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

Narragansett Trail Section 4

Posted By on July 15, 2017

Narragansett Trail Section 4

6.29 miles; North Stonington and Voluntown, CT and Hopkinton, RI

This was an excellent, if exhausting, hike with the PCHC. Much climbing, both up and down, on slippery rocks, and a lot of tricksy water crossings. It was great to see some old friends and make some new ones, and we even, at one point, ran into a group of hikers who asked “Are you Auntie Beak?” I almost plotzed. That was cool if sorta embarrassing. Shout-out to you guys! Nice to know I’m not just a weird old lady shouting pointlessly into the ether. Okay, at least nice to know I’m not shouting pointlessly into the ether…

Pig on a Spit

Pig on a Spit

We began this hike where we left off Section 3, by following the temporary re-route suggested by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, which had us doing 2-1/4 miles of road-walking, first up busy Route 49 and then down Sand Hill Road and Tom Wheeler Road to where the trail route originally crossed. It was a good thing we did all that road-walking right at the beginning, because, as is typical for the Narragansett Trail, this was no easy hike once we entered the woods.

Mushrooms!

Mushrooms!

I saw TONS of mushrooms everywhere, including this massive (5-6″ across easy) gilled mushroom growing out of a stump. No idea what it is and I’m too tired to question Mr. Google right now. Maybe I’ll update the post later. I did collect some beautiful fresh Sulphur Shelf, a.k.a. Chicken of the Woods. Think I’ll make some pseudo-chicken nuggets. (See this recipe)

One of the MANY Water Crossings

One of the MANY Water Crossings

This hike certainly had a whole lot of water crossings. It seemed as though every 5 minutes we were trying to figure out how not to get wet feet. I, at least, somewhat unsuccessfully.

Green Fall Crossing

Green Fall Crossing

The main water crossing I was dreading, though, was the one across the Green Fall River. We’ve had plenty of rain recently, and the river was in full spate. Also, the day was overcast and cool and slightly misty, making every surface extra-super slippery. But we all managed to make it across without incident. Somehow.

Signage

Signage

As for the blazing and signage, this section of the trail is for the most part very clear. Plenty of fresh blazing and even the occasional sign.

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 12

Posted By on July 14, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 12

8.7 miles; Marlborough, Framingham, and Sudbury, MA

Well this section couldn’t have been more different from the last one. First, there was hardly any road-walking at all… maybe 1/4 mile. I didn’t even cross a paved road till well past halfway. Also, I managed to neither over- or under-estimate the mileage. It came in at exactly what I expected. It was very hilly, though, and it included the highest point on the BCT, Nobscot Hill.

Signage

Signage

I really liked this sign. It feels old and, I don’t know, somehow reliable. I really trusted this sign. It’s a trustworthy sign.

View from Tipling Rock

View from Tippling Rock (click to embiggen)

I had hoped to catch another glimpse of the Boston skyline from up here, but it was quite a hazy day. In fact there were showers predicted for the afternoon, and it felt very damp. Tippling Rock, by the way, has a theory. Several, in fact…

Tipple has two meanings: one is a device for unloading freight cars by tipping them and the other is to consume liquor. The favorite theory is that the boulder on top of the outcropping used to tipple, as in rock back and forth. One theory is that the native Americans would tipple it to send sound thru the rock for communication.

Ironically, the rock is no longer in danger of tippling. It was blasted apart sometime in the early 40s by a local farmer who was afraid it would be pushed over by rowdy teens onto his cows. Or something. There are many theories…

Observation Tower

Observation Tower

And here’s the highest point on the Bay Circuit Trail, Nobscot Hill. The guide describes it as having no view unless there’s a friendly ranger in the tower. Alas, there didn’t appear to be anyone home today.

Ford's Folly

Ford’s Folly

I was actually surprised that the trail mileage came in at exactly what I had estimated because I took a little detour off-trail to view this massive stone dam called “Ford’s Folly.” It wasn’t much of a detour; maybe a 4/10s mile lollipop loop. Worth the trip, though. This is quite the structure. And the Ford of the name is indeed the famous Henry Ford. It seems he bought up the Wayside Inn (oldest operating inn in Massachusetts; founded in 1761 as How’s Tavern; made famous by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) and the surrounding property, which included a grist mill. He decided that the mill needed more water to operate properly, so he built a massive stone dam, which was never able to hold water. The stream it dammed was a small intermittent stream, and apparently the ground beneath it is too porous to hold water anyway. Also, I guess for liability purposes, there is a double chain-link fence across the top of the dam. It’s passable, though, and still very cool.

