Today was slated in for having my monthly lunch with my Gram in Epsom. She usually calls the day before to give me a reminder. No call I wondered if she'd forgotten or just figured it was on my calendar and that I'd remember. I figured I'd not bother calling and if we don't meet up I would check out the Pawtuckaway South Peak Fire Tower. When I arrived on Rt. 4 in I called and she said we are supposed to be doing lunch next Thursday. I said OK (even though that was supposed to be the back up date, and now I guess it was) and I googled mapped Mountain Rd. on my phone. I followed 107 down passing the street several times before realizing it started out as reservation road. As soon as I pulled onto this road a sign read, "no park entrance, use entrance off 156". Well, I've had enough of driving and I am no longer in the mood for driving around to the other side of the park. So I headed back up 107 and stopped at a sign I had seen on Rt. 43, Doles Marsh, NH Fish and Game Dept. Waterfowl Management Area. I pulled down the road and into the parking lot.
A logging road left the lot (clockwise) to a small dam and a beautiful marsh. I crossed the dam and followed the road 300 feet or so before it became pretty overgrown. Not dressed for this sort of excursion and not feeling comfortable in new territory wilst alone, I turned back. On the other side of the lot a faded path (marked by little orange tacks in the trees) leads to the middle of the marsh and affords a great view. I was startled when the frogs began jumping into the water. Picture the sound of a squeaky toy, that sound times a hundred ... squeak, squeak, squeak .... it was hilarious! There were a few birds, a few killdeer and a hawk. But imparticular were two sand pipers of some kind about 30 feet in front of me just watching. I crouched there for about 10 minutes just listening to the sounds of the marsh. Then back to the truck.
William H. Champlin, Jr. Forest Reserve (pictures)
Not quite satisfied with my day yet started to ponder where else to go. There are so many forests and wildlife reserves around. I decided to head to Rochester to the Forest across from the Sky Haven Airport off of Rt. 108. I had been here once last year and have been wanting to return to document the route and get some pics. I began my walk at 2:00pm. The trail begins by crossing a small field then into the woods following a logging road. Follow the yellow plastic markers. When you see a yellow arrow at a fork, you can continue straight which will bring you to the Upper Pond (.4 miles). I went this way and found what is left of the pond. With the dam removed it is now a dried up lowland of grass and such. There is a sign that reads "end of trail", and if you continue down the banking there is a small stream or puddle is more like it. Here I made a friend with a frog. He jumped into the water at first, then climbed onto the rock I was standing on. I took a close up picture, I have never seen a frog so calm! I took some pics of a large bed of yellow flowers (yellow queen I think) and went back up the trail to the junction.
Back on the main trail you follow the logging road. Chipmunks and squirrels making a racket in the woods, along with acorns falling from the trees and the occasional hum of a prop plane engine landing and taking off. You will walk through a large pine grove just before entering the Lower Pond, where a brown arrow points left. If you stay right you will enter another, larger dried up pond. Dead tree stumps and rocks poke up from the grass covered ground. If you continue along the banking you will eventually come to a no trespassing sign. There is a rock wall which cuts through the marsh. I walked down it to it's end ion the middle of the marsh and took some more pics of the pussy tails that were "poofing". I checked out an old beaver dam, now on dry ground and headed back to the trail. The trail now passes by some granite quarry sites (off trail) then loops around back to the main trail. A rather large garter snake crossed my path, which I coaxed pretty easily into "attack mode". I snapped a picture and took off, headed back to the parking lot, passing another loop option which I didn't realize was there until I checked the map at the entrance. I got back at 3:00 and was pretty disgusted with all the trash in the parking lot and just at the woods/field line. Having a box of trash bags in my truck, I figured I do a little something. I filled a 33 gallon trash bag...grrr! It looks as though the same person takes lunch brakes there, as the same cigarette box and aroma joes cups were found in multiple numbers. Perhaps sometime when I am feeling pissy, I'll stake it out and try to catch this jerk. Mileage for this trip was 1.9 This forest is a great spot for a leisurely walk and is great for kids!