2004-08-09 - Robert Frost Trail (southeast)

10 miles, 118 minutes --- Today, for a change, I don't fall down! The morning's jog begins like 7 August's, with a brisk trot east from Amherst along Pelham Road until I reach the Amethyst Brook Conservation Area. This time, however, I turn southwards. In constrast to Saturday's hydration experiment I don't chug a 20 oz. bottle of Gatorade immediately before setting out --- instead I quaff it at a slightly more leisurely pace ~10 minutes earlier. That increases my comfort level significantly.

Besides passing through swamps and woods, this segment of the RFT proceeds down several subdevelopment streets, where the folks who marked the trail must have been trying to conserve their orange paint. Fortunately the Metacomet & Monadnock (aka "M&M") Trail coincides with the RFT here, and its bright yellow diamond-shaped blazes are frequent enough to keep me on course ~95% of the time. (I miss only one major turn and circumnavigate a neighborhood block before finding my way again.)

The RFT + M&M is well-maintained. It includes an amazing number (~75) of well-built wooden mini-bridges across small streams and boggy zones. These typically consist of a 10 foot length of 1x12 board (or a pair of parallel 1x6's) nailed on top of three equally-spaced blocky wooden cross-piece footings. About 10% of these crossovers have experienced erosion under one end or the other --- turning them into surprise see-saws or teeter-totters. I proceed with care and manage to maintain my balance.

After meandering a mile or so the RFT meets Stony Hill Road (42:21:57N 072:28:57W) and curves along it for a half-mile arc before reentering the woods (42:21:50N 072:28:41W). Following some good hills and a dramatic (~50') ravine overlook, there's another major highway crossing: Route 9 (42:21:23N 072:28:53W). Then the trail follows Old Belchertown Road until time to join the woods (42:21:14N 072:28:47W) and circumnavigate a lake. Zig-zags through the next subdivision's streets lead eventually back into the trees (42:20:47N 072:29:09W) and further pleasant woodsy scenes. After an overgrown meadow with giant elephant-ear-like foliage, heavily bedewed, my shoes and socks are wet as I reach Station Road and the Central Vermont Railroad crossing (42:20:30N 072:29:10W).

A few steps farther and, 80 minutes into the morning's journey, I enter the parking lot at the zero mile mark of the NorwottuckRailTrail (see NorwottuckRailTrail2004 for GPS coordinates). The level-surfaced NRT lets me blast (relatively speaking) a couple of ~10 minute-pace measured miles on the return trip to the motel. I see in the mirror that my badges of honor from Saturday's auger experience have begun to develop nicely: purple bruises above my right eye and on the outside of my left elbow ...

(correlates: BeTheChange, 2004-08-07 - Robert Frost Trail (northeast), Chess Is an Ocean, ...)