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
August 2017 24.03 11h 0m 2084
Year-to-Date 344.57 165h 53m 31251
August Avg. 43.26 20h 59m 4007
BCT Mileage to Date 147.45

Bay Circuit Trail Section 16

Posted By on August 7, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 16

12.18 miles; Sherborn and Medfield, MA

I really gotta be more careful about mileage estimates on this trail. I had estimated today’s hike to be about 10.5 miles, and it turned out to be almost 12.25. That’s very different. See, there were 2 parking areas on Noon Hill Road in Medfield. For the hike to have been 10.5 miles, I would have had to park at the near one. But not realizing there were 2 parking areas, I parked at the far one. It meant I had an entire extra preserve to hike.

It was, however, amazing and a lot of fun, so there’s that. I was on three Trustees of the Reservations properties today, which are uniformly perfectly maintained and gorgeous.

Canoe Camp on the Charles River

Canoe Camp on the Charles River

The first of the 3 Trustees properties today was Rocky Narrows in Sherborn. This is a beautiful place! The trails, and there are a lot of them, meander back and forth with views of the Charles River, and there’s one spot called “King Phillip’s Overlook.”

King Phillip's Overlook

King Phillip’s Overlook (click to embigify)

And here it is. I’ve been to quite a few places in southern New England labelled “King Phillip’s Something-or-Other.” Not for nothing, but that guy got around.

At this point in my narrative, I should probably ask anyone reading this who is from the Trustees of the Reservations, the Bay Circuit Trail Alliance, the town of Sherborn, and the Federal Railroad Administration to click HERE. The rest of you can read on.

The route of the BCT through Rocky Narrows was a little tortured in order to avoid walking across some railroad tracks that ran through the middle of the property which were very clearly labelled: Railroad policy forbids pedestrian crossing of tracks in this area and we urge all visitors to observe this restriction.” Well, one glance at the map for Rocky Narrows and it seemed pretty clear to me that there was probably a trail crossing the tracks. I figured if I could find a way across it would save me a long, tedious stretch of road-walking, and yup, I was right. In fact, the sight of some old white blazes told me this used to be the original route of the BCT.

In actual fact, I crossed more railroad tracks on this one hike than I have ever crossed on foot in my life. Ever. And all but one of the crossings were perfectly legal. One out five isn’t bad at all. 

Clethra a.k.a. Summersweet

Clethra a.k.a. Summersweet

The woods were especially perfumed today with the intoxicating scent of Clethra alnifolia, otherwise known as Summersweet, and it truly is.

Crossing the Charles River

Crossing the Charles River

I’ve passed another milestone on this hike: crossing the Charles River. This is the Charles River Reservation, and is one of several non-Trustees properties on this part of the route. It’s owned and managed by the State of Massachusetts and it’s a “linear park,” which extends from Boston Harbor up the river for 20 miles. There was a BCT re-route through here, not sure why.

Speaking of re-routes, I’ve found that you can’t always count on the BCT route as it appears on the Open Hiking Map, I assume simply because the route of the BCT changes for various reasons. This part of today’s hike included a couple of those re-routes.

Thistle

Thistle

After meandering through lots and lots of municipal property in Medfield (the Charles River marks the boundary between Sherborn and Medifield), I wound up at about the 5-mile mark at a massive Little League/soccer industrial complex, which came complete with picnic tables and portajohns. It was a perfect spot to stop for a bit and have a nosh and rehydrate. And then un-hydrate (I do love me some hikes with bathrooms).

Cemetery Pond

Cemetery Pond

The next property along my route was the Vine Lake Cemetery. It was a very large place, and I’m gonna take a wild guess here and say that this pond is Vine Lake? I think I lost the trail somewhere in here, too, because the guide had me coming out a main gated entrance, and I didn’t even see a gate where I did finally emerge. I was able to pick up the trail fairly easily, however, once I got out onto Route 109. The blazing in here was a bit inconsistent.

Hike So Far

Hike So Far

Every now and then you come across a fancy Bay Circuit Trail sign that includes a map. I can’t believe I’ve already walked as far as I have.

After the cemetery there was a VERY long stretch of road-walking, including a 1.2 mile jaunt along a road that went through what seemed to be a vast wetland that was managed by the Corps of Engineers. It was cool, but still road walking. Ugh.

