Below . . . Overset Pond in the shape of a heart. What’s not to love.
After a brief apple and water break, we began our descent on the loop trail. The trees growing beside and on the boulders reminded me of the truck graveyard . . . naturally.
Our overall descent passed quickly. In no time at all, we came upon more canoes swamped with snow.
At last the trail came to an end and we followed a snowmobile trail for at least a mile back to the truck–our six mile journey completed.
We’d planned to enjoy a brew and burger at Norway Brewing Company after the hike and were thrilled with our choice. He sipped Life’s a Peach on the left–a new brew just released today and made with Maine peaches. My choice on the right–Left Turn.
We played Rummy while we waited and then ate our burgers with gusto. We knew they’d serve as lunch and supper, a meal we’ve named lupper in the past.
At the end of the day, we were beat (still are) but happy. Thought I’d hoped to see some wildlife other than the occasional squirrel, that wasn’t to be. But we saw plenty of tracks and I was especially pleased with those of the weasel, hare and otter.
And, of course, the tree trucks!
The Overset Point of View–worth a wander.