Wandering in the Woods

Growing up my idea of playing was being in the outdoors. Not much has changed over the years as I still have the same sense of wonder and satisfaction when I am in nature. My mother would always kick my brother and I out of the house during the summer and tell us to go and play. No worries as we would always find something to entertain ourselves. Those were the days. No mortgage or responsibility. If I could go back in time I would slap my younger self for ever saying that I can’t wait until I grow up. Being a kid was fun and easy back then.  However, that does not mean that we lose that part of ourselves that make us young.

These flowers shimmered along the path to the river

During the Memorial Day weekend I found myself in a familiar environment.  I was left wandering in the woods making my way toward my favorite river.  The difference today was that my original plan was foiled by a culvert that was in the process of being replaced and was impassable at the moment.  Instead of driving the extra time to get to where I wanted to go I made the decision to take a less used trail and work my way down to the river.  This trail does not get as much traffic early in the season and was thus a little rough.  Many of these trails are just moose paths that we use so there are moments that can get a little confusing.  As I passed through groves of young fir and spruce there were whole areas where these softwood trees were covered in old man’s beard, which is a long flowing lichen that occurs frequently in the northeast.  The trees everywhere I looked had a multitude of this lichen growing on them.  Even a still standing dead fir tree had them covering the trunk and remaining branches.  Nothing is ever wasted in nature and in death there is life as this tree continued to be a host to the lichen.

Obstacle I did not want to try going over

I also noted the wildflowers in the forest and how the deluge of rain made them glow and glisten.   The floor of these groves are just as wonderful.  Huge expanses of moss gave a spring to my step as I traversed toward my ultimate goal of reaching the river.  The next time that you are in the forest and have a chance to look closely at a bed of moss you should get right down on the ground.  Moss is not as boring as it may seem.  There is a lot going on down there

Old Man’s Beard

As I neared the last part of the path down to the river the trail became less clear with many fallen trees criss crossing my path.  I could hear the river so I just made a straight line course down the bank to the river.  When I got to the river I realized that I did not come out where I intended.  I was not concerned.  I could either walk up river or down.  This river is fairly short and I was in the mood to walk.  Either way I was on the river and I could explore.  Like my uncle Bill said on our many outdoor adventures.  “We are not lost, we are here.  Campsite is lost.”  As I was working my way along the river I noticed another angler and his pup.  I had always overlooked the pool he was fishing, but when I notice someone else fishing a spot I always take a closer look.  Sometimes it pans out, but you never know until you check it out.  As I was by myself it was nice to talk to another angler and of course I played with his pup, Cash.  Even though no fish were landed in this new pool I will remember this spot for future exploration.

There were fish to be caught while I was there

When I got to where I wanted to be on the river I realized that at almost the same date last year I was standing in that same pool. Both times there were torrential downpours that passed over me.  It is funny how during moments like this those memories come back.  I do not always remember the great weather days as much as I recall those moments when I did not turn back due to weather and made the best of my time on the water.  I did catch fish in this pool and it was just like last year.  The difference is that I learned more about a river that I know very well.  Sometimes I need to remember to see the forest for the trees.  I am so focused on getting to my destination and achieving my goals that I fail to see what nature has to offer.  I will always be focused on catching fish and helping others do the same, but wandering through the woods is much better than marching to a destination.

Each one is unique

Most of the trees in this area were covered with this lichen





Jon Peterson

About Jon Peterson

I grew up in the small town of Sebec, Maine, wandering in the woods exploring the natural world around me. I had always been fascinated by water and my explorations seemed to lead me to water as that was where I felt most comfortable. Through trial and error, I honed my fishing skills over the years and learned many valuable lessons along the way. In 2014 I realized my dream and became a Registered Maine Guide. For more information: www.petersonguideme.com