Monday, February 10, 2014

Seaside Snowshoeing at Wolf Neck State Park

Wolf Neck is one of my favorite parts of Maine.  Where else do you find an exceptional state park sandwiched between Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River; a locavore farm with "Oreo cows" (belted Galloways, I think they're actually called); a wonderful little campground; and the Coastal Studies for Girls campus?  What's not to like?

I get out there quite a lot in summer -- Freeport is the next town over from us -- and in winter, if it's a nice day, the hiking there is terrific.  This weekend Damon was freshly home from the Maine Snowshoe Racing Championships (where he finished second in his age class, ie, the old guys), and he was willing to go out with a slow snowshoer (a slowshoer?) -- me.  The dog was thrilled to come along.

Plenty of folks were out enjoying the February day.  The sun beckoned to us all!

The state's "Take it Outside" trailer.  Superb!

The inside of the van.  Now seriously, is there a better use of state funds?  Plus a grant paid for a lot of it!
I was really excited to see so many people out and about when we got there.  Sometimes people forget the state parks are just as great in winter as summer.  In fact, the state's "Take it Outside" trailer was there -- my tax dollars at work!  I'd seen this on their website, but never in person.  What an amazing program -- a trailer chock-full of cross-country skies and snowshoes in all sizes, just waiting to be used.  The parking lot was full and many people were on the trails -- skiing, snowshoeing, and just plain hiking (it wasn't at all icy, and frankly the snowshoes were a bit of overkill for the conditions).

In the lead, as usual.

Hand-harvested oysters.  Looks like a perfect appetizer to me.

Exploring at low tide.  That island is an osprey preserve -- no people allowed!

Oyster digging?
On the way down to Casco Bay, we met a fellow in hip-waders with a bucket of oysters.  My kind of guy.  He says he regularly collects them right on the shore there.  I find oysters out at Bowdoin's Coastal Studies Center, but I was surprised to here he found them right in the mud at Wolf Neck -- especially since I didn't see a rake with him.  But apparently he just gets them from the intertidal.  I'm not quite as hardy as him, so I think we'll file this under "investigate when temperatures increase".  They looked delicious though!
This guy is actually really, really fast on snowshoes.  He's going to the national championships!

Dory says hurry up.  HURRY UP.  There's so much to smell!

The Harraseeket River.

In the coastal hemlocks.  Except that's a birch there.
After a quick reconnaissance of the small cove looking out over the osprey reserve (they'll be back soon -- late march, so less than two months until mom and dad come home and start rebuilding the nest destroyed by a big storm last year) we headed out on the trails.  What a great day.  As usual, Dory was out in front, and we can never go fast enough for her.  The sun was warm enough to be felt even through the trees, and the hemlock forest on the Harraseeket side was as peaceful as ever.  The river was pretty quiet; all the boats moored in South Freeport in summer were resting happily under their winter covers -- except for one sitting in the shallows across the way.  That one seemed at rest too.

The beach under its winter coat.  Now imagine living in there!
In addition to the great day snowshoeing, yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year -- the first day the sun sets after 5:00.  We're pretty far east in the time zone, with early sunrises and early sunsets.  So it's a thrill to know I can see the sun still up when I leave work (on those rare days I leave at 5, that is!).  Spring's coming.  I can feel it.  I can't wait!


  1. Delightful! This post makes me want to go snowshoeing after the snowstorms of the past two days---and I think we'll do just that, right now! Thanks for the mid-winter outdoors exuberance.

  2. Glad to help get you out there! It's a beautiful day in Maine! Have fun.