Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trail Running/Hiking Mount Watatic to Pratt Mountain (Wapack Trail)

I decided to hit the trails yesterday and do the part of the Midstate Trail near Mount Watatic which is essentially now the Wapack Trail which would lead me to the summit of Mount Watatic and then Pratt Mountain as that was an area I had never explored before but based on some google reviews, it sounded like it would be interesting so off I went!

I would hike up to the summit for the most part with perhaps 1/4 mile of running areas that were not too steep as I knew I would need my leg strength for the remainder of the trip and I didn't mind at all because at that point no one was on the trail except for me and it was so peaceful I could have lingered there all day.
I would make my way to the summit and not a soul would be there. I looked up to the sky in search for raptors and they would be absent as well, but not for long as hawk watching is looming near I thought as I looked over at the rock where everyone goes to search for hawks.
View from the summit of Mount Watatic.
After a few minutes, I would head onto the Wapack Trail in the direction of New Hampshire, but be distracted by a gravel road that caught my interest. It reminded me of the powerline trails I love to run so much nearby, but haven't due to the fact I hear wasps like nesting there, so I gave into the temptations and just ran down that hill to see if I could still do it as running downhill is my favorite thing to do, but it can be dangerous on regular trails because of large rocks and roots which are easy to trip on. The smaller rocks are not as hazardous because you can't trip on them and the worst thing you can do is slide on them, but that makes it even more the fun as the rocks help to carry you down some. HA. The hills seemed to keep going and going I thought to myself and I thought a couple of times about stopping and going back up but then assumed I could pick up the Wapack there and all would be well.
I would look around for the wapack and would do some running around the area just to explore and would come across this rock here, but not much else except for what appeared to be a large parking lot. Hmmmm....I would think a little disappointed as it appeared as if I would have to get back up the hill.
I would start off running and and all would be well until I got to about 1/3rd up and then I would really start to feel it as my legs are no longer used to running up hill on small little rocks where you have to balance yourself because you slip and fall sometimes if you don't.
I would continue to hike it and hope to get to the top soon, but all I could see was more road. Hmmmmmm, this was probably not a wise thing to do considering I want to get all the way to Pratt and I'm already tired I thought as I took out a Cliff Bar. Oh well, I thought and continued along huffing and puffing the entire way.
I would take a sip of water near the top and turn around and this is what I would see. I looked at the view for a moment and then took out my camera and wondered how come I didn't notice it on the way down as the view was so vast and beautiful. Glad I saw it on the way up and it made that hill worth it in the end.
I would finally make my way to Wapack and after about a mile of running it, I knew I had found my new favorite trial for running. There was still not a soul to be seen and the trails were just beautiful and new to me and running them was nice because it wasn't too steep but challenging just the same because there was elevation here and there.
There would be some birds here and there including a great look at a Hermit Thrush who was bathing in a puddle but took off as soon as I went for my camera, as well as many Dark-eyed Juncos like the one above.
Another part of the Wapack Trail that caused me to stop and take out my camera. I had read that some parts of the Wapack were bare of trees due to logging and would soon see that for myself. The sun felt great after all that rain and I ran this with ease.
One of the numerous Garter Snakes I would see. In fact, I had one almost crawl over me a little further down the way so I would get paranoid because I didn't want to step on one as I have a deep fondness of these little snakes and would have been over ridden with guilt the rest of the weekend.
An abandoned shed of some sort along the way. There would be junk and what appeared to be car parts everywhere here. It was really odd to see and thought it was picture worthy.
I would finally make my way to Binney Pond in New Ipswich New Hampshire and all would be quit bird wise except for one lone Great-blue Heron who flew by as it was irritated by my arrival.
It would be around here that the trails would get really narrow and the bugs would start to come at me. I was super annoyed over the bugs, but the run would still be nice because the trail follows the pond which was nice to look at so I wasn't complaining much. Suddenly I would find myself in a part of the trail that was super narrow and rather wild and I would realize I somehow veered off the trail and was in the middle of no where as the little black bugs swarmed me. I stood there looking for yellow arrows and didn't find any so had to resort to bush whacking around until I could see blue skies which indicated to me I had found Pratt Mountain, but just not the way I had intended to that's all. :-p
I would finally make my way to the overlook and decided to sit on a rock and drink in the view. The bugs were now gone and my legs tired so decided to eat again and catch my breath. The view of Binney Pond and the surrounding area was just gorgeous as I looked around and tried to identify the mountains I could see.
Another view. All of the running, hiking bush whacking and bug swatting was well worth it I thought as I drank my water.
No summit rock for posing but figured I would get a picture just the same. Like how this one came out funky due to the sun to my right.
View from the summit of Pratt (if you can call it a summit seriously). Despite its small size it did allow from more killer views you just can't get at Wachusett unless you are 6 feet tall and can see over the trees and towers. ;-)
Mount Monadnock I believe and a much better look at it from here than Wachusett as it's closer. I would make my way back to Route 119 in Ashburnham and not get lost this time, but I had a real hard time running because my legs were spent and I'm guessing it was from running up and down so many steep inclines and declines as much as I did. It's funny in that Mount Wachusett is a steeper mountain and I am getting really good at running that, but you make your way up and then make your way down so it gives your legs a chance to regroup which is something I was never able to do here. I would be disappointed, but figured there's always next time to try it again. ;-)

I will be blogging about night hawk watching at some point this week as Alan and I had done some last week and got a very impressive number for our location and plan on doing it tonight too so between the two nights I should have some ok photos (hoping we hit the jackpot this evening, and double hoping for a Black Vulture!).

Take care all.


Chris Petrak said...

Lovely images - and good reminder that we have to get outside to appreciate the beauty of our area.

Stacey said...

Great photos!

Larry said...

Nice photos-I love getting up in elevation-it feels good and I'm looking forward to seeing the hawks come through soon. Trail running?-good for you-walking up a trail is all I can handle.

zbsports said...

Great adventure and post too. I love the pictures it so cool. Great job!!!

matthew houskeeper said...

These are really nice Kim.


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