As I’ve come to expect from most forest outings, nature never fails to deliver her fair share of mysteries as I travel along. But when I go out with a group of inspired people, I also find many of those mysteries are resolved in the best possible way: people putting their minds together, asking key questions and piecing together information to deepen our collective understanding of the world of the woods. And then there are always the questions that didn’t get answered that sends me home to my field guides or conversations with others so that next time I am equipped with just a little more knowledge to bring to my journey. And so it was on our drizzly outing Saturday morning when the Young Naturalist Club Berwick chapter got together for a wander in the beautiful Woodville Community Trails.
Despite heavy rains and wind through the night, 16 of us ventured out in the morning in full rain attire to be greeted to just a light drizzle (that soon stopped) and mild temperatures. Decked out in our hunting orange gear we followed the lower trail for a bit being almost immediately rewarded with some delicious apples from a rogue tree and then our first mystery – a beautiful birds nest woven with lichen and twigs. Of course we know its the home of one of our feathered friends, but who built it and lived there? And where have they gone? Will they be back?
Leading the way we had a high energy group of kids and we soon found ourselves off-trail, attracted initially by a deer blind but then by the adventure of going off the beaten track. One of our little scouts left a sign on route having collected a yellow birch twig and we were let in on the secret of dental hygiene off-trail: chew the wintergreen tasting twig and you’ll never need to carry to a tooth brush into the bush.
Our next inspiration came from the thrill of climbing up a step embankment, for the kids (releasing energy was definitely a theme of our morning too) and some fascinating lichen growing on the side of trees and another kind growing rocks. Maybe you can tell what kind they are from the pictures in the gallery?
After the tiring climb it was snack time and at this point we found ourselves on trail number 12 in the Woodville network and wandered along that for a while noticing interesting bits and pieces here and there. A fun find was a giant collection of ½-¾inch long, oval shaped scat piling up on the inside of a dead, hollowed out tree. Our field guide wasn’t giving us any plausible answers but with the experience in our group it didn’t take long to get resolution to that mystery. But there are still unanswered questions? When was the toilet last used and where is its user now?
For our walk back to the trailhead we practiced the ways of some of the inhabitants who had left clues for us – we practiced our discreetness skills with a game of sink and fade – a form of hide and seek where you have to sink and fade off the trail the group is walking along within 10 seconds. With our hunters orange we really stood out like sore thumbs to begin with but as the game progressed we all became more savvy with our strategies and figured out how we can better blend in with the environment – it usually meant getting down low, quickly scurrying into divets or sidling up against a fallen log.
And the crowning adventure of our day for most of the kids, I’ll venture to say, was the lure of a swollen stream that they decided to forge to get back to the trail head rather than following the path. Back and forth they went through the water on or over fallen logs. The screech of cold water seeping into boot tops finally ended our day together as everyone hurried home for a well-deserved meal and some dry feet.
Thanks to all who came out and helped make magic on our adventure. Looking forward to next outing on Saturday December 3rd when we will focus on shelter building (see event listing).
In the meantime happy trails and mystery solving!