On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the large group of hikers, from seniors to young children, headed off into the woods for a few hours of wonder, learning and exercise.  A red tail hawk flew overhead as we assembled and began the trek.  We only walked a few hundred feet before the first history lesson.  We stopped to view the “pond” that was manmade, hence it’s square shape, by digging out squares of peat to use as fuel to heat the homes of people living here in Middleton many years ago.  We crunched through leaves, listened to the sounds of nature, and even got to smell the small strips of bark Pike cut from a cherry birch, also known as sweet birch for the strong wintergreen smell of the bark.  Every hike the Stream team sponsors is sure to delight all the senses!   The long line of hikers followed Pike into the land of beavers. Leaving the White and Red Oak trees and the acorns rolling under our feet, a mast (abundant) year for their fruit, we soon were overlooking a great beaver impounded area. The outlet included three dams, each a few feet lower than the one above it.  Pike had prepared us all for this view with his lesson on beavers and visual display artistically created by both Nancy and Pike! The shallow water pools below the last dam had ice on it, and the boys and girls were excited to test it, break it, smash it and release all their young energy!  We bushwhacked back to the trail, leaving the land where beavers rule and headed south back to civilization. After exploring the beautiful forest, among glacial boulders, and with little parameters to rein us in; the short walk down Peabody Street, carefully staying way to the side of traffic, seemed such a letdown. The protected conservation lands we explored are there for all, a gift of wonder, sensory awakening, and education. It was an afternoon of friendship, both new and old and a sharing of the need to protect such beautiful places. The Middleton Stream Team thanks you for sharing the experience!

Photos by Judy Schneider
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