November 7, 2023

Back on the BCT with Waldo and Phylis.


Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on.

-Jonathan Safran Foer


Two years, two weeks and four days ago, Phyllis and I last walked on the Bay Circuit Trail.  Then life intervened and we haven’t been back since.  Until today.

It was always our intention to finish the walk, but Phyllis’s schedule tends to run on the tight side of full and we just didn’t have the opportunity.  A little over a month ago, we committed to a date, but, alas, the weather had other ideas (I don’t particularly like to walk Waldo in the woods, slogging through mud) and we postponed.  Today, though, we finally made it happen.  Events still tried to work against us – I caught a cold and Phyllis had an allergic reaction to an insect bite.  But neither of us were that impaired — just some sniffles and a mild cough for me and some mild itching for Phyllis.  So, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead and we persevered.

Another obstacle we had to overcome was, because so much time has passed, we weren’t sure where we left off.  We didn’t want to retrace our steps a significant amount and we didn’t want to leave any gaps.  Looking at the map, I got a vague idea of where we wanted to go, but couldn’t pinpoint the exact spot.  Then I went to some old pictures on my phone and the last ones from the BCT were tagged with which forest we were in.  I pulled out the map again, found our stopping place in Medfield, and that would be our starting point for this leg of our trek.  Following along the trail, looking for a place to park about 12 miles further, I found an end point, 11.1 miles from the start, at a water treatment plant in Walpole.

The day started for Waldo and me at 6:30 AM.  We got out of bed, ate some breakfast, then got into the car.  An hour later, we arrived at Walpole’s water treatment plant where we met Phyllis.  We also invited Christine, but she cancelled – she had a hard night last night.  At the end of the driveway, there is a large gate, but it was open.  Behind that was a large building and behind that, some piles of dirt and gravel.  I drove past the gate, around the building and looked around for the BCT trail marker that shows where the trail comes out of the woods.  I found it and decided to park my car close by, in back of the building.  Waldo and I then climbed into Phyllis’s car and we left for the start of today’s walk.  As we passed through the gate, it did occur to me that we could be in trouble if they decided to close the gate before we got back, but we were planning on getting back by about 3 PM and what business closes that early?

Our walk starts in The Noon Hill Reservation – a local patch of conserved forest.  We’re swallowed by dense forest as soon as we leave the parking lot.  The trees are a mix of oak, maple and the other deciduous denizens of New England, plus white pine.  It’s definitely fall now, the temperature hovering around 40℉, and the ground is covered by leaves and a lot of pine needles.  That makes it hard to walk because they hide roots and rocks and walking is treacherous.  In addition, when we go up or down any incline, it gets very slippery.  So, we have to slow down a bit and be mindful of what we’re doing.

Waldo is beside himself.  I took three days off from extensive walking because of my cold and I really wanted rest up and be well enough to do this hike.  We did do our usual walk yesterday, so Waldo was able to burn off some of his pent-up border collie energy then, but exercise for a border collie is a temporary solution to a permanent problem and Waldo is full of energy today.  He runs out ahead of us, sometimes exploring off-trail, and gleefully searches for whatever new things the place might have to offer.

It’s fun to watch Waldo search for the trail.  All those dead leaves and pine needles make it difficult sometimes to tell just what’s trail and what’s just gaps between the trees.  He probes this way and that and I frequently have to call to him, “This way!” to redirect him.  That also means we have to play, “No, not that way!  This way,” when he winds the leash around a tree trunk or a bush in the process.  Over the years, he has learned to back-track around obstacles when that happens and I rarely have to be the one to untangle things so we can continue on our way.  He’s a smart dog when he wants to be.

Damn!  It’s good to be back out here!


It’s so nice to be back in the deep woods.


To be continued…

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