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
June 2017 39.00 17h 50m 3462
Year-to-Date 251.41 123h 56m 22861
June Avg. 33.93 17h 32m 3798
BCT Mileage to Date 81.29

Bay Circuit Trail Section 9

Posted By on June 22, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 9

8.75 miles; Acton and Concord, MA

This section started a few miles south of the end of the Freeman Rail Trail, in a nicely wooded area in Acton. It was almost 9 miles, and unfortunately 4 miles of it was on roads, including the last 3, which ended at the Visitors Center for the Minuteman National Monument. The historic parts come next week, and include Walden Pond. Can’t wait!

Beautiful Old Cellarhole

Beautiful Old Cellarhole

The first part of this section was through the Nashoba Brook Conservation Area. This is a very historic area, and is loaded with refurbished cellarholes and mysterious stone chambers and interpretive signage.

Trail Through Time

Trail Through Time

It’s so historically significant that this trail section is labelled “TTT” or “Trail Through Time.”

Stone Chamber Entrance

Stone Chamber Entrance

And here’s a shot of the entrance of the aforementioned mysterious stone chamber. According to the also aforementioned interpretive signage, this could have been Native American, but the prevailing theory is that it’s a colonial-era root cellar.

Stone Chamber

Stone Chamber

It’s unusual in that it makes an L-shaped turn. It’s really quite cool.

Crossing Nashoba Brook

Crossing Nashoba Brook

This section started out in such a promising fashion… many wooded trail through some very nice conservation areas. Only a little road-walking of a mile. Or so I thought.

Across a Field

Across a Field

At the end of this lovely field, though, the idyll ended, and I had to finish the section with three more miles of road-walking. Oh well, it was a lovely day, and the homes I passed by on my walk were beautiful, and very beautifully landscaped. This is a very toney part of town.

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.

Narragansett Trail Section 3

Posted By on June 17, 2017

Narragansett Trail Section 3

4.75 miles; North Stonington & Voluntown, CT

The Facebook Group, Providence County Hiking Club, is hiking the Narragansett Trail in its entirety, in 5 smallish sections. Today’s PCHC hike was on a very humid day after a 2-inch rain the day before. So we got kind of damp. This is such an interesting and varied section of the Narragansett Trail, with lots of elevation changes, brooks and swamps, cellar holes, and high ledges.

Lush

Lush

The recent rains combined with summer’s belated arrival have made the woods into almost tropical-seeming jungles. It’s a nice change.

Ledge

Ledge

This hike includes some of the more dramatic ledges on the Narragansett, including High Ledges Overlook and Bullet Ledge. I don’t think the one above has a name, though.

Trametes versicolor

Trametes versicolor

The fungus is starting to make quite an appearance as well. This log was entirely covered in turkey tail, or Trametes versicolor, fungus. Never saw anything like that before.

Tremella mesenterica

Tremella mesenterica

The witche’s butter, a.k.a. Tremella mesenterica, fungus was everywhere too.

You can read more about the Narragansett Trail on its Wikipedia page. Here is my complete “Auntie” map of the trail. And as always, click on the image, above, for details about this section and to download the GPS track.

Bay Circuit Trail Section 8

Posted By on June 15, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 8

7.6 miles; Lowell, Chelmsford, and Westford, MA

Again with the Rails-to-Trails! So this section was pretty boring. It was a 7-mile-long paved bike trail built on the bed of old New Haven Railroad Framingham & Lowell line. I saw my first BCT blaze since Andover, one of only 2 total. And the BCT breaks at the end of the rail trail and picks up again a few miles south in Acton.

Start of the Trail

Start of the Trail

A bit about the trail. This is a trail that’s been many years in the planning and construction, having been first proposed by the late state legislator Bruce Freeman in 1985. Phase I, which is the part I walked today, is complete, but there are 2 more phases planned, which will eventually take the trail from Lowell through Chelmsford, Westford, Carlisle, Acton, Concord, Sudbury, and Framingham. I had to park at a local Stop & Shop and walk to the start of this trail, because the parking lot for it is on the property of a large corporation, and is clearly posted that it can only be used on weekends and holidays. So I passed through this tunnel which runs underneath Route 495 in Lowell twice. It also made for a funky little jog in the gps track.

