Sunday, November 8, 2015

National Seashore Walk Part 1

One of my favorite places on the lower cape to walk is in Eastham at the National Seashore Visitor Center. I've honestly never been inside the visitor center itself, but it's where the walk starts. There's a large parking lot and this time of year, its beautifully empty. There main trail is the Nauset Marsh Trail. It starts out bordering Salt Pond (which is visible from RT 6) and circles around through the marsh and up back to the visitor center. There is an offshoot of that trail that leads to Doane Rock, something I'll write about in another post.

There is a large outdoor amphitheater right below the visitor center itself. I've never seen anything happen at it, or heard of any events or anything, but that doesn't mean nothing happens there. It's likely I'm just too busy in the summer to notice. I remember walking along the benches as a child, jumping from row to row to avoid touching the ground until we reached the entrance to the walk.

My mother would take my brother and I on this walk often when we were kids. We'd bring my dog Shiva, who couldn't read the 'no dogs allowed' sign, and no one ever noticed or said a word. Mind you, you can't bring a dog during the summer, but during the offseason, you can manage it without an issue. I don't own a dog at the moment, and my cats are content to sit in the sun or sleep on my couches, so it's unlikely I'll be dragging them out with me anytime soon.

The first part of the walk is truly beautiful as it curls around Salt Pond. There used to be a bridge over a particularly marshy spot, but it was destroyed during one of the many winter storms. Salt Pond snakes out and ends up connected to the inlet at Nauset Outer Beach, so storm surge makes its way into the pond and does some reshaping every winter. Two years ago, we lost the bridge. Well, it wasn't lost, it was just moved to an inopportune place and at an angle that was no longer particularly useful for walking on. (That is one of my engagement photos)

They replaced the old bridge with a new one that is designed to be more mobile than the old version. From the look of it, it's supposed to be able to lift up with tides and its chained to posts to keep it from drifting away. And seeing as it's smaller, it has less surface area to be bent and twisted and abused. And if it does wrench away, it's cheaper and easier to replace. Good luck to you, little bridge, this winter season...

Here is the view around Salt Pond. There are going to be a lot of photos in these posts because I just don't have the right words to describe it.

The path circles half of the pond before pulling away a little. It curves sharply and goes up into the woods, before that happens, you have to cross another bridge. This bridge has survived the winters without incident so far. If you search images of Cape Cod, you're bound to find a few of it. It's kind of overkill for the little river is crosses, but I love it.
I think I'm going to have to break this walk into two or three posts, because there are so many great places to stop along the way. This seems like a good place to stop for now, which is ironic because it only take out 5 minutes to walk to this point.

Just looking at the pictures makes me think of the sharp smell of the salt marsh, which is drastically different from a fresh water marsh. I can hear the wind, which is always blowing on the cape, as it rushes through the grass. The birds are always having conversations as you walk by, especially if you're quiet about it. There is a fun mix of birds in the area, and I'm sorry to say I don't actually know enough about birds to explain. There are marsh birds like red-winged black birds, which hang out next to black-backed gulls and terns. Long-legged great blue heron poke their way along the shallows, or stand like regal statues.

There are raccoon, millions of squirrels and chipmunks, deer, possum, fox, and many other creatures that call the protected area their home. If you walk quietly or sit still, you can get lucky and see many of them. The trail is a great place to stop and just be for a while. It's only a few minutes away from the highway and the rest of the busy world, but it's just far enough removed to be peaceful. I'll take you farther down the trail next time...

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