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The Goosepecker Trekker took place Oct. 1 at Whitten Field off Halldale Road. The Goosepecker Trekker is an annual hike on a section of the Goosepecker Ridge Trail, organized by Midcoast Conservancy.

For many years the hike began at my house and ended in Freedom. Throughout this time the arrival of many people at my house, followed by a hike and then a feast, was an exciting event that I looked forward to immensely. When the hike was moved to its current  location last year, I was still happy to embark upon it.

Unfortunately this year my father was out of town and the rest of my family was at my brother’s soccer game while the hike took place. As a consequence I was unable to get a ride and instead biked down to Whitten Field to participate.

When I arrived I found about 30 people gathered there, a decrease from last year’s numbers, but still a respectable head count. This year the group split between two hikes, one was about 3.5 miles on the Northern Headwaters loop and the other did a shorter loop of about 2.5 miles that had sections on both sides of Halldale Road. The longer route  was led by Buck O’Herin, and the shorter one by Bob Kohl.

The hike was organized by Midcoast Conservancy, of which Buck is the board president. Midcoast Conservancy Executive Director Pete Nichols, Deputy Director Air Rhodes, and communications and engagement Manager Ali Stevenson, were also present at the event.

The Northern Headwaters loop is a beautiful trail, and I was in good company while hiking on it. The loop meanders through groves of both evergreens such as hemlocks and deciduous trees. One of the most fascinating things I saw on the hike was massive trees with light brown bark that fellow hiker Peter Millard informed me were giant yellow birch, whose bark had changed texture and color in its old age.

A good portion of the trail also ran adjacent to the headwaters of the Sheepscot River, which is just a small stream here, but becomes a giant river by the time it reaches the Atlantic Ocean down in Sagadahoc County.

Also to be found along the trail were remnants of what was. Long portions of it were flanked by stone walls, revealing this forest’s past as fields. The trail even ran by the rock-lined cellar pit of what had once been a home, now swallowed by the forest its creators had tried to keep at bay.

After about 2 1/2 hours of hiking, my group arrived back at the start to find Bob Kohl’s party had already returned, and a meal had been prepared. I enjoyed the feast in the company of some other hikers, and then Midcoast Conservancy members spoke about their mission.

Both Buck O’Herin and Pete Nichols described how conserved land is vital to healthy ecosystems and important for people to experience. To protect this, Midcoast Conservancy has taken part in a variation of a federal initiative to protect land, called 30 by 30. By the year 2030, the land trust hopes to have 30,000 acres of land under its protection, double the current number. Hikes like this help to show people firsthand the beautiful wilderness land that Maine has to offer.

When I asked Buck O’Herin if he had any comments on the hike, he said, “Events (like this) are fun, connect folks to the land and are important for getting the word out about land conservation. Getting people to support these efforts is critically important for our future and a healthy, functioning, natural world.

“All the land trusts and state and federal governments are scaling up their efforts and plans, including Midcoast Conservancy, in an effort to blunt the impacts of climate change and species loss. Fortunately, conserved lands and access to the natural world also add to our quality of life.”

It’s certainly true that hikes like this serve an important purpose. Not only do they get people out into the forest, but they show them the vitality of preserving these lands for the use of people for generations to come. If you want to take part in next year’s hike, then I’ll see you next October!

Notices

The Montville Select Board is looking to appoint one member to the Budget Committee, to finish up a term that ends at town meeting in 2023. If you are interested, please contact the Select Board’s office at 342-5543 or montville@fairpoint.net.

For Montville residents who still have outstanding balances on their 2020 property taxes, foreclosure 30-day notices will be going out Oct. 14. Please call the tax collector for more information.

The Liberty Library will host a book discussion on the Soul of an Octopus on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 6:30 p.m. The book tells the story of the author’s encounters with octopuses, fascinating and mysterious creatures.

The Liberty Library is accepting mittens and hats for the children of Waldo County as the winter months approach.