Somewhere on the back way connecting South Kingstown and North Kingstown is the entrance to Tripond park. I stopped my car there in late September of 2019. I only found one pond, so I wonder if there is more to the park that has been hidden from me.
The path enters the woods and runs alongside a pond, but it is nearly impossible to see through the thick vegetation. A short way in, the trail splits. I took the right way.
This path winds crazily back and forth across mud and brooks. I have never seen so many wooden footbridges. The vegetation was thick and it was dark under the trees. The only animal I saw was a lone squirrel. Finally, the path terminated on the side of a quiet road without a building in sight.
Retracing my steps, I returned to the split and took the left way. This path took me all the way around the pond back to where I started.
There wasn’t much to see but roots.
I visited Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge in southern Rhode Island in late August 2019 and I think it was the wrong time of year. What flowers were still around were dry and broken. Everything seemed tired and in disrepair. Even the spider webs were full of holes...
The trail south from the parking lot splits in two and I took the western branch first. After passing a field of tall grass, it becomes a regular wooded trail for a while. Everything was overgrown with vines. I even saw a few raspberries. Eventually the trail leads down a narrow peninsula surrounded by opaque, green-grey water. This is where a steady breeze picked up. Looking out across the pond, I could see the ocean just on the other side of the narrow strip of land around it. Beyond this it was so hazy that I could not tell where the ocean met the sky.
At the end of this trail is a deck and telescope. I watched the gulls, red-breasted mergansers, and other birds that frequent the pond. I also took a peek at the human houses among the trees just outside the preserve. Of course, I didn’t care about any of those things. What I really wanted to know was whether I could aim the telescope at the sun and use it to burn a hole in the deck! Alas, it was noontime and I could not point the telescope high enough. Darn!
Returning the way I came, I then took the connector trail over to the east side of the park. This is where there is another deck and telescope. On the way I saw a rabbit:
Past the eastern deck, the trail continues right into the water. I had hoped to explore there, but my way was guarded by a monster:
After this, I returned to the parking lot. On the way I encountered a couple of decks on the border of a pond filled with lily pads. Oddly, one of the decks was not easily accessible. There is no path to it and a fence blocks the way. The other deck is well shaded and home to a very sneaky chipmunk. When I turned around to leave, I saw it scurry away from its spot right behind me.
Finally, I made it back. The entire outing took from 12:00 to 2:30. Only once did any flies bother me and that was near the brook passing under the connector path. Yet, somehow during my brief transit they left me with dozens of bites.
Highlights: On the ground I saw red galls and green galls. I saw an apple tree. I saw a lot of tiny, green dragonflies. Most notable, I saw a black-winged damselfly fly backwards in a jumpy sort of way that reminded me of how scallops swim. Show off!
Best Highlights: On the way back, I stopped at Dunkin Donuts, ate a Boston cream donut, drank a coffee milk, and sat in the lobby watching traffic through the window. This was the best part of the trip.
Needing to kill some time before the store opened, I visited Shady Lea in North Kingstown, Rhode Island on the last day of November. It consists of a small pond next to an even smaller parking lot immediately adjacent to busy route four where it meets route one. In addition to the scattering of picnic tables and fire pits, there is a small brook running around the perimeter and a pretty nice boulder to sit on and watch the ducks. At least, I think they were ducks. It was hard to tell at that distance. I began writing my account while I was still there:
I hear birds in the trees. Birds are often surprisingly hard to find. I can hear them and narrow down their location by sound alone to within a ten-foot radius, but sometimes I still can’t see them. I don’t understand. There are practically no leaves here for them to hide behind. The trees are very nearly bare. Maybe the birds are invisible. Oh, I see them now.
This is a simple place. There are no mysteries here – no great discoveries to be made. Everything is out in the open. There is nothing but trees and stones.
I walk around. The ground is covered in a thick layer of oak leaves. What is underneath? I suddenly step into a depression in the ground and feel my foot go down into the leaves. The leaves are eight inches deep here!
I must know what hides underneath! Treasure? Lost cities? Monsters? Something killed that deer. I have found a mystery at last! I clear the leaves away with my foot. Slowly but surely, I get closer to the underlying substrate. Finally, I see it. Under the leaves are mud and roots. I have solved the mystery!
