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
April 2017 42.01 22h 35m 3775
Year-to-Date 122.87 61h 42m 11218
April Avg. 47.73 22h 32m 5282

Bay Circuit Trail, Section 2

Posted By on April 19, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail, Section 2

6.5 miles; Newbury and Rowley, MA

Ugh. This was almost entirely on Route 1A, and not a lot of fun. The first mile was in a Trustees of the Reservations property called Old Town Hill, and that was nice. Oh, and it was also about 40 degrees colder today than it was a week ago for Section 1. I love New England weather… NOT. Sometimes.

Section 2 Terminus

Section 2 Terminus

I parked my car again at the end of this section, which was at the trailhead for a property called Prospect Hill. The kiosk there, at least, didn’t have the Bay Circuit Trail info all covered up by junk. Called for a Lyft ride, which came promptly 15 minutes later, and it turned out my driver was a hiker himself, who is planning a 3-month road trip hiking in the western United States. Have fun, Jerry!

Old Town Hill

Old Town Hill

This hike started out, as I said, in the same spot I left off last week, at a Trustees of the Reservations property called Old Town Hill Reservation. It’s a beautiful spot, overlooking the salt marshes and the ocean beyond. And it was the first mile and last time during this section I was in the woods.

Crossing the Parker River

Crossing the Parker River

The weather today was, as I mentioned, 40 degrees colder than last week, and overcast and windy. It wasn’t hypothermia territory, but it wasn’t heat stroke level hot, either. I was wearing a down vest and very glad to have it.

Looking Towards the Parker River Wildlife Refuge

Looking Towards the Parker River Wildlife Refuge

Even from the roads, there are some lovely views in this area that overlook the seemingly ubiquitous salt marshes.

Wild Apple Tree

Wild Apple Tree

The wild apple trees by the side of Route 1A were in bloom.

Abandoned Dog Toy

Abandoned Dog Toy

Also saw this abandoned dog toy stuck in a tree by the side of the road.

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

As always, click the above image for details and to download my gps track. You can find out more about the Bay Circuit Trail from their website, www.baycircuit.org.

Bay Circuit Trail, Section 1

Posted By on April 11, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail, Section 1

6.5 miles; Newburyport and Newbury, MA

Day #5 of the Five Hikes in Five Days almost didn’t happen, I was so beat by Day Four, but I soldiered on anyway.

I’ve made it one of my goals this year to hike the entire Bay Circuit Trail, which is a hiking trail that goes from Newburyport to Plymouth, Massachusetts, making a big ring around Boston. I’ve broken it up into about 25 sections, and planned on using ride services like Uber and Lyft to get from the ends of the sections to the beginnings. Today’s hike was a “proof-of-concept,” and a smashing success, in that it went quite smoothly and easily. Just used the app on my phone and voila, in twenty minutes my ride arrived.

Trail Terminus

Trail Terminus

There was a signboard at the parking lot that was designated as the trail terminus, but I guess it wasn’t that important… It was covered over by a bunch of town rules and regulations and suchlike. This was the only indication I was at the right spot.

Beach Day

Beach Day

As for the weather… Someday I’m going to write a book about hiking in Southern New England. Chapter 1 will be called, “Spring Hiking: Hypothermia to Heat Stroke and Back Again.” Honestly, just two days ago I was whining about the cold. Today, and I’m not making this up, it was 84º in Newburyport, and a major portion of this section is road walking without shade. I was so hot I started to shiver. I remember thinking, “Oh, this can’t be good.” Fortunately one of the few virtues of road hikes is that sometimes there are places of business where you can get ice cold water and use their restroom sink to dunk your head.

Lonely Little House

Lonely Little House

From the parking lot on the beach, this trail follows a causeway across a salt marsh. A long, hot causeway.

First Actual Blaze

First Actual Blaze

The Bay Circuit Trail is not what you’d call excessively marked. I must have been a mile and half into this hike before I found my first actual blaze. In fact, shortly after this spot, I ended up having to detour around the trail. Long story: I was looking for a trail called the Lizzy Little Trail. It was supposed to be on my left just after the Plum Island Airport. I found a kiosk with an info sheet about the trail, but couldn’t find the actual trail itself. I was standing, however, at the entrance to the Headquarters of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, so I figured I’d go inside and ask for directions. The first ranger I spoke with had no idea what I was talking about, but the second ranger said the trail was virtually underwater right now, and definitely too wet and muddy to travel on. She directed me around the trail on the roads. Sigh. More roads. And my first detour.

Farm Stand

Farm Stand

Here is the farmstand where I dunked my head. Either they had chickens wandering the parking lot or I was hallucinating. Hard to say.

Actual Woods

Actual Woods

After many more miles of roads, I came to the first place I could get into the woods, almost at the end of my hike. This is the Old Town Hill Reservation in Newbury. There were four lengthy boardwalks, and a lot more mud. But it was such a relief to be walking on dirt!

