When you get a chance to get away from it all, you should take full advantage of the opportunity. I’ve been trying to follow that principle and get in a few last hikes around Deer Isle before we have to head back to civilization.
The Edgar Tennis Preserve is a pretty good place to appreciate nature in all its quiet, colorful glory. We’re at the tail end of the season, so there aren’t many hikers to share the trails — which means the Preserve is as quiet as the world gets. It is as if the moss and the ferns and the pine straw on the trail swallow any random bits of noise, and all you’re likely to hear is the whisper of the breeze through the branches of the pine trees towering overhead. If you like silence — and who doesn’t, from time to time? — this is a good place for you.
And the colors are brilliant — even if they are, for the most part, shades of green. The leaves of the trees and the ferns are clinging to the last bit of 60s temperatures to maintain their green finery to the last, until the fall colors finally emerge. If you were looking for a particular shade of green, this would be the place to come — the Preserve has the entire spectrum covered, from the deep green of the pine trees in shade to the bright, sun-dappled green of the moss and ferns as they are hit by rays of sunlight.
You can follow an old country road down to the foundations of a long-abandoned salt water farm where apple trees planted by the settlers — with green apples, of course — mix with the encroaching forest. A small footpath winds down to a tidal pool, where the water is clear as crystal and looks green itself, thanks to the algae-covered rocks below.
On our recent visit to the Edgar M. Tennis Preserve on Deer Isle, Russell, Betty and I not only had our first exposure to the tremendous scenic beauty found on the Preserve, but I also had my first exposure to the world of letterboxing.
Letterboxing, according to the Urban Dictionary, is an interesting combination of hiking, orienteering, travel, and sharing adventure with fellow hikers. The goal in the letterboxing world is to find waterproof letterboxes that are kept in scenic places like the Tennis Preserve — some of which are harder to find than others. When you find the letterbox, you’re supposed to leave a message, stamp the message book in the letterbox, and also stamp your own letterboxing book so you can keep a record of all the letterboxes you’ve visited. Not being aware of the world of letterboxing, or that the Tennis Preserve had a letterbox, I didn’t have a letterboxing book with me when we came across the Tennis Preserve letterbox, so I couldn’t stamp my own book. We did, however, leave a message and used the cool shell stamp to record our visit to the letterbox. Fortunately for us, the Tennis letterbox wasn’t hard to find, either.
It was fun to thumb through the Tennis Preserve letterbox notebook to see how had visited — we were surprised to learn that somebody had been there before us on the day of our visit, even though we were hiking early in the morning — and I think letterboxing would be an enjoyable, and very healthy, hobby. Any pastime that gets you out of the indoor world and into the fresh air in places like the Tennis Preserve has got to be beneficial, both physically and mentally. And the stamps are pretty cool, too.
This week Russell, Betty, and I took a hike on the Edgar Tennis Preserve — one of the nicest trails in Stonington. You can walk on the rim of the peninsula, getting a chance to explore the shoreline and some of the tidal areas, or choose one of the trails the cross the peninsula and take you inland through piney forest and meadow.
Whichever way you go, you’ll enjoy lots of fresh air, some beautiful views, interesting colors — particularly at low tide, as it was when we visited — and exposure to some of the diverse ecosystems found on Deer Isle. There are lots of good hikes on Deer Isle, and the Tennis Preserve is one of the best.