Instinct took me in a different direction, though, and I managed to stumble across the beaver pond my husband's father recently told him about.
During the hike, I made my way through two older, long abandoned beaver ponds.
The first is visible from the road, and just has one tiny stream intersecting it. The stream ran earlier in the month, but it's mostly dried up now - just soggy earth left.
The second old beaver pond is through the woods a little ways. Walking through the forest I came upon a knee high ridge. This ridge would have been the old dam. The field was intersected with many different streams, all seeming to go in different directions and ending in dead ends. Like a maze.
At the southwest corner of the field I spied where the water was entering the field, flowing over some rocks. I hiked in that direction and was rewarded with a cool, dark babbling brook. I continued walking upstream. The brook is narrow and shallow, with a few deeper pools here and there, filled with rocks. It's bordered on both sides by a narrow flood plain, and then steep banks.
As I walked on I thought perhaps this would lead me to the beaver pond my husband told me was back here.
I was right.
A short way further up the valley, I came upon the beaver pond. It was about 6:45 in the evening and the shadows were deep and dark, the sun being so low as to just barely hit the bottom of the valley.
The photos that I have of this place do not do it justice. It's bordered all around by high, steep banks. Vibrant moss grows on rocks and trees. I felt as if I had stepped into a fairy tale. In the middle of the pond, an enormous tree has fallen. The pictures do not accurately show how huge this tree really is - there's nothing I could have put beside it to show scale.
So entranced was I with my find that I didn't even stop to see if there were signs of recent beaver activity. I think that the pond has been abandoned though. Because of the fact that water flows freely from it, and the fact that no animals signs stood out to me, I guess that the beavers that called this pond home have moved on.
I really want to go back - and soon. I want to follow the stream farther up and discover it's source. I want to visit the pond when the light is better and take some great photos. I want someone to accompany me to stand beside the big tree!
This hike was proof again that my gut tells me everything I need to know - and when I listen, I am richly rewarded.