September 14, 2021

Sometimes the trail is wide and inviting.


If at first you don’t succeed, try again.  Then quit.  There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.

-W. C. Fields


Phyllis, Waldo and I are on the next leg of our BCT trek.  Christine was obligated doing something else and could not come.  We’re walking from where we left off in Wayland and making for Callahan State Park in Marlborough.  We start off following surface streets and highways, but will soon be back in the woods.  Our first leg takes down a highway, US Rte 20, that we both travel on regularly and is well known.  Today is a cool day with temps ranging from the high sixties to the low seventies.

This part of Highway 20 often has heavy traffic and today is no exception.  Over the many miles we’ve walked, Waldo has become educated as to where to walk and he keeps to the sidewalk when there is one.  If we’re forced to walk on the side of the road, I shorten the leash to keep better control over where he goes and what he does.  Waldo doesn’t like that much, but he goes along with it and puts his attention on finding sticks and sniffing what he can find that is interesting.

After awhile, we come to a trail in Sudbury, the Tippling Rock Trail that wanders off into the woods on the Nobscot Hill Reservation.  Off to the left is a Boy Scout camp, one that my grandson and I have stayed at in the past.  Off to the right of our trail is something called Ford’s Folly.  This requires a little history.

If we continued on down Rte 20 a few more miles, we would have come to a road that bears off to the north at an acute angle, leading to the Wayside Inn.  The Wayside Inn has 300 years of history behind it and is still operating.  It was written of by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1863 and is sometimes called “Longfellow’s Wayside Inn.”  In 1923, the Inn was bought by Henry Ford and the highway was rerouted from just outside the Inn to where Rte 20 now runs further to the south.  Part of his project involved building a dam to serve as a fire fighting reservoir for the village.  Unfortunately, even though the dam was built and still stands today, it was sited on fractured rock that could hold no water.  So, there it stands still, a thirty-foot high wall of stone, 900 feet long, with no water behind it and serving no purpose.  The small stream that was the intended source of water runs up to the wall and then under it, unobstructed.  Hence it is called “Ford’s Folly.”  I am reminded of Fordlandia in Brazil – a failed attempt of Henry Ford’s to grow rubber trees for his automobile tires.  I guess if you have more money than God, you can afford to make a few grandiose adventurous mistakes.

Now, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life, some were even a bit expensive – for me.  I once accidentally left an expensive camera on a tour bus, for example.  Another time, I got into an accident after falling asleep while driving home after a long shift at work (little damage, no injuries).  Then there was the time I, uh…  Never mind.  There was little ventured and little lost in my mistakes, but maybe the impact on my life was comparable to what happened to Ford, given the difference in our respective net worth.  I firmly believe that if you don’t, at least occasionally, screw up, you’re not trying hard enough.  You just have to make sure your dumbass errors aren’t permanently damaging to anyone.  Waldo makes his mistakes too.  He charges willy-nilly ahead, with what seems like little regard for what might happen.  It’s up to me to keep him safe.  You know, I must do a good job of it — he certainly feels secure enough to venture forth with wild abandon.

I have been to Ford’s Folly before with my grandson, Matty, and it’s not much to look at, so Phyllis and I stay on the path toward our goal.  There is some hill climbing as we approach Tippling Rock and when we get to the top, we have a gorgeous view of Massachusetts to the east.  The rock itself is broad and flat, making the growth of foliage impossible and the great vista possible.  We stop for a snack and water Waldo.  Waldo loves the woods and is having a great time with all the sticks and smells.  The place is dog friendly and we pass a few other dogs enjoying the woods, some of which are off leash.

From Tippling Rock, we continue on down the footpath into Callahan State Park.  The Park was named after Raymond J. Callahan, a local newspaper editor and historian. It comprises 800 acres of pristine forest, just east of the Sudbury Reservoir, in Marlborough and Framingham.  The ground is flatter here and the trail is sometimes narrower, winding around amongst the trees and undergrowth.

A little more than six hours and thirteen miles from where we started, we come to our car in a parking lot dedicated to the park.  It’s been a nice walk in the woods and we look forward to our next leg.  So far, we’ve been heading more or less west and south.  From here on out, we’re going south and then east, slowly closing the circle to the Atlantic Ocean south of Boston.

For now, though, we’re going home — Phyllis to her house, Waldo to his balcony and me to my recliner and a nap.


Other times, it’s quite narrow. Either way, Waldo seems to think he knows where we’re going. He’s wrong 90% of the time.

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