Insect Nest?

Insect Nest?

Anyway, eventually I made it to the Shattuck Reservation, the second of the three Trustees properties I walked today. This is another very lovely property, and speaking of well-maintained, I came around a corner to confront a man with a chainsaw.

Visions of serial killers flashed through my head, but I was actually too tired to care. Plus it turned out that he was not, in fact, a serial killer, but a trail maintenance worker, and his partner was also there, not too much further down the trail. He asked if I had seen any downed trees, which of course I had not.

Also, I saw the above hollow log with some odd cone-shaped structures inside. Insect nests? Don’t know. I’m going to harass my naturalist friend and get you guys a definitive I.D. Watch this post for updates.

Uh, Deer Leg

Uh, Deer Leg

Then I saw this. It appears to be a leg of a deer. In a tree. Shattuck Reservation, thank you for this. I kind of needed a brain-goosing at this point, and you did not disappoint. I can hardly even speculate on the circumstances which resulted in a deer leg winding up in a tree. The most benign I can come up with is a prankster. The least I benign explanation? Mountain lions stash deer carcasses in trees. Moving on…

Now You're Just Messing with Me

Now You’re Just Messing with Me

Not 50 feet from the ominous deer leg, I saw this tucked into the base of a tree. Ok, Shattuck Reservation. Now you’re just messing with me.

Now as I mentioned earlier (waaay earlier—sorry for the long post, but hey, it was a long walk!), Shattuck Reservation should have been my last property, and my car should have been parked on the reservation’s Noon Hill Road parking area. But no… I mis-parked at the Noon Hill Reservation’s parking area. Another whole preserve to go!

Noonhill Overlook

Noon Hill Overlook (click to embiggen)

Naturally, the highest point of this entire section was on the last of the three Trustees properties, the Noon Hill Reservation. It was another very pretty place, with a beautiful overlook spot. I would really like to tell you more about the Noon Hill Reservation, but I frankly don’t remember much more than climbing up Noon Hill and then back down to my car.

You can read more about the Bay Circuit Trail here. As always, click on the image, above, for details about this section and to download the GPS track.SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Belding Path & Valley Falls Park

Posted By on August 6, 2017

Belding Path & Valley Falls Park

5 miles; Vernon and Rockville, CT

The weather finally broke today, and it was cooler and much dryer, so I jumped at the chance to go on a hike someplace I hadn’t been before. I found this place by poking around the interactive hiking map on the CFPA website. Nice spot, and I need to go back, as I couldn’t do as much as I wanted to because of other engagements later in the day.

Tankerhoosen River

Tankerhoosen River

I started at the Belding Wildlife Management Area, which is an educational and conservation oriented property belonging to the state of Connecticut. There are eleventy-gazillion [a slight exaggeration, ed.] interpretative signs all along these trails. The blue-blazed Shenipsit Trail follows the banks of the Tankerhoosen River through a lovely old hemlock forest here.

Bench at Mill Pond

Bench at Mill Pond

There is a large stone monument at the southernmost point of the trails on Belding which talks about the family who donated the property to the state, and some of the area’s history. So what do I take a photo of? A bench with some loosestrife in the background. Hey, it’s a nice bench!

Soccer Field

Soccer Field

The Shenipsit eventually enters Vernon’s Valley Falls Park, which, huh, who knew? Charges admission, even if you hiked in ($1.00 for hikers). I don’t usually carry any cash on me when I hike in the woods, and I managed to cajole the little girl who was taking admission into waiving it for me. (Don’t worry, I drove back after the hike and gave her my dollar.)

Turns out that I’ve hiked this part of the Shenipsit Trail before, with my pals Stacy and Gillian the dog. From the park entrance, it quickly hooks up with the Hop River Rail Trail. I opted to forego hiking the rail trail, because, as had been our experience before, it’s as busy as Route 95 on the weekends with bikers and walkers and joggers, oh my. Instead I took the blue/yellow blazed Western Loop Trail that climbed straight uphill from the rail trail. And lo and behold, well, I’ll outsource this part to Steve at CTMQ:

Once atop the ridge, the blazes become somewhat difficult to follow so I lost the trail for a moment and found myself, rather oddly, standing at the end of a nicely maintained soccer field.

