The day I bought the stuff online, I headed up to the Millbury Mall for a triple espresso Starbucks coffee and a few buildings from it is EMS so I innocently go in as they had a big blue sale sign in front and plus I want to check out those cute little toe warmer things I had bought online earlier in the the day to see if they felt as soft as I thought they would when I bought them online. It was raining out so I had on my rain gear because I was going to bird outside and the EMS store clerk looks at me and sees dollar signs as he enthusiastically tells me everything in the store is between 20-50% off. Everything I ask as I look around.....Yes he shakes his head as I run toward the jackets as I have a huge thing for them that started at the age of 6 but that's another story for another. Anyhow, with his help, I proceeded to buy a bunch of things including base layers, middle layers and top layers with none of them being cotton. I left the store a little poorer but happy just the same as the stuff I bought was pretty nifty I do have to say!!
So off I ventured to Wachusett Mountain on Sunday. I didn't have winter clothes per say (except for hat and gloves), but did have three layers on with another one in my day bag should I need it. I also had on my honkin gortex boots I bought recently that I'm still getting used to. I've been using my trail running shoes for hiking all summer and fall and love them as they are ultra light and meant for running trails but the boots weigh you down and make you slower which takes some getting used to. I put them on with the new EMS socks as well as my running insoles from my trail running shoes and I instantly felt better as I headed out to the trail.
I decided to take Pine Hill as I knew it was well populated and had an episode last Sunday at the Cross Street power lines with a couple of weirdos who seemed to be over my shoulder everywhere I turned so between that and the hunter last weekend I have been feeling a little uneasy venturing off to the woods alone lately which frustrates me as I can be fiercely independent at times but do have to trust my gut and right now venturing off in the woods by myself is probably not wise, especially with the shorter days no less.
The trail up to the summit was muddy as you walked through thick puddles of it that sometimes would get right to your mid boot and slow you down. The rocks too were wet which made them slippery but the boots worked much better than my trail running shoes on this surface so I walked up with caution but ease as others carefully navigated the rocks in only their sneakers (glad I didn't see any flip flops or sandals though!)
There were no birds up the trail (expect for a flock of Black-capped Chickadees) that were passing through. One thing I noticed was how different everything looked since the last time I was there when the trees were full of leaves, now they were bare and you could catch glimpses of the land scape which was nice for a change.
I finally made it to the summit (minus a layer I had taken off hiking up the trail) and there are only a couple of people there who are getting their picture taken and then hurrying back down the trail to escape the occasional wind gusts that were downright chilly. I walked around listening and searching for Snow Buntings but didn't find any so I sat on a rock drinking my water, scanning the skies with binoculars in hopes of seeing a passing hawk nearby knowing the odds were not in my favor but it just seems a natural thing to do when on a mountain top.
I walked around for views and pictures and was once again reminded why I prefer the Watatic Summit to this one where everywhere you turn is a picture opportunity vs Wachusett where you have to work for it as the towers and trees get in the way. Ice was formed in certain spots of the summit which I stopped to look at as it was the first ice I have seen thus far this season. I had forgotten how pretty it can be all though very unforgiving at times.
I finally found a nice spot with the perfect view and look out toward the endless landscape and vast blue skies which were wonderful to see after all of the gray we have had recently.
I search again for raptors or even a Common Raven at this point but all I see is this plane going by and I know that's my cue to head on back down the mountain.
I decided to make a couple of stops at Wachusett Reservoir on my way home with one being an area I had seen a tight raft of Common Goldeneye while driving by in the AM that I couldn't stop at as some jerk was riding my tail and there was no place safe to park. I go back there on the way and see some American Crows eating berries from trees and paying no attention to me.
I know they sense my presence as they are rather smart birds, but I guess those berries were just too tasty to fly away before they got their fill as they were just too much to resist.
I didn't see the goldeneye as they were long gone by the time I returned but it still was pretty to look at. All in all the layering system worked great so if you plan of birding, hiking or any other kind of outdoor activity this winter, I strongly suggest you rid yourself of the cotton and head on over to EMS or any other outdoor store so you too can be prepared! ;-) Take care all.