MessalonskeeTrail Hike – Great Walk In The Woods

Light captured playing on the water

What an absolutely gorgeous day for November, it was 63 degrees when I got to the trailhead. TheWife and SD1 were off doing other things, so Bennie and I got to go on an adventure.  We both get tired of always walking in the same areas and I decided to go to my favorite easy local trail.

There was only one car in the lot and we met a total of 4 people on what is usually a very busy trail.  One of the perks for being able to go during the day on a Tuesday.

Even though I have been on this trail several times, I always see something new or do something different. Today was no exception.

Bridge that MCC built
I like looking out of the shadow into the sunshine on the bridge
Two trees to frame Messalonskee Stream
My running shoe after a I fell and a stick went through it, luckily no damage to toes/foot
One of my favorite shots of the day – Shadows From the Bridge
The Bennie Bean

No today was a top 10 day of the year and I am so glad that I got to get out and do a trail walk!  Everything was perfect. Even when I fell, no one saw me but Bennie and my toes and foot came out of the ordeal unscathed.  I still would like to know how that stick went through the shoe like that? Just one of those things.

Just thought I would share a piece of my day with you and some pictures from it.

Opening Day of Hunting Season

It is opening day, if I remember right.

Up heah Opening Day is a big deal – oh wait what is Opening Day? Why it is the first day of deer season opens for gun hunters today.

The neighbors and family have been sighting in their rifles, patterning the buckshot from their shotguns and putting out stands in the areas they know hope the deer will be.

Family Tradition

I grew up hunting, just about my entire family hunts every year, TheWife doesn’t care if I hunt, I am a Life member of the North American Hunting Club (have been one for 20 years) and hunted most of my adult life.  How come after all that, why am I not out chasing Bambi’s mom and dad around the woods with my 45/70 in my hands today?

To be honest, I really don’t know.

I guess the passion for the “hunt” and kill doesn’t excite me, like it used to.

Killing a deer doesn’t bother me (I enjoy a nice piece of venison cooked up in butter, in a cast iron skillet as much or more than anyone) and I certainly am not anti-hunting, but it seems as though I am moving in a different direction.  I have gotten so that I prefer to shot my quarry with a camera rather than a gun or a bow.

This Morning

This morning while walking Bennie, I saw 4 deer walking across the road by the big field and chuckled.

Karma I guess, I never saw a deer on opening day in my life and today carrying my camera I saw a total of four.  Even though I would never take this shot with a gun, because it wasn’t safe and it is on a road (therefore illegal), but it was a nice image, they were not in any particular hurry and made for a nice memory that I captured with my camera (I just wish I had a better camera).

Yes it is Posted

Last week, we had some hunters stop out on the side of the road just down from the house and look at our property. TheWife heard them say “They have posted it.” The other one said “its only posted, it doesn’t say anything about no hunting, we can still hunt here”.  They left before I could get out there and clarify what posted means.

So I went out and re-positioned the posted signs to be more obvious and yes Posted means no hunting as well – without our permission.

It saddens me that some hunters choose to have this attitude toward landowners who post their property, but I believe that my intent is pretty clear. Unless hunters have our permission, we don’t want unknown hunters on our property.  There are now too many houses around and unless you know where you are, the chances of hitting one with a missed shot are too great.  No we prefer to know who is hunting on our property and yes we have given a few people permission to hunt here, but we know who they are.

Inconvenience

For many who have chosen not to hunt, but still like being outdoors, hunting season has become an inconvenience.  Hiking or long walks in the woods are not advisable, unless you are geared up in fluorescent orange (which we will wear most of the time outdoors for the next month).  Then hunters get pissed if you are traipsing around where they have a stand, after all you have the woods the rest of the year and they only have a relatively small window to get their deer – right?

Not really, but that is the attitude that many hunters do have – I know I used to have that same attitude.

The reality is that

lot of people who are not hunters choose to not go in the woods during hunting season for many reasons – safety being first and foremost. Which is unfortunate, because hunters and others who use the woods need to learn to co-exist and not be obnoxious to each other – a little respect for each other goes a long way, even if you don’t agree with what the other is doing.

