Saturday, November 22, 2014

Noanet Woodlands

Iceciles on the dam

DJ standing over Noanet Brook
This is the stream that ran the Iron Mill

After a lunch and some hot chocolate, DJ went across the street from Powisset Farm to Noanet Woodlands. This forest is also owned by the Trustees of Reservations. It is a large area covering 595 acres. There are 17 miles of trails. We knew that here, we could finally stretch our legs and get some hiking in. There are a couple of really cool things to see in these woods.

The first is Noanet Hill itself. It is not real big but there is an east facing view towards the Boston skyline. Besides looking towards Bosron, there is commanding view of the area. It is all hardwoods so the leaves are all brown now, but what it must have looked like a month ago!

A view from my perch on the summit
Even more interesting are the ruins of an old iron mill. All that is left is the water storing dam and the foundation. Apparently, there used to be a water wheel that powered the mill that was the largest in New England and maybe the country. There is signage with info about the mill. I thought it was fascinating. Behind the dam are four or five water storing ponds. I liked the area very much. We didn't see any deer, but being close to Boston the scenery made up for it.

A Cedar Tree at the Summit

Friday, November 21, 2014

Two Parks not Really worth it this time of Year

Thursday, DJ and I set off for another day of hiking. We went to three places we had never been to
One of the big white pines at Elm Bank

before.DJ worked the night before so he didn't get much sleep. He was willing to go anyway so I hoped it would be worth it to him to get up early.

 The first that we went to was the Elm Bank Reservation off Route 16 in Wellesley. Of the three, this was the one I was most looking forward too. I am a member of "Massbird" an email club that members post about bird watching. Elm Bank is mentioned a  lot. The park is 182 acres. Unfortunately some of that land is soccer fields, parking lots and the MA Horticultural Society has their headquarters there. So there is not a lot of trails to hike. We did find one nice trail that ran along the banks of the Charles River for about 1/2 mile. Along the trail were some huge oaks and white pines. I liked the trail a lot. It just wasn't very long. There is a lot of paths and paved roads making it a great place to jog or walk a dog. But for a hike, it was a little disappointing. Though in spring, with migrating birds, the fishing in the river and warm weather, I can see it being very popular. The weirdest thing we saw was a canoe going down river without anyone in it. There wasn't any sign of anyone following it or trying to capture it.

The second place we went was even more disappointing. We went to Powisset Farm in Dover. The farm is owned by the Trustees of Reservations. A private group that protects open land, sort of like the Audubon Society. The farm is a "working farm" over 100 acres. They have livestock, hayfields and vegetables gardens. I obviously did not expect to see the garden in all its glory this time of year. I did think there would be trails through meadows and hayfields. Maybe there are, but all we saw was the main area and some chickens. This would be a fun place to go in spring and summer with little baby animals and a huge garden. It is open to the public, but again, for hiking it was lacking.
Charles River

Exploring new places, I expect to find places that disappoint. I except this as part of the game. Later in the day we found Noanet Woodlands that was really nice. Last week I hit it two for two with Cutler Park and Wilson Mountain, but I want to share places with you guys that might not be worth the time also.

Lonely canoe going downstream

Chickens at Powisset Farm

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cutler Park, Needham/ Dedham/ Boston

The biggest cat tail marsh I have ever seen
My second destination last Saturday was so close to my first I didn't even get up to speed on the
highway. I went to Cutler Park. Directions are as easy as Wilson Mountain. Get off Route 128 at Exit 18 (Great Plain Ave) towards Dedham. The small parking area will be a couple hundred yards down on the left. This park is large (600 acres) and can also be accessed from other points including Kendrick Street.

As stated above, this park is large. I did the big loop trail called the Heron Trail which has to be near 8 miles. I misjudged the length of it. I started my walk just past 1 pm, I didn't get back to my car until it was almost dark at 4:30. I really didn't stop and walked at a fairly quick pace. If you decide to do this loop, give yourself ample time.