The greater mystery now is what lies under the mud and roots…
Beavertail Park covers the southern tip of Conanicut Island. Over the years, I have been there several times with family. It is a fantastic place full of geological oddities, including an arch and pools full of pebbles. Water leaks from the sides of cliffs and rocks come in every color and texture imaginable. To the north of the park are trails cut through the woods, sometimes in the form of tunnels with branches wrapped overhead. It is often windy and this is the place I once saw a bird flying perfectly sideways, unable to move forward against the wind. There are also some grassy areas, a lighthouse, and the remains of a fort or something.
I had planned all year to visit, but never got around to it, so when my aunt and mother invited me in September, I tagged along, hoping to get pictures of all these things for the first time. Unfortunately, the problem of going with other people is that nobody ever wants to stay long enough for me to see everything. I left early before I had covered more than a third of the place. Here is what I saw:
Purple And Green Protists:
This Impassible Gorge:
And This Path Leading Out Of The Park Altogether:
Where does it go?
Soon after leaving Blue Pond, frustrated at my inability to find it, I stopped further down the road so I could take the Narragansett Trail past Yagoog Pond at the border of Rhode Island and Connecticut. It was a very hot August day and no one else was stupid enough to be outside. It was very quiet. Never have I felt more alone and at ease about it. I walked for a long time.
The first section was dominated by rhododendrons and descended downhill. I saw a lot of fungi, mostly of varieties I had not seen anywhere else – including just down the road. These walks never get boring simply because there is always fresh variety. This late in the season, the fungi was already dying and being cannibalized by other fungi.
This section of the trail was joined by countless side trails, some of them almost invisible. Some of these side trails also had invisible side trails. It was down one of them that I found a rock cliff overlooking the water. I felt like I had stumbled across a secret lost kingdom that I could claim for myself, so I did. It’s mine now. :P
Further down, I walked along the edge of the pond (more of a lake), which was continuous, smooth rock. After this, I veered away from the water and continued to find side trails, some of which ended in clearings with clear signs of human habitation. Who dares to trespass in my kingdom?
Eventually, I reached the road to the north and decided it was time to turn back. I had to go find a queen to share the place with.
The map of the Canonchet Preserve in western Rhode Island clearly shows two trailheads for Blue Pond off of Canonchet Road. I could only find one. The map clearly shows the trail loop all the way around the pond and return to the road via the opposite trailhead. It also shows a crosstrail connecting the two sides of the loop. I could find none of this. Instead, I followed a trail that began almost as wide and clear as a dirt road that gradually became narrower and harder to discern before terminating in a large field of tall reeds. A small pond was in the distance. I considered crossing the field to see if I could pick up a trail on the other side, but it was mucky and wet in places and I was already hot and tired.
I spied a couple of “islands” in the field in the distance – small hills rising above the reeds, covered in trees and thick brush. I thought how cool it would be to explore them. I could build a secret fort on one of them, or spend all day relaxing in the shade isolated from the world and completely hidden from the outside. I could be king there and pass whatever decrees I wished! I made a second try to wade through the tall plants, but it was just too tough, too wet, and too slow.
Turning back, I went down the only two side trails I could find – one to the right and one to the left. The one to the right gradually disappeared into ever-thicker brambles until ending completely. The one to the left crossed mud and rocks until there was nothing left to follow. In both cases, I went beyond the end of the trail as far as I could go without getting lost to see if I could pick it up again. There was nothing. The ground was so uneven and the vegetation so thick that it was clear there had never been a trail. I had to go back the way I came.
While finding and circumnavigating Blue Pond turned out to be impossible, the trail into the woods had many treasures to share. Seeing a gap in the bushes to one side, I was able to find a clearing with a stone structure. It’s some sort of fireplace. It is very nearly hidden from the trail despite being right next to it. To one side of the structure (not in picture) is a long, low boulder several people could theoretically sit on or lean against to watch the fire. Who built this? Who uses it? Do they know where the Blue Pond is?
There were other signs of human use as well. I found a large iron pipe half-buried in the ground running perpendicular to the trail. It didn’t show itself anywhere else that I could find and there were no human structures to be seen. It reminded me of the wire I found in the dirt at Dyer Woods.
Just as everywhere else I went in Rhode Island in August, fungi was everywhere. I kept seeing new varieties. This yellow, spongy mass was on the underside of a tree limb:
This preposterous-looking being I thought for sure was a fishing lure before I picked it up and realized it had been attached. The top half was very soft while the bottom half was rubbery. It smelled just like freshly-peeled corn. According to Plant Snap, it is an elegant stinkhorn, so now I feel stupid.
I also saw this clear mushroom and this tubular fruit:
Okay, maybe I am stupid…
Here are some other things I saw:
Do you know where Blue Pond is?