Finally

Will I ever hunt again?  Yes I am pretty sure that I will, I like the taste of venison too much.  However, will I ever have the passion for the hunt that I used to – no I don’t think so. Hunting to me has become something that I will do to harvest meat for the freezer or table.  More of a utilitarian task, than something that I want to do for pleasure.  It will be interesting how I approach hunting again, when I decide it is time to carry a bow or a gun in the woods.

What do you think?

The Troll Beneath the Bridge

by Mary

My daughter and I hiked the Messalonskee Stream Trail yesterday morning with our Jack Russell Terrier, Bennie. Yesterday’s weather was classic Washington Irving weather – abundant sunshine, deep blue sky, but with a chill in the air warning of the winter yet to come. This trail is a favorite one, hiked many times. Each hike holds new surprises, but this one truly proved to be special.

The woods were alive with activity. Woodpeckers attacked the trees. Red squirrels and chipmunks gathered the last of the nuts.

Whenever he is outside our house, Bennie — unfortunately — needs to be on a leash. He would be gone in a heart beat chasing a squirrel if he could. Bennie met several dogs that were off the leash. One black terrier approached Bennie, and in dog language, said hello. Dogs always seem ready to greet other dogs with less of the reserve held by their human families. Bennie was nervous, yet delighted, to meet this new dog.

Many couples, family groups, and runners were also enjoying the fall sunshine.

When we reached a small bay on the stream, a heron “honked” and flew off to more private fishing grounds. Herons always sound like they are bringing up lunch when they “honk.” I thought all the herons had migrated, but this particular bird may have been flying down from the Maritimes when we startled him, or else he stayed to add to the magic of this day.

On our return trip, at one of the many bridges crossing the brooks feeding the stream, we met a family group. Their young boy, dressed in bright green shorts and a black and white checkerboard t-shirt, jumped down to the underside of the bridge calling for the troll. He did not find him, but he did spot Bennie and ran to him. Bennie greeted him with dog kisses. The boy played with Bennie while his parents talked with us about local hikes.

As we headed away, the little boy turned to me and asked, “Do you know where the troll is?”

When do we lose our innocence?

I told him that I had not seen the troll, but there were several more bridges, and that he should check each one.  He dashed off to catch up with his family.

We continued along the path back to our vehicle and our everyday lives. I think Bennie, though, would have liked to stay to look for the troll.

Whitten Hill Trail – A Long Walk in the Woods

Today we went for a walk on our favorite trail down in Montville, Maine – The Whitten Hill Trail, which is part of the Sheepscot Headwaters Trail Network (the website has a lot of great information – please check it out). It is about 3.5 mile loop around old farmland that has grown back to woods.

There are no really steep grades, but a couple of uphill sections dependent upon which way you take to go around the loop.  It takes us about 3 hours of just walking along, stopping to enjoy the scenery and stopping for 15-20 minutes down by the stream to eat and enjoy that area which is positively beautiful.

We have done this hike 4-5 times before and there is just something peaceful about the hike that we really enjoy.

A part of the trail that I do like a lot
The stream – One my favorite views
No the waterfall is not really all that large – the magic of zoom
One of my favorite shots of the day
Looking up stream
The Wife and Bennie Bean
The Wife wanted this photo and I really like it just a little stream with leaves and the sun reflecting- a little artsy fartsy
The Wife in front of a big tree
Me in front of the same tree, something was moving where Bennie was looking
About a 1/2 mile away from the tree there were about 12 turkeys in the field
When we first started walking this trail, this field was still being hayed, it hasn’t been for a few years now.
Big white birch
Same white birch, but the red leaves made for a pretty picture
The trail head kiosk
New parking lot, it was needed, because had to park on road before, other trailhead was tough to get to with the old road, unless I took my truck and used 4WD, I hate beating on the Subaru too much.

Afterwards we stopped at Lori’s Caffe back on Rt.3 in Liberty and had cheeseburgers/fries, which is not our usual healthy lunch, but after the walk, felt really hungry…the food was great and they had some homemade doughnuts, so of course we picked up one each to have after supper.  My cinnamon-sugar was the best one I have had in the area since I stopped going to Hillman’s last June.