Also of note, the trail is hard to follow when you come to Millenium Park. I guessed right, but for a time, I did not know if I was going the right way. Also there was some road walking on the VFW Parkway, Route 135 and Needham Street. I knew I would have to road walk doing this loop. There are plenty of shorter trails that did not require road walking in Boston.

My highlight here was seeing three deer, however none of them wanted their picture taken and I saw the big white flag flying in the air as they bounded away. a large part of the park is cat tail marsh, so I would bet during spring and summer, it is loaded with birds.

Just doing a Google search will quickly get for Cutler Park will easily get you to the website of Cutler Park. From there you can download a trail map and read other important info, I suggest you have a charged battery on your phone if you use it to read the trail map. I started my hike at 42% battery life and reached my car just before dark with only 8%, and I needed the map to negotiate the side roads  I was walking on. It was a little hairy.

Tunnel under the commuter rail
The rail line cuts the park in half

The Charles River
I lover that dirty water!

Kendrick Pond, I bet those hardwoods in the background were
beautiful a month ago

Monday, November 17, 2014

Wilson Mountain. Dedham

A couple of posts ago I promised to hike once a week for the winter (weather permitting). Not
A little babbling brook
wanting to be a liar, I made good on my promise on Saturday. I hit up a couple of reservations near Boston. The first was named Wilson Mountain. This property is owned by the state and is a 207 acre state park. Directions are simple., Take Route 128 to Exit 17 (Route 135). Parking is a half mile down on the right.

There are a couple miles of trail. Although calling Wilson Mountain is like calling me at five foot five an NBA center, there is a hill that actually has a view towards the Boston skyline. It was a pretty park. I'd say there are a couple miles of trails. On a chilly but dry day I saw a few people. At least half of them were walking their dog.

The highlight for me was seeing a decent size buck. I had just put my camera in my bag not ten seconds before I saw it. luckily, it did not see me and I got a couple quick pictures of it. I would say it was forty yards away. there was some brush between us, so the pictures were not great, but I did get to watch it meander on a a ridge for a minute or so. Between hiking, picture taking and sitting on top looking at the view I stayed about two hours.
A pretty carpet of pine needles

Prudential on far left
John Hancock middle left
The best view is from on top of this rock
as you can see both the John Hancock and Prudential

Stealing picture ideas from the Mountain Wanderer
and one of my favorite authors Steve Smith


A little bit of snow was left over from the little storm the previous morning

Even as the temperature rose to around forty, the skim ice never melted off the swamp

A buck through the brush

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Providence College Hockey

One thing DJ and I started doing last
winter is going to Providence College hockey games. The games are a lot of fun. The tickets are cheap, I think the most expensive tickets are seventeen dollars. PC plays in a division called Hockey East. Just about every team in the league is in the top 25.

On Saturday night we went to our second game of the year. The Friars played number 10 Vermont. PC lost the game 2-1. Of course we wanted to see the home team win, but we still had fun.

If you live near a college, consider going to one of their athletic events. PC is only 20 minutes from our house. For most Division 1 colleges, tickets for basketball and football aren't real cheap. However, tickets for baseball and hockey are super cheap The games are well played and some of the players are going to be pros someday. I'm all for going to sporting events and not spending a lot of money.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Terrific carp fishing especially for November

One of the cooler looking carp today
My friend Dave and I talk almost everyday. Yesterday he told me about a terrific day that he had carp fishing. On a fairly warm day with a snowstorm coming he caught a mind blowing 20 carp. Knowing I had Friday off, he suggested we make tentative plans depending on the AM snow. When we got up the snow was over so we planned on leaving at 10;30.