A soccer field on top of a (small) mountain in the middle of the woods. There are no roads leading to the field; just a rutted dirt road at the extreme western end which leads to a neighborhood. The whole scene was really, really weird.

Who plays games here? Why is this field here in the first place? It’s very disorienting. It’s called the Boulder Ridge Soccer Field and… That’s all I can tell you. I can almost see a well-hit errant shot on goal making its way through the trees on top of the ridge and then falling down the cliffs all the way to the rail trail 200 feet below.

Which, upon reflection, could be pretty funny.

Yup. Soccer field in the middle of the woods.

Vulture from Lookout Trail (Lookout for the Vultures!)

Vulture from Lookout Trail (Lookout for the Vultures!)

After the soccer field the trail looped around to hook back up with the Hop River trail, but first, I noticed a little white-blazed side trail marked “Lookout Trail.” Mmm-kay… I’ll bite. Turned out to be a gorgeous view of the surrounding hills which, according to the map, ran just above the Hop River trail. You couldn’t see or hear the rail trail from here, though. All you saw was vultures, playing on the thermals.

Stairs

Stairs

There are some very nicely-built stairs on the trail that goes around the small pond at Valley Falls Park.

Slime Mold

Slime Mold

And on the way back to Belding and my car, I noticed this log that was covered with white slime mold. At least, that’s what I’m pretty sure this is. Fungus shot!

You can read more about the Belding Wildlife Management Area here (pdf file). And here’s a brochure and trail map of Valley Falls Park (also a pdf file). And as always, click on the image, above, for details about my hike and to download the GPS track.

SaveSave

Bay Circuit Trail Section 15

Posted By on August 2, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 15

6.85 miles; Sherborn, MA

Long stretch of this trail in Sherborn, and this section was certainly better than the last one, at least in terms of being almost entirely in the woods. I was, however, kind of happy it wasn’t too long, because it was soooo hot and humid. I couldn’t have gotten wetter if I had actually dove into a pond. Which, believe me, crossed my mind more than once!

Horse Incognito

Horse Incognito

Sherborn, it turns out, is a pretty horsey kind of place. The first part of this hike was along some country roads which were lousy with horse farms.

Equestrian Trail

Equestrian Trail

In fact, when you finally get off the roads, you’re in a big field with lots of jumps (and horse poop), and the trail then turns into the woods to follow an equestrian trail for a long stretch. More jumps (and horse poop). You really have to watch where you place your feet, is all I’m saying.

Brush Hill Summit

Brush Hill Summit

There were a couple of “named” hills on this part of the BCT, which, once it entered the horse-poopy field, never went back out onto the roads again till the very end, which was a nice change of pace. Brush Hill had only a Verizon tower and a suitably scarily-signed hut, but no view. Neither did Pine Hill or the second Mount Misery along the trail.

Unusual...!

Unusual…!

At one point, there, in the middle of the woods, bam! A railroad track. It looked like it was regularly traveled on, too. Signage named it the Massachusetts Coastal Railroad. I’ll turn things over to Wikipedia now:

The railroad operates the “trash train” hauling refuse from Yarmouth to SEMASS, a waste-to-energy plant in Rochester, MA, as did its predecessor. However, Massachusetts Coastal operates the train under the new name, “Energy Train” using 20 former Canadian Pacific bath tub coal hopper cars rebuilt into “Energy” cars. These “Energy Cars” are numbered 1000–1019. These cars are painted in an attractive Pullman green scheme with a black band. The first 6 cars were fully painted with “MASS COASTAL” lettering, and “ENERGY TRAIN” written along the sides and gold stripes.

Cool. A trash train.

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

Bay Circuit Trail Section 14

Posted By on July 26, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 14

7.15 miles; Ashland and Sherborn, MA

Nothing much to recommend this section, either. Mostly road. Decidedly urban hiking with little woods sections between cul-de-sacs. Then a long walk on a busy road. Only redeeming feature? A Dunkin’ Donuts along the route. Hope this trail gets better soon…

Walking Through Yards

Walking Through Yards

The first part of this hike was actually me making up for missing the same part last week. I needn’t have really bothered. It was semi-urban, mostly roads, and at one point I was in somebody’s back yard. There were definitely BCT trail blazes, so I know I wasn’t off the trail, but it was still a little weird.

