This is supposed to be a walking trail.
The land was conserved this year and I am writing a stewardship plan to guide management and public uses. The first task is to figure out the re-arranged hydrology and drainage and block the continued illegal use of trails by off-road vehicles. I found four sofas dumped at various places, dozens of tires tossed here and there, a few mattresses, and miscellaneous trash.
I tried walking the trails wearing my knee high rubber boots. The water in many places was at least a foot deep and in some places over my boots. This forced me off trail into the woods and shrub thickets. I crouched and crawled and groaned my way through the dense undergrowth. Generally I would appreciate the shrubs surrounding me - highbush blueberry, winterberry, witchhazel, sweet pepperbush, mountain holly. But, after 7 hours I was spent.
The good news for the day was the weather - a beautiful blue sky, light breeze, and moderate temperature. By late afternoon the setting sun was brilliant among the overhead shrubs and trees, highlighting the yellows, reds, and browns of changing leaves. As I waded down the last trail back toward the car I was enchanted by the fallen sassafras leaves floating in the water. This small tree has leaves with three shapes: entire (no lobes), mitten-shaped, and three-lobed. Mostly I saw the three-lobed type.
The floating sassafras leaves distracted me for a time from thinking about the management options on this property. The watery trail though forced me back to considering the challenges ahead. As with many such management challenges, it involves correcting mistakes and misuse by humans.
One other bright spot for the day was walking into a fen (a type of peatland) on the property. This natural community was wet, it was supposed to be.