I am the type of person who, when I hear about a boardwalk trail through a swamp, cannot wait to go hike it. Provided that the weather is too cold for mosquitoes of course. And snakes. Since moving to the south I have come to appreciate the strange, primordial forests filled with amazing biodiversity and interesting plants. Recently, I came across a pin of the Ponkapoag Bog Trail in the Blue Hills Reservation, and pretty close to my parents house. Naturally, the vegetation was quite different from the dismal swamps I see in the South.
The trail begins following a narrow boardwalk through a corridor of trees. Mostly small trees and shrubs.
Then the trail opened into a beautiful meadow surrounded by small pine trees. The ground was not solid here, but actually quite soggy; as I discovered accidentally when I stepped off the boardwalk to let another hiker pass. The “grass” is mostly moss, with some pretty red and gold colors. The white fluffy things are the seed heads of cotton grass.
Finally, the view of Ponkapoag Pond at the end of the trail, a pretty scene framed by lush foliage, which had just started to turn.
This was a really interesting and pretty easy trail, about 2 miles roundtrip. It was narrow though, on busy weekends that might be a problem.
I’m always amazed that for as long as I lived in the Boston area, there is still so much I haven’t seen. Of course this means when I go back there to visit family, there is always something new to do. On my recent trip I took several new to me hikes, including Purgatory Chasm. It was surprisingly crowded considering the cold weather and that there was a football game on. I didn’t mind seeing other people though, its nice to see families spending time together outdoors.
For so late in October, the foliage was still surprisingly green, but the woods were still beautiful. I especially enjoyed the rocky terrain, which is so different from the flat ground and sandy soil around my home in North Carolina.
Overall, the hike was pretty easy. The trail I took started along the top of the Chasm, tracking alongside it, with interesting views down to the floor of the gorge. Then there was the option for a short side hike to Little Purgatory, which follows a stream to a series of little waterfalls. Finally, hiking back out through the Chasm. This part was a little more challenging, with lots of big boulders to scrabble over, but fun.
The hike was beautiful, and although I got some good shots, I’m not thrilled with my photos. The mid afternoon light was uneven, and with dark rocks and bright sky.
I would love to come back to this spot in the winter. I think that with the leaves off the trees the landscape would look even more dramatic, I might even be lucky enough to get some ice or snow. With the late afternoon, just before sunset, light at my back I could get some beautiful shots looking up the Chasm.
Cape Cod National Seashore, MA, June 2014
If you follow my instagram, or have read my posts about my 2017 goals and progress, then you will know I’ve been hiking on the Neusiok Trail during the last month. The trail is about 22 miles long, and can be done in one long hike, or several shorter day hikes. I’ve chosen to do it as several shorter hikes. I just don’t feel the need to sleep on the ground when my bed is only 30 minutes away. This means I will actually hike the trail twice, as each day I am hiking out for several miles, and then back to where ever I left my car. So far I’ve hiked about a quarter of the trail, split up over 2 days, for a total of about 13 miles.
Two trees have grown together.
On the trail. There are definitely drawbacks to working for myself. But days like today, when I can take several hours in the middle of the week and have the forest to myself are so worth it.
An osprey nest on the banks of the Neuse River.
Interesting bit of wood.
One of many boardwalks over swampy areas. Lots of swampy areas, glad I was wearing my hiking boots.
This is a photo I took in October 2015, at Hanging Rock State Park, here in North Carolina. I had a great day, taking a few short hikes with Panzer and Sasha, but I wasn’t very happy with my photos. I had intended to photograph the waterfalls surrounded by autumn foliage, but nature just wasn’t cooperating. The leaves were not at peak color yet and I’m not sure if it would have made much of a difference anyways, the rhodadendrons around the falls would have stayed green. But I was so proud of myself for using a long exposure to give the water that beautiful gauzy effect. And its a very pretty waterfall and I was happy with the compostition, just not the colors. It took me over a year to settle on the obvious solution, change it to black and white. And now I love it!
I’m not sure “Hidden Falls” is the best name for this waterfall. There is a very clearly marked, relatively easy trail from the parking lot to the river.
Sometimes, I just need to spend a few hours in nature. One nearby place I like to walk occasionally is the Patsy Pond trail, in the Croatan National Forest. Unlike much of the forest, which is swampy, the ground here is sandy, and covered in grasses and small shrubs between the towering long leaf pines. It gets pretty crowded on weekends, but on this beautiful, 55 degree weekday, I had it mostly to myself. It was incredibly peaceful.
Interesting dead winter flowers and grasses.
A reflection on the calm, quiet pond.
And of course, I had one of my dogs with me. I try to spend alone time with each of them so they don’t feel left out, and this day was Otto’s turn. We adopted him less than 2 months ago, and he is fitting into the family nicely. Even if he is alot of work.
Last year, I was taking a mini road trip around Eastern North Carolina and completely by accident found thousands of Tundra Swans in a marsh. Last week I packed up Jon and the Wild Bunch (our 3 German Shepherds) for a day trip to go see the swans on purpose. It didn’t work. It was windy, and not a single swan was in the same marsh where I saw them last year. Driving around we did see a few, from a distance. Not what I wanted though. But thats how it goes with photographing nature and wildlife. We still had a great day.
Lake Mattamuskeet Hunting Lodge. This was originally a pumphouse used to drain the surrounding area for farmland, and later a world famous hunting lodge. Its been unused for the last 30 years, but there are plans to revive it for a visitor/ education center.
A short hiking trail through a bald cypress swamp. I’ve loved these trees ever since I moved to the south.
Storm clouds approaching over the marsh.
On the way home, we stopped at another wildlife refuge, Swan Quarter, and walked out the really long fishing pier into Pamlico Sound.
I’ve been to several cities that have nice parks to walk in, but never actually hiking, like Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. We had fine scottish weather for our hike, meaning it was foggy and drizzly, but not raining hard enough to ruin the day. And the rocks looked pretty in the fog anyways. Also, since the fog obscured our view, we didn’t feel any guilt about not getting to the top. I think we did enough walking up and down hills just around the city anyways.
Thistle! Because you can’t go to Scotland and not take a picture of thistle.
It was a really pretty park, and we got to see some of the natural environment without leaving the city. And when were were done, the pub was pretty close.
Last week I went up to visit my family, who live just South of Boston, for a few days. It was a short trip, but good. I got away from the heat for a few days, saw my grandparents, went for a few longer walks (with the summer heat I’ve only been taking a short morning walk with my dogs), went shopping at a few stores we don’t have near where I live, and went sailing. I almost wish I hadn’t gone sailing, because it made me really miss it.
As you can tell, I love yellow flowers against a bright blue sky. These black eyed susans were in my parents garden.
Walking at Squantum Point Park, in Quincy. This park has fields of wildflowers and right now the tansy is in bloom, as well as some purple loosestrife.
Walking around St. Morritz Lake, also in Quincy. I’ve never walked here in the summer before, so I was pretty excited to discover it full of lilypads!
I wanted to get a closer up photo, but I would have had to walk through some mud, no doubt with creatures living in it, and that just wasn’t happening in flip flops. I’ll bring my hiking boots next time.