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Last Updated: Oct 18, 2015 - 7:07:20 AM 

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Down the Road

The first walk
By Milton M. Gross
Oct 18, 2015 - 7:07:40 AM

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Dolores and I have planned our first after-hospital walk to be at Fernald's Neck, a large wooded peninsula reaching well into Megunticook Lake.

We have walked there in my earlier life, before hospital and new hip, but its beauty and quiet were attractive enough to lure us there again.

Just as soon as I learn to walk again. Now learning to walk the first time when I was knee high to something was a lot easier -- I guess because I can't really remember that experience.

But this time! This time after feeling like the main character in The Strange Case of Benjamin Buttons, I'll soon be able to actually walk again. And Fernald's Neck is our pick of where I start walking.

It's quiet and scenic, I forget how many miles of woods paths it contains, certainly more than I'll be able to walk during my first after-new-hip walk. Another reason I like that preserve is that dogs, hunting, and diving or swimming from the cliffs is strictly prohibited. We don't have a dog, I no longer hunt, and I never have dived from any cliffs anywhere -- I'd certainly remember that last one.

Fernald's Neck Preserve is 328 acres of quiet woods and trails. That's big enough to satisfy even me -- even though my after-hospital walking will be a bit limited. "Fernald's Neck was protected for conservation in 1969, when local residents, among them the late Charles Chatfield of Rockport, raised funds and formed a corporation in partnership with The Nature Conservancy to purchase 285 acres. A developer had expressed interest in buying the land, which is located on a large peninsula in the middle of Megunticook Lake, but the concerned residents sprang into action to protect its forests, bogs and nearly four miles of shoreline. The corporation formally dissolved in 1979 and the preserve was transferred to the Conservancy. That year, an additional 36 acres, known as the Hattie Lamb Fernald Section, was donated by Margaretta W. Thurlow in memory of her mother. In the early 1990's two inholdings were purchased from the Ethel F. Harkness Trust: the 3-acre Balance Rock parcel and the 2-acre Narrows parcel, bringing the total preserve acreage to 326 acres. The property was transferred to Coastal Mountains Land Trust from the Nature Conservancy in 2007. In 2008, 2.1 additional acres were donated to the Land Trust to add to the Preserve," I copied from a website.

I don't much care if it's 328 acres, as we won't be walking the whole thing anyway.

We were there last summer right before we took a boat ride out of Camden. Suddenly the sky darkened and we heard a booming sound, that frightened us just a little -- I was braver before trading hips at the Belfast hospital. When we got on the boat, we reported this strange event to the captain, who explained it away in a way that made both of us doubt the explanation was true. But the boat ride was really nice, so we didn't push the explanation.

The gravel road into the preserve is a quiet dirt road, a strange feeling caused by a neighbor or two who appeared to believe we were invaders from another planet instead of another town. They said nothing, just stared. So if you visit the preserve, I've warned you.

But their staring didn't prevent us from following the road through a woods and past an old house, a scenic drive if you like quiet dirt roads in the woods. We do.

At the parking area, ("arear" in Maineiac) we saw across the lake the cliffs of Camden Hills State Park, the one from where the woman was pushed or fell a century ago. That view was awe inspiring. We walked some, down one path to a large boulder at the lake's edge and another through deeper woods.

Flowers in a field and the forest itself held us basically speechless, and we thoroughly enjoyed that afternoon before the boat ride.

And this will be our first after-hospital walk together.

A peaceful, quiet walk it will be....provided I can learn to walk again.

This scenic woods trail to Megunticook Lake is one of many trails in Fernald's Neck Preserve not far from Camden. Photo by Milt Gross.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2015

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