Lost in the woods
January 31, 2013 § Leave a comment
Well, the weather is playing tricks on us. Last week, it was bitterly cold. I don’t think I’d ever experienced that kind of cold. This week, it’s in the 50s, damp and grey. Almost all the snow has melted and it’s muddy.
I thought Boogie and I should get out there for a hike while it was so warm though. I’ve been wanting to explore the Josephine Newman Audubon Sanctuary for some time. Maybe 5 years ago, while we were on summer vacation in Five Islands with our good friends Alan and Kerry, we went to the sanctuary, parked, and set off down the trail. We got no more than 20 yards before we were attacked by the worst swarm of mosquitoes any of us had ever experienced. The fact we had all bathed in Deep Woods Off made absolutely no difference to those little flying vampires. We all ran for our lives, and I’ve never been back. So yesterday was the day for our triumphant return. No mosquitoes in January!
There is a nice color-coded map of the trails on a sign near the parking area. Unfortunately, the paper maps that are very helpfully provided are not color-coded, thus requiring better map-reading skills than I apparently have. So we set off on the orange trail. Things were going beautifully. My iPhone pictures don’t capture how moody and mysterious it was in the woods with the mist and the fog. At one point, we caught sight of several deer running into the woods just ahead of us. Pretty soon, we came upon a trail with red blazes on the trees and took that one. I remembered red being one of the choices on the sign, and it seemed to correspond with the lines on the map.
But then, I came to an intersection with a trail marked with blue blazes. I thought it was the trail on my map that would take me down to the edge of Robinhood Cove, so we headed off down the blue trail. I tried not to get worried when the trail just went on and on, but eventually we came upon a body of water that didn’t correspond with anything on my map. I kept going, assuming/hoping the trail would just lead back to the parking area since all of the trails on my paper map and the parking lot sign were circular. The blue blazes seemed new, and the trail was very well marked and defined.
At some point, we headed up a steep hill into an area with lots of downed trees. It was clear there had been a destructive storm some time in the recent past. It reminded me of the trees along the Ledgemere Road in Five Islands where there was a huge storm a few years ago. It’s a strange sight to see so many large trees seemingly mowed over. [I later learned the destruction was the result of a “microburst” storm in 2010.]
I felt like I wasn’t in the Newman Sanctuary anymore, and yet I was on a well-marked trail. It didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t know of any other park in the area, so I called my friend Sarah who hikes a lot in Georgetown. I told her what was going on, and she said she thought I was just on the longest trail in the sanctuary and I should just keep going. Which I did. This went on for more than an hour, which doesn’t sound like long. But when you’re not sure where you are or where the end of the line is, it’s a little nervous making. Plus, it would start getting dark around 4:30 and at this point it was 3:30-ish.
Finally, Boogie and I came down a steep hill to an intersection in the trail and there was a new sign posted on a tree right in front of us. We were in the Berry Woods Preserve. According to the map, I was more than a mile from the nearest trail in the Newman Sanctuary. I called Sarah back: “How the Hell did you get there?!” I was very close to a main road at this point, but several miles from my car and it would be dark before I could retrace my steps. Sarah was in Freeport, and Robert didn’t have a car in which to come get us. I called my friend Katy who, thankfully, was nearby and offered to hop in her truck and come rescue us. Thank you Katy!!!
Aside from the wandering around lost, the hike was beautiful. There are several streams throughout the preserve and the Nature Conservancy has built nice boardwalks over them. At the end of the trail, near Bay Point Road, you come out on an enormous pond, which is frozen right now.
As I said, the trail is very well marked. My only suggestion: how about a sign at the point where you leave the Newman Sanctuary and enter the Berry Woods Preserve?
As I write this, the fog is clearing and sun is emerging. It’s a very balmy 53 degrees outside. Perhaps Boogie and I should hit the trail again. This time, we’ll leave a trail of bread crumbs.