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

You can find out about the Bay Circuit Trail from their website, baycircuit.org. They have downloadable maps and trail descriptions, as well as some really awesome printed maps you can buy. And as always, click on the image, above, for details and to download the gps track. Unfortunately, the track online with details doesn’t include the first 4/10s of a mile, because I forgot to turn on the recording. Don’t know what I was thinking. I can’t even blame the heat, as it was at the beginning of the hike. But the trailhead is at 42.798763, -70.809066, approximately 5 Northern Blvd., Newburyport, MA.

Mashamoquet Brook to Natchaug via Air Line Trail

Posted By on April 10, 2017

Mashamoquet Brook to Natchaug via Air Line Trail

12.1 miles; Hampton, Eastford and Pomfret, CT

Day #4 of my Five Hikes in Five Days almost killed me [Spoiler: It didn’t.] It came about because I was looking at the Sky’s the Limit Hiking Challenges, and noticed that these two TSTLC destination parks were connected to each other via the Air Line Trail and thought, “Gee, that would be fun!” Unfortunately, I wasn’t so good at estimating the mileage, and it turned out to be almost more than I could handle.

Wolf Den Arrow

Wolf Den Arrow

The first park, Mashamoquet Brook State Park, is where we needed to get a photo of ourselves at the Wolf Den. It’s the famous spot where, okay, I’ll outsource it to the DEEP:

The most famous feature is the Wolf Den into which, on a night in 1742, Israel Putnam crept and shot a wolf that for years had preyed upon local sheep and poultry. Israel Putnam was later to gain fame as a Major General in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

I also seem to recall from my last visit here that this was the last wolf in Connecticut?

Well Selfie

Well Selfie

This park is the former site of several large farms, and is dotted with all kinds of stonework, including several wells. Anyway, we both got well selfies, as well as our official TSTLC selfies and headed off to find the Air Line Trail.

Don't I Look Perky Here?

Don’t I Look Perky Here?

Which we did, eventually, find, in spite of the fact that there were no signs anywhere and there was no place you could even park if you wanted to, which, fortunately, we did not.

Air Line Trail

Air Line Trail

As it turned out, this is a spectacularly uninteresting stretch of the Air Line Trail. It pretty much looked like the photo, above, but without the trees or water feature. Long, straight, and boring. Did I mention it was long? It turned out to be almost exactly 5 miles. And that was after a substantial little hike in Mashamoquet, and before another substantial hike in the Natchaug State Forest. Yeah, I was doing a lot of “Whose bright idea was this???”-type whinging.

First Wildflower of Spring: Coltsfoot

First Wildflower of Spring: Coltsfoot

The weather was pretty nice today, though. Warm but not hot, cool but not cold. It was Goldilocks weather… just right.

Belted Galloways

Belted Galloways

The short stretch of road-walking between the Air Line Trail and Natchaug State Forest took us by a farm with lots of these gorgeous black & white cattle which are called Belted Galloways. They’re from Scotland and Ireland, and are well-adapted to foraging on rocky ground. Sleeping on it, too, looks like.

Not So Perky Now, Eh?

Not So Perky Now, Eh?

Our second selfie was at the hearth of, oh, take it away, DEEP:

Of historic interest is a large stone fireplace and chimney that are the remains of the birthplace of General Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union General killed in the Civil War.

Yeah, I almost fell down. Good thing there was a post there.

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

You can find out more about both of these State Parks/Forests from the CT DEEP website, and the Sky’s the Limit Challenge info is at this website. And as always, click on the image, above for details and to download the gps track.

Cockaponset Trail South

Posted By on April 9, 2017

Cockaponset Trail South

8.41 miles; Haddam and Chester, CT

Day Three and Hike #3 of Five Hikes in Five Days was a bit more challenging than days 1 and 2. I took this opportunity to finish this one blue-blazed trail system. It’s nice you don’t have to out-and-back on the same trail, what with all the side trails. This was a gorgeous day and into the 60s. FINALLY. Oh, and hit 100 miles for the year today, also FINALLY.

I had done the first part of this Connecticut Forest and Park Association blue-blazed hiking trail in January, and I really loved it. The total length of this trail is 7.4 miles, according to the CFPA, and the first part was very much short of being half that length, meaning today’s hike would be a longer one.

Trailhead

Trailhead

The sign above says it’s only 7 miles total to the trailhead I started from last time. Not actually! By the time I got to the spot I left off last time, it came to 4 1/2 miles. Hiking the complete blue-blazed part of the trail would come to more like the advertised 7 1/2 miles.

Water Crossing

Water Crossing

I was lulled into a false send of security by this very sturdy bridge. There were at least a dozen more water crossings, and no more bridges, alas. They were mostly pretty navigable, but there were a few where I had visions of very wet feet, but somehow I managed to stay pretty much dry the whole time.

The Trail

The Trail

This end of the Cockaponset Trail is not as fancy as the Northern end. It had about 85% fewer “art cairns,” too, but 100% fewer CCC-built steps.

