August 4, 2020


Waldo looking for shade.


Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by…

-Robert Frost


West Warren, another 7.5 miles down the road, is our next destination.  Warren was first settled in 1664 and officially incorporated in 1741.  It was named after General Joseph Warren, who died in the Battle of Bunker Hill.  West Warren’s population is 1,133.

We start out from where we left off at the Swift River Boat Launch parking lot in Belchertown.  The boat launch is next to the Swift River and is, apparently, a very popular place in the summer, even during COVID.  There are many cars and people about — some with fishing gear and some with boats.  And it’s only 7 AM.

Christine and I, with Karen’s assent, have designated Karen our pathfinder.  She is incredibly good at it – she and Google.  We like to avoid busy highways and major streets because they not only have heavy traffic, they are broad, open, shadeless, hot and relatively ugly.  Somehow, Karen is able to find backroads, sometimes little more than seldom used paths, that don’t take us out of our way.  I can help some, with rail and other trails, when they’re available and going our way, by means of apps and websites, but if there is a backroad or path that we can follow to get to where we’re going, Karen can find it.  Waldo is very grateful.  He tolerates the highways when he has to, but I can tell he doesn’t like it much.  Neither do I.

Today, our path from the boat ramp leads down a backcountry road with little traffic.  It’s shady and cloudy with a soft breeze and really quite pleasant.  Trees abound and are close at hand.  The temperature is cool, in the sixties — I don’t have to worry about Waldo getting heatstroke today.  We aren’t gone long and we make a right turn onto a grassy path that wanders away into some woods.  This is Waldo country, for sure, but it probably has a lot of ticks.  Waldo is protected – I give him tick medicine that kills the damn bugs when they bite him.  Me?  I tuck my pants into my socks to keep them away from my skin and then follow along after a wagging tail and bounding ball of fur.  Our way is paved with short grass and swathed in green undergrowth.  There are squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks about, I’m sure, but they stay well hidden.  The birds sing happily and flit about in the sky.  Waldo is so happy out here in the wild.  In less than a half-mile, we come across a tree that has recently fallen across our path – its leaves are still a fresh green.  We climb through the foliage and under the trunk and continue on our way.  Waldo’s not bothered by the fallen tree at all and readily plows his way through the branches.  I think the trouble he had in the past was because a limb was moving in what he perceived to be a threatening way.  Nothing like that today.

Not much further along, we come across a sign that says, “Bridge Out.”  The bridge is intact, but there are barricades placed across the path so no car can pass.  It doesn’t appear to me that any motorized vehicle has been down that way in a long time.  The path eventually joins a paved backroad and then joins with Ware Road, followed by Route 67.  We’re back on busy roads and I have to pull in Waldo’s leash from its 8-foot maximum.  Our car is parked just off of Route 67 in the West Warren Senior Center parking lot in central West Warren.  My dog-walking app says we’ve come 7.5 miles, but it doesn’t seem like it has been that far.

I used to have a motorcycle, a Harley Davidson Superglide Custom, and I’ve wandered through this area in the past.  When you have a bike, the weather gets warm and you have the time off, you get an itch that must be scratched.  You roam.  It’s more interesting when you take the backroads, so you do.  You don’t have any particular destiny, you’re just out to ride.  But this wandering was never so intimate as what I experience out here on foot.  In the woods.  With friends.  With Waldo.

However you go, sometimes you take the road less traveled because of an inner need.

And sometimes you take it because of the shade.


Definitely, a road less taken!

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