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 7A

Posted By on May 30, 2017

Bay Circuit Trail Section 7A

6.36 miles; Andover, MA

Okay, so I originally planned this as a long 14-mile section, and when I changed my mind and decided to break it in two, I didn’t feel like re-numbering all the rest, hence 7A. This was an interesting section, what with multiple eskers and a cemetery and a kangaroo crossing and a really long boardwalk. Not section 6 interesting, but not bad.

Dedication Stone

Dedication Stone

The first part of this section was on the Indian Ridge Reservation in Andover, which is apparently a very old property, having been set aside for public use in 1897. The Bay Circuit Trail guide describes the trail as following an esker, and then another esker. What’s an esker? Glad you esked (from Wikipedia).

An esker, eskar, eschar, or os, sometimes called an asar, osar, or serpent kame, is a long, winding ridge of stratified sand and gravel, examples of which occur in glaciated and formerly glaciated regions of Europe and North America. Eskers are frequently several kilometres long and, because of their peculiar uniform shape, are somewhat like railway embankments.

The trail followed two particularly long eskers, both of which were quite steep.

West Parish Cemetery

West Parish Cemetery

After de-eskering, the trail crossed a road and headed into the West Parish Cemetery, which was quite lovely. The BCT isn’t in the actual cemetery part, but in a woodland border around the cemetery, very much like the Master Gardener Trail around the Rhode Island Veteran’s Cemetery.

Um, Really?

Um, Really?

Following a short bit of road walking, the BCT then enters the Doyle Link, a property owned by the Andover Conservation Commission. That’s where I came across the kangaroo crossing. Didn’t see any kangaroos, though.

Amazing Boardwalk

Amazing Boardwalk

The Doyle Link is also where I found this most excellent and amazing boardwalk over a huge swamp. The BCT Guide says it’s 700 feet long. That’s more than 1/8 of a mile of exquisitely-crafted boardwalk with rope railings. It was a marvel. And where did they get pieces of rope that long?!?

Route 495 Crossing

Route 495 Crossing

At this point the BCT spends over a mile and a quarter on roads, which I presume was the only way they could route it over both Routes 93 and 495.

Think I Made the Weight Limit...

Think I Made the Weight Limit…

Once over the highways, though, it was back into the woods for the final 2 miles of this section, through several properties owned by the Andover Conservation Commission and AVIS, which is NOT the rental car company. It stands for the Andover Village Improvement Society, and they own and maintain quite a bit of land here in town, which includes a good bit of the BCT.

The Track (click for details)

The Track (click for details)

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.

A Hike and a History Lesson

Posted By on May 28, 2017

A Hike and a History Lesson

5.4 miles; West Greenwich, RI

Today’s hike was with the PCHC and a leader I’ve never hiked with before who took us on an exploration of Big River, and even gave us a history lesson, complete with visual aids. It was an excellent hike/talk. For background on Big River, read this Providence Journal article:

Kevin Breene’s childhood home would have been under 60 feet of water by now.

When he was 9, the state condemned his family’s farm, just one parcel among 8,600 acres bought from 351 owners for the Big River Reservoir — planned since 1928 as a drinking water backup for the Scituate Reservoir. He was 13 when they had to move, believing that construction was months away.

It has been 50 years since West Greenwich land was taken by eminent domain. The reservoir was never built.

It’s kind of sad story.

Sign at Trailhead

Sign at Trailhead

This weirdly-decorated sign at the trailhead is on Route 3, Nooseneck Hill Road, just south of Exit 6 off 95.

Current Resident

Current Resident

We came across this big lady in the middle of the road just as we passed the second (closed) gate. Can’t a pregnant turtle get any privacy around here???

Capwell Pond Dam

Capwell Mill Pond Dam

There are quite a few dammed ponds on the Management Area. Sawmills were apparently the dominant industry in the area. This is Capwell Mill Pond, and the water was roaring over it today.

Old Cemetery

Old Cemetery

According to the Journal article, there are something like 700 graves on this property in many little family cemeteries. This stone was only labeled “SB 1775.”

Sweet's "Pond"

Sweet’s “Pond”

A few years ago, this used to be an actual pond, but the RI DEM destroyed the dam, creating a meadow instead, with a meandering stream.

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

There are no “officially” blazed trails on this 8600-acre property, but TONS of unofficial little trails everywhere, as you can see from the Open Hiking Map, above. I recommend you don’t venture here without a map of some sort (Great Swamp Press has a nice one, although it probably doesn’t have every little trail on it), or a GPS track to follow. You can download mine by clicking on the image, above.

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.

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