After arriving at the trailhead, as Logan and I were getting out of the car, an SUV pulled up next to our car. We heard loud barking and a lady rolled down the window and asked if I had a dog.

“No”, I said, “just an eight year old boy.”

“Great,” she said, as the dog poured out of the back seat. “He’s friendly.”

“Us too,” I told her.

The sweet pup, outfitted in a fetching orange vest, came and sniffed us and then headed down one of two trails beginning at the head. We decided to take the other one, to get a little peace and quiet. We almost immediately found a staircase down to a lovely pebbled beach, which signs told us was not for swimming or bathing, and also that we had to remove our boats, please, as it was almost winter-time. There were still abundant dinghies, kayaks, canoes and even a Sailfish, though.

As we walked by an eroding section of bluff, Logan pointed out the small holes in the sand.

“Sea mice,” he said. “They live rarely in the Northeast. They usually work in Mexico. Someplace warm. They usually go here if it’s really hot. But they barrel in little cracks, like a mountain, and they have a little hole. When it’s time to go, they abandon them, and leave a hole for the next mice.”

I shook my head. Sea mice. Who knew?

Logan and I have been spending time together for about a year and a half. We were introduced through Big Brothers Big Sisters, a youth mentoring program with a presence here on the Island. After a year of hikes, jam sessions, trips to the library and pizza slices, I was so excited about the organization’s mission that I wanted to get more involved. I am now the Vineyard’s program coordinator, helping other interested parties find their own matches, and making sure everything runs smoothly once they meet.

Currently, Logan and I are on a mission to try and visit all of the Land Bank properties on the Island. On this day we were traveling down the Ramble Trail, run by the Land Bank, which quickly transitioned to Brightwoods Park, run by Sheriff’s Meadow. I sometimes imagine the various land preservation organizations on the Island competing with one another, vying for visitors’ footsteps as well as the next untouched parcel of land, maybe raking their leaves onto the adjacent property. It’s nice to know that’s not the case, and they actually work in concert with one another, coordinating easy entree from one plot to the next.

Logan’s good with maps, so he pointed the way, and soon we bumped into our friends from the parking lot. The human companion said hello, and gave Logan a perfectly sized walking stick she had picked up, telling him what a rare find it was. I tried to express to him how nice that was of her; that she had found a sturdy staff on the side of the trail and, remembering us from the parking lot and hoping we would see each other again, carried it with her. Logan seemed skeptical. Ater all, it was just a stick, and the woods were full of sticks. Before long, though, he realized that not only was it useful, it was capable of transforming him into a hiking wizard/ninja.

We asked the lady if the trail looped around back to the parking lot, and she said yes it did, and that it traced the edge of the deepest gorge on Martha’s Vineyard. The gorge was indeed deep and steep, and the trail included some steep stairs that Logan proclaimed “a little sketchy.” Nothing that a couple of hardy hikers like us couldn’t handle, though.

All in all, it was a lovely first walk in our series of walks. The views shifted quickly from long looks across the lagoon to up-close-and-personal contact with the gorge. We argued over whether the body of water at the bottom was a puddle, a pond or a swamp, a question that will require further study.

The swampiness also provided an olfactory experience, giving off that familiar swampy smell one minute, and, according to Logan, the scent of carrots the next. Just one more wonder of the Martha’s Vineyard trail system.

Nate (Skip) Luce is the Martha’s Vineyard Program Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters.