Monday, June 27, 2011

Midstate Trail Part 9- Graffiti Bridge to Route 12 in Ashburnham

We started off our next section of the Midstate on a lovely sunny Sunday.  I had decided to cut the "last section" in a short piece and a longer piece so that we weren't hiking a 15-mile hike with elevation change as our finale.  It worked out very well.  We met Mel at the side of Jewell Hill Road in Ashburnham.  While waiting for her on the memorial triangle our dog found this lovely creature.
 
As you can tell Mr. Water Snake was not too pleased that Ansel The Inquisitive Dog wanted to be his friend.  I took the dog to the other side of the island and Ben took pictures and pretty much harassed it.  Mel arrrived and we drove down to Graffiti Bridge.  We went behind the jersey barriers and over towards Bragg Hill Road and South Ashburnham Road.  Then we found the entrance into the field and power lines.  I took this picture of the rusted farm equipment.  I really like how it came out.    

 
We crossed the pasture and went down into the woods.  It was quite damp from the rain the 3 days before.  But the trails were manageable enough and our feet stayed dry.  Well us 2-footed creatures stayed dry. 

This was the first time we took our dog on the Midstate.  I checked to make sure we could bring him on this segment.  Some sections don't allow dogs or are on private property and I would worry about it even if it was okay.  I noticed he was getting rather hot though so we took a break right at the sign for the Westminster Conservation Commission.   

Ansel wasn't really interested in water or a snack so we humans ate ours and then went on.  This was a very nice area to hike it.  It was well maintained and the forest was lush and green.  It is so nice to be on trails that are not littered or packed with people.  



As we rounded the corner to head up the hill to Muddy Pond Shelter, Ben spotted this guy in the middle of the trail.  Another Water Snake.  I only know this now because I compared our photos to the ones online.  I'm not afraid of snakes when I know what they are.  On this hike, I managed to come across an unknown snake in two different areas.  Ansel never saw this one.  Ben and Mel had no fear.  I managed to be quite nervous but I made it by.  I definitely advise having a camera with a decent zoom to take photos for flora and fauna identification later.  And keeping a safe distance.  I know now that I was overly cautious with this guy but I'm okay with that.  
We reached the Muddy Pond Shelter in Westminster.  It was a lovely spot for camping!  I totally want to go back.  The amount of beer cans littered about was sad but the shelter is situated in a rather clear area over looking the pond.  While we were there a family came out with fishing gear for an afternoon of fun.  I think they had the right idea!   

We moved on and then the trail became a bit of a bear.  There was LOTS of overgrowth.  The vegetation has just flourished with all the rain and sun.  Here's Ansel heading into the ferns.    

We managed to get through the brush carefully.  Some of the vines had huge prickers on them!  But I think we only had one or two scratches.  Then we found the cart road the trail cleared out again.  While in the woods we started hearing some strange noises.  As I moved into the woods and took this picture of the abandoned truck I realized that the "dog" was actually a rooster.  Even though the truck is a sure sign, the rooster confirmed that we were getting close to the main roads again.

 
Directly after we passed the truck we had to gingerly get our way past the stream that was in the midst of the trail.  Ansel of course went right down the middle. 

I found a hollowed out tree that was playing with the light.  I love taking photos through the frame of nature.  

We could tell that we were heading down hill towards Rt. 12.  The sounds of cars and a lawnmower were getting louder and louder.  When we reached Philip's Brook I took a quick picture of Ansel the Muddy Dog and of Philip's Brook from the bridge.  The water was moving downstream very quickly.  


We made it back to our car and our first snake (yes, he was still there) in about 2 and a half hours.  That seems to be about right for us.  So we finished at mile 7.72 from the north terminus.  The FINAL trip has been scheduled.  Even though this was a shorter day for us, I know we're going to appreciate it next time.  I just hope that my photos continue to get better.  I really like the shots I took on Part 9.


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