Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back To The Bay Circuit Trail - Weyland to Framingham Section Hike Report

After a two year absence I returned to the Bay Circuit Trail, not as a runner but as a hiker. In 2011, I attempted to run the 200 mile BCT from Newbury to Kingston MA. Five runs and 100 +  miles later I abandoned the project due to severe knee pain caused by ITBF syndrome. Now, I am hoping to complete the final 100 miles in a series of weekend section hikes. Only time will tell if I am successful.  

All week long the weather had be oppressively hot and humid and this day was no exception. Dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and long pants to keep the ticks at bay would only make the weather conditions more miserable, but I'd rather be overheating than playing host to some blood-sucking tick. I was not looking forward to walking the first five miles of this section as it would be a long, hot road walk. The BCT Alliance has plans to move this section off-road onto an abandoned railroad line but until that happens you have to make the long road walk on Pelham Island, Landham, and Boston Post Roads if you want to be an "official" end-to-ender of the BCT.

A lonely, quiet stretch of road before I reached the mayhem of Route 20.

My hike began where it ended two years ago, on the bridge spanning the Sudbury River in Weyland MA. After a half mile road walk the trail took a turn onto the vast meadows of Heard Farmonce inhabited by the Indians of the Nipmucks. Walking deep into the meadow I realized I had missed a turn so I had to back-track to find the turn that would take me back to Pelham Island Road. Less than one mile into a ten mile hike and I had already lost the trail!  It wouldn't be the last time.

View of the Sudbury River.

The meadows of Heard Farm.

Getting lost is something I do well.

It didn't take me long to find the missed turn and I was soon back on the hot pavement. I didn't mind it all that much since I had a nice view of Heard Pond to my left and the thick woods of the Great Meadow National Wildlife Refuse to my right. I passed this section and the traffic noise began to build. Soon I would be faced with a blistering hot two mile walk along Route 20 in Sudbury. Once on Route 20 (aka Boston Post Road) there was plenty of noisy traffic but little shade and I questioned my decision to do the hike on such a hot and humid day. Once I entered the Weissblatt Conservation, the road noise was slowly replaced with solitary footsteps as I walked deeper into the woods.  

Heard Pond

Entrance to Great Meadows

The road walk wasn't all bad.  Nice view of the wetlands along Landham Road.

Sometimes I complain too much.

The second five miles were the exact opposite of the first with quiet forests, single-track trails, hilly terrain, rocky outcrops and hordes of mosquitoes awaiting me. The trail climbing up to Tippling Rock looked very similar to one of my favorite places, the Ridge Trail in Breakheart Reservation. I really miss my runs there with my friend Mary. While making the climb I was also reminded how unfit I am as I was breathing heavily on what was a modest climb at best. Upon reaching the summit I was rewarded with a nice view of The Blue Hill is the far distance. 

Wiessblatt Conservation was a pleasant sight after a long road walk.

The familiar white blaze of the BCT.

This looks much like the Ridge Trail In Breakheart.

Tippling Rock

Nice view from the ridge.

I lost the BCT soon after passing Tippling Rock. I realized had missed the turn only after I had descended all the way to the bottom of the hill.  Being too lazy to make the trek back up, I decided to take an alternate route with the hope of picking up the BCT somewhere in the Nobscott Boy Scout Reservation. In retrospect, I wish I had not done this since it resulted in missing Nobscott Hill, which at 602 feet is the highest point on the BCT. Nobscott Hill commands a 360 degree view that includes The Blue Hills, Lower Kearsarge, Mount Monadnock and Mount Wachusett. I did get to wander around the Boy Scout Reservation which was uninhabited at the time and a little creepy, but fun. There were many interconnecting trails in the reservation (for which I didn't have a map) so by trial and error, and a little bit of compass reading I managed to find the BCT again.

Steep descent from Tippling Rock

Pavilion in the Boy Scout Reservation

One of the many unoccupied cabins on the Boy Scout Reservation.

Lost and Found 

Leaving Nobscott, I took a side trail off the BCT to check out Ford's Folly.  Ford's Folly is a 60 ft high, 900 ft long stone and concrete dam built by Henry Ford (more like financed by) using traditional methods of manpower and oxen. Ford wanted to store water for his nearby grist mill.  Unfortunately, the dam failed to hold any significant water, creating only wetlands on the upstream side. It was theorized that the water flow was to meager and the soil to porous to hold enough water. This is how the dam became known as Ford's Folly. It's an impressive feat of engineering, although useless.

Lush fern-lined trail approaching the Ford's Folly side trail.

Two tenths of a mile off the BCT is a dam called Ford's Folly.

.You can walk across the top of the dam.

Down-stream side of the dam.

Ford's Folly

The final two miles of the the hike were through Sudbury Valley Trustee properties. Most of the trails were picturesque and well maintained but there was one section that appeared to get little use and was unmaintained and very overgrown. The trail was difficult to distinguish through the undergrowth but because it was well blazed I was able to stay on trail the entire time. I did start to head in the wrong directions after climbing Henry's Hill but I soon realized my error and was back on the right track without losing too much time. By then, I had been without water for over an hour and wanted to finish as quickly as possible.

Buggy Wittenborg Woods

This stone wall went on for as far I as could see.

Old farming equipment deep in the woods.

Yes, this is the trail,

After cresting Henry's Hill it was a short downhill walk to Edmands Road where I called a cab to take me back to Weyland where I had parked my car. Paying $27 for a ride put a damper on my post-hike euphoria but I was happy to be back on the BCT inching my way closer to it's southern terminus in Kingston. As much I as enjoyed the hike it didn't have the same feel as when I was running the trail back in 2011. I guess I'll always be a runner at heart and being a hiker is something I'll have to learn to accept.  

In time, I'm sure I will.

Many more photos and videos of this hike can be viewed HERE.

BCT Maps 7 & 8: 10 miles
Surface split: 5m roads, 5m trails
Elevation gain: N/A, GPS failed
Highest point: Tippling Rock, 426 feet, should have been Nobscott Hill but I missed the trail to it.
Start point: Sudbury River, Weyland
End point: Intersection of Nixon and Edmands Roads, Framingham
Other towns: Sudbury
Green Spaces: Heard Farm, Weissblatt Conservation Land, Nobscott Boy Scout Reservation, Wittenborg Woods, Sudbury Valley Trustees Gross Tract
Hydration: 40 oz water
Fuel: One Cilff Bar
Footwear: Brooks Cascadia 5, Fits socks
Total BCT covered to date: 113 miles
Surface split: 68 trail and dirt road, 38 pavement, 7 paved rail trail
Total elevation gain: 4049+
Highest point: 426 feet (602 ft)
BCT remaining: 87 estimated

1 comment:

  1. Awesome report Dan!! I have spend some time on sections of the trails you hiked but I love reading about it in terms of connected trail systems..


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