I’m heading to Wilton this weekend to join a group hike through the Forest Society’s Heald Tract, guided by a gentleman from the Harris Center for Conservation Education. Solo hiking is usually my preference. I can learn from naturalists, though, and seeing a trail through someone else’s eyes always reveals something new.
On my first visit to the Heald Tract some years back, as I walked on a trail edging a pond, a pair of Canada geese suddenly began honking nearby. They had been hidden by some reeds near the shore. They swam away toward the center of the pond, honking loudly all the time, yet not taking to flight. It dawned on me that I might have gotten close to their nest and that the birds were trying to distract me from it. I don’t know why they didn’t just chase me. I backed away and took another trail, and soon the geese quieted down.
I saw my first grouse that day, but it saw me first and shot up from the ground as I approached. Startled me senseless for a moment. I recovered my wits in time to admire the bird as it fled.
Several organizations sponsor group hikes or trail work days in southern New Hampshire, as do some local conservation commissions. Watch for event calendars, such as those from the Forest Society, the Harris Center, and Beaver Brook (Hollis).