Gypsy Moths Laying Eggs

Gypsy Moths Laying Eggs

As an aside, I noticed that the gypsy moth caterpillar damage is really quite extensive through here; much worse than in my local area. I wonder if the fungus has not made its way this far north? I mean, the stupid male moths were just everywhere. I made a special point of squashing any that came across my path.

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 11

Posted By on July 10, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 11

10.53 miles; Sudbury and Wayland, MA

Just once, ONCE, I’d like to OVERestimate the mileage on one of these sections. Although the difference between 9.8 miles and 10.53 miles isn’t as drastic as last week, it was still an underestimation. And ugh. Out of a 10.53 mile hike, 8.5 miles of this was on roads, including a very wearying 3 miles or so on busy Route 20. What parts were not on the roads were very cool, as they mostly included massive meadows. Still, ugh.

Study in Contrasts

Study in Contrasts

The “meadows” part of this hike mostly included the Great Meadow National Wildlife Refuge and Sedge Meadow Conservation Area. They were both very impressive. Massive, miles-long treeless meadows filled with all kinds of insects and birds, like dragonflies and swallows, and huge stands of milkweed and other wildflowers.

Pink Chicory

Pink Chicory

I saw lots more chicory on this walk, and in some spots there were occasional pink flowers mixed in with the more familiar blue ones. Some sort of genetic mutation, I guess.

Wildlife!

Wildlife!

I even saw some wildlife. This turtle was shy of the paparazzi, however, and would not show her face.

Sudbury River

Sudbury River

Thus concludes the non-road portions of this walk. This is a view of the Sudbury River from one of the many roads.

Great Mailbox

Great Mailbox

It wasn’t as if there were exactly NO compensations for all that road-walking. There was a sidewalk most of the way, although it was on the side that was in the sun. And there was even a Dunkin’ Donuts right along the route (that’s that little wiggle in the gps track towards the end).

uh...

uh…

Although I found this vaguely, um, unsettling.

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 10

Posted By on June 30, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 10

12.84 miles; Concord, Lincoln, and Wayland, MA

I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but in my defense, it was a) a VERY long hike, and 2) there was so much cool stuff!

Minuteman

Minuteman

I began this section where I left off last week, at the Minuteman National Monument Visitor’s Center in Concord. This statue by Daniel Chester French is such an iconic image—you see it everywhere in Massachusetts. He’s standing facing the Old North Bridge. Kind of gives you a little chill to walk through this park.

Chicory

Chicory

After leaving the park, there was a shortish stretch of road-walking through Concord, and that’s where I saw this lovely little stand of chicory growing at the edge of the grounds of the Old Manse, a Trustees of the Reservations site.

Uh... What?

Uh… What?

After the Old Manse, you come to this rather confusing blaze. Good thing I carried the description of this section with me. There is a spur of the BCT that splits off here and goes north as far as Bedford. The trail I wanted was the one to the right.

Emerson-Thoreau Amble

Emerson-Thoreau Amble

A bit more road-walking brings you to the beginning of the Emerson-Thoreau Amble, a short little trail that goes from Emerson’s house in Concord to Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond. It wound around Mill Brook, and was muddy in spots, but quite passable.

Art Installation

Art Installation

The Amble was also the site of a series of art(?) installations, including this rather curious collection of jars with stuff in them hung from a tree. O…kay… I mean, I was an art major in college, but the “art” part of this still kind of eludes me.

Walden Pond Official Greeter

I saw this handsome guy first thing upon entering the Walden Pond reservation. No idea what kind of hawk he is. Anyone?

Site of Thoreau's Cabin

Site of Thoreau’s Cabin

The at this point BCT crosses busy Route 2 and enters the Walden Pond Recreation Area, and after passing a stone marker commemorating “Thoreau’s Bean Field,” you come to the original site of the naturalist and author’s cabin. I’ve read that there is a recreation of the original cabin at the parking lot/visitor’s center, but the BCT doesn’t go directly through there, and I didn’t really want to add more mileage than necessary to a 9-mile hike. How prescient of me…

Couldn't Resist

Couldn’t Resist

There is a huge pile of stones nearby, many of them stacked into cairns. Someone even thoughtfully left a sharpie marker on the sign, so I found a suitable little stone, put my name and the date on it, and added it to a random stack.