Nope the day was a perfect day for a long walk in the woods and I am so glad that we decided to take a day away from the house.  With all the gardening and work around the house this year, those days seem to have been to far in between.  Hopefully, we will be able to get a few more in before the end of the year!

I wonder where we will go for our next walk in the woods, I would like to go someplace we haven’t been yet next time.  Any ideas on 3-5 mile walks within an hour of Augusta, Maine?  Suggestions would be appreciated 🙂

Sanders Hill Hike-Belgrade Maine 8-23-11

Originally at Simple is Working – 8/23/11

We finally got out and did a little more difficult hike, I have been a little wimpy with my knee, but it did just fine and now I have the confidence to go out and do more 🙂 which is a great thing.

 

It was a perfect day for a hike, cool (never got out of the 60’s).  The knee was fine, a little creaky at the end, but nothing serious, unlike last year when I hiked it last summer, I was still able to walk and do stuff afterwards.  Finally, starting to feel as though I am making progress.

I do like this hike, it takes about 2 hours to complete and except for the part on the 4 wheeler trail, is a nice hike.  It is challenging enough, but not so tough that you don’t want to go out and do it again and is a confidence builder for something a little tougher next time.

The trail is well marked and you don’t have to worry about getting lost, which is a consideration on less maintained trails.

Overall on a scale of 10
Enjoyment:  9
Difficulty:   4
Tiredness: 4

Sanders Hill Hike is one of those local hikes that you do again and again. All I know is that it was fantastic to be able to enjoy the hike, instead of suffering through it!

Now to get rid of the lardage.

Maine Conservation Corps – End of Season Celebration

Originally at Simple is Working – 8/12/11

Do you ever wonder, who are some who maintains and creates some of the trails that we hike on?

In a different life when I was the Maine State AmeriCorps Program Officer, I learned that the Maine Conservation Corps does an awful lot of trail building and trail repair (including parts of the Maine Appalachian Trail) and that they do a great job of it.

Check out the MCC website here for further information.

Most of the MCC Field Team crew members are AmeriCorps volunteers and back in May 2009 when I was their AmeriCorps State Program Officer, I participated in their orientation, pretending to be a member (I TOOK THE AMERICORPS OATH TODAY tells the story), where I picked up the nickname of the “old guy” and then came back to speak at their end of season celebration, much like today’s celebration.

I kind of wished then that I had gone through with the Field Team experience instead of being the AmeriCorps Program Manager, I would have enjoyed it more, but that is another story 🙂

Today was the 2011 MCC Summer End of Season Celebration and their Director, Linda Shapleigh sent me an email and invited me to attend today.  I didn’t have to think twice, I wanted to go and when she was doing introductions I was introduced as the “old guy” by Linda and she gave a bit of the background on my nickname (while I was doing bat removal – a bat flew down and was roosting on a wall a little ways from one of the tables).

It was great seeing many of the people who I haven’t seen since 2009, when I went back to teaching and hearing the stories about what the teams accomplished, overhearing them talking about things that they had done over the summer and watching the friendships that had been made.  Most of them had not met each other before MCC orientation in May and yet by the second week of August, they had formed many friendships and made memories that will last a lifetime.

Maine Conservation Corps has one of those missions that I support fully.  It does a bunch of things:

  • the most obvious is the creation and maintenance of trails, many of which I have and will be using as my knee gets better.
  • being able to work as a member of a team,
  • while being able to work independently,
  • the value of hard physical labor (and the corresponding body shaping),
  • the ability to make it through some really difficult situations: rain, bugs, mud, heat, steep trails, being out in the wilderness

Members get to see the results of their labors, how much they have accomplished in a very short while and the knowledge that many people benefit from their hard work on the trails that they have built or repaired.

I salute each member of the Maine Conservation Corps who completed their term of service today and look forward to attending the November End of Season Celebration for the rest of this year’s MCC Field Teams.

Sometimes I really wonder what it would be like to do a term of service in a Maine Conservation Corps Field Team – maybe someday I will find out.

But until then here is to the Maine Conservation Corps for another season – complete.

