Rupert’s Rambles presents: National Trails Day

Posted:  Friday, June 9, 2017 - 7:00am

A hearty group of five joined one of Rupert Neily’s Rambles celebrating the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day on June 3. The hike was just over one mile long from Barrett’s Park to the Linekin Bay Resort.

Guide Rupert Neily, with the resort, is a volunteer with Boothbay Region Land Trust and a devoted rambler. One of the group members who frequents Neily’s Rambles said if there was anyone who knew everything about the peninsula’s history, it would be Neily.

As everyone geared up and prepared for the hike, Neily reached into the back of his Subaru hatchback and pulled out his walking stick and a can of mosquito and black fly repellent. “I want people to have a good experience,” said Neily, holding the can. “There’s no sense in going out and being miserable.”

The hike was going to be through the woods, but Neily hiked the trails the day before and said that because of the bugs, he figured the group would just walk the roads. “There are only six or seven walks in the whole peninsula that offer a path on the road in view of water.” However, with a group enthusiastic for a good trail hike, Neily decided to yield to democracy.

As the hike kicked off down Lobster Cove Road, Neily pointed out some interesting facts about the surroundings. “Barrett’s Park is great for swimming,” he said. “It’s because the tide works in a particular way in this area, the water can become quite warm between tides.”

Upon reaching the end of the road, Neily led the group onto a trail into the woods for several paces before hitting the head of Lobster Cove Meadow. He explained that some of the first settlers on the peninsula came to this area and created the Echo Lake Ice Company which operated from 1880 to 1907.

“The trail that we’re on — the Indian Trail— is much older than the Echo Lake Ice Company.” As its name suggests, the trail had been used for many years before settlers arrived.

As the ramblers continued on the Indian Trail, Neily continued talking about the history of the land, stopping once in a while to explain where the heads of other trails they happened upon lead to. There was an old horse road leading to the rear of the Giles Farm that Neily said should be cut back and reopened. “It would help the preservation of environment and ecology, as well as for all the scenic reasons.”

Then Neily had the group stop. Motioning with his walking stick, he said, “This stick doesn’t aim to go out and name everything. It enjoys going out and being surprised. It enjoys going out and looking for magical stuff.”

Among the other areas the ramblers came across before reaching the resort were the start and end of the Appalachee trail, a view of the Giles Farm from the back field, and Appalachee Pond. “—Or Lilly Pond depending on which side you’re viewing it from,” Neily said when the group approached the opposite side to find the pond with budding lily pads.

At the very end of the trail, Neily led the group across a new path that avoided a fallen tree by mere yards. He remarked, “The Boothbay Region Land Trust doesn’t keep the trails cut back because, in fact, the people who enjoy the trails do it all on their own.”

Just before the group split— with a couple people staying at the resort and the rest taking a prearranged van ride back to Barrett’s Park— Neily and a couple of the ramblers recalled a former ramble. “It was a New Year’s Day hike which we called ‘Barrett’s to Bigelow.’ It had a nice ring to it. However, rather than being wet and miserable, it turned out to be like a warm day in May. There were over 80 people who came out.”

Aside from weather, crowd size and willingness to lead groups on his sometimes tame and sometimes wild rambles, Neily is another in a growing group of outdoor enthusiasts. “I'm excited about the ever-growing trend to develop trails, like the recently opened 47-mile multi-use trail connecting Unity with Belfast,” he said. “With over 30 miles of land trust preserve trails in the Boothbay Region— not counting the many trails maintained on private properties like Spruce Point Inn and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences— bit by bit we are reclaiming Maine's once strong tradition of public access.”