Signage

Signage

Like all the best CFPA blue-blazed trails, this one had excellent blazing and signage. Well, for the most part. That South Pattaconk Trail in the sign? It’s a red-and-blue blazed side trail, and it was not very well blazed. I guess they just haven’t gotten around to refreshing the blazes.

Comfy Rock Chair

Comfy Rock Chair

Another comfy rock chair, like on Great Swamp. Well, more like a rock loveseat. This time it’s beside the the Pattaconk Reservoir. The beautifully-blazed Northern Pattaconk Trail follows the shoreline of this reservoir.

The Pattaconk Reservoir

The Pattaconk Reservoir

Speaking of which, here is a better view of the Pattaconk Reservoir.

White Blazes?

White Blazes?

This sign for the Quinimay Trail and set of white blazes kind of caught me by surprise. They’re not on the CPFA’s maps. Turns out they were built and are maintained by the Lower Connecticut River Valley Horseman’s Club. You can read more about this trail on their website. It is open to all passive recreation, meaning hikers can use it, too.

The Track (click for details)

The Track (click for details)

Trailhead for this hike is at approximately 276 West Main Street, Chester, CT. As always, click on the above image for details and to download the GPS track. Learn more about the Cockaponset State Forest and Trail on this CFPA website.

Blackstone Canal, Lincoln

Posted By on April 8, 2017

Blackstone Canal, Lincoln

2.93 miles; Lincoln, RI

Today was Hike #2 of Five Hikes in Five Days. This hike was co-sponsored by the Blackstone Valley Heritage Corridor and the PCHC. It was a nice visit to the canal and the museum. Still too damned cold, though. I am so sick of temperatures in the low 40s! Can’t Spring ever arrive?

Viaduct

Viaduct (Alright! Why a duck? Why that…why a duck? Why a no chicken?)

Cold temperatures aside, it was a lovely day, and we had a great turnout for this hike. Our guide Ernie talked about the barges and the oxen and horses that pulled them along the canal, and how brief a career this great engineering feat had until the advent of the railroads made it quite obsolete.

High Water

High Water

It was quite astonishing how high the Blackstone River was today. Not really surprising given the rains we’ve had lately, but still pretty impressive.

Ashton Dam

Ashton Dam

The water rushing over the dam here was also quite impressive and loud.

Track (click for details)

The trailhead for this hike was behind the rest area on Route 295 Northbound in Lincoln, RI. GPS coordinates 41.940052, -71.444787. As usual, click the above image for details and to download the GPS track.

Hopkinton Grills West

Posted By on April 7, 2017

Hopkinton Grills West

4.46 miles; Hopkinton, RI

I looked at my total hiking mileage for the year so far, and I was mightily embarrassed! Less than 100 miles and it’s April already. So I decided to make a push to do more hiking, starting with Five Hikes in Five Days. Today was Hike #1.

I decided to start off with this spot in Hopkinton, which is labelled “Grills.” Grills! Another Grills Preserve! It’s on the opposite side of Route 91 from the Hopkinton Grills we’re all familiar with. I think they’re calling it Grills West.

Now you might assume that a preserve with lots of fancy trail signage like this

Signage

Fancy Sign

would be a pretty cool little trail system. Don’t believe the sign!

Fine Print

Fine Print on Sign

There is no blazing, and only one old woods road. Lots of flags throughout, but no trails and no blazes. Sigh. Guess I’ll have to head back here again. Maybe next year?

Signage and lack of blazed trails aside, though, this is a neat little property.

Amtrak Sign

Amtrak Sign

This is a somewhat intimidating looking sign, but I figured that since I was not actually in a vehicle, I was pretty safe. And indeed, this is the only trail I could find anyway (see above).

Old Cemetery

Old Cemetery

There’s a lovely little cemetery on the property.

Sad Sign

Sad Sign

At least, it’s lovely till you read the headstones. There’s one large headstone marking the grave of a 14-year-old boy, and then this broken stone which commemorates the deaths of twin infant girls. They were barely a month old. The inscription reads “Budded on earth, to bloom in Heaven.” Someone placed a tiny angel figure on the broken stone.

Warning Sign

Warning Sign

The old woods road I was following spent a good stretch paralleling the Amtrak Railroad tracks, which was where I saw this somewhat cryptic pictographic sign… “NO RUNNING IN FRONT OF LADDERS!” Yeah, I’m sure that’s what it means.

What fascinated me was the signage that warned against going into Phantom Bog on foot. Phantom Bog is directly across the tracks from this property, and the sign said it is ONLY accessible from the Pawcatuck River. Hm. I bet the local kids get there okay…

Bear Sign

Bear Sign

Then I saw this. Trust me, it’s way too big to be anything but bear. It’s full of old seeds and nuts and I think the big things are smooshed acorns. Somehow the quaintness factor of this place went down a few notches. I’d be willing to bet the bears aren’t intimidated by the sign warning against crossing the tracks into Phantom Bog. They are such scofflaws!

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

As I mentioned, the trailhead for this hike is on Route 91, address approximately 28 Alton-Bradford Road, in Hopkinton. You can click on the image, above, to see details of this hike, and to download the gps track.

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