I finally returned to the Lovell parcel that I explored in early spring, starting in the high tension wire meadow again. What was dried up and brown in April is now full of Queen Anne’s Lace and goldenrod scattered among the waving stalks of big bluestem grass. The sun in the open field is hot and the cool deep green of the woods beckons, so I plunge in, clambering over rock outcrops and wading through sedgy swamps. Pursued by a legion of deer flies and mosquitoes I keep up a good pace until I come to a damp hollow between the rocks that looks promising for interesting plants. Right away I spot rattlesnake plantain orchid with its white netted veins, the first I’ve ever seen in Parker Forest. Although this is an excellent find, I’m blown away by what I see next, dozens and dozens of maidenhair ferns! This beautiful delicate fern is rare in our area, always occurring in small numbers, and is only known from one other place in the forest.
Climbing out of the fern hollow I find the trail and make my way to the abandoned beaver pond, which is now a lush marsh full of dragonflies, frogs and birds. As I expected, I find lots of new plants here too, but unfortunately there are also patches of invasive giant reed grass (Phragmites). It’s just getting started, but in time will take over the whole marsh. Making my way along the edge I come to the causeway that links the Lovell and Farnum parcels, which with the lower water level is now passable, if rough going.
When I get to the end I can’t find where the Farnum trail begins. I decide to bushwhack my way through the woods, keeping the beaver marsh on my left and a stone wall on my right so I won’t get lost. After what seems like a long time I’m starting to doubt the wisdom of this little adventure, when I finally run into the trail. I double back to the causeway to see where I missed the beginning. The trail is obviously little used as there are lots of dead trees and branches across it, and it disappears twice in hollows full of huckleberry. Fortunately there are a few trail blazes that help keep me on track until I get back to the causeway. No wonder I missed it, the trail starts before the causeway ends, taking a sharp right turn just after a blaze hidden behind poison ivy.
At the Friends’ board meetings we’ve talked about people adopting trails to take care of them, and this is one that sure needs it. The Bay Circuit Trail used to go this way, but now after going through Lovell it goes down Sharpners Pond Road and through the parking lots of the athletic field and recycling center. Building a bridge over the causeway and clearing the trail would restore the link between the two parcels, and the far more attractive route through the Farnum parcel. Volunteers?