Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Smoldering Sunday

I decided to head north today in an attempt to escape the heat and resigned myself to the fact that I probably wouldn't see too many birds today as they appear to dislike the hot temps as much as I do and like to hide in this weather. Anyhow, my son's girlfriend's friend is getting married in October and she wants to slim down a little as she is in the wedding so she asked if she could tag along with me and get some exercise. With that said, we spent about an hour last night doing research on various places and we both decided on a mountain and not Wachusett as the place would be crazy today and I couldn't deal with it after Purgatory last Sunday so we decided on Mount Watatic instead as its a fairly short drive and would be easy for her to hike up. She was all gung ho about it last night and even packed her borrowed day-bag to venture off with me for some one on one mother-girlfriend bonding!

Fast forward to this morning at 6AM when I try and wake her up and suddenly all I am getting is incoherent mumbling and something about potential heat stroke! HA. Anyhow, I decided to go up there anyhow after the research I did last night as well a the fact that I now have my GPS device so away I went.

The drive up there was actually very nice and I was lucky enough to be able to get fairly close to this juvenile Great-blue Heron for some pictures. This was taken in Ashby. When I was leaving Mount Watatic to go back home, there were approx. 20 Canada Geese at this same small pond so it appears to be a very popular watering hole amongst the avian population!

Fight shot! These birds still look so pre-historic at times. It makes them very interesting to photograph.

I started off at the Mid-state Trail with every intention of attempting to run some of it but soon changed my mind as the reality of the rising temperatures set in as well as the sight of a Broad-winged Hawk flying across the trail and interrupted my half hearted attempt of a slow jog. ;o). Anyhow, the birder in me took over and next thing you know I am off the path and into the deeper part of the woods in hopes I could get a look at it as well as a photo. I never was able to get a photo but I saw three Broad-winged Hawks today in Ashburnham and Ashby and all three times the birds were too quick AND too quiet for me to get their landing location or a pic.

The picture above is of a tree that appears to have suffered some damage either at the mercy of the terrible ice storm late last year or perhaps a lighting strike. I thought it was very interesting though due to how the sun was filtering the trees above. Almost served as a spotlight of sorts.

A rock I discovered while hiking my way up the Wapack Trail. I thought it was so cool with all of the moss, lichen and pine dried up pine needles. Much prettier than most paintings I have ever seen and a lot more satisfying to look at.

I had the opportunity of running across a few critters as well including a few red squirrels, some chipmunks, a quick little garder snake that I tried to get a picture of, as well as this little toad that I am assuming is a tree toad.

Lots of fungi along the trail as well with all of the damp weather we had had recently. I had stopped to take a picture of these mushrooms when suddenly I could hear a lot of commotion coming from the top of the trail and headed my way. I look up and to my astonishment I see a man huffing and puffing and actually trail running a very rocky part of the trail. His face was all red and his breathing was totally out of his safe cardio zone as he literally stumbled and slipped right past my startled eyes. To make things even more bizarre I don't think the poor man even had a water. Sheesh, talk about crazy, who would attempt to run in weather such as this? Better him than me though I thought as I happily took my time getting up the trail and getting some pictures. Of course the guy was probably wondering who the crazy broad was along the edge of the trail on her stomach taking pictures of wild shrooms so I guess it works both ways.
A pretty flower shot.

Berry shot taken on top of the summit.

I stayed up there for a while and it was really nice as there was no one up there besides myself (again totally different than Mount Wachusett) and decided to reward myself with a Snickers bar because sugar is a must after any kind of hike no matter how small. I take out the candy and it is completely melted despite me having it in a part of my day bag that I thought would save it from the heat (this happened to me yesterday too with my Zone Bar). Grrrrrr.......very frustrating and had to resort to trail mix again. I did drink 4 waters while going up and down the mountain though as it was very hot even at a higher elevation!
All in all, I really liked this mountain MUCH better than Wachusett which is just too touristy for me. It also has much better views in my opinion. The people I met going up and down the mountain were actually rather pleasant and not like some of the ones I run across while at Wachusett so I am glad I made the trip. Of course my son's girlfriend asked if we could do it agan this week as she suddenly felt much better, and I told her I would happily give her directions so she and my son could attempt it if they could find the energy. ;o).

Finally, while walking back down, I ran into a family with kids and a couple of dogs and the dogs developed a strong interest in following me vs the family. I made sure I kept it slow so the owners would know where the dogs where and suddenly I look over and one of them decides to cool down in a puddle. HA. So funny to watch the two of them rolling around in the mud and taking a good long drink. Of course the woman who owned them wasn't as amused as these dogs were going in her car in that condition but even she laughed as one couldn't help it!

And another bizarre episode that I am still kind of steamed about. I decided to stop at Bolton Flats on my way home to check things out and the town of Lancaster literally closed down Route 117 and only made it accessible to people going to the fair. I stopped for a second and had to allow this to register in my head. WTH: Is this even legal I think to myself? Roads closed for a fair???? Hmmmmmmmmm..........I will just attempt to go by as this is the only way I know how to get to Bolton and how are they going to know I am not headed to the fair anyhow.

I was soon about to find out as a police officer flags me down and asks if I am going to the fair. I am a terrible liar so I smile at him sheepishly as I think of what to say and decide the dumb blonde approach is probably my safest bet as it has gotten me out of numerous traffic tickets in the past. Is the fair this way, I ask still trying to think of an excuse on why I am trying to get by. Yes maam, is that where you are headed??? No, I finally admit, I am headed to Bolton Flats and this is the only way my GPS system tells me I can get there I say as I point to Rita. Well there is no Bolton Flats around here and you are in Lancaster maam. I am too tired at this point to explain to him that there is indeed a Bolton Flats along this route and home to many adorable little shorebirds that I am going to miss out on all due to some hokey little fair, but decide to save my energy as I didn't want to become familiar with the Lancaster jail anyways. Anyhow, I googled it when I got home and it is actually the Bolton Fair and took place today. Murphy's Law I tell you!

Take care all


Kelly said...

Wow! What a beautiful hike despite the heat. You're so lucky you have a mountain within driving distance you can climb. Four water bottles and a melted Snicker's bar says a lot!!! We are suffering from the heat too. The Women's Open tennis tourney finished today, and we baked in the sun as we watched Jankovic beat Safina. The men's tourney starts tomorrow...more of the same heat.

Deborah Godin said...

Loved your tale of the hike, and all your enounters!

Tom Pirro said...

Glad to see you got to Watatic, its really a gem! Great views for a very modest hike...we hawkwatch from east summit (a bit lower than the main summit but better view). Its very popular on fall weekends, but other wise fairly quiet.

Steve B said...

Sorry to comment and run, but I wanted to say that you have some great rail shots and love the Green Heron. I saw my first two Saturday since I retruned to the east coast. (I'm not hanging around enough swamps I guess.)

Chris Petrak said...

Nice series - and from the previous post, I especially liked the young rail - makes me think I need to get back to the marsh where I found them early this year.

Kim said...

Thanks all. Yes it was a nice hike and I have been lucking out with the herons and rails.

Tom, Watatic was a pleasant surprise and the summit was very peaceful. It has a great view so I can understand the appeal of hawkwatching from there as you sure can see a lot!


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