Note: Blog post about Glossy Ibis seen at Sterling Peat is directly below this one.
I decided to spend this past Saturday seeking solitude as last week had been stressful for me and I just needed some "me" time to decompress and figured what better way than to attempt another trail run from Wachusett Meadows to Wachusett Mountain and back. I was some what hesitant to try as the longest run I have gotten in over 6 months now has been 5 miles, with no hills because the injury I had which was due to too over training (hills in particular), but figured nothing could be worse than all of the wasp stings I had so what's there to lose!!! Anyhow, Wachusett Meadows would be fairly simple (had to hike one of the hills though due to my legs tightening up as they are not used to running hills, with a pack on no less which I haven't done in over a year), but all in all, it went fine. The Chapman Trail has become overgrown with ferns just as it does every year and while it makes the trail take on a charm of its own, it can make running it dangerous as rocks and roots are hidden from view which means a lot of tripping, but I'm proud to say I didn't fall once (I guess my reflexes are still around, but would like to say the same for my leg strength)
I went a little further along the Chapman Trail until I came across these lovely mushrooms that were hidden from view but I could see a splash of color under some foliage so I decided to take a much needed break for investigation.
Another picturesque moment along the Chapman Trail at Wachusett Meadows.
But soon enough I crossed the boundary and entered the Harrington Trail at Mount Wachusett. I remember taking a picture of this exact same spot last winter when I ran this same exact route so decided to take a picture again just so I could compare. Check out my new hydration pack on the right. I absolutely LOVE this thing as I can drink water while running which is challenging within itself as you normally fumble for the bottle, spill half of it on you as you are running and what you do manage to get down you choke on which can be pretty disturbing to the fellow hikers you encounter because you are choking up a storm with water all over you so you either look as if you are a chronic drooler and you just puked, HA! Not anymore as drinking water is rather easy with this and no more fumbling for the water bottle. Best thing about it is that it's good for hiking too as you can store extra layers, food, camera, cell phone, etc.
I was still able to run the majority of it but had to do some hiking in between as my body just couldn't run up hill for long periods of a time without hiking to get rid of the lactic acid build up that never really wanted to go away, but I did alright just the same. Picture of a road I had to cross to continue on the Harrington (Mid State) trail. Not sure if this is the road leading up to the mountain or not, but as you can see, it's clearly under construction.
Such a pretty picture, but let me tell you I was feeling it at about this point!
Another picture of the same spot I took this past winter. I have noticed one thing lately and that is I much prefer winter hiking/running to summer. Call me crazy, but there is something so beautiful about winter sports in that everything is so white and beautiful. Plus you don't over heat as quickly as you do in summer and you don't have bugs swarming you as I did that day, despite bug spray as much had been stripped off due to perspiration. Whenever I had the deer flies come in for attack I would wince for a moment thinking about those awful yellow jackets as I am still a little traumatized over that ordeal.
I would hike the last portion to the summit because it would be far too dangerous to attempt to run. Yes I can be daring at times, but I am not stupid and all I would need was one nasty fall and I would be done with a broken ankle or something like that and I have hawk watching coming up and I have no intention of doing that on crutches!
Anyhow, I took a break once I reached the summit and had a Lara Bar and more water. The top of Mount Wachusett is much different than last summer because you can't drive up there anymore so there are not nearly as many people. Just other hikers who stop in various spots in an attempt to take a picture despite the fact that a lot of foliage hides it,not to mention those awful towers, but you all know how I feel about that and I won't bore you with another rant. ;-)
I would make my way back down the Mid State and decided to do some running in a rocky part because downhill running in my favorite form of running but when the trail is really technical it requires intense concentration, so I wasn't paying much attention to things until I could hear the un-mistakable call of some Dark-eyed Juncos, so I stopped running to search for them. They wouldn't be hard to spot, but they took off so fast I didn't have time to take off my pack, get my camera out and take pictures. I continued along the trail and started running it again until something inside my head told me I was lost as I didn't remember a lot of what I was seeing on the way up.
I would soon realize I didn't veer left and was on Mountain House Trail, but I wouldn't figure that out until I was at the end where the street is. My legs were pretty tight by now from the running, and the thought of hiking up that steep trail really bummed me out as I had already told my brain it was done going up and now it was time for some R&R, but once again, I was wrong. The funny thing would be that when I was running down the mountain I passed some guy who called out to me "are you actually running down this mountain". Yes, I called back, it's actually not bad in some parts". He shook his head as I continued along my merry way. Imagine my embarrassment when I see him going down Mountain House Trail. He looks at me astonished as says "you are now going back up". I am huffing and puffing at this point and drinking from my hydration pack, and I couldn't tell him I went the wrong way so I looked at him sheepishly and just said "yes, but I am hiking it this time". :-p. LOL! The guy probably thought I was a loon or something. HA. Perhaps he is right. ;-)
I would finally get my bearings and get to the link trail that would take me to the Harrington Trail and then the Chapman trail and then my car. All in all, it was a fabulous adventure with 9 miles in total (6 running/3 hiking) and one you know I will be doing again this fall and winter. I will just need to study the trial map a little harder that's all.
Take care everyone.