On the Sunday before last we had a nice hike out to Shell Pond in Maine. Just one mile east of Route 113 in Chatham, New Hampshire, is a private property open to the public for recreation called Stone House Property. The trails are maintained by both the property owners caretaker and the Chatham Trails Association. We arrived just after noon and were greeted by a small party of hikers that had just finished their own hike. It looked like we would have the place to ourselves.
Alden was awake and ready to go after sleeping on the way to the parking area. We followed the dirt driveway noting some beaver activity alongside the path. Andrew even spotted a brown ball of a beaver along the small stream that he/she was turning into a pond. It looks as if the caretaker is battling with these beavers by putting up new bars on the culvert, but by the looks of the fresh stick piles, the beavers might be winning this battle.
We followed the Shell Pond Loop trail that veered off the driveway before the houses. The weather had turned cold over the week and we were bundled up in our winter gear to stay warm. The trail was pleasant and easy to follow running a short distance above the pond for this leg of the hike.
At the far end of the pond we crossed over two pond inlets and saw another busy beaver near the shore. We watched him duck under the water near some tufts of tall grass, but we never saw him resurface. Just beyond this point we found a perfectly placed bench with a beautiful view of the pond. The low hanging clouds blocked our view of the hills above us, but it was still a wonderful view as many dramatic ledges hang on the lower slopes surrounding the pond.
We continued on the trail that led us around the pond, through a floodplain forest, over another pond inlet (where we debated on whether the water was coming in or going out – definitely in), and eventually back onto the driveway that led us through meadows. Alden was awake still and just as we were walking past the two houses, he couldn’t stand it any longer and began to cry from exhaustion. Poor guy didn’t want to miss anything and was refusing to let his sleep take over. Luckily it looked like no one was home as Alden wailed for 10 minutes. He finally gave in and fell asleep and we walked in silence for the last 10 minutes back to the car.
Lindsay read about the history of the Stone House and the family that built it and lived nearby from the kiosk while Andrew started up the car. We transferred the sleeping baby boy into his car seat where he slept peacefully for the hour drive back home. We will have to come back to this area to hike up to the waterfall that is a short distance from the meadows and up to Blueberry Ledge.