So much for a quiet weekend,. The grandkids are “mup-peer” from the “burgh” for the weekend. Walleye fishing is on for Sunday, but today, they are off to the beach. I love the park, yet the beach is not my cup of tea. While they bike, splash and dash to and at the beach, I will take a walk on the park with my camera in hand. Again, this just shows that no matter what you enjoy doing, you can usually do it on Presque Isle. The weather is perfect. It is 72 degrees, sunny and with just a bit of wind blowing.
Today’s hike will almost mirror walk #18 in my book, “A Walk on the Park”. The only change will be that because the beaches are busy today, I will use parts of the Ridge and Fox Trails for my final portion of the walk rather than the maintenance road and the beach in front of the Presque Isle Lighthouse. This walk usually takes a little over one hour and is quite an easy walk, with a mix of woods, an open marsh path and some soft sandy areas.
My walk starts at the entrance to the Sidewalk Trail, which is right across the main road from the Lighthouse Kiosk. I follow this old trail about 1/10 of a mile to the junction of Marsh, Fox and Dead Pond Trails, which are all clearly marked by the park’s wooden trail signs. This short journey is through an old forested area of the park. Trees here are 60 to 70 feet in height and there is little or no green ground cover because of the dense canopy effect of this thick forest. One detail you will notice on this first part of the walk is the quiet you begin to experience as you get away from the road.
As soon as I begin, I hear a noisy group of people laughing and talking their way down the Sidewalk Trail toward me. One of the men was puffing on a cigar and belching smoke like an old steam locomotive. You could smell and hear them coming for over a hundred yards. So much for the quiet my walk.
As the noisy group approaches, one of them asks if I was going to take pictures. Well, with a camera hanging around my neck and a camera bag on my back, that answer was easy. He said not to bother with the camera, because they had just walked the entire Sidewalk Trail out and back and there were no animals on Presque Isle. I nicely suggested that smoking and loud laughing and talking would, most likely, send all the wildlife scurrying for shelter.
I discovered a long time ago that when you walk in the woods and really want to enjoy it, you must use a modified version of the KISS principal. My version is KEEP IT SLOW, SILENT. You keep it unhurried so that you can see animals, birds, plants and insects as you walk. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked right by minks, beavers, foxes and many birds while I walk. And yes, I do walk slowly. The critters know how and where to hide, so you must keep your eyes and ears open.
You keep it silent so that you can hear animals, birds, insects, but more importantly not scare them. One of the first details I noticed while walking and photographing nature was that slow observation lets mother nature teach you what you are missing when you hurry through the meadows, woods and other places you visit.
At the junction of the trails, you should turn right onto the Marsh Trail. Make sure you do not take the Fox trail, which is also at this junction. Marsh Trail is one of the shortest trails on the park and is wide open. It is a very easy walk, and at certain times of the year can be extremely wet. That is where it gets its name because it cuts right across a large Presque Isle marsh. Many years ago, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, this section of the park was largely a cranberry bog. For many years, visitors over-picked and trampled the tender cranberry plants and eventually all but a very few died.
As I walk through this area of Presque Isle, I am always looking and listening for the varied bird life that frequents the marsh. As I move forward down the trail today, the airways are alive with bird song and chatter. Two Blue Jays are having a disagreement in a small pine tree just off the trail, and somewhere farther down the trail a woodpecker is going about his business and loudly tapping on a log or snag.
This year, the usually wet areas of the park are rather dry, and this marsh seems extremely dry. Normally, I see a few turtles, frogs and many dragonflies. Today only, the dragonflies keep me company. There is a culvert tube under the trail about half way in, and as always, water moves around the marsh though it. Some maintenance people thought the park’s beavers could swim through it, so it was made rather large. If you know the beaver’s character, you also know that no beaver would ever consider using it.
However, beavers always use the area to cross the trail because it is now more open. Today, I decide to find a place to just sit, wait and see if one or two might make that trip so that I can get a picture. I quietly relax here for about 20 minutes, and not one beaver shows up. Two minks do run down the trail right by me. Therefore, I get up and continue on. Just two minutes later, I hear a noise behind me and watch a large beaver waddle across the trail. He must have been watching the watcher the whole time. Beavers and most other critters are much smarter than you or I might think.
The trees in this area are mainly maple, with a few smaller oaks mixed in. I make a mental note that in the fall, due to the dry weather, this trail will most likely have some pretty bright autumn leaves. Today I notice four beaver and five deer runs that lead off into the woods and the marsh. I follow a deer run about 25 yards and see it open into a hidden open space where deer doubtless spend much of their quiet and resting time.
I can see that normally the water from the marsh is close to here, however, this summer the water is about ten yards from this sheltered area.
As the Marsh Trail ends and you come to a fully wooded region, trail signs are very visible. I turn to my right onto the Ridge Trail. This is a wide and open trail and contains some of the park’s largest oak and maple trees. Fall along this trail is usually beautiful and wildlife is also plentiful here. Just remember the KISS principal. Slow and silent will make your walks 100% more interesting.
In my next blog, I will complete my little Friday walk and tell you what else you might encounter if you decide to follow my example.
See you on the park!
This post was written by admin