Monday, May 23, 2011

Midstate Trail Part 6

Well, last year was a terrible hiking year! 2011 is going to be so much better. Unfortunately, I have lots more free time as I lost my full-time job last month. Since then, I've been running more and getting out on the local trails. I pulled out my books a few days into unemployment and decided I'm going to start finishing some of these hiking lists I'm working on. SO we went off to the Midstate once again. This little guy was at the parking lot of Intervale Road in Rutland, where we would end our 12 mile trek.

In Massachusetts it had been raining for over a week so we were prepared for very wet trails. Saturday was the first partially sunny day and we were all itching to get outside. We started hiking from East Hill Road in Rutland and less than a mile in we found this really nice open shelter. Compared to the other shelters we'd already seen on the Midstate, we were very impressed with how well-kept it seemed.

Near the shelter we spotted one of many garter snakes sunning themselves near the trail. He was going to be disturbed very soon.

As we walked on towardsRt. 122 we encountered a large group of what appeared to be Boy Scouts heading in the direction of Treasure Valley. The looked like they had just started out with brand new backpacking gear and sleepy looks.

We crossed over Highway 122 and shed a layer of clothes while admiring the Mass. Central Rail Trail. Quickly we were swarmed by mosquitoes that seemed undeterred by deet. We all talked about bringing our bikes back to do some cycling but it was time for some hiking. As we re-entered the woods we discovered the first of our many water obstacles. It was easy enough to get over but deep enough to soak up to the knee.

As we continued to hike the sun started to peek out. We ran across a pair of women on horseback who commented on the buggy climate. Little did we know our bug misery would increase. When we reached Dike #3, we found that there had been recent work to the rail trail.

Then we entered a swampy woods. The map indicated that the swamp had been named Blood Swamp. It was more like Blood Sucker Swamp.

We pushed through as quickly as possible to avoid the bites, but it was slow going when the trail disappeared in the water. We found some interesting bridge rebuilding along the way.

As much as we were challenged with the dampness and the mosquitoes near the swamp, the frogs and toads were loving it!

Then we emerged from the swamp. It was like a breath of fresh air. There was a lovely grove of flowering trees and two granite benches in memorial for Bob Ellis and Rolf Larsen.

There was a nice couple from Worcester having a snack at the benches. We chatted with them and had a snack ourselves while overlooking the swamp. A gentle breeze kept the bugs away and the sun was out. They told us about Barre Falls Dam and how they came to discover this hidden jewel. They checked out the map book that I had from the Midstate Trail Committee. I looked at their map of the dam. They generously let us keep the map. We went on our way determined to lunch at the dam. We knew we were getting close when we found the old cemetery.

Then we found the picnic areas. We ate lunch while watching disc golfers play hole number 18. Then we pushed on. Here are a few pictures from the Barre Falls Dam.

We lost the trail briefly near hole 13 but found it after a little poking around. The blazes weren't as obvious here as the side of the road had overgrown some. We followed old roads through the woods and met up with a father and son fishing. They had just discovered this area as well and we all agreed it was terrific. The father told us that about 2 miles straight down the path is an old prison camp that looked interesting to explore. We, however, were turning to follow the yellow triangles.

For the most part the trail was dry. We worried about the warning in the guide book about high water conditions in this section of the trail. There were some wet and flooded trails but nothing worse than earlier in the day. It is amazing how after hiking 8 miles the last 4 can just drag! WE continued to make good time but managed to take in some of the forest as well. We did find these lovelies at the side of the trail.

Lady-Slippers were in abundance throughout this section. We followed old stonewalls that had stood through many winters and summers. There was some logging projects that we came across as well. Some of them, I'm sure, were to prevent the beetle infestation from spreading. The last bit of trail had a slight incline to it. We had our first accident here. Mel slipped and cut her hand on a rock. Minor injury but still not fun for her. Then as we hiked, there was the creepiness of following a trail of blood. Kev guessed that it was from a deer kill that had been hauled out on the trail. Ick! We eventually found our last cart road and Intervale Road.

I was so turned around at the end. In the morning, I thought we would come out on the other side of the trail. We managed to complete the 12 miles in 6 hours (with lunch and snack breaks). I'm super encouraged that there are only 3 sections left to hike. The next section will have one of the high points of this trail.
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