Clothing is very helpful. It can protect me from scrapes, from biting bugs, from the cold, and it allows me to carry all sorts of gadgets and things in pockets. I love clothing, but sometimes I wonder how it would be to go exploring naked (I wonder about a lot of weird things). This is why in 2011 I visited a clothing-optional beach for the first time to find out what it was like. It was crowded, steep, and shifting stones filled the water. The next day I visited a smaller beach equally useless. I cannot recommend either. Besides, I soon became so busy I never had a chance to go back. Finally, in August of 2018 I visited the Dyer Woods Nudist Campground in Foster, Rhode Island to see what it was like. I considered it my job as an explorer to learn what people do there. I think it’s probably something everyone should do at least once. This is my report.
Unlike a clothing-optional site, nudity is mandatory there and it is not free. They also frown on photography and I didn’t want to risk any trouble by taking pictures of fungi or trees. As a result, my report is rather colorless. It’s a pretty nice place. There is a pond for swimming surrounded by a grassy slope that people put their chairs on. The people that day were very friendly and laid back.
A decent-length trail runs into the woods around the perimeter of the property that I decided to take barefoot. While the ends of the path where it meets the camping area are covered in hard pebbles, most of the path is covered by moss. It was perfect! In one spot, it passes by a picturesque pond with several boulders jutting out of it. Along one side is a ridge of stone. There was a lot of fungi about. One stump was coated with a tiny forest of tiny, thin-stalked, bright orange mushrooms. Another mushroom must have been at least nine inches across.
There are a few benches, a cemetery, and a hollowed-out mound left by who-knows-who. Not far from this was a wire running across the path. It was firmly buried at both ends and there was no sign of it anywhere else. I was probably a third-mile from any machinery or modern human structure. What does it serve? I forgot to ask.
After exploring the trail, I sat around the pond and wrote in my notebook while dragonflies landed on me. The shore was guarded by small frogs. Finally, I had to leave and this is when I got in a brief conversation with two guys and a lady sitting on the deck. All four of us were completely nude and it felt like the most ordinary thing in the world, finally confirming what I had always known.
Goddard Park is disintegrating! Every rain erodes it away further as chunks of it fall into the ocean. By the end of the century, it will quite possibly have disappeared completely. Hurry and visit while you can! How fitting that even my memory of my visit is fading since I took so long to write down my account.
I visited Goddard Memorial State Park in Rhode Island sometime in August 2018. It is a large place with winding driveways through expansive grassy fields lined with picnic tables. There are restrooms and a golf course. The interior is wooded, with trails sometimes frequented by horses. The western edge is a sandy beach touching a marine cove. I parked near the beach and set out on foot to explore the northern tip of the peninsula.
There were dozens of fallen trees where the highlands met the beach. Many still had their leaves on. The edge did not look sturdy. Gullies and exposed roots were everywhere. Side trails from the main trail simply ended abruptly at the edge of cliffs and overhangs.
I finally reached the seashore where there was a short jetty leading to a large boulder in the sea. I rested in the sun surrounded by waves a while before taking a picture of the way I had come.
Around in this area were additional signs of erosion. Rocks broke into flakes held together by organic matter. Strange pits speckled otherwise smooth stone.
I also saw this cool rock and shell:
There were also hordes of small animals here that allowed me to videotape them. I love animals! I have recently been having problems with my videos such that after taking them they will inexplicably rotate to vertical. I have since bought an app to fix this and I will let you know how it works in the future.
I then headed south along the beach where I saw another animal that I thought was only something I had made up out of my imagination myself when I was a kid – the mysterious sea bread:
I returned to my car for lunch, then took the trails to the south. There were very many branches to the path. Then I discovered this map on a tree! Well, that would have been helpful if it was placed near the entrance!
This part of the park is used by horses and there is the occasional pile of horse dung. There wasn’t much else to see. I vaguely remember a piece of metal stuck in a tree, but that’s it. I soon became tired and returned north by way of the beach. This is when I discovered that animals far scarier than horses also frequent the park. What kind of animal poops rocks?
I went home in a hurry.
Shrooms And Blooms
Just as all over Rhode Island that August, there were mushrooms and other fungi. Most were the same as those photographed elsewhere and I was too lazy to bother this time. There were also a few flowers. Here are the photographs I bothered to take:
In late July I walked part of the Narragansett Trail from Stubtown Road to North Road in the Canonchet Preserve on the western edge of Rhode Island. This is my report.
