Saturday treated us to the first snow of the season, and it seemed like a perfect day for a hike on a section of the Chautauqua County Rails to Trails system. The boots I chose were sturdy and warm, but old and no longer waterproof. I didn’t think it would matter. The transformed rail beds are sometimes wet and muddy, but you don’t have to walk through standing water. Usually.
As we came into the clearing where the Beaver Pond opens out on the west side of the trail, we scared up a large flock of unidentifiable (to me) ducks, definitely not mallards or wood ducks, as their escape was voiceless.
And then we saw it.
I was ready to turn back, go to the house, stack some wood. Terry and the dogs had other ideas.
So, I followed their lead, stepping gingerly on the beaver dam, trying not to use the poison ivy-covered trees for support. I made it about three quarters of the way to the other side before I was forced to step into water that soaked through my old boots.
If only the beavers could be trained to build their dam on the pond side of the trail.
It’s a good thing wool socks are warm even when they are wet. I was able to forget about my wet feet and enjoy the beauty of the day. The air was crystal clear and there was barely the hint of a breeze. Every watery surface was a mirror.
One of the mirrors was being constantly disturbed by melting snow.
It was mostly a day for grand sweeping landscapes, but little things caught my eye now and again.
Had we a map, we might have hiked the full length of this trail; we didn’t realize how close the end of it we were. Next time, we might start at the north end and hike south to the flooded trail and back.
The Portage Trail is a spur off the main Rails to Trails system that starts in Mayville along Route 430 between Mayville’s 4-corners and the Hartfield airstrip. Parking is just to the left of the black and red Range Resources building. Bill Sharp was a naturalist and educator in Chautauqua County.
According to an article in the March-April 2007 of Parks and Trails E-News (link below), this segment of trail began as a Native American portage trail between Lake Erie and Chautauqua Lake. In the early 1900s a steam-powered rail line was developed there. It was converted to an electric powered trolley in 1910. This section was dedicated to the memory of Bill Sharp in September of 2006 by the members of the Chautauqua County Rails to Trails organization.