i went with my sister to ravenswood in gloucester, where she was taking the dog out for a run on another warm pre-spring day (yesterday they were at the beach). i remember visiting ravenswood once before, back in 2004. my palms were sweating the whole ride there, having lost my taste for high speed freeway driving.

old salem road is the main trail that bisects the 600 acres property, but we didn't get as far as trail marker 1 before we hit a large pool of flood water. we ran into an older couple with a dog who seemed to know the area a little better, and told us to take some higher but rockier trails to our east. instead of taking their advice, we made our way west to the magnolia swamp trail. supposedly closed due to flooding, we crossed the caution tape and made our way down. despite the warnings, we actually didn't come across any flooded trails.

hailey basically spent the whole time running around non-stop, whether leading us on the trail or off exploring some noise or smell off on the outskirts. she seems to be born for trail running, jumping over rocks and logs and streams with little effort. occasionally she'd disappear in one direction, only to reappear from a different direction. she never strayed too far, often doubling back to make sure we were following her.

after making the loop around magnolia swamp, we made our way to the quarry. we met an old man named lou walking two small dogs. turns out he's the "official" photographer for the trustees. we chatted for a long time, the whole time hailey was running around and playing with the 2 dogs. after while she got bored and became angry and started barking farther along the trail, seemingly telling us to hurry up. lou told us about a pair of breeding great horned owls who can usually be found in the eastern treetops when you first make your way into ravenswood. he also mentioned fox sightings.

the trails from the quarry back to the main entrance is particularly rocky, strewn with large moss-covered granite boulders. further down were several vernal pools, recognizable by the haunting chorus of spring peepers. it's sort of eerie because you can't see them but when you get close enough to the pond, suddenly they all stop calling.

this early in the season, not yet officially spring, there was hardly anything to see. a few mourning cloak butterflies fluttered about. there weren't even any ticks, which i was sure there'd be plenty (after some research, april looks to be peak tick season). i was worried enough that i brought my bug repellent and sprayed the bottom of my pant legs before entering the forest. maybe it's for the best that no bugs were out; since a good portion of the property is swamp, this place must be something awful with mosquitoes later in the season. as for birds, we saw a nuthatch, and i heard some chickadees. plants, not a single flower, not even early season skunk cabbage.

along ledge trail approaching the entrance, flood water had submerged portion of the path. fortunately we could still make out the trail on the other side from the stone walls and hailey was already swimming across. we crossed over by going around the flood, the whole time serenaded by the ghostly songs of frogs.

the ride back was just as harrowing, make worse by the initial onslaught of rush hour traffic (fortunately we were traveling against the congestion). after making it back to belmont, i bicycled back to cambridge, first stopping at the cafe (where i picked up some fried rice for dinner) before finally coming home.