Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fall Walking on Cape Cod

The heat of the summer is slowly exiting as we enter the Autumnal Equinox or season of Fall. A great time to walk the beaches, paths and old roads of Cape Cod. The sun holds strong in the sky favoring us with temperatures in the mid-seventies during the day and warming the air enough to give us cool nights in the moderate fifties.

Recently I walked with the Eastham Hiking Club to find some new views of the Cape. We began our four mile hike at Marconi Beach in Wellfleet with a beautiful view from atop the dunes.

  Then we turned around, walked a short distance, and then into the woods.

Our goal was to find the remains of the old Fresh Brook Village of Wellfleet, located within the National Seashore.
This ancient settlement near the Old Kings Highway began in 1730 in what was then called Eastham with a dozen fishermen and their families. With the incorporation of Wellfleet in 1763, it became a part of Wellfleet.

Image and map by Michael O'Connor
The red line on this aerial view shows our path. Marconi Beach is to the right and in the middle of the picture is a yellow pin to mark the old cellar from the house of the last resident of Fresh Brook–Asa Cole–who died in 1905.

The village, located on a portion of the Old King's Highway, was a quiet place where fishermen could access the bay using small boats. The houses were adequate and usually included enough land for a small garden plot. There was a store and Aunt Lydia Taylor’s tavern, where travelers using the stage along the old Highway might stop for refreshment. Children attended a one-room school house nearby. In 1872, with the building of the railroad, Fresh Brook was crossed over by a culvert restricting the size of passage under the tracks. The fisherman couldn't get their boats through to the bay, soon afterward, the families moved elsewhere. The long gray line on the left in the aerial view represents the railroad, it is now the bike path.
We stopped midway on our walk, to view a depression in the ground. The hole had a diameter of about five feet. A hint of gray from circular stones showed beneath a cover of brambles and green growth giving evidence that it was indeed an old cellar. One could envision a small house built on top of it.  We hiked farther into the woods following the meandering Fresh Brook River, returning through a thick woods. As we came to our starting point, some left for the parking lot of Marconi Beach. Others, like me, walked to see one more magnificent view of the ocean.

The path grew narrower as we climbed the dune but the sounds of the ocean kept us going–we knew it was close.

And there it was, a beautiful expansive ocean view.

The sea air blew our warm faces cool and refreshed us after such a long hike. The minor aches in my body were forgotten as my eyes enjoyed the mixed blues of the water and verdant greens of the ground cover.

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