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Scourge of the Seaweed on the Devil’s Back

Harpswell Heritage Land Trust
April 23, 2015

by Jamie Pacheco

Jamie Pacheco photo

A view from the Devil’s Back Trail (Jamie Pacheco photos)

Spring has arrived here in Southern Maine and most of the snow has melted. In honor of this, Essex and I have started revisiting the slippery and steep, formerly snow-covered trails in Harpswell. On Tuesday afternoon we headed out to give Devil’s Back Trail the once over. This began as a nerve-wracking experience. Devil’s Back Trail is wedged between Harpswell Islands Road on Orr’s Island and Long Cove, the road being in view for much of the northern part of the trail. Essex has recently decided to explore her inner billy goat and this occasionally brought her close to the road as she leapt from outcrop to outcrop. While this is highly entertaining, as she is a spectacular leaper, she also tends to forget how to use her ears.

Once we made it safely to the lower part of the trail, my heart rate leveled as Essex and I turned our attention to the exposed shoreline. There are quite a few places to get onto the rocks here, allowing Essex and I to quickly scoot down. To me, playing on the rocks is part of being on the coast, and to be honest, I may also like to explore my inner billy goat by leaping across the rocks. However, more important than any billy goat play was the momentous nature of the day: Essex got her formal introduction to being a water dog.

2015-Devil's-Back-JP-(3)Our dog, while having no qualms with water, has not shown any particular interest in swimming or advancing past paw depth. Today, however, she met an evil foe more important than her personal feelings about water. This dreaded foe is often green in nature, typically slimy and always salty. Let me introduce you to seaweed. Essex decided it was her duty, as a responsible billy goat water dog, to remove all the seaweed from the ocean.

I may or may not have chosen to throw some of her seaweed collection back into the water, which resulted in her barking vigorously at the attempted escapees while attempting a recovery operation. After a few minutes she realized that I was the reason her prisoners were escaping and I had the extreme pleasure of being on the receiving end of a very loud bark down.

2015-Devil's-Back-JP-(4)In the midst of this highly entertaining de-seaweed-ification, Essex laid eyes upon something even more vile: the crab. This quarter-sized terror instantly inspired Essex to defend me. She snarled, she barked, she whined, she leapt, she pawed and then she made the mistake of attempting to nibble. I am not going to say that she retreated, but she may have run up the shoreline with a crab dangling from her lower lip.

After recovering from the crab incident, Essex decided to reclaim her title as Scourge of the Sea by a great show of strength…in the form of a great swim, across Long Cove. Proving unsuccessful at that venture (thank goodness), I recovered my little pirate and we headed home. The ocean and its inhabitants had been abused enough for one day.