Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mt. Pisgah - Northborough, MA

Mount Pisgah is a Sudbury Valley Trustees conservation land in Berlin and Northborough, MA. Before driving any distances these winter weekends, I am trying as hard as possible to pre-qualify where I am going: no sand, no houses, no "No Tresspassing". Or, more positively: rocks, woods, public land. This place met all the criteria, so I drove there on Sunday. In fact although Berlin and Northborough seem significantly further than I am used to driving, in fact it is just one exit further south on Rt 495, the Rt 62 exit, and I will probably be getting to know the woods down there more this year.

Anyway, as I drove I remembered that the best rock pile hunting strategy in the snow is drive-by spotting, so I went slowly looking for things in the woods. Finally I got to the conservation land entrance I was aiming for on Smith Rd, went a few yards beyond it, and saw a rock pile in the woods. This was exactly where I planned to walk, so I went back, parked and started exploring. There were a few piles along the verge of the southwestern slopes of the hill, which is more or less what I expected. It is not a big site although some of it may have been under the snow.
So here is the first pile I spotted from the car:
When I got to it, I saw another pile beyond and started getting hepped up.
Unfortunately when I got to this pile, it turned out to be next to a trail (there were tracks in the snow) and clearly this had been tossed together by more recent passersby. However, I could tell from the lichen on the lower rocks that this was probably an original pile subsequently messed up by hikers. Here is another view, back towards the road and towards the first rock pile:
There were a few other very minor rock piles visible nearby, so this one larger pile represents only limited damage to a real rock pile site:So I continued in deeper (east) following the edge of the hill and the wetland. It was absolutely spectacular weather - still, slightly above freezing, all blue sky with no clouds. Walking mostly on the crust, occasionally ka-thunking through a few inches, it was like walking on cotton. And as I see more occasional rock piles...
...I am thinking "this is as good as it gets".

However, the site never developed into a place with huge monster piles and, with the snow at least, there were only a few more things visible on the gullies and ridges as I proceeded.
Here was one final rock pile, perhaps the most interesting of the lot:
Perched carefully, as it is, at the edge of one of the little ridges, it seems intended to be visible. But I have no sense of any connection between this pile and the others. Something is going on along here but, actually, piles in such locations are not that common and, when I see them, they suggest trail markers but, of course, that is probably wrong. Maybe without snow some other clues would be visible.

In any case, it was a beautiful day out and it is nice to find a bit of a rock pile site, even in the snow. Next weekend if the the snow hasn't melted, I'll plan on driving rather than walking.

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