My Go – Bag Thoughts

I have been a hunter, day hiker, fisherman, sometimes backpacker and emergency preparedness type (professionally and personally) over the course of the past 30 years or so. So I have always had a “go bag” backpack/fannypack stashed in my vehicle, if I suddenly have an opportunity for a quick hunt, hike, etc. or to be ready for an emergency.

Yeah I know cell phones are the cure-all and whoever carries one is going to be found quickly.  Sorry I just don’t trust that technology that much. You need a backup plan for when your cell phone isn’t working or is broken.
I have always believed that you need to be ready to spend 48-72 hours in the woods unexpectedly when you are doing outside activities, even in local areas.  If you get turned around or get hurt, it might take that long for someone to find you or for you to find your way out.

Over the past month I have read a lot of the hiking, survivalist, prepper and emergency preparedness blogs and thinking about the stuff they advocate having in their hiking bags or bug out bags.  Anyways it seems that to many in today’s world my “Go” bag’s name has changed to become a “Bug Out Bag”.

After going through several different lists on the Internet that recommend what you should have in your day hike or bug out bag. I thought that it might be a good time to go through my “Go” bag to see how it compared to the lists, since I haven’t really gone through my bag in a couple of years.  When you can’t walk all that much because of a bad knee you don’t worry so much about having a day hiking bag.



For the most part I feel pretty comfortable with what I have for up to 72 hours, but a couple of things that just slapped me upside the head and need to do are:

  • Add a more food to what am carrying 3 food bars and an instant meal are not enough for up to 72 hours.  That amount would be fine for a quick afternoon or unexpected overnight, but nothing longer.
  • Have water already added to the bladder and water bottles, now I only have one bottle already setup.  I also want to get a better water purification system than I have now.
  • I need to put a survival book in the bag, always used to have one, I don’t know where it went?
  • Of all the things that I forgot to put in the kit was fishing supplies – just one of those things if you don’t look at your bag once in a while you forget about.
  • Where it is almost fall (I can’t believe today is August 1st), think about putting my solo tent in the pack (it fits two if you don’t mind be close to each other), that way I have it already in place.



I had a choice of three carrying systems:

  • Most of my day hikes and time in the woods can be taken care of with my belt pack (Yes I carry it even when hunting or walking local trails).  I have enough stuff in there to make it through a night or two in the woods, if I had to (May-October), it just would not be as comfortable. I am familiar with what is in it and where things are.
  • I decided against the smaller pack (red/gray pack), it is an adventure racing pack and pretty light weight (I won’t be doing any adventure racing anytime soon) – I could change a lot of things around, to make it work no problem, but decided against it.  It is fine for a day hike bag or a supported multi-day trek bag. But not as a 72 hour bag.
  • I decided to go with a slightly larger capacity bag that has spent several hours on my back over the past 11 years – no it is not a brand name, but I keep coming back to using it – it just fits me.  My Black Diamond-Alpine bag has stood up to be overloaded, carried on airplanes, thrown in the back of my pickup/wagon, walked on, dropped, used as a seat/pillow, rained on, dunked in streams, been a cushion when I fall in the mud.  Surprisingly it still looks pretty good and I haven’t had any problems with the zippers (usually a weak point).
This is basically a weekender backpack, that I can comfortably carry around 30 pounds (more if I really had to).

It also has places for straps for sleeping bag, pad and other items that can be lashed to the outside of the pack (I have tried a sleeping back strapped to the bottom and while it works, it bounces against my ass too much for my liking, so while I can use hang sleeping bags from the bottom of this pack, I prefer not if possible (I have a light mummy bag and a small compression bag, I think I will see how small I can make the sleeping bag and maybe go in that direction).  Plus if I need to carry snowshoes or skis and poles with this bag, it does it no problem.

This was actually a really good thing to have done.  Going through and inventorying my “go bag” showed me what I need to fix, got rid of a bunch of crap, my current readiness for an emergency or for possibly (eventuality) of having to stay in the woods for a couple of days as a result of an accident or getting lost.

My “go bag” to me is more an opportunity day hike bag.  I have it ready for those times when you have the chance to go on a hike or walk, someplace unexpectedly and don’t want to make the mistake of going into the woods without your gear.  I hate it when I am 3-4 miles back in the woods and see people out there in sneakers, shorts and tshirts because they decided at the last minute to go for a hike.  What happens if something goes bad and you need to spend a day or two in the woods – it is very uncomfortable and could be downright dangerous.

