MNA Odyssey: A Challenging Hike at Roach Point

By Tina Patterson and Dave Wendling

Stormy Skies

Stormy skies at Schafer Family Nature Sanctuary at Roach Point. Photo by Dave Wendling

Sunday, September 23

“Oh no, is it going to rain?” was the thought as we arrived at our first stop on the final segment of the Odyssey. As Marianne Glosenger set up her tripod the skies opened, and our group photo was taken in quite a downpour. However, as we entered the woods to begin our hike just as suddenly as the rain came, it stopped, and for the next three hours we enjoyed clear skies and muddy feet. Thankfully we had come prepared with bog boots!

The Schafer Family Nature Sanctuary at Roach Point is, at more than 830 acres, MNA’s largest and most challenging sanctuary. It is not a wise move to attempt to navigate this sanctuary without a guide or excellent compass skills as it is easy to get lost. Luckily, no one was injured, but while traveling through the thick grass and many half-buried tree roots, even a brief moment of inattention can result in a fall.  We were fortunate to have as our guide the very experienced and knowledgeable steward Mary Powell who is an off-trail hiker and had prepared a route for us where no trail had existed before. Even with the blue ribbons she had tied onto tree limbs, it was easy to get that momentary panicky feeling when the group split in two.

Hiking

Hikers along the trail. Photo by Dave Wendling

A surprise to some hikers was learning that there is a native Phragmites plant that is found in this sanctuary. We had only heard the term applied to the dreaded invasive and did not know there is a desirable Phragmites, too. Mary pointed it out, showing us its reddish stalk and feathery plume that distinguish it from the wetland invasive form.  It was growing in a scattered colony near the bay and coexists with the other native plants, whereas the invasive Phragmites grows in large dense colonies chokes out other plants. Continue reading