As part of the OVF's usual summer programing, they host an exclusive Mystery Walk to an undisclosed location. Naturally, I was extreamly excited as this was not my first Mystery Walk with the OVF. Per usual we were all to meet at the OVF town pavilion. Once we were there, roll call was taken and Kim gave us a few hints -three white stones, a whelk egg case and an onion bag. She also hinted that it was one of the oldest places on Block Island. We all wrote our guesses down on a slip of paper and I collected the potentially valuable guesses. We were then escorted into taxi's and whisked away to our starting point.
The taxi's let us off at South East Road. From there we took the right-of-way to the shoreline through both easements and Block Island Land Trust land. The scenery was gorgeous. Beautiful Rosa ragosa (beach rose) dotted the dunes. Of course there were gulls, catbirds, turns and cormorants, but there were also ruddy turn-stones, sandpipers and dowagers. But, we still were not at our destination.
Once we made it to the beach, we walked north along the coast to the Old Harbor Point. As we continued to walk, you could see a depression facing the BI cliff side. The depression was littered with phragmites signifying the presence of fresh water. Sure enough, we had just stumbled across Spring House Pond. Just below the pond depression was a dark, striated piece of cliff side. This, as I was about to find out, was in fact our destination.
Dr. Shusheng Hu of the Peabody Museum of Natural History was in our company, unannounced to the rest of the group. He was there to explain to us that the darker of the striations was actually petrified and pressurized wood that had been morphologically altered into lignite. The exposed area was about 100 million years old! (Thus the oldest are of BI.) We stood there in awe for about 10 minutes, then we took a group photo. From there we continued along the coastline towards Ballard's Restaurant and took the Block Island Land Trust path back up to the pavilion. It was great! Kim really outdid herself.