Posts Tagged ‘trail’

Have you seen the Green Man? His tracks are everywhere these days…  in the yard, in the woods and around the salt marsh.  He’s been busy engaged in activities that are too often attributed to Mother Nature.

From the trail I can see where he’s been doing his business in the woods, carpeting the forest floor.

Even areas with standing dead wood seem to come to life with him around.

The Green Man has been laboring in secret for thousands of years.  Besides greenery, his signature work includes flowers like forget-me-nots that are frequently found growing out of bounds.

Through the ages, he’s been known by many titles, among them Pan, Silvanus, the Wild Man, Skanda and the Green Knight.  But Mystery’s always his middle name.  He’s busy wherever it’s spring and summer on the planet, spreading his seed and encouraging unbridled growth.  His drawn, painted, or  sculptured image is found worldwide in various cultures dating back to ancient times.  His face is often covered with leaves.

Though you may not get to see him in person, you’re probably familiar with his work.  It speaks to all of us who are looking for a rebirth of the spirit (and the garden) at this time of year.

For more information about the Green Man, see Wikipedia’s entry.

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porcupine leaving trail

A Porcupine Leaving the Salt Marsh Trail

Leave the beaten track behind occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do, you will be certain to find something you have never seen before.

Alexander Graham Bell

Both humans and animals favor the beaten track.  It’s easy.  It’s less work and there’s less chance of coming across the unknown.  Yet, there’s a price to be paid for both men and wild creatures.

A Fox Trail at Rainbow Haven Beach

A Fox Trail at Rainbow Haven Beach

Over time, predators become aware of who goes where and when, and stalk their prey from the shadows.  Hunters set snares along trails frequently used by hares and rabbits.  Human travellers become accustomed to getting from point A to B, and begin to lose the peripheral vision that ignited their curiosity as children.  Minds become dull and prone to boredom.

Leaving the beaten track behind doesn’t have to involve throwing caution to the wind and setting out into the wild without a compass.  It can be as simple as taking a little extra time to just stop and smell the wild roses that are growing a couple of feet beyond the trail.

wild roses

Wild Roses Growing Near Rainbow Haven Beach

If you’re a fair weather walker, you might consider donning some rain gear and setting out when it’s drizzling and there are puddles waiting to to be splashed along the trail.  Even walking along the same path at a different time of day can open up a mountain of new possibilities.  The light looks different in the morning than in the afternoon or evening.  Animal traffic changes throughout the day so you might see creatures you’ve never seen before along the same trail.

Best of all, doing or learning something new will clear some of the cobwebs from your brain and make it work better for the rest of the day.  That’s reason enough to leave the beaten track behind. 

And now for something completely different…

~ Monty Python

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It’s not unusual to see porcupines as roadkill.  I’ve often seen them high up in trees, sometimes a few together.  But this morning, I managed to see a couple very close up along the Salt Marsh Trail.  This male was gazing into the rising sun and didn’t seem too disturbed by my presence.

porcupine back and front

The quills on his back looked sharp and plentiful.  An average adult has about 30,000 of them.  As he turned around I could see his vulnerable underbelly.  Some predators, such as fishers, are adept at flipping porcupines over to reveal this soft spot.  Quills aren’t thrown, but become embedded in a predator’s skin when the porcupine whacks his tail at them.  The warm body temperature of the recipient makes the tiny barbs on the quills expand, lodging them even more securely into their flesh.

My dog, an Alaskan Malamute and wolf cross, would often bite down on porcupines.  Several times he ended up with the quills lodged on his tongue, on the roof of his mouth and down his throat.  An animal left in this condition in the wild would be unable to eat and die of starvation. 

porcupine on the trail

On the walk back, I noticed the porcupine had climbed down from the tree and was walking along the trail.  I guess he didn’t feel up to a second photo op.

Further along the trail back, I heard some strange sounds coming from a spruce tree.  There, barely discernible among the green needles, was a second porcupine resting on top of a spruce bough.  Somehow, the branch was able to handle its weight. 

porcupine on bough

Porcupines are protected in some areas, as they provide an easy source of food to humans lost in the woods.  They can be killed with a quick whack on their nose with a stick.

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The Salt Marsh Trail is finally clear of snow and ice after a long winter.  It’s an ideal place to go for an easy, quiet walk with lots of panoramic views.   The trail cuts right through the middle of a watershed, providing close-up views of wildlife as they go about their daily business.  As the tides come and go, you can hear the water rushing under the bridges. 

These wetlands lie just beyond Rainbow Haven Beach and are accessible from Bissett Road.

For further information about the Salt Marsh Trail, see https://flandrumhill.wordpress.com/2008/11/12/the-salt-marsh-trail/

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Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Just a few minutes’ drive from Flandrum Hill, the Salt Marsh Trail off Bissett Road offers a splendid opportunity to walk through a salt marsh and observe its inhabitants up close.  In the past month, I’ve seen three porcupines sleeping in an apple tree right next to the trail, hundreds of migrating Canada Geese,  a dozen Great Blue Herons standing together in the water at low tide, the largest starfish I’ve seen yet in the wild, and four (yes four) Bald Eagles at once, hunting in close proximity of each other.

The trail begins in a woodland setting and after a ten minute walk, opens up to the marsh.  The panoramic views alone, especially at sunrise, are well worth the trip. 

At this time of year, the marsh grass turns a brilliant gold which contrasts sharply with the steel grey water on overcast days.   The ebb and flow of the tides can be observed with both your eyes and ears as you walk over the wooden bridges.  The sound of your feet on the wood planks adds much to the experience.

The trail is built along an abandoned railway track and crosses the marsh with a series of bridges that allow hikers and bikers to stand right in the middle of this delicate ecosystem without disturbing it.  

The Salt Marsh Trail connects to Lawrencetown Beach via the Atlantic View Trail, and to Shearwater via the Shearwater Flyer Trail.

For all posts about the Salt Marsh Trail see:


Text and images copyright Amy-Lynn Bell

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