2004-08-07 - Robert Frost Trail (northeast)

14 miles, 196 minutes --- I do a Face Plant about an hour out, when I trip over a sawed-off sapling in the middle of a trail on a mountain ridge ... no major damage, just a bumped nose, slightly scraped knees, a bruised elbow, and a cut inside my upper lip from a front tooth --- but after taking a soil sample I'm spittin' grit for the next mile or two. The jaunt starts at ~5:55am on a cool Massachusetts morning, as a homeless guy is going through the dumpster outside the motel where we're staying in Amherst. I decide that it's too hard to carry a squeeze bottle of water, a GPS, and a Gatorade container, so I chug 20 oz. of the green sugary-sweaty brew in a few minutes and feel rather inert for the next half hour --- but at least my hydration is good.

I jog along town streets to the Amethyst Brook Conservation Area where I find the entrance to the trail (42:22:36N 072:29:10W) without trouble, but soon get lost in the maze of twisty little paths ... backtrack a couple of times and recover the orange blazed RFT, but then lose it entirely and decide to persevere northeasterly along a forest road perhaps made by/for all-terrain vehicle use ... and the GPS comforts me, since even if I'm lost I have a vector back toward home. The road gets thinner, turns into a footpath, and eventually brings me over a ridgeline (where I auger in, as mentioned above) to a rutted track apparently used by extreme mountain bikers ... and wading through cobwebs along that, in turn, I cross some boggy spots and reach a genuine dirt road, following which I suddenly see orange blazes --- it's the RFT again! (42:25:10N 072:28:53W)

I reward myself now, at about the 2 hour mark, by opening my peanut-butter-crunch flavored Clif Bar and taking a nibble. The trail curves along a road around Lake Atkins (water supply for Amherst) and then branches west (42:25:19N 072:29:10W) over some smaller hills through the woods. It's much easier to follow here, but nonetheless I miss a turn, am inspected by a big roan horse in a corral in somebody's front yard, and have to backtrack to recover the RFT. I've seen no human beings for the past 90 minutes, though I've passed several houses and have heard car noises in the distance.

Onward toward the west, crossing more streets and the Central Vermont rail line at the south end of a lovely trestle (42:25:00N 072:30:34W). Here the RFT reminds me strongly of the Northwest Branch Trail in Silver Spring (Four Corners) just as it crosses Colesville Road heading upstream. It's a well-maintained path on steep hillsides and includes scenic views of Cushman Brook below. Soon thereafter the trail crosses Pulpit Hill Road and I find myself at the point where I first entered the RFT on Thursday morning (5 Aug). I investigate the neighborhood, confirm my location, and turn south along town streets to return to the motel.

(correlates: 2004-08-09 - Robert Frost Trail (southeast), UnfortunateBillboard, Face Plant, ...)