Seeing the Wood for the Trees

If you come from a place that isn’t particularly forested, there’s something a bit terrifying about going for a walk in the woods. I’m used to landscapes of open fields and rolling hills and grazing animals so a trip into some of the huge woods that exist in New England always feels rather primal and unnerving. There’s always that fear in the back of my mind that I will be surrounded by an ever decreasing circle of wolves, bears or coyotes or that my last words recorded for posterity will be “Is this snake venom….?”

Fear the woods.
Fear the woods.

I’m well aware that there aren’t any particularly dangerous woods in the immediate area around where I live and that animals usually try to avoid humans as much as possible (on the off chance that one might be a dentist from Minnesota) but I am a little bit afraid of getting lost. Trails are usually marked with blazes of colour on trees but being colour blind it would be easy to walk around in circles following the red and then the green trail until it gets dark and I am never seen again.

This morning we went for a walk in the Middlesex Fells (about 10 miles north of Boston) and I am pleased to say that I made it out alive (I guess that statement is kind of superfluous as blogging is probably difficult if you have been savaged by a bear). We didn’t see any mammals apart from the lesser spotted cyclist and the only animal I found in the woods was a smallish snake, which a Facebook friend assured me was a garter snake and disappointingly non venomous.

The garter snake I nearly tripped over.
The garter snake I nearly tripped over.

The most noteworthy thing about our hike was that we managed to locate the most unattractive lookout tower in the world. Imagine a watch tower in one of Stalin’s gulags but also covered liberally in graffiti and litter and you will be close to what we found. The view from the top over the forest to Boston’s skyline in the grey murky Sunday morning light was worth the risk of tetanus from the rusty guard rails though. My next challenge is to go to a forest a bit further afield and to try and see some more impressive wildlife without getting lost or eaten.

The saddest lookout tower I've ever seen!
The saddest lookout tower I’ve ever seen!
View of the Boston skyline from the lookout tower of doom.
View of the Boston skyline from the lookout tower of doom.

Do you have any stories of getting lost or chased by wildlife in the woods?

19 thoughts on “Seeing the Wood for the Trees

  1. I’m glad you survived to blog about your woodsy experience! We got a bit turned around in the woods of North Georgia. This was in the days before phones were smart, and the trails at this park were very poorly marked. We came across a rather frightening man who lived at a campsite in the woods. I was sure we were going to have a “Deliverance” scene, but thankfully we made it out alive!

    1. Haha! That is actually my biggest nightmare when i go deep into the woods. Someone who lives in a cabin in the middle of the woods is far scarier than any bear to me! Glad you made it out okay. 🙂

  2. Josh Wrenn

    I love the woods. I grew up in high desert, so there wasn’t a lot unless you went higher into the mountains. One time when I was about 10, my friend and I got lost in the woods at out campground. That was a bit creepy, but we just kept walking straight until we hit a main trail pointing back. We didn’t get back to the camp until about 1 am.

      1. Josh Wrenn

        My friend wasn’t scared at all. After that, I got better at being in them. Apparently, if you make sure that you are walking in a straight line (because it is easy not to), you can get out of any forest in the continental US to a road with okay traffic in 3 days.

  3. A.PROMPTreply

    What a wry perspective…..forests being the things nightmares are made of…..forests are also magical places…….home of gnomes and fairies and all sorts of fun creatures….perhaps you might find a unicorn one day……

  4. Bea

    The only venomous snake is the copperhead. If you don’t stick your hand in dark rocky holes or step on it while it suns itself, you’re all set. Other than that, you may see chipmunks, squirrels, and a variety of birds. All the interesting stuff stays hidden. :/
    Also, good trail markets are both a color and shape. “Red diamond” and “green rectangle” for example.

    1. Knowing my luck I’d trip over a copperhead! We did nearly walk into a rather large timber rattlesnake on the rocks on our honeymoon in NH, didn’t realise what it was until we got home and googled!

  5. When I was sixteen-ish my best friend and I and a few other friends went camping; our food was eaten by a bear on the first night of a five-day trip. We stuck it out the remaining days, too.

    1. Wow! I admire you for your bravery, I would have left the woods so fast that I’d have left a trail of broken trees! Your blog is great by the way, am now following and very pleased to see you are a fellow Arsenal fan! 🙂

  6. Aakansha

    The woods look magical. As someone who has an ardent love for nature, I tend to enjoy every little natural place I visit. Loved this. The first picture is just amazing. 🙂

  7. Oh, I envy you the greenery! I’m out here in Southern California, surrounded by drown dead grasses. (They try and spin California as “Golden.” It’s not. It’s BROWN.) I miss the trees!

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