Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hiking to False Cape State Park

On this very windy day, I did a 9.5 mile hike through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge into False Cape State Park. I was footsore at the end, with the start of a blister, but it felt good to take a long walk. The path leaves the Back Bay parking lot and proceeds for 3.5 miles along a gravel road along dikes, and is very flat. A hundred meters or so to the east are tall dunes with the ocean beyond, and to the west is marshland and Back Bay. On either side are often areas of water – some broad ditches that are about 20 feet wide and some larger wet areas.

I walked more quickly than one would in the mountains but still took the time to stop and explore along the way.

Mother Nature's bouquet:

Wildlife was making itself scarce when about 3 miles in, I caught the sight of a river otter swimming in a shallow marshy area. He would dive and then resurface periodically, and I got to catch quick views of him about a half dozen times before he disappeared. It was an exciting sight, and only the third otter that I have seen in my life.

At the State Park, I walked past broad marshes down to the contact station, then turned right towards Back Bay to walk through a open coastal forest – very park like.

I got a nice view of Back Bay before heading along the road to eventually loop back to the park entrance. During this portion of my hike, I again walked by some large marshes, spotting two pretty egrets in one of them. As I looked at this little island, marveling how just a couple of extra feet of elevation can create a totally different environment, a kingfisher flew from the trees.

I returned back along the dike pathway, walking more into the wind. My beloved Tilly hat was strapped to my head, otherwise it would have blown off every few seconds. I once wore this hat while parasailing 800 feet over the water, so I know it will stay on if I wear the straps. About a mile from the parking lot, I spotted a snake swimming across the impoundment toward me, so I walked close to the edge to get a look. It appeared to be a fairly small water snake. I watched him at the edge of the water for a few seconds before he swam away.

Other than a man on a bike who passed me on my hike in, two other people biking on my way out, and a few people of foot nearly back at the parking lot, it was as if I had this whole refuge to myself. Oh, I nearly forgot, I also saw several campers who had backpacked into False Cape. They were doing the things campers do in the morning – making coffee, strolling to the outhouse, and looking around.

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