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Walks on Wellesley

For me, walking in nature and writing are somehow connected. The more I write, the more I need to walk. In order to write well…I need to walk a couple of miles a day. In the winter, I walk the beach at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, Florida. In the summer, I hike at Wellesley Island State Park.

I discovered the trails on Wellesley Island quite by accident my first year on the island back in 1975. We were canoeing in South Bay and spied a floating dock back in the cattails. We docked there and discovered the trails and eventually the Nature Center.



The South Bay floating dock is gone now necessitating a trip through the narrows to the Eel Bay dock.

Walking on Wellesley has been a tradition ever since I’ve been coming to the Thousand Islands. We made sure we hiked the trails at least once a season. Our favorite trail as a family is the Eel Bay to Narrows trail section. From the Narrows Trail there are sweeping views which look out over the Narrows and we can see our cottage on the NE corner of Grenell from there. This past summer, my granddaughter asked to see “the place with the frogs.” She meant the potholes, a unique geological feature, a remnant from the area’s glacial past. Not your ordinary pothole—one is 22 feet deep. They were formed from the scouring action of rocks as glaciers retreated. Apparently, frogs like living in them because we always see one or two frogs when we visit.

This past season, my granddaughter said she hoped to see a deer. I hadn’t seen a lot of deer on my daily walks so I told her I couldn’t promise anything. We saw a deer! The deer wasn’t interested in us it all. It was staring at something in the brush in the other direction. It stamped, snorted and made a threatening advance. It chased away a coyote. Now that was exciting! Not only did we see a deer, but we saw a coyote all on the same hike.

I usually avoid the Eel Bay and Narrows trails on my daily walks as they are very popular. I tend to walk on less traveled paths where I’m more apt to happen across wildlife. Wellesley Island State Park is a great place to see wildlife. Through the years, I’ve seen deer, porcupines, woodchucks, muskrat, otters, mink, beaver, snakes and a gargantuan snapping turtle. Squirrels and chipmunks abound.

Walking everyday, I discover places like a woodchuck’s den, a muskrat’s burrow or an osprey nest, where I know I will continually come across the same animals. They become like old friends to me. I watch for them and I swear as the season goes on they get used to seeing me around as well.

We spent the last week of December 2007 in the Wellesley Island cottages. How different it was to walk the trails with bare trees and a dusting of snow. The back of Eel Bay was frozen over. Ice fishing huts dotted the bay. In the open water we watched eagles fishing. There was a special hush in the woods, except for the crunching of our boots in the snow. The view from the Narrows Trail was still dazzling, although the color palette was quite different and Grenell looked desolate and lonely in the distance.

While I enjoyed seeing the trails on Wellesley in the winter that one time, I’m happy to be here in the Florida sunshine. I’ll enjoy the sand and the surf the next few months until Spring brings us back to the islands and my daily walks on Wellesley.

[Photographs © 2010 Lynn McElfresh. Click to Enlarge]

I measured this snapping turtle with my walking stick, before I watched him slip into the water and swim away. He was five feet long from the tip of his tail to his nose. What a monster!
Keep your eyes open! You’ll never know what you might see, like this luna moth.
Chipmunks are abundant.
Felt like I was being watched, so I stopped and looked around. Saw these two young raccoons looking at me.
2010 was the year of the porcupine. Saw several.
2008 was the year of the woodchuck. Often saw this woodchuck near his den near the Eel Bay trail.
2009 I saw these twin fawns nearly everyday.
My granddaughter hoped to see a deer this year. Not only did she see a deer, but she saw it chase away a coyote.

By Lynn E. McElfresh

Lynn McElfresh is a regular contributor to TI Life often writing stories dealing with her favorite Grenell Island and island life. This month she takes us on a walk on Wellesley Island.  Not only is Lynn an accomplished writer, but she also takes her camera along on excursions.  This is her second article for the season as the McElfresh family have left the river and now reside in their winter quarters in Dunedin. Florida.   To see all of Lynn’s island experiences, search TI Life under Lynn E. McElfresh

Posted in: Places, Nature
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william hinds
Comment by: william hinds ( )
Left at: 11:06 PM Tuesday, December 14, 2010
lynn: I just read your article "walk on Wellesley". It made me homesick as I saw your picture of Grenell in the winter which included the Hinds cottage. I know over the many years that we have met on a number of occasions. Cathy Hinds is my sister who knows you well. I spent many summers on Grenell, worked in the store, delivered the ice to everyone's "ice box", helped rid the island of rag weed, etc. There are so many fond memories of years past which I cherish. The Hinds clan had a family reunion in 2006 as I was the oldest family member and still am at age 83. I was at the cottage in 2007 and hope to return this summer of 2011.