Mount Monadnock photo taken by me while at the summit of Mount Wachusett
I decided to take advantage of my last day off for the weekend and head out to Wachusett Meadows for some running, hiking and birding as I was curious what the place was like in the winter and was hoping I may be lucky enough to spot one of the Northern Goshawks, but once again a no go.
I spent some time before my run over near the feeders where there were scores of birds including the regular Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals, American Goldfinches and the Black-capped Chickadee and American Tree Sparrow shown above.
Another Black-capped Chickadee I spotted during my warm up giving me the "hairy eyeball".
As I was making my way toward the Chapman trail to run/hike on through to Mount Wachusett, I came across a bunch of deer and stopped dead in my tracks as not to disturb them while they were grazing and to get some pictures of course.
Check out the one with the itchy ear. So cute!!!
Finally they all ran off with such grace and speed, that I yearned to chase after them and join in on the fun when suddenly one stopped to give me one more glance. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at the deer as it stared back at me in return and that happy feeling I get whenever I am outdoors and something cool happens arose as I set off on the trail in which they had just vanished from.
The trails at Wachusett Meadows and Mount Wachusett are the most narrow I have come across thus far in running and the most technical which is just what I wanted. The more technical the trail, the greater the chance of falling so was careful of my foot placement but did take my first official "run spill" ever today and am happy to report that I didn't do too bad as my gymnastics instinct from the past kicked in and I tucked my head inward to let my shoulder take the brunt impact of the blow. The shoulder was spared damage thanks to deep snow, but the knee was not as fortunate as I scraped it up some but wouldn't know it until I got home and saw the blood on my thermal pants. :-p. All in all, I was glad that it happened because if you trail run, you fall, and I needed the practice. HA (and yes I am serious :-P)
After about 1.7 miles of mostly running, I came to the end of Wachusett Meadows and to the Harrington Trail at Mount Wachusett and the first thing that struck me was the lack of snow at the beginning of the trail which was awesome because I haven't run on bare earth in a couple of months now so it was very welcome.
Soon enough though there would be no more bare earth, just more snow and toward the beginning of the summit, lost of ice so I used some common sense and decided to hike instead of run. You can see what I am talking about with the ice in the photo above. I avoided hiking on ice patches such as this and would seek alternative routes that were not as ice packed and had trees around for grabbing because I didn't have my trek poles with me because I was running and they would just get in the way.
But I had no problems running other parts of it that were a little more forgiving with soft snow and the beauty of a winters day.
Blue Ice I came across near the Link Trail that would lead me up to the summit. Again, I was hiking at this point.
The closer I got to the summit, the more people I would see, who were out there with microspikes and trek poles getting in a little winter hiking. As they passed by, they all commented on how windy and cold it was up at the summit as I was soon about to find out for myself as the wind whipped against my face and the tears started to well up in my eyes due to the strong winds.
That didn't stop me from getting my camera out to get some pictures though, like the one above.
The wind was too strong and cold for me to do my usual, eat a Cliff Bar and Chocolate while at the summit so I made my way down back to the Midstate Trail while inhaling my snacks as I had already gone 3.5 miles at that point in which 2 miles of it or so was spent running.
And then, the funniest thing happens to me. I am running down a fairly steep trail when suddenly I see something in the middle of the trail staring at me. It registers in my brain as a bird as I call out to my legs to stop because I didn't want to run it over. My legs attempt a stop in the midst of the steep trail when suddenly, the very ticked off chickadee gives a very feisty little Chick a dee dee dee dee dee, and flies off with the rest of the clan. I am grateful the bird saw me because I wasn't doing a good job in stopping so decided to take a rest and get some pictures. Not only where there chickadees there, but White-breasted Nuthatches like the one above.
A picture of Mountain Road. The prettiest I have ever seen it! May actually be pretty enough for running if the snow sticks around some. ;-)
Those awful wind turbines that are so ugly in my opinion. Yes I know we need alternative energy and blah, blah, blah, but they are hideous and I don't like the potential danger they have toward raptors and other birds so when I see when they depress me.
My last bird of the day that I pished before going back to my car to head home.
I finally make my way back with very achy legs, wet feet (despite my sock layers and wick socks) and a very hearty appetite. All in all, it was 8.5 miles 5 of it running and 3.5 of it hiking (I spent some time on other trails running at the Meadows before doing Chapman to Harrington) and it was awesome. I was looking to find a place where I could put in lots of miles and they are hard to come by near my neck of the woods so was happy to get out there. It's funny in that I complain a lot about winter, but find that if I am outside and very active in it, I love it. We are supposed to get some snow tonight and I am hoping it sticks around some as it's so much fun to play in!
Take care all!