A Visit to the Great Marsh and Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary |
Painting of the Great Marsh byMartin Johnson Heade
[Editor's Note: This blog comes to us courtesy of local blogger Chris Rich, following a recent visit to Rough Meadows Sanctuary. Rich's blog, Bay States, focuses on “New England nature things with special focus on the Bay Circuit Trail, greater Boston, its land conservation facets and outdoor recreation opportunities.”]
The Great Marsh extends from the New Hampshire border at the mouth of the Merrimack River to a southern rampart made by Cape Ann. Its bulwarks against the open ocean consist of two chunky barrier strips, Plum Island and Crane Beach.
On a whim, I imposed myself on the volunteer staff at Joppa Flats and was taken by their excitement about the overall collaboration and the recent opening of the Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in the heart of the Great Marsh. I was back by the first of October, just at the cusp of the highest monthly tides. I was oblivious to tide timing and walked to the Sawyers Island parcelof the Essex County Greenbelt Association, all the way at the end of the road, first.
These properties belonged to Professor Alfred D. Chandler Jr. and became his legacy contribution to this grand undertaking. The main access road into the Sanctuary passes along a stretch that can be immersed in high tide and so I found myself waiting for it to recede. It was an agreeable mission as it forced me to take long bemused looks around and discover things like Salicornia gravid from the brackish water. I also saw a fairly dense mass of infant fish feeding on algae.
Once the tide let me pass I was free to follow Professor Chandler's Long Walkto its overlook spot to take in the demure vastness of it all. On the way back I took in the Hickory Trail and Appy's Way. I'll return some day to explore the Sassafras Trail and the Kestrel Trail.
All in all it was an outstanding introduction to the quiet side of the Great Marsh.