By Alexander Renaud
Alexander Renaud is a Senior at Waterville High School.This summer, Alex volunteered with 7 Lakes Alliance, working on signage and care of pollinator and buffer gardens as well as trail signage. He also worked as a Courtesy Boat Inspector.
Nature is the refuge of the human race. So often we only exist within our fabricated cement and steel cities, towns, and neighborhoods. A park or backyard just doesn’t capture the true natural beauty found in nature. I was reminded of this fact on a summer trip to 7 Lakes Alliance’s newest trail, the Fogg Island Trail, made possible by a land partnership.
Located in Mount Vernon, off of Spring Hill Road, the trail winds four miles through a wooded meadow and dense forest before terminating at the southwestern shore of Long Pond. When I reached the trailhead, I was struck by how deserted and peaceful the trail felt. As I walked along the wide and easily traversed trail, its relative silence resonated within me. All I could hear was the busy activity of the many insects that fill the trail in the summer months - bring your insect repellent! In the Fogg Island Preserve, I really felt alone with nature.
This preserve shows a more lush, less rugged landscape than other trails in the 7 Lakes network. Numerous species of wildflowers dotted the trail as I made my way along it. A quiet beaver pond offers ample opportunities to spot wildlife. On the hot day I visited in early July, the pond was filled with yellow water lilies, a perfect place for one of Maine’s reclusive Moose to cool off. My footsteps along the trail caused a magnificent heron to leave its perch and soar across the majestic, still landscape the pond provided. A turtle sunned itself on one of the logs on the pond, seemingly oblivious to my presence.
As I entered the forested area of the trail, I happened to look up into a tree ahead of me. To my astonishment, I saw a large porcupine slowly make its way up its broad trunk. I stood there watching the porcupine, expecting it to flee as most wild animals do when in the presence of a human. Instead, the porcupine continued its journey up the tree, undeterred by my shadow. I continued my journey until I reached a wooden boardwalk that enables a dry passage over the marshy lowlands bordering this area of Long Pond. I was finally nearing my destination.
After miles of walking through the forest, I reached the clear, calm waters of the water. Not a house was in sight, and the air felt calm and still. A small bank appealed to me as the perfect place to dock kayaks, making the trail and preserve accessible by both road and water. For me, the tranquil atmosphere offered a chance for quiet reflection. It was a place that seemed a world apart from my modern, hectic life.
After enjoying the view, I turned around and started my way back along the trail. I passed my friend the porcupine once again as he lumbered his way along the forest floor, still seeming unafraid of me. As I neared my car, I once again felt thankful for the opportunity to visit such a serene and restful place. I enjoy the convenience of living in town and being a short walk from school and having neighbors to talk to. However, there is no denying that nature is a sanctuary, a place to gather one's thoughts and become rejuvenated.
The Fogg Island preserve offered a spot for me to do just that, and land trusts like the 7 Lakes Alliance are invaluable in protecting and maintaining trails and land for those of us who, like me, need a break from busy life. Being young, I have struggled to know how I make a difference and help with preservation. However, there are some easy ways to get started. Many high schools and colleges have organizations like green teams and hiking clubs. 7 Lakes Alliance is home to the Youth Conservation Corps, an organization tailor-made for youth ages 15 to 23. With just a small commitment progress can be made. Nature is a refuge for all of us, and maintaining that is paramount.
Fogg Island Preserve