Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beaver Dam and Charlotteburg Road Hike

As promised in Old Country Road Trail and Beaver Dam Hike, I wanted to share with you the rest of our adventure in the back country of Kinnelon, NJ.

After admiring the beaver dam, we decided to head North along the Charlotteburg Road trail. As you can see from the photo to the left, this is a well-marked trail with the feel of a road. Note the rocks and cobblestones forming the road bed. Someone had to have spent a great deal of time constructing it.  The question is: when did all of this happen?  I suspect this pre-dates Kinney.

We've mentioned it before but the Old Country Road trail/Charlotteburg Road is extremely well traveled, so definitely be on the lookout for vehicles.  Especially during hunting seasons [we weren't able to clearly determine when exactly is/isn't hunting season as there seem to be quite a few species specific seasons and the data is difficult to wade through.  I'd love to be able to share with you a grid showing when and what, but don't hold your breath for now. If you know of one, please let me know and I'll post it for sharing and reference.].

Do wear bright clothing and stay close to the paths as these are routes connecting to hunting areas on the other side of the Charlotteburg reservoir [see the NWCDC Hunting Map that Lisa found]. And, be wary as I found spent shells in non-hunting areas...

For that matter, be sure to take a cell phone...

Before long, we reached the Charlotteburg Reservoir, and an intersection with - according to Google Maps - Winnebago and Timberbrook roads. I was surprised at how quickly we came upon it.

Although we do plan on exploring further North around the reservoir [post-hunting season], we opted here to retrace our steps, and take a fork heading slightly West that we had passed on the way.The fork took us onto a lesser trail, still well marked, where we passed definite signs of earlier civilization. For example, check out the remains of the stone wall in the photo. This must have marked off a farming property. I just wish I knew how long ago.

Before long, we came to the other side of the beaver dam. It was exciting. The path essentially led us along a causeway to the pond's actual dam which the beavers had most definitely worked on to raise the water level of the pond.

We were impressed with their handiwork.

It also looked as if at some point you might have been able to continue across the dam to connect with another path.

Although we would have liked to cross over the dam, it just wasn't possible. We backtracked to the beginning of the causeway and cut through the woods to follow the edge of the pond back to our original starting point.  We saw no clear path, but we knew where we were going [and could see our goal] and, apart from some brambles, the way didn't seem too risky.

Right about where we stepped off the path is where I noticed some spent shells.

A few steps after that, we came across amazing signs of previous civilization: a well. It stopped us in our tracks. How could a well be possible? When was it created? What did its presence mean for the beaver dam?  Was the pond created at the same time? Before? Later?

What seemed certain is that the well pre-dated the beavers themselves as their work has significantly raised the water table, making the well unnecessary.

Per the photo, you see the well-stone or cover on end, the edges of the well and perhaps a suggestion of the water almost overflowing the edges.

I suspect that the presence of a well means that the foundations of some sort of dwelling structure would be close by.  Perhaps this relates, too, to the stone walls we saw earlier.

We were grateful not to have stepped into the well hole, but mystified and curious to learn more.

Lisa created the attached beaver dam hike map to capture the details of what we discovered and help illustrate the path we took.

If you have any clues as to the history behind the beaver dam pond, the walls we came across and the well, would you let me know?


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