Monday, May 21, 2012

Great Brook Farm- WearBears MeetUp

Last Saturday, we went to a babywearer's meetup at Great Brook Farm State Park.  We've hiked there many times and I enjoy cross country skiing in the winter, especially the lantern skiing they offer at night.  I had been searching for groups of parents to connect with that might have similar ideas.  We have quite a few carriers thanks to some friends who have lent them to us.  Some days wearing Little Dude is the only way we can get things done.  It's also a great way to get him to see the woods.  So off we went. 

We parked in the $3 fee parking lot and met up with some of the other mothers.  At that point we were the only ones using a baby carrier.  We walked along to the otherside of the pond and snagged a picnic table.  Some of the children snacked and parents chatted about their experiences.  We had brought along our dog who attracted quite a bit of attention from the kiddos.

The pond had quite a bit of wild life.  We spotted several tadpoles and this big bull frog.  He had been croaking the whole time we were hanging out.  It was neat to find him only feet from where we were sitting. 

There also was this family of geese.  They were quite wary of us and had swum out to the middle of the pond.  Eventually they became brave enough to wander back towards their nest.

We finished snacking and decided that we wanted to hit the trail.  The other families didn't seem to be ready yet so we said our goodbyes and wandered across the street to the main trails.  It was a clear and sunny day.  We saw many bikers, walkers, and horseback riders. 

 Massachusetts had received quite a bit of rain in the last few weeks so all the ponds were quite full. 

There even was a washout of the bridge and some of the trails were closed off.

The trails that we took for the most part seemed dry and easy to travel on.  The mosquitoes had started to come out and I'm sure as we have a few more dry days they will be terrible.  Unlike previous hikes, we did not come home with a ton of ticks on the dog (or us).  I wonder if the park has treated for them.

With 20 miles of trails we usually wander for hours and have a picnic.  Unfortunately we had quite a bit planned for this day so we only hiked a short loop.  Carrying a 11 pound baby in a Kozy Carrier, it was just enough hiking for me.  I'm still working on strengthening my core so that I can hike longer distances carrying Little Dude.  Oh, and to get rid of the pregnancy weight.

Typically we would go and have ice cream after this hike as there is a working dairy farm on site.  This past week they had trouble with the DCR coming in and shutting the ice cream shop down due to construction permit troubles.  Definitely was strange news.  They had reopened the day we were there but we were heading to two parties with cake so we passed.  

We've always loved going to Great Brook Farm and will continue to head there.  It's not usually our first choice as there is a parking fee and many other local trails without a fee.  However, it's well maintained and well used.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mother's Day Meander

On Mother's Day, Ben suggested we go for a hike.  Since the weather was nice but possible showers were on the way we went up to Mine Falls Park in Nashua, NH.  Mine Falls Park is a 325-acre park.  The trails wind through forest, wetlands, and open fields.  It is bordered on the north by the Nashua River and on the south by the Millpond and canal system.  

Pre-baby, we had hiked there many times with our dog.  We knew that the trails were mostly accessible with a stroller with hard packed paths.  It would be shady enough that we would be cool in the 80 degree weather.  We packed up the dog and Little Dude and found one of the trail heads.  

We parked at the Coliseum Drive entrance.  Ben had meant to park at the Whipple Street entrance but missed the exit off of Daniel Webster Highway.  It was probably for the best as Whipple Street was full of cars for soccer and baseball games.  

Little Dude had fallen asleep during the car ride, so we gently transferred his carrier onto the stroller.  Then we were off.  There were many families out on the trails. We saw a few bikers, some hard-core and some leisurely.  Mainly there were walkers and joggers. 

We followed the trails towards the falls.  Just before it we veered left and followed the shoreline of Mill Pond towards Nashua center.  We crossed under Daniel Webster Highway and decided to continue on along the bank of the canal.  We paused to take care of Little Dude at a large boulder that made a great place to sit and watch the Nashua River.  

After Little Dude was nursed and changed, we decided to head back home as clouds were building up.  If you look at the map, we essentially hiked the Green Trail and part of the Blue Trail.  The trails are marked with small wooden blazes.  We've never used them though.  With a good sense of direction, one can wander the paths and not get too turned around. 

Mine Falls Park is open from 6AM - 10PM.  The trails are well maintained.  It is not unusual to see fishing, cycling, running, or meandering taking place.  We hiked approximately 3.5 miles on Mother's Day.  There's tons of entrances and lots to explore.  Nashua has a website with more information about the park.        

Monday, May 7, 2012

Foss Farm - Carlisle, MA

Our first hike with the Little Dude was to be in the Lincoln Conservation area. However, after struggling to find the entrance we ended up at Foss Farm in Carlisle, MA. We found it by accident while we were heading to Great Brook Farm and decided to stop in. Foss Farm is a 57-acre parcel purchased in 1971 for conservation and recreation purposes. It is located on Route 225 in Carlisle, about a quarter mile west of the Concord River, on the right. It is separated from Carlisle's Greenough Land Conservation Area by a portion of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. There are many trails that seem to wind throughout the woods and past the community gardens.  

We pulled into the parking lot and unloaded our dog and our baby stroller.  The area seemed level enough to use the stroller as opposed to carrying the Little Dude.  We went off towards the sign post hoping to see a map.  Unfortunately there wasn't one (this always makes me a bit nervous) but there were many postings on picking up after your dog.  A map of the trails can be found on the conservation website.

We went off down the trail and passed a horse rider working with her horse and another pair of hikers.  We crossed a dirt road that gave the gardeners access to the gardens.  On such a nice day there were many people working on the gardens.  According to one website there are over 70 garden plots for members to tend to.  

We wandered along and into the woods.  The trails were sandy and clear of tree limbs or storm damage.  That day wasn't as buggy as it could have been given the rainy weather we had the week before.  We then came across a dirt road with a sign asking us to watch for sled dogs.  We followed the trail towards the tower and down towards the wetlands.  

We found the entrance to the Great Meadows Refuge which we didn't enter because we had the dog.  And then we found a lovely house with sheep and goats in the yard.  We could hear in the distance someone working with a whistle to train a dog.  At this point we wondered if we were trespassing and decided to turn around and head back.  We took a few side trails that meandered back up to the parking lot.  There was quite a bit of still water at the sides of the trails.  We could see the mosquito eggs waiting to hatch.  As pretty as that was we were itching just thinking about it.

When we arrived back at the parking lot, there was only one other vehicle there.  We had hiked a little over an hour.  As we looked at our dog we could see ticks all over his paws.  We put the Little Dude in the car and then tended to the dog.  We must have pulled off 30 ticks in the parking lot, another 10 when we stopped for ice cream at Kimball Farm, and then brushed out more when we returned home.  We had read in the papers that it would be a bad tick season.  It appears that they were right.  

This was a good easy stroll in the woods.  Just right for a quick outing that can easily end in an ice cream sundae or frappe.