Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Wellfleet Pond Do You Prefer?

Above, a photo of picturesque Turtle Pond, in its fall glory, tucked away under the arm of Great Pond. Wellfleet has thirteen kettle ponds, formed when the glaciers withdrew, within the Cape Cod National Seashore. The Seashore provides answers to all the questions you ever had about kettle ponds here. Today we will consider the five major ponds in Wellfleet. and I'd like to hear which is your personal favorite.

Sven and I had never seen Duck Pond, although I had heard raves about it and even remember receiving a couple of honeymooners who got married beside Duck Pond. This afternoon we parked the car near the Senior Center and walked twenty minutes, along a dirt road, smelling of pine and blueberries. Suddenly through the trees, I spied the pond, shining aquamarine in the distance. As one descends into the crater, so to speak, it’s easy to imagine the glacier that created this pond. What a dramatic approach! The pond is small, however, with one large house on the far rim. You can drive in but the parking lot accommodates half a dozen cars. There was a National Seashore sign, reminding bathers to treat the pond with good sense: no shampoo, etc. Not one duck in sight, by the way.

From smallest to largest: Gull Pond is special because of its size (106 acres), but also due to the sluice that leads to Higgins Pond, apparently created by Native Americans 2000 years ago to facilitate herring runs. Gull is the deepest pond in the National Seashore at 19 meters. The well-equipped town beach sports a raft and a protected swimming area where children can take swimming lessons. Kayaks and canoes can be rented here in summer. Gull is not far from the Atlantic, which explains the seagulls overhead, origin of the name. To its north cluster three more major ponds: Higgins, Williams, and Herring. A fourth, Slough Pond, is actually in Truro. For more information on Gull Pond, go here.

Great Pond also has a town beach, but steep access means elderly or handicapped people cannot enjoy this pond except from the road. Smaller satellite ponds flail out in the vicinity – Turtle, Grass, Northeast, and Southeast – making Great Pond feminine to my mind, as if it held the hands of four pond-children. Today the eastern rim was decked out in frilly red leaves, the best display we have seen anywhere in Wellfleet. Sven and I often walk through the woods to Great Pond. Reeds grow near the shore, which can be quite beautiful. Sven enjoys swimming in the clear water. The parking lot for two dozen cars is woefully inadequate for the number of people who visit in summer. Great Pond looks spectacular from Cahoon Hollow Road!

Proceeding northwest, we come to Long Pond, which, as the name implies, is not round like the three others. The popular town beach is right next a main beach-access road and attracts parents with small children. How often did I push my son’s stroller to Long Pond when he was a toddler! Once my children grew older, we would often stop at Long Pond to “wash off the salt” after an afternoon of ocean fun. Now I love to walk around Long Pond because of the repossessed houses, being renovated by the Cape Cod Modern House Trust. In winter, if Long Pond freezes, Wellfleetians quickly don ice-skates and head out for a barbecue on the ice. To view the pond with blue sky, go here. In summer, I do not recommend Long Pond to guests since the beach tends to get crowded and the water can easily become tainted thanks to the diaper-set who like to splash in the shallows, but there's a raft and the opportunity to make friends with other elementary school children. Homeowners on Long Pond seem to rent their houses in summer more often than folks who live say, on Gull Pond.

Finally, we reach Dyer Pond, which we used to consider our “secret pond.” Then a New York Times reporter “discovered” it three years ago while on vacation and became enchanted. Dyer was described in the Sunday travel section as “the most beautiful, the most hidden, the most serene.” Hidden, it would not remain after publication of the article. Fortunately, few people know how to reach this pond through the woods and the locals aren’t telling. I must give my vote to Dyer Pond. It is so incredibly peaceful there. I just shouted to Sven, “What’s your favorite pond?”

“I still think Dyer,” he called from the living room, almost apologetically since we had visited Duck earlier.

Everyone, who loves Wellfleet, has a favorite pond. I thought it would be interesting to find out which is the most popular with readers of this blog. So, please vote in the comments section for Duck, Gull, Great, Long, or Dyer. May the best pond win!