I did not expect a repeat of yesterday. The weather conditions were what I consider to be the very worst fishing conditions possible. The wind was northwest and the temperature was twenty degrees colder than the previous day with two inches of snow thrown in. To be honest, I wouldn't have gone fishing if I was alone. I have been blanked so many times on a cold northwest that I usually hit a movie instead. None the less I hadn't seen my friend in a while so I was excited to go fishing anyway. I just did not have high expectations.

Very shortly after we got there, I caught a fish. As I was just getting it to shore my other alarm went off. The first fish was bigger going about 10 pounds. A few minutes later I caught another two more back to back. All told we ended up with eleven carp up to 12 pounds. This of course was a far cry from the twenty Dave caught alone yesterday. So much so that his blogpost tonight is titled "back to reality".

I, on the other hand, am jubilant over the fish we caught today. It was the most carp I caught in one session since May. It was by far the most carp I have caught in a "winter month". I really appreciate the fact Dave was willing to share his spot that he experimented and fished on his own. Since the time change, I really can't get out for daytime fishing except on my day off. To be dropped into great fishing like today, well, I simply am grateful.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It isn't exercise, it's living

Last night I was looking up reviews for light raincoats for hiking. I came across a blog with a long unbiased review. The writer was from the northeast so I checked out his blog. It was very interesting. I stumbled upon the above phrase "it isn't exercise, it's living". It immediately hit me like a pillow case full of bricks. That five word phrase got me thinking.
 Over the last five months I have lost about fifty pounds. I run a lot and bike ride. However the weather is getting cold . My biggest fear in the world is that I will put the weight back on over the winter and worse than that, get out of shape again. I joined the Attleboro YMCA, so I can keep up with working out the next four months. However, I will hate it. I'd much rather go for a four mile run than to the gym, but that is not an option when there are three foot snow drifts.

Do not get me wrong I'm still outside all winter. If there is ice, I ice fish. Many night I'm chasing wintering stripers. Most of my outdoor time in the winter is fishing. During work days, daytime fishing is out of the question, since I am usually getting home as the setting sun is nearing the horizon, that is why I concentrate on the stripers. As for hiking, one can't hike when there is two feet of snow.

This fall I bought snowshoes, so that solves my problem of hiking in snow. Still, I admit, snowshoeing around here doesn't excite me.  I want to see the big scenery of the White Mountains. The thought of going to the same old state parks that I got bored with years ago, did not entice me. Part of the reason for this (upon some soul searching) is I have been spoiled. The White Mountains are fairly close, that I'd rather save my energy and gas money for a trip to New Hampshire once a month than short jaunts to Myles Standish State Park. So instead, I fish. quite happily and without regret.

I used to go bird watching a lot. DJ and I would hit multiple spots on a winter day. We would shoot for fifty species over a weekend. I sort of got out of that too. I think, that once I saw all the big mammals out west, I didn't appreciate the woodpeckers and ring neck ducks as much.

After stumbling upon that quote, I started thinking about snowshoeing and wintertime hiking. I realized that it has been a while since I went birding.  Some of the places I got bored with, I now miss seeing. So I think once a week, on one of my two days off, I am going to plan trips to some winter time destinations within an hour from home. I have researched some Audubon Sanctuaries in MA and R I. There are beaches that get no visitors during the winter. I plan on exploring them. I will still fish just as much, but one day off a week will be about hiking, snowshoeing, and birding.

  One plan I already have is a day in Newport. A late morning start would get me to the Cliff Walk around noon. A nice walk behind the mansions and back to the car would take a couple hours. Follow this up with a late lunch at one of the pubs or more likely Becky's BBQ. After lunch a hike at Sachuest right before dark pretty much guarantees seeing deer with a better than average chance of seeing an owl.

Doing stuff like that once a week will get me in touch with nature again. Maybe I will come across old relics in abandoned farms at Audubon sites. I want to enjoy those little things more. Plus and most importantly, it will be a day to stretch my legs outside instead of a gym. Hopefully I can find some places to build up a good sweat but stop to see a meadowlark. After all a good day outdoors isn't exercise it's living.