Boothbay Region Land Trust

A fine fall walk with a spooky story to tell

Halloween Story Trail ready for walkers, readers
Posted:  Friday, October 21, 2016 - 8:15am
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Halloween is commonly associated with the words trick or treat, candy, scary, pumpkins, and ghosts and ghouls. But for the past couple of years, the Boothbay Region Land Trust (BRLT) has added its own vocabulary to the season, like story, nature trail, family walk, and outside by designing its family-friendly “Hike the Halloween Story Trail' along the School House Pond Preserve trail in Trevett.

“The preserve is a little remote,” Tracey Hall, the trust's environmental educator, explained as we prepared for the hike. “It isn't near the water, which attracts a lot of people, and it's off the beaten path.” To feature its woodsy charms, and there are many for children, adults, and nature lovers of all ages, Hall laminates the pages of a seasonal, colorful picture book with a good narrative, posts the pages from beginning to end on wooden stakes, and sets the stakes into the forest duff for about half a mile. As the story unfolds, clearly visible white blazes mark the easy, mostly level, if root-covered and rocky path throughout the woods.

Hall and I walked the trail, both of us carrying story parts on stakes. She told me she got the idea from the “Burma Shave” roadside story signs that began to appear along roads in 1926 and continued to entertain until the late 1950s, when the interstate highway system expanded and the signs became more of a distraction to drivers going at higher speeds. The BRLT story signs are no distraction, however. On the contrary, they invite readers to stop and read, to take their time, and while they are at it, to notice the quiet and the beauty surrounding them.

As we hiked along, Hall told me she and her husband (Nick Ullo, the executive director of BRLT) first came to Maine as summer caretakers for Damariscove Island. They’re now full-time residents of Southport Island, where their two children attend school. It's a life Hall has grown to love, and one she's wanted to live since she was a child.

As she pounded in the last story stake, we found ourselves at a crossroad. Hall took a trail that would lead her straight back to the parking lot, while I returned along the winding Halloween Story Trail. Maine's mighty glacial past is evidenced by the tumbledown rocks and random boulders left behind when the ice receded, and in an old and beautifully constructed stone wall, about four feet high in some places. I found myself looking down frequently so I wouldn't trip, and I discovered a whole universe. Brilliant green mosses and pale lichens are the stars along the forest floor. This tender ecosystem needs to be treated with care.

I arrived back at the parking lot, reluctant to leave the silence and the story. I know the ending, but I'm not telling. Take the pretty drive out to Trevett and the preserve with your kids, your friends, solo, or with a friendly, obedient dog. The Halloween Story Trail will be up through Monday, Oct. 31, from dawn to dusk. For more BRLT events, visit www.bbrlt.org, or call 207 633-4818.