Beautiful Blue Color

Beautiful Blue Color

The pond itself had this gorgeous blue hue, almost a turquoise color. There were folks swimming in it, too. Oh, and there was a very visible State Police presence here as well. I’m told that this site has a history of drunken brawling. Seriously, Massachusetts people? At Walden Pond of all places? And speaking of, I have reached the ripe old age of “eligible for social security” and have never read Thoreau’s Walden Pond. I guess it’s time to rectify that.

Re-route

Re-route

So all this stuff, and the hike at this point is only a little over 1/3 over, although I didn’t know that at the time. I had originally figured this to be approximately 9 miles, but I didn’t count on this re-route. There was no explanation given for it, so can’t blame beavers (I have my suspicions) and no mileage either. And that line about “following the BCT signs on the trees?” Ha, it is to laugh. I was off the route on my gps, and the signs were, in the main, nonexistent. I was actually reduced to navigating with only a map. Can you imagine? So if you look closely at the track on my gaia.gps page, you will see a rather extensive oopsie, where I headed off in what I imagined to be the correct direction, only to discover, after maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile, was that I was mistaken. And there was another spot where I realized I hadn’t seen a blaze in a long time, so I backtracked to the last one I saw, which was 1/4 mile away. Sigh.

Bridge Over Railroad

Bridge Over Railroad

I think, though I can’t be sure, that the re-route had to do with crossing the railroad tracks [unless beavers]. Anyway, there was yet another spur trail here that went off in the direction of Weston, but my car, and the route I had planned to hike, was in the direction of Wayland. Fortunately for me there was some pretty decent signage just before the bridge that made this clear. The BCT is an adventure, I’ll give it that.

Farmland

Farmland

At one point after I returned to the BCT as it was marked on my gps, I turned to enter the Mount Misery property, owned by  Lincoln Conservation Trust, and the breeze washed the most amazing smell of fresh strawberries over me. Confusingly this conservation property is commercially farmed. Those are the strawberries under that green netting. I saw tomatillos, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and beans, too.

Sentinel of the Woods

Sentinel of the Woods

I believe I saw this gentleman on Wayland town property. Pretty cool, huh?

Crossing Trout Brook

Crossing Trout Brook

Honestly, there appears to be no end to the amazing bridges and boardwalks on this trail. This one was almost overgrown with reeds and other wetlands plants, but it made for a lovely walk.

So as I said (whined about) earlier, this turned into a much longer hike than planned. How much longer, you ask? How about almost 4 miles longer. What was originally a 9-mile hike turned into almost 13 miles. Still, my favorite section of the BCT so far.

Learn more about the Minuteman National Monument at this website. Learn more about the Emerson-Thoreau Amble here. Read all about Walden Pond here. Information on the Lincoln Conservation Trust and Mount Misery here. 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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Steere Hill Farm

Posted By on June 26, 2017

Steere Hill Farm

4.73 miles; Chepachet and Gloucester, RI

This was a mental health hike, not far from a family obligation. I didn’t have as much time as I would have wanted, but I did manage a good pace and a good hike. I’ve hiked here before and this place is really a lovely spot. Wish I could have taken my time on it, but you take what you can get.

Beautiful Trail

Beautiful Trail

This is an old farm site, and a lovely trail, full of old cellar holes, stone walls, old dams… it’s a real treasure-trove for old structures and lovers of ruins.

So Saw This Sign

So Saw This Sign

This sign was not exactly a welcome sight. Rabid raccoons are scary.

Some Resemblance

Some Resemblance

The illustration reminded me very much of Jenny Lawson’s Rory Raccoon, a piece of bad taxidermy she fell in love with and put on the cover of her latest book.

Milkweed

Milkweed

The centerpiece of this hike is a big hill, uh, Steere Hill, which is kept as an amazing meadow full of wildflowers, including milkweed, dog roses, sweet william, rudbeckia, oxeye daisies, the list goes on. It’s really worth the visit all by itself.

Indian Cucumber Root

Indian Cucumber Root

The Indian Cucumber Root was in flower too.

Hermit's Cave

Hermit’s Cave

And here’s one of those interesting structures I mentioned earlier.

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

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.

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