What a title – but it’s the best I can do at the moment. And quite descriptive, really. Rob and I enjoyed a walk on a new (for us) trail in the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I am especially pleased to see the creation of this refuge, as Sussex is my humble hometown. I grew up only a few miles from the Wallkill and have a special fondness for this river. But I digress.
There are many trails in this refuge, but the Wood Duck Trail has to be one of the best (as confirmed by hikers we met who have walked the others). It is an easy 2 mile (one way) hike along a former railroad bed that ends in a broken bridge over the river, so if you walk to the bridge and back to the parking area, you’ve done an easy and entertaining 4 miles.
We regularly walk that anyway, so this wasn’t a strenuous trip. In fact it seemed much shorter, but that was because of all the neat things to see. The trail traverses wetlands and swamps, offers benches to sit quietly and observe, and even has a blind set at the edge of the swamp.
The blind overlooks a portion of the swamp and several wood duck nesting boxes, though we didn’t see any wood ducks. There were great blue and little green herons, a family of muskrats, many different species of birds, frogs and peepers, and turtles on almost every available log.
We were there at the wrong time of the day for much activity, but the signs are abundant as well. I walked the trail myself a few days ago, then brought Rob back for another visit. On my first trip, I didn’t go all the way to the end – it was nearing dusk, I was alone, there weren’t any other cars in the small parking lot, which meant there wasn’t anyone else on the trail. I had intended to make it to the end, until I came upon a pile of poo in path and decided to turn around and head back toward the Jeep.
That evening when I showed a friend the pictures on my camera, she remarked that I was the only person she knew who took pictures of animal poo. Really? That just struck me as odd.
Anyway, when Rob and I walked the trail a few days later, there was no sign of a bear anywhere, and several other people on the trail, so we did go the whole distance. Good thing we did too, or we would have missed this handsome fellow, coiled in one of the saplings at the edge of the river very near the end of the trail.
Isn’t he/she magificent? Rob wasn’t really happy with the photo – the snake was backlit by the sun and he had to use the flash, which discolored the snake’s eye. But I think he did just fine. Snakes aren’t my favorites by any stretch, but we stood and watched this guy for about fifteen minutes with nothing but admiration for him. I’m not sure he could say the same about us, for after a while, he started to raise his head and think about moving away. We left him alone and continued on our way. Life is good.