December 26, 2023

The Weston Portion of the Mass Central Rail Trail.


There’s some end at last for the man who follows a path; mere rambling is interminable.

-Seneca the Elder


Today, Waldo and I are walking with Phyllis on the portion of the Mass Central Rail Trail that starts in Wayland and goes 5 miles east through Weston to I-495.  We don’t have enough time to do the next part of the Bay Circuit Trail because it’s an hour south of us and we don’t have an extra 2 hours to spend driving that.  Within the next 2 years, this portion of the Mass Central Rail Trail is supposed to be extended 7.5 miles to the west, all the way to Hudson, to the northern terminus of the southern part of the Assabet River Rail Trail.  Right now, it’s under construction – Eversource is burying a power cable under it.  When they’re done, another crew will come by and pave it.  Phyllis and I bushwacked most of the route a couple years ago, when it was still choked with small trees and weeds.  Though we’re eager to go it again, for today, we’ll head east from Wayland.

Phyllis is carrying 22 pounds of lead weights in a pack.  She wants to find out how uncomfortable it would be to carry a pack weighing between 25 and 35 pounds.  There’s a one week hike she would like to go on in Florida next spring that requires that she carry that much weight.  She’s not sure if she can do it, so she’s conservatively trying out 22 pounds to see what it would be like.  Old age sucks.

We begin at 8 AM and the temperature is cool, in the high 30s to mid-40s.  There’s not much of a breeze and the sky is overcast.  The path starts next to a mall’s parking lot and it consists of hardpacked sand.  It runs under high-tension power lines hung from erector-set towers.  The trail is straight and the going flat – no hills at all.  After an eighth of a mile or so, the trail is paved.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of trails that run under powerlines, but this one isn’t bad at all.  There is deep forest to each side, not very far from the tarmac, and the weeds are under control.  Multiple dirt trails cross the paved trail and disappear into the trees.  There is a portion of the Bay Circuit Trail that runs into this trail and follows it west into Wayland.  That’s a part that we’ve already walked.

Phyllis and I talk about a number of things, flow of conscious stuff.  She is profoundly affected by the death of Lee, her husband, but she doesn’t dwell on it and I don’t bring it up.  Everyone grieves in their own way and I let Phyllis take the lead on that.  Instead, we talk about what’s going on in the world, the virtues of having a plant-based diet and basically anything that comes to mind.  We do talk a bit about how and when we’re going to finish the Bay Circuit Trail, but, for the moment, the details of much if that is yet to be determined.  The weather is uncertain and Phyllis needs some time for other things right now.

Waldo’s out front, doing his Waldo thing, sniffing and exploring what nature has to offer.  This is a fairly popular trail, so we pass bicycles and other people walking – a few with dogs.  I have to watch Waldo a little bit because, although he is friendly, he’s a bit overeager and, with his OCD, doesn’t respect other dogs’ boundaries.  He’ll poke his nose in their faces and sometimes elicits a growl and a snap from the other dog.  I’ll let them meet, then pull Waldo back when that happens.  He, apparently, doesn’t know what “NO” means in doggese.  Still, he’s an easy dog to walk with.  All I have to do is redirect him down the trail and he’s going again, with a “whatever” attitude, as if nothing happened.

At the eastern end of today’s trek is an old rusty railroad bridge.  Some uninspired fool put a hurricane fence across the trail on each side, probably spouting something about safety, but that didn’t last long.  Someone else came shortly thereafter, cut a hole in the fences and put down wooden planks over the railroad ties so bicycles could be ridden over the bridge.  Hey!  You don’t mess with the rail trail crowd!  In England and Wales, there are right to ramble laws that protect the freedom to roam across 3 million acres of heath, mountain, moor and downland, no matter who owns it (there are restrictions – you can’t interfere with operations on the land, like farming, you can’t leave a mess and others).  Maybe we need something like that in this country.

On the other side of the bridge, the trail is dirt and continues on, wandering east until it hits a busy highway.  Within a few miles, there’s another portion of the trail that goes on toward Boston, but we can’t go there today.  We turn around and head back.

Once we finish the 10 miles and we’re back at the cars, my back feels pretty good.  The lower part is a little stiff, but it’s nothing like what I suffered a few weeks ago.  Phyllis says her hips and feet hurt more than normal and that the experience has convinced her she doesn’t want to carry more than the 22 pounds.  Waldo is as active as ever, but curls up and chills, with eyes half-closed, on the passenger seat.  I can almost hear an “aaaah” coming from him.  “Another day and another walk,” I tell him and we head back home to drink water, eat lunch and chillax —  Waldo on his balcony and me on my recliner.

Life is good…


The end of the trail.

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