I prefer to have my “go bag” ready for hiking and use it as often as possible.  That way if SHTF, I know what is actually in there and how to use what I have with me, instead of it sitting someplace (in the back of the car/truck, garage, shed or basement) waiting for something to happen and then not know what I actually have or how to use what is in there, if things do get bad.

I wonder how many of those “bug out” bags will actually get used – personally I hope not too many.  It is great to be ready for an emergency, but unless you are actually using your equipment to know what works, how it works and what is just added weight, that will slow you down or get in your way.

It seems to me that many of those who are preparing bug out bags, if they are not actually practicing with the equipment they have, won’t really be all that ready if SHTF. So I guess my advice to many “bug out bag” owners is:  Use what you think you need, when you really don’t need it and then when you need it you will know how to use it.
Until then my “go bag” is now a lot more ready for its next adventure off the beaten track, hopefully within the week, over in New Hampshire. 😉

By the way when was the last time you used your “go bag” or bug out bag or whatever you call it?
When was the last time you looked inside of it?

if it has been more than 3 months you need to look inside it to make sure that everything is still there, works and is what you need now.

Colby College Upper Trail Walk 7-31-11

Today was guys day out, my wife was working the yard sale, so Bennie and I had time to go and have a long walk someplace.  I haven’t done the upper trails at Colby for a couple of years and figured that they would be a nice change of pace.

The trails at Colby are very easy to walk and most are wide enough that Bennie is able to wander around a bit. For every mile that I walked, I bet that he walked at least two.
I also found a new trail that was created in the last couple of weeks, judging from the freshness of the sawdust and cut marks on the wood.
That trail was a little more difficult to walk on, due to the newness, but still very easy.
Back on a more established trail.
The sitting tree, I have seen this tree before and always thought it would be a great place to take a book and just sit and read.
Looking down across the field.  They seem to be letting the fields go back to woods and are only cutting swaths through for trails.  So probably in 20 years, this view will look very different.
Overall, it took us just over an hour to do the walk, so I figure it was somewhere around a 3.0 mile walk, mostly in the woods (I can’t really consider this a hike).  During the walk we met another person with a big dog, a runner and an older lady, who was walking with a cane and a noticeable limp, but was truckin right along.
It was a good walk and I have a feeling that I might start running this course once a week or so, just to have a different place to run. I do like the Colby trail system and how well they maintain it.  The best part is that it is fairly close by and I have a feeling connects into the new trails that are being developed over by Seton and crossing JFK over to the Inland/Airport trail system.
I would love to see a current map of the Waterville trail system to see how extensive it actually is, because it seems as though they are putting in a lot of trails around town lately.
Which is a great thing.
The link to the Colby Trail System map

Two Hikes in Waterville Maine

We try to do a couple of local trails a week. This does a few things – it gives me an opportunity to get away from the house and the usual routine, use different muscles than I normally do and if I have any new gear I want to trail test, I can.
Most of all, it get me outdoor where I can listen to the birds sing, see nature and just enjoy my surroundings in a non-threatening environment.  You know part of the simpler and slower life that I have chosen.  I would much rather do this, than go to a mall or fight the crowds at a ball game.  I guess I enjoy peace and solitude too much.
The first hike was in back of Inland Hospital in Waterville last Wednesday, which is fairly new and the first time we had been on these trails.  We were a little rushed for time and there were a lot of people using the trails, so we didn’t stay around too long, but we will be back to try it when it is a little less busy.

Normal Picture
I am looking forward to exploring more of these trails later this summer, especially after everyone gets back to school.
Today’s hike over at Colby College. We have hiked this trail several times over the years (I used to trail run on it), it is a nice trail and has enough ups and downs to be slightly challenging right now with my knee.  I need to challenge what the knee can do and push it to do more.  This is a good trail for that, but it doesn’t over do it either.
It was a gorgeous day for a simple walk in the woods, I can’t think of too many things that I would rather of done this morning.  Perfect day.