First, I was met in the parking lot by a party of mosquitoes, black flies, deerflies, and horseflies. They were clearly expecting me as the guest of honor. Several of them gave me kisses of greeting while I was still putting on my bug spray. I told them that I was flattered, but had a countryside to explore and I bid them farewell. They eventually stopped following me, meaning that most of the trip I was fly-free. It was a very unusual experience.
There was also a painted stone left behind by some mysterious entity for mysterious reasons. It was similar to stones I had seen in Florida the previous two years. What do they mean?
I then stopped on the shore of a pond (Ashville Pond) where there were dragonflies and small flowers of every color. There were also small fish near the shore that paid no attention to me whatsoever.
The first part of the trail was very much like the other trails previously visited in Canonchet Preserve (Canonchet and Hoxsie). There were small, green fruit on the ground. There were the same thorny plants on the sides of the trail. There were bees and wasps of every possible kind. There were large, black butterflies (some with blue on the hindwings). There were very large boulders scattered about, many of them with smaller stones stacked on top (babies?). There were also stone walls crisscrossing the landscape and intersecting the trail, though I was so far out in the middle of nowhere that I felt no one had been here in a very, very long time. There were even signs of mutant rocks and trees and mating between them (I start getting silly when I have been out in the woods too long).
In one spot only, there were also yellow leaves on the ground. For once, there were also some in the trees, but the very last ones fell just as I was passing. What are the chances? The simple, tapered leaves had green brethren still in the trees above, but I could see no leaves that looked like the four-pointed ones. There were only maples. Could the yellow leaves be mutant maple leaves rejected from the tree? The mystery deepens.
There were also plenty of fungi of every flavor:
What was different about this section of the forest was the numerous areas of bare stone and the amount of sunlight that got all the way to the ground. Once I passed the midpoint of my trip, there was even more stone and more sunlight. The trail began to go up and down and the traditional forest around me was replaced by a rhododendron forest.
This rhododendron flashed gang signs at me:
There were several side trails that led to exposed areas of stone, but I did not have the time to look at all of them. There was an outcropping of rock bordering the second pond (Long Pond) on the other side, but with no way to get to it. There were also many boulder caves filled with spiders and daddy-long-legs, but I didn’t want to get lost or stuck.
I also saw a red dragonfly, a green inchworm, a dead snake, and a dead millipede. Then – at last – near the very end of my trip – I found the last rhododendron bloom. There were no others left.
Upon parking at Crawley Preserve near Usquepaug, Rhode Island, one is greeted at the parking lot by blackberries – or at least they were there when I went in July. There is also a plant greatly resembling a sensitive plant, known for folding in its leaves in response to touch, but this one is either broken or else I have misidentified it.
From there, the trail to the right (the only one to prohibit horses) will take you through several distinct sections each with their own style. First, the narrow trail is banked by thick ferns where foot-biting animals can hide. Next, the surrounding vegetation gets higher. Next, the trail crosses the brook where there are the same kind of flowers growing as were growing in Canonchet’s wetter areas.
From this low-lying area, the trail climbs up among mossy boulders where all the major branches of plant life are represented side-by-side. There are non-vascular plants, spore-bearing plants, gymnosperms, and flowering plants. I felt as though I was hiking through time from the Devonian to the Carboniferous, through the Permian, and into the Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Paleogene. I held my breath as I passed from one section to the next so that I would not inhale the time winds and be aged millions of years. Going up, the roots of nearby trees helpfully spread their roots across the wet rocks so I would not slip. Finally, at the top is a flat area dominated by huckleberries.
There were also very many bushes with fragrant white flowers just opening up. Most of them were still buds, but the bees were already all over them. The flowers were everywhere.
Following this trail to its end and returning by the main trail, one sees that it is full of grass – lots and lots of very tall grass. This is where I saw the cutest snake ever. It zipped away before I could get a picture of its head.
I visited Crawley Preserve the same day I visited the Hoxsie Trail of Canonchet Preserve several miles away, eight days after my previous visit. Much was the same and much was different. Though Canonchet and Crawley are several miles apart, I wondered whether my two accounts should be posted as separate adventures or combined into one. I finally decided to separate them.
In both places, I saw orange flowers near the creeks. In both places, I saw a toad. In both places, I saw small, green fruits on the ground everywhere. Cutting open one at Crawley, I found no maggots, however. It was a bit like an apple. As at Canonchet and at Rome Point, there were the same thorny plants here and there, but unlike earlier in the season, their thorns had hardened.
Also at both places, there were mushrooms of every flavor:
I also saw some other stuff:
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.