Lots of Access Trails

Lots of Access Points

There were a lot of access points for this trail, as it goes through Chelmsford center and crosses a lot of roads. Some were more formal than others.

Art

Art

I just loved this cool sculpture of a train conductor.

More Art

More Art

Just past the wooden conductor there was a concrete wall with a whole series of murals depicting the history of the area and of the railroad. That one in the center depicts a train wreck.

Heart Pond

Heart Pond

The trail also passes along the edge of this little beach at Heart Pond. It was a bit too cool for a dip, however.

End of the Trail

End of the Trail

And here’s the trail’s end. You can just make out across the road where they’ve begun work on Phase II of this trail.

You can read more about the Bay Circuit Trail here. Here is the website for the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail which includes a detailed map of Phase I, and not for anything, but you gotta love a trail map that shows all the ice cream places en route. As always, click on the image, above, for details about this section and to download the GPS track.

Hop River Trail & Talcott Ravine

Posted By on June 11, 2017

Hop River Trail & Talcott Ravine

7.5 miles; Bolton, Vernon, and Rockville, CT

First it’s too cold, and today it was too damned hot; high 80’s. Not fun. Also I think I’ve about had it with Rails-to-Trails for a while. Also not fun? About 2,000 cyclists and 1,000 joggers coming up from behind. This is an EXTREMELY popular trail. The ravine was pretty cool, though. We didn’t brave the chancy section, but it was still pretty nice.

Yeah, No

Yeah, No

My friend Stacy and I started out on the Hop River Trail, a Rails-to-Trails State Park in Vernon, but fairly quickly detoured off to visit a ravine I’d read about on Connecticut Museum Quest. I know, right? For once it’s not a Peter Marteka-inspired hike!

Some more about the Talcott Ravine from a website about the Tankerhoosan River:

The area is a largely forested, scenic area bisected by the Tankerhoosan River. The site encompasses a geologically significant gorge with steeply sloped rock outcroppings as well as the remains of early 19th century textile mills. The rock outcroppings form the gorge area about 30-50 feet deep. The masonry dam is 26 feet high with a length of 84 feet and was originally built in 1900.

We thought about crossing that skinny little rock ledge to get an up-close view of the falls, but changed our minds when poor Stacy’s dog tried it and missed. And the dog had 4 feet to grab with, not just two. Don’t worry, Gillian was easily rescued.

After a distant view of the falls from the upper trail, we did a short road-walk back to the Hop River Trail, and our second destination, the Bolton Notch.

Train Artifact

Train Artifact

The Hop River Trail has a lot of old remnants of the railroad that used to run through here, including this cool hand switch. The old rails are still visible in a lot of places, too.

Ragged Robin

Ragged Robin and a Spider

I saw this charming little wildflower beside the trail, but didn’t find out till later that it’s not a native, and is in fact considered invasive in some states.

The Trail

The Trail During a Lull in the Traffic

As I said, this trail was very, very popular, especially on this bright and warm Sunday.

TSTLC Hike Shot: Bolton Notch

TSTLC Hike Shot #5: Bolton Notch

And of course we got our “2017 Sky’s the Limit Challenge” photos. This is #5 for us.

You can find out more about the Hop River Trail and Bolton Notch State Park from the pages of the DEEP website. And as always, click on the image, above, for details about this hike and to download the GPS track.

Cliff Walk

Posted By on June 10, 2017

Cliff Walk

3 miles; Newport, RI

My sister-in-law and I have been wanting to walk this Newport landmark forever, and this weekend we finally got to it. It was a glorious day to be by the seashore, and the scenery was to die for. Great, great walk.

Pretty Brickwork

Pretty Brickwork

For anyone not familiar with the Cliff Walk, it’s a public access trail that runs along the shoreline of Newport, Rhode Island, on an easement provided by the many enormously wealthy landowners along this stretch of shore. You can read all about it on this website: www.cliffwalk.com. From the ever-helpful Wikipedia:

It runs behind many of Newport’s famous gilded-age mansions, such as Astor’s Beechwood, Rosecliff, Marble House, The Breakers, Ochre Court, and Rough Point, where a bridge is located over an open chasm. Most of the 3.5-mile (5.6 km) cliff walk is paved and it offers beautiful vistas, tunnels, and long winding pathways. The latter half of the cliff walk has unpaved sections and paths along rugged New England rocky shoreline. This section is more of a challenge but it also has impressive views.

