The Walking Posts

The posts labeled with the little “Truckin’ ” man are from my Walking Journal, which I've been keeping since January 1, 2012. What began as a simple New Year's Resolution to exercise more quickly morphed into a hiking addiction. Below are some running totals.

  MILES TIME CALORIES
May 2017 63.53 32h 5m 5756
Year-to-Date 200.65 100h 30m 18344
May Avg. 38.15 18h 0m 2831
BCT Mileage to Date 50.75

Bay Circuit Trail Section 6

Posted By on May 23, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 6

10.85 miles; North Andover and Andover, MA

Today’s hike was by far the best section to date. The Harold Parker State Forest was absolutely beautiful. It reminded me a lot of Arcadia. And that was only the beginning 3 miles or so.  And got my first glimpse of the Boston skyline. And at one point the trail crossed the grounds of the Phillips Academy in Andover, so I can say I went there. Perfect weather, too.

Aurochs Track?

Aurochs Track?

Okay, maybe I’m just being silly, but these indentations in the rock here just looked to me like animal tracks. And what animal would have been around when this rock was mud to make tracks? I’m thinking aurochs. Yeah, I’m going with aurochs tracks. See? I’m telling ya, aurochs tracks.

Yarn Bomb

Yarn Bomb

Who yarn bombs a tree in the middle of the woods?

My Old Nemesis

My Old Nemesis

If you read the Bay Circuit Trail Alliance guide for this section, there is a part that reads:

Note: This area is sometimes flooded because of beaver activity. If this section is temporarily closed, signs will be posted to guide people around the flooding and back to the trail.

Yeah, no. Not today, beavers. I made it through without detours, thank you very much.

Gigantic Glacial Erratic

Gigantic Glacial Erratic

I know you can’t tell from the photo, but this is the biggest glacial erratic boulder I’ve ever seen. Seriously, like, 3 stories tall. YUUUUGGGEEE.

Poor Squirrel

Poor Squirrel

No idea how this poor little guy died. Maybe he/she missed a jump? I’ve seen young squirrels miss.

Mary French Reservation

Mary French Reservation

This part of the trail was amazing. Long, long boardwalks cross and re-cross the Skug River. I can’t even imagine how much work this was to build.

Boston!

Boston!

After a short road-walk, I passed from the Mary French Reservation into a Trustees of the Reservations property called Ward Hill. And it was a hill. I did a lot of climbing, and at the top, when I turned around to catch my breath, I saw the Boston skyline! First time on this whole hike I’ve seen it. I must have shouted in amazement, because a couple girls who were already at the top started laughing. I just wasn’t expecting it.

Fungus Shot

Fungus Shot

On a completely different note, I believe this is a Dryad’s Saddle mushroom, Polyporus squamosus. It was a little too old to collect, although I’m told it’s a nice edible.

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

Read more about the Bay Circuit Trail here. As always, click on the image, above, for details about this section and to download the track.

Narragansett Trail Section 2

Posted By on May 21, 2017

Narragansett Trail Section 2

3.5 miles; North Stonington, CT

This was the second section of the PCHC’s Narragansett Trail traverse (for some background on the trail, see my post about Section 1). We had an absolutely beautiful day, and I FOUND RAMPS! I was so excited and happy about this, but no, I’m not going to say exactly where they are, because the patch looked pretty sparse, and I didn’t even collect any for myself. I also found some primo fresh Reishi mushrooms (I did collect a few of these). And we also came across the elusive spur trail from Stewart Hill Preserve. An altogether great hike!

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Today was a fabulous day for spotting Spring ephemerals. We saw so much stuff.

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma tsugae)

Reishi Mushrooms (Ganoderma tsugae)

The reishi mushroom is renowned in Chinese medicine as an invigorating tonic, and also has been shown in some studies to inhibit breast cancer cells. You can’t really eat them—they’re super tough. But they can be sliced thinly and dried for making tea. Which is supposed to taste awful. Can’t wait.

Swamp Azalea (Rhododendron viscosum)

Swamp Azalea (Rhododendron viscosum)

The native Swamp Azaleas are putting on an amazing show right now, as are the native dogwoods (Cornus florida).

Lady Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

Lady Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

And these lovely ladies are putting in an appearance as well. First one I’ve seen this year.

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)

Even the cinnamon ferns are getting in on the act.

Trail from Stewart Hill Preserve

Trail from Stewart Hill Preserve

And ah-HA! Found this elusive spur trail at last. See my post about Stewart Hill to get the scoop on this.