Mill Pond in Ashland

Mill Pond in Ashland

Mill Pond was where I parked last week. It’s a nice little park with a pretty little river walk. Which is not, actually, on the Bay Circuit Trail. Oops.

At-Grade Railroad Crossing

At-Grade Railroad Crossing

Then back out onto the roads, and at one point an at-grade railroad crossing.

Wildwood Cemetery

Wildwood Cemetery

The most “natural” part of this hike was through the cemetery. And yes, the BCT goes right through it.

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

Happy Ankle-versary to Me

Happy Ankle-versary to Me

And oh, parenthetically, today was my fourth “ankle-versary.”

Tefft Hill

Posted By on July 21, 2017

Tefft Hill

4.2 miles; Exeter and Richmond, RI

I had trouble sleeping, so when I was already awake at 4:30, I decided I may as well go hiking in the coolth of the morning. Turns out, not so much coolth, and it was so humid it was like walking underwater. I cut the hike short. Also, no black trumpets, though I did see a lot of teeny little cinnabar chanterelles.

Lush

Lush

The recent rains and warm weather have combined to create a jungle-like atmosphere in our temperate woods. In the early morning it was steamy and very wet.

Turks Cap Lily

Turks Cap Lily

The Turks Cap Lilies were in bloom putting on a splendid display.

Reflections in Roaring Brook Pond

Reflections in Roaring Brook Pond

It turned into a pretty day, but still beastly hot and humid.

Unidentified Butterfly

Unidentified Butterfly

I went to google image search looking for a “brown butterfly with eye spots.” There are about a gazillion “brown butterflies with eye spots,” so I was unable to ID this guy. Looks like he was looking for some shade, though.

You can read more about Tefft Hill from my friend’s website, Trails & Walks in RI. Note, the trailhead at the State Garage on Nooseneck Hill Road (Route 3), is currently closed due to construction on the bridge on Route 95. As always, click on the image, above, for details about this section and to download the GPS track.

Bay Circuit Trail Section 13

Posted By on July 18, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 13

7.92 miles; Sudbury, Southborough, and Ashland, MA

The less said about this section the better. Firstly, it was beastly hot and humid. Secondly, it was partly through an Industrial park. And thirdly, REASONS (which I will not go into). But I did cross both Route 9 and the Mass Pike, so this is for sure the southern arc of the trail.

Sudbury Reservoir

Sudbury Reservoir

The first part was sort of promising… it was along a fire road which basically followed the southern shore of the Sudbury Reservoir. It didn’t come especially close to the water, but you caught glimpses here and there.

Um, Really?

Um, Really?

Then there was a lot of road walking. Eventually you come to a spot which, well, I’ll let the guide talk here…

Note: above route between Rte 30 and Lamb Hill Rd has a poison ivy problem that volunteers are trying to remedy.

I’ll say this: there was little to no poison ivy, so I’d say the volunteers were successful here. There was, however, a massive Japanese knotweed problem, and a “where the f*** is the trail???” problem. I mean, if you scuffed up the duff, you could kind of see old asphalt underneath, but there was certainly no “trail” here to speak of. I just followed the track on the Open Hiking Map, and trusted it would take me where I was supposed to go.

Staples Fitness Trail

Staples Fitness Trail

Japanese knotweed trail was followed by some more road walking and some pretty dicey intersections. Then the BCT headed into the grounds of a vacant office building in an office park. It was altogether pretty weird, but eventually you come to the Staples Fitness Trail. Suddenly it’s all wide, level, and stone-dust-covered. And almost as quickly, the nice trail ends in a little cul de sac loop, and you’re back to almost but not quite bushwacking through the woods.

Crossing the Mass Pike

Crossing the Mass Pike

Then more road walking. And there you are, crossing the Mass Pike. And more road walking. At this point, because REASONS, I was really looking for shortcuts, and if you study the track below, you will see I found a couple. Next week, I promise, I will revisit some parts of the trail that I cut short.

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

%d bloggers like this: