22-Sep-13 – Kayaking and exploring in Northwestern Mass
- It all starts at Nashoba Paddler… a small Kayaking place near where I was staying this weekend. It was just a simple “get out of the city” weekend, and I was feeling the need to be on the water for an afternoon…
- So I’ve been to this Kayaking place before… almost exactly a year ago, actually. It was a weekend very similar to this one; Daniel, Mike and I had camped out at The Pines, and instead of climbing on Saturday we went kayaking, thanks to a huge rainstorm that night.
- Well, last time I was here Daniel had decided he was restless, and started doing pullups on the little booth where we rented the Kayaks. Cool, whatever. Until he literally pulled the roof down on top of us. Yep, Daniel was too chubby, and the booth collapsed.
- So I felt a bit bad showing up again, but this time I didn’t do any pullups. Instead, I hung out my wet tent and sleeping bad, put my gear into a dry sack, and took a Kayak out onto the river.
- It was a perfect day, and I even found a few cool things along the way:
- A memorial to the man who donated the park to the town. I saw the headstone from the river, so I pulled the Kayak up and waded ashore to take a peek. There was already a family there (hiking the trails, I suppose), and the grandfather told me the story of the man under the tombstone.
- Supposedly he was quite wealthy and quite a philanthropist… but mostly to buy his way back into heaven. From what I heard, he was a prolific train robber in his day, which was attested by the other tombstone nearby – one dedicated to his favorite racing horse.
- A few small bridges, falling apart sheds, and neat little launches.
- I explored “the turtle tributary”, as the rental agency called it. A small river, choked with pond lilies, that was full of small turtles sunbathing themselves. I agreed with them, and took a short nap on the kayak as if followed the current.
- From there, I was feeling quite good with myself, so I explored a bit farther upsteam before slowing down, turning around, and letting the current carry me back to the launch…
21-Sep-13 – Climbing at Crow Hill
- I met up with Daniel, Erin and Meghan early afternoon on Saturday. They were supposed to be there earlier, but the extra time gave me a good chance to relax and explore the area. Do a bit of shopping at the random yard sales, have a bite to eat, the usual slow Saturday stuff.
- Once they arrived we moved onto the climbing – starting in at the far left wall
- Usual two routes here: layback crack and the nice handcrack that runs up the center
- Daniel and I led the center crack (once each), and I let Daniel take the Layback crack. Was nice, and a fun relaxed set of climbs.
- I tried to set up a small climb farther right, but unfortunately some other folks arrived just before I could actually go about setting the route. Wasn’t that horrible, but I was looking forward to trying out a new face over there. Getting a good lead in maybe.
- From here we moved right, to the practice slabs. It was getting late, so we only did a toprope of the first one. I did take two runs on it though – one to try the straight-up and fun route, and another to try out a few harder slab moves that looked interesting. They were, in fact, quite interesting.
- And… that was it. Not a huge amount of climbing, but it was fun. The weather was great and we had a good time, which is really the key to it.
Weekend of 20-Sep-13 through 22-Sep-13 – Adventures in Camping
- Got home from work Friday night and started packing up for the weekend! Plans had fluctuated a lot over the week, but the current path was to drive out to a campground that I’d stayed at before, hang out Friday night and Saturday morning, and then link up with Daniel and Co. at Crow Hill for a day of climbing.
- Instead of packing and leaving though… I fell asleep. It was a good sleep… though rather concerningly strange dreams were had.
- Once I got mobile again I checked in with the campground to give them a heads-up that I’d be late, packed the car up, and hit the road.
- After a quick stop at the grocery to grab food for the weekend, I was on my way down Route 2, with the top down and the music cranked. It was a glorious drive – not a cloud in the sky, and it was just cold enough that I turned the heat on.
- Arrived at the campground, and shot the breeze with the owner for a while. He’s an interesting guy, who collects small mechanical devices in a gallery in the back of the office. It’s huge, and has tons of very interesting little machines.
- Don’t even bother setting up my tent, and instead just have a quick dinner around the fire. Again – glorious.
- Sleep out on the ground in my sleeping pad, directly under the stars.
- Get rolling, pack up my gear, and head out to meet everyone at the climbing spot.
- They’re running late… so I’m in no rush. Good. Means that I can explore for a bit. Which I do –
- I find a cool little coffee shop and get a breakfast snack, along with a pumpkin-spice chai latte. Yep. Typical fall in New England.
- Eat breakfast under a small little bridge that I find. It’s calm and nice, though I guess it’s near a hiking trail, because I got “found” by a random dog running around in the woods.
- From there I moved on, just driving around the back country roads. It’s beautiful, and I was quite happy to drive slow and enjoy the relaxation.
- I found out that one of the towns nearby was having its annual “yard-sale day”… every few houses there was a massive multi-family yard-sale… so I stopped in and picked up a few odds and ends that were missing from the house.
- Everyone finally arrives, so we start with the climbing
- After climbing and dinner, head back to the campsite and sit down with the owners again. Chat for a while, hearing about when he used to run a trucking company and telling him about my trips in New Zealand.
- Head back to the campsite – the firewood I didn’t use last night is still there, waiting for me! Woo! Start up that fire!
- As the fire’s burning, I head to the car and set up the tent this time – it’s been looking like rain all day, so I’m thinking this is a good idea.
- Relax by the fire, have a drink, and zone out for an hour or two
- Head to bed under the stars again.
- And… I’m glad I set up the tent. At some point it starts drizzling… and by the time I’m in the tent it’s full-on downpouring. Continues through the night in epic fashion, and I learn the hard way that my tent isn’t completely waterproof… unfortunately. Fortunately it’s only a small leak, so I sleep through it with only a sort-of wet sleeping bag to show
- Up and at ‘em, say my goodbyes to the owners, and get on the road!
- Nothing really to be said here – packing away a wet tent and sleeping bag is never fun, but sometimes it’s what needs to happen
- Grab a “skillet breakfast” at a diner outside of town. It’s excellent – potatoes, eggs, bacon and sausage with cheese melted over it. Definitely something I’ll make again at home.
- From there, move on to the Kayaking place, and then home for a relaxing Sunday evening