The Track (click for details)

The Track (click for details)

See the website of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association for details on this and all the other many, many blue-blazed hiking trails through Connecticut. For the history of the Narragansett Trail, see this David Brierley page. And click on the image, above, for details and to download the gps track.

Bay Circuit Trail Section 5

Posted By on May 16, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 5

10.1 miles; Boxford, Middleton, and North Andover, MA

I certainly won’t say this will be a favorite section once I look back on this adventure. Firstly, it was a little heavy on road-walking. Which could have been forgiven, had there not been so darned much water in the trail. I was fording lakes and rivers every 50 feet, it seemed. And finally, ANOTHER beaver detour made it about a mile and a quarter longer than I had planned, AND the detour ran through a landfill. Still, the weather was finally amazing…

Mill Site on Fish Brook

Mill Site on Fish Brook

Today’s section started out on roads in the center of Boxford. When it finally veered off into the woods, it was on a freshly-cut trail with small stumps almost perfectly camouflaged by pine needles, which were fortunately a soft place to land when I inevitably tripped over one of the damned stumps and went down. This little section of the trail along Fish Brook was quite nice, however.

Closed Trail

Closed Trail

I really can’t say whether this trail closure added to the mileage or not, as the maplet app I was using on my iPhone just isn’t fine-grained enough to tell. By the way, I am using, in part, gps-enabled maps from the Bay Circuit Alliance to find my way, along with the Gaia GPS app, which includes the Open Hiking Map map layer. The BCT is pretty clearly labeled on that as well, and without it I would have certainly missed a turn. This part of the BCT is kind of sparsely blazed.

Fungus Shot!

Fungus Shot!

This is a brown jelly fungus (Exidia recisa), and it can absorb over 60 times its dry weight. When dry, it becomes a tiny black speck, hardly noticeable on tree bark. And heaven knows there is plenty of water around for it to absorb right now!

Beaver Dam

Beaver Dam

Now this is a beaver dam worthy of the name. And it’s been here long enough that there was a permanent little trail detour, complete with a bridge, at this spot.

Beaver Flood Warning

Beaver Flood Warning

And here is the sign warning about the beaver flooded part of the BCT. See the part where they talk about the “Recycling Center?”

Mount Trashmore

Mount Trashmore

I’m pretty sure “Recycling Center” is a euphemism for “Land Fill.”  The re-routed BCT runs right along the oh-so-fragrant foot of this giant pile of garbage.

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

Read more about the Bay Circuit Trail here. As always, click on the image, above, for details about this section and to download the track.

Block Island, Mohegan Bluffs

Posted By on May 13, 2017

Block Island, Mohegan Bluffs

4.25 miles; Block Island, RI

This wasn’t a long or grueling hike, but it was lots of fun. Some members of the PCHC and I did a road walk from the ferry landing to Mohegan Bluffs and the Southeast Light. Most of us actually climbed down the stairs to the beach, too. It was overcast, but that actually made for some pleaseant hiking/walking. As always on Block Island, there is usually something unexpected and wonderful. Today was no exception.

Emu

Emu

Yep, that’s an emu. There were also ponies, sheep, goats, and a camel. Who knew there was a Block Island zoo???

Shadbush in Bloom

Shadbush in Bloom

The shadbush or serviceberry (Amelanchier sp.) were in full bloom all through this hike, as well. This is a shot of a whole swath of them next to the shore of John E.’s Pond.

Mohegan Bluffs

Mohegan Bluffs

There were 3 separate little side trails off Spring Street that led to overlooks of the bluffs. This was the first one we encountered.

Plantain Flowers

Plantain Flowers

If you squint you can just see the towers of the wind farm on the horizon here. The entire island is now powered by these 5 turbines. It’s the first community in the country to be entirely wind-powered.

Steps to the Beach

Steps to the Beach

The second overlook included this amazing staircase down to the beach at the foot of the bluffs. Someone said there were 130 steps.

The Beach

The Beach

And yes, I went all the way down to the beach. I figured after tackling the 600+ steps of Amicalola Falls in Georgia, I could handle this no problem.

Beach Rose bud

Beach Rose bud

We were, alas, too soon to see the beach roses (Rosa rugosa) in bloom, but there were at least some buds in evidence.

Southeast Light

Southeast Light

And our final stop was Southeast Light. This is the only shot I’m showing, because we encountered a large youth group frolicking in the grass surrounding the lighthouse.

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

As always, click on the image, above for details of the hike and to download the track.

