Our mid-November day on the Mid-Coast of Maine wraps up with another hike, this time along the Damariscotta River in Newcastle. Thanks to the recommendation of our friend Molly Hogan, we drive a simple 18 miles back up the Pemaquid Peninsula, cross the tidal Damariscotta River and head south towards the Gulf of Maine on the appropriately named River Street.
By the way, Molly is a preeminent Maine nature photographer, a blogger/poet, (click here for her Nix the Comfort Zone blog), current elementary school teacher/hero during a pandemic, and a former student of mine in Teacher Education at the University of New England.
With sunset at 420P, we park at the Dodge Point Preserve. When the information kiosk recommends that we wear hunter orange while hiking since it’s hunting season, Hannah and I don’t think twice about putting on our fluorescent yellow reflective vests for the trail. Momma didn’t raise no fool.
The trailhead map lays out a straightforward loop hike along the Old Farm Road Trail to the Damariscotta River. Wide enough for a 19th century horse-drawn wagon, the sloping to-the-water, oak leaf-filled trail allows us to walk side by side on an unusually warm (64F!!).
At various junctions, the trail is well-marked and includes, for the first time hiker, the same map we saw at the trailhead. Brilliant!
By Ice Pond and then walking the wooden puncheons (planks set on boggy parts of the trail), we never lose the totally golden brown oak leaf covered trail as the river is always to our east.
From across the river we hear the sound of a gravel truck dumping its load. Soon we realize that the sound is actually the echo from gunshots. We are indeed in rural Maine and not in Kansas (and by that I mean York) anymore.
With the sun setting, we return by way of the Old Farm Road Trail as an orange-vested hound barrels at us (and by that I mean me). From 100’ away a woman loudly yells, Come, come. Paying no attention, the pooch races at me at 70 miles per hour as I stare down the gun of a barrel. Stopped dead in our tracks, not knowing what to expect, we watch it circle us and return to the distant woman. As we pass, she genuinely apologizes and says, she always comes back. Well not, this time.
Having been bitten and nipped on the road/trail while biking, hiking, and walking, it’s not hard to guess that I’m not a dog person. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I like dogs that don’t bark, are leashed, and don’t really care about me.
As Billy Shakespeare writes, All’s well that ends well! The minor incident hardly disturbs our third celebratory adventure of the day hiking the preserves in coastal Maine.