Archive for June, 2007

Eleven walkers took a guided natural history tour today (6/16/07)
along the Mill Brook with Thoreauvian naturalist Walter Brain.

The walk explored portions of the Emerson/Thoreau Amble, a new trail winding through wetlands, fields, and woods in the Town Forest that was once traversed by Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

note this was a SUASCO 2007 Riverfest activity.

See also information concerning the origin of Thoreau amble project as described by Markus Pinney and John Mack in Boston Globe article (10/23/03) http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2003/10/23/idea_of_landmark_trail_stirs_hope/

A printed copy of a map of the Concord Town Forest shown below was provided to each walker courtesy of Concord NRC

(print your own using the jpg image below).

Relation to Thoreau’s Path on Brister’s Hill (contemplative walk),A Walden Woods Project ref:


What is Brister’s Hill? A collapsed Walden Woods kame composed of sand and gravel, ref: http://www.york.ca/Departments/Planning+and+Development/Long+Range+Planning/kame.htm

scroll down for a map of Town Forest surficial geology.

Where is Brister’s Hill? (Brister’s Hill Road on west, Walden, Goose and Little Pond on south, Sandy Pond Road on east and fairyland Pond on north.)

Brister’s Spring – One of the sources of the Mill Brook (Walter has identified a hundred springs feeding the Mill Brook)

(“Commonly I rested an hour or two in the shade at noon, after planting, and ate my lunch, and read a little by a spring which was the source of a swamp and of a brook, oozing from under Brister’s Hill, half a mile from my field.” WALDEN & ON THE DUTY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
by Henry David Thoreau (1847)

Several years ago Gordian worms were observed in Brister’s Spring by Matt Bourne, Land Conservation Coordinator for the Walden Woods Project Horsehair worms are no bigger around than kite string (1/25 to 1/16 inch wide) and very long (4 to 14 inches). Amazingly, the entire horsehair worm grows and develops as a parasite inside the body cavity of crickets and other large insects such as grasshoppers, katydids, beetles and cockroaches. This internal parasite of insects does not harm humans, animals or plants. Horsehair worms are white when they first emerge from the host’s body. They turn yellowish-tan to brownish-black after a short period of time. The worms often squirm and twist in the water, knotting into a loose, ball-like shape, resembling the “Gordian Knot.”

See Brister’s Spring handout diagramming hypothetical underground seepage from Walden Pond to Brister’s Spring.

Note also tree stumps by spring from Thoreau’s time ala 1905 photos by Gleason (see 11/08/06 entry, below).

Walter suggested the decaying white pine tree stumps we see today are likely the same trees that Thoreau spoke of as providing him shade next to Brister’s Spring.

One of today’s observant walkers pointed out what appears to be a glacial esker bisecting the path to Brister’s Spring when walking to or from Fairyland Pond. The esker looks and feels like a cobblestone path. Perhaps it should be called the “Brister’s Hill Esker”. Ref: http://www.fettes.com/cairngorms/esker%20sediment.htm

Fairyland Pond was not a pond in Thoreau’s time, but a swamp flowing towards Cambridge Tpke. (w/ Clintonia Borealis) can still be found there in season (late May).

Note Thoreau’s Trail from Cambridge Tpke along the base of Brister’s Ridge to Brister’s Spring, see also also high land paths along top of Brister’s Ridge. (Hubbard’s Close).

Hapgood Wright donated land for the Town Forest 1935 (see monument stone) but Walter Brain suggested that Fairyland Pond dam which created the Pond dates to late 19th century.

As we walked Walter identified and removed numerous small Glossy Buckhorn plants which are among the top 5 problem plants in Mass.

Note see Peter Alden’s “Field Guide to Invasive Plants (2004) free from Concord Public Works, some similar info plus actual locations of Concord’s invasive plants are mapped on the Concord Public Works GIS website ref: http://www.mapsonline.net/concordma/index_plants.phtml

Cargill’s Creek Bridge construction and replanting with native species occurred in 2006. The next phase including construction of a similar bridge spanning the Mill Brook near the Emerson House has just been funded for 2007-2008.

Walter Brain says the “creek” originally was known as Cargill’s Ditch after Hugh Cargill. The groundwater being drained likely originates from Walden Pond subsurface seepage that also is a source for Concord’s Hugh Cargill well-site.

A photo of the walk participants is shown below, Walter Brain is second on the far right. Others included: Paula Burpee, Lois Hutchings, Jean McGreehan, John Mandziej, Marion Maxwell, C. Alan & Myra Orth, Roger & Lorraine Reed, Suzanne Williams, Jane Wright

Read Full Post »