Bay Circuit Trail Section 4

Posted By on May 11, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 4

10.61 miles; Ipswich, Rowley, Georgetown, and Boxford, MA

This was a long section, made longer still by a portion of the trail which was flooded by a beaver dam (you will notice beavers are kind of a theme in this post). Aside from the road-walking-heavy detour, however, it was mostly in the woods. This section passed through two state forests: Willowdale and Georgetown-Rowley. There sure are some big-assed state forests in Massachusetts!

Along the Trail

Along the Trail

The trail (duh, obviously) picked up from where the last hike left off, in the Willowdale State Forest in Ipswich, MA. Both the Bay Circuit Trail and the state forest cross busy Route 1 and the trail for a time runs along the edge of a large horse farm before plunging deeper into the woods.

Marsh Marigolds

Marsh Marigolds

The marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris) were in full bloom all through this hike.

Beaver Pond

Beaver Pond

This seems to me to be the beginnings of a large beaver pond. I am still in the Willowdale State Forest at this point, but not far from the Georgetown-Rowley State Forest.

Steps Down to the Miller River Crossing

Steps Down to the Mill River Crossing

The map and guide for the BCT through here contained rather dire warnings about the Mill River Crossing… it mentioned frequent flooding which would make the crossing impassible and necessitate a rather extensive detour. I forged ahead, however, trusting in my luck, which turned out to be quite good—this time.

Mill River Boardwalk

Mill River Bridge

Not only was the bridge crossing dry, it was also gorgeous, adorned as it was with a beautiful flowering tree in full bloom.

Large Beaver Lodge

Large Beaver Lodge

This is probably where the culprits responsible for the frequent flooding reside. There appeared to be a “beaver deceiver” installed here, though, foiling their best efforts.

Bridge over 95

Bridge over 95

Past here, the trail was frequently underwater, and for a small stretch I ended up following a mountain bike trail instead of the blazed BCT. I know it was a mountain bike trail because I met a helpful mountain biker, who told me the trail eventually wound up re-joining the marked trail. The BCT meandered quite a bit north to include this bridge which crosses Route 95 south of Exit 54 in Georgetown. It was weirdly paved only for a short stretch before, during, and after the crossing. And very elaborately graffitied.

Border-to-Boston Rail Bed

Border-to-Boston Rail Bed

It was once I exited the Georgetown-Rowley SF that I encountered an impassible part of the trail. There was detailed signage that directed BCT hikers to follow a detour which serendipitously included a stretch of an old rail bed. The bulk of the detour, however, was on roads. Sigh. I guess on a long trail like this one, sometimes there’s no avoiding road-walking. And naturally, this flooding was caused by, you guessed it, beavers. Stoopy beavers…

You can find out more about the two state forests mentioned above by going to this Massachusetts state website. And read more about the Bay Circuit Trail here. As always, click on the image, above, for details about this section and to download the track.

Air Line and SNETT Trails

Posted By on May 7, 2017

Air Line and SNETT Trails

7.9 miles; Thompson, CT, Burrilville, RI, and Douglas, MA

Actually this was me hiking to meet some friends who were doing the Coffeehouse Loop in the Douglas State Forest, but I just had to do more mileage. Most of my return was on the Southern New England Trunkline Trail, or SNETT, which is pretty nice through here. Also took in a bit of the Air Line Trail in Connecticut.

The Ol' Tri-State Marker

The Ol’ Tri-State Marker

This hike naturally goes by the Tri-State Marker, one of my favorite places to hike to ever.

Cedar Swamp Trail Boardwalk

Once I met my friends, we started on the Coffeehouse Loop, and took a little detour on this lovely little side trail that goes through an Atlantic White Cedar swamp. The boardwalks were impressive.

Future Blueberries

Future Blueberries

There were lots of future blueberries in evidence. This was on a highbush blueberry plant, and right at its feet were a ton of the little lowbush blueberry plants.

Along the SNETT

Along the SNETT

The SNETT where it passes through the Douglas State forest is very well maintained. It gets a little rockier once it passes off the forest land, but it’s still quite walkable.

Scenery along the SNETT

Scenery along the SNETT

And the scenery was just gorgeous. We had (for a change) a nice, sunny day to walk, although it wasn’t especially warm. Which makes for some great hiking.

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

You can find out more about the Coffeehouse Loop from the state of Massachusetts website, here. And as always, click the above image for details on the trail and to download the track. The Tri-State Trek hike is also on my Favorite Hikes page.

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