April 23, 2024

The power substation — in the weeds…


Let’s face it.  Adventure and exploration are in my blood.

-Philippe Cousteau, Jr.


Sometimes I get this chafing in my subconscious when I don’t complete something I intended to accomplish.  It must be sort of like the urge some people have to buy the newest, latest and greatest iPhone every year (I haven’t bought a new phone for the past 5 years, so this is speculation).  It’s a definite itch that needs to be scratched and if I don’t deal with it in some way, it gnaws at me subtly and subliminally.  It’s not a strong compulsion, it’s just there.  I’ve trudged many a stormy mile, through headwinds and deluge, to accomplish goals in life, using simple determined perseverance, but this isn’t that.  I’ve got that itch now because Phyllis, Waldo and I didn’t walk all the way to the beginning of the unfinished part of the Mass Central Rail Trail.

Anyway, today, Waldo and I park our car on Route 20 where we started last time.  Phyllis is busy, so it’s just the two of us.  The gate at the beginning of our walk is open and the “No Trespassing” signs are gone.  Down about a quarter mile or so, I can see a pickup truck.  When we get there, I see that there are actually four trucks at a bridge and five or so workmen.  It looks like they’re building a wooden form around the power lines that come out of the ground to pass next to the bridge.  I’m guessing the forms will hold cement designed to cover the cables.

Waldo charms the nearest of the workers with his need to give and get a little lovin’, so I start talking to the guy.  He tells me that the trail does, indeed, end at the power substation that I saw the last time I was here.  He also tells me that Eversource will be building another substation at the Hudson end of the rail trail, but that hasn’t begun yet.  That answers other questions I had.  As he works, I see that what I thought were power cables are actually empty 6” (or so) thick rubber/plastic tubes.  The cables themselves have not yet been run through these “pipes.”  These guys don’t work directly for Eversource, they’re subcontractors, so they don’t know the details about how 7.5 miles of huge copper power cable can be threaded through those already buried pipes, but I guess that’s the plan.  Waldo and I wish them a good day and we continue on our way.

The weather is chilly and partly cloudy.  Rain is forecast in about two hours or so, and there is a gusty wind blowing, but not too much.  There have been small rainstorms pass through recently, so the ground is a little muddy and we sometimes have to cautiously navigate around puddles in trenches left by long-gone heavy equipment tires.  The surrounding country is pine forest and large expanses of lowland wetlands.  The wetlands are national wildlife preserves and we do disturb a duck or two as we make our way west.

About a mile or so, into our trek, we come to the end of the incomplete rail trail.  There is a fence across the trail, but no “No Trespassing” signs.  Across a dirt road and through the bushes, I can see the electrical substation.  Across that same road, the railroad bed continues on into the brush, straight ahead, towards powerline towers headed east that disappear into the wetlands.  I decide to continue on the railroad bed, under those powerlines.  We have been here before with Phyllis, so I know where they go (to the terminus of the Mass Central Rail Trail in Wayland), I just want to be able to say that I’ve walked this new trail from one end to the other.  It’s that itch, don’t you know.

The railroad bed still has rails and wooden ties on it, but they are pretty well overgrown with grass.  There is a footpath that (mostly) runs between the rails where others have trodden the vegetation down and the going isn’t bad at all.  Waldo seems to know where he’s going and leads the way to Russell’s Garden Center which where our path connects to the rest of the MCRT.

Along the way, I notice there is a spur running off to the north with a well tramped-down path between the rails.  There’s that itch again.  Damn.  I’m going to have to defer that exploration for another time.  The wind is picking up and I can see storm clouds in the distance, back the way we have to go to return to the car.  I know Waldo will want to go on that spur too.  He always wants to go.

We get back to the car as a few sprinkles splatter on me, Waldo and the ground.  The total roundtrip distance we walked is right around 5 miles.  That makes the total distance, via rail trail, from Hudson to Russell’s about 9 miles.  That means that we could, if so moved, walk from Hudson to the end of this section of the MCRT for something like 14 miles.  Might have to do that sometime in the future, just to be able to say we did.

Then there’s that spur I saw…


There are no obstacles. Just speed bumps and work-arounds.

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