It is lovely, and well worth taking a trip to Newport to walk.

Bad Dog?

Bad Dog?

As I said, the trail skirts private property, and some folks aren’t very tactful about pointing that out. And what’s with “Bad Dog?” They’re gonna give their poor dog a complex, always calling him “bad.”

Rosa Rugosa on the Rocks

Rosa Rugosa on the Rocks

The beach roses were in full bloom on the day we picked to walk, and they were enchanting and very fragrant.

Chinese Tea House at Marble House

Some of the structures you can see from the path are truly spectacular, and not only the mansions. This is a huge replica of a Chinese-style pagoda building which I guess was someone’s tea house. I think you can actually rent this, as the Marble House is now owned by the Newport Preservation Society, which runs tours.

Tunnel

Tunnel

There are several tunnels along the trail, one of which was pretty dark and pretty wet. This one wasn’t, however.

Regatta

Regatta

The visibility was so good today we were able to see a big sailing regatta taking place further out in Rhode Island Sound.

Bridal Party

Bridal Party

And it was so scenic that even this bridal party decided to take pictures out on the rocks. You can almost see the thought balloon over the photographer’s head: “I’m not getting paid enough for this!”

End of the Trail

End of the Trail

The trail finishes up on the east end of Bailey’s Beach, which is a lovely little spot for a bit of sun bathing and ocean splashing, although I’m betting the water was still pretty cold.

As always, click on the image, above, for details [ed. there actually aren’t a lot of details on this track because I accidentally deleted it and had to recreate it manually] about this hike and to download the GPS track.

Bay Circuit Trail Section 7B

Posted By on June 8, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 7B

7.83 miles; Andover, Tewksbury, and Lowell, MA

This was the best of hikes, it was the worst of hikes… Not actually, but the first half was quite nice, while the second half was both on a bogus trail and in the city of Lowell. So not wonderful. Still, I got it done. The BCT ends here and picks up a few miles south. They’re still working on a connection.

The Merrimack River

The Merrimack River

After a tiny bit of road-walking, this section commenced on the very pretty Deer Jump Reservation in Andover. I followed a lovely pine needle covered trail that meandered along the banks of the Merrimack River for several miles.

Dame's Rocket

Dame’s Rocket

The dame’s rocket flowers were lovely, massed alongside the ferns by the trail. Unfortunately, these beauties are a non-native invasive species. Alas.

Sturdy Bridge

Sturdy Bridge

All along this trail I crossed many little streams, tributaries to the river beside me, and in Andover, at least, all the crossings were along sturdy bridges. Sometimes the trail had to detour a bit inland from the riverbank to make the crossing, but it always returned to the river.

Rip-Rap Embankment

Rip-Rap Embankment

Alas, the idyllic trail along the Merrimack ended, as all trails must. First with a rather long road-walk, then into a large cemetery, and finally back to the river along what was euphemistically named the “Merrimack River Trail.” Right. This stretch follows a miles-long rip-rap embankment. In the photo, above, it’s pretty clear, but it varied considerably from this pristine stretch to stretches that were WILDLY overgrown with invasives like black swallowwort, poison ivy, sumac, and bittersweet. And because it’s on stone, there is no clear trail to follow, just thigh-deep vegetation. It was nasty. These nasty sections were interspersed with encroachment by the many homeowners whose homes backed up to the embankment, so I passed through lots of make-shift patios with picnic tables and seating areas and firepits, as well. One homeowner even had the nerve to put up a no-trespassing sign which I righteously ignored.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

All the while, however, the Merrimack River rolled on beside me, and I caught glimpses of wildlife, like this heron waiting patiently for lunch to swim by.

Downtown Lowell

Downtown Lowell

The Merrimack River “trail” finally spit me out onto a city street near the hospital in downtown Lowell, where I gamely soldiered on, passing the impressive Lowell Memorial Auditorium, to eventually arrive at the Concord River Greenway, which is a short little riverside park, and thus finally to Howe Street, the end of this section, and of the Bay Circuit Trail through here. The BCT picks up again in Chelmsford, on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.

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.

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