Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Upper Law's Brook - As the snow gets thicker.

I don't know if you ever went to climb Mt Monadnock but there is a place on Rt 12, after you have climbed the hill north out of Fitchburg, where a brook meanders through a flat valley on your left. That is Law's Brook. The upper part of it can be accessed from Dean Rd, and I went there hoping to get to the very top of it - which is adjacent to the Falulah watershed (a special place).
All three towns meet there: Fitchburg, Ashburnham, and Westminster. But I never got past C. There was a narrowing of the woods and I had to decide if I wanted to risk being seen versus turning back after too short a walk. There were a few rock piles here and there. But the snow was getting heavier and that was a deciding factor. In fact I had a white knuckle drive home - seeing 4 accidents and nearly causing one.

At the beginning, cutting into the woods from the road, I came across a boulder with radiating lines of rock piles and smaller rocks around it.

I have seen similar sites (in Stirling behind the Rod and Gun Club, and in Hopkinton at that "Interchange" site I described recently. Also on Wildcat Hill in Ashland).
I went down to the brook, back to the road, around to the east side, and back into the woods and saw a few rock piles here and there along the brook:

I wanted to cross the brook and eventually had to execute a very risky move from ice onto wet mossy rock, back onto ice; which succeeded because of the stick in one hand, the good balance on the only foot that had traction, and on luck. I expected to go in. Anyway, this got me over to the west side of the brook around C, and heading back.
Here was an interesting enclosure:
(See how the snow is starting to accumulate?)
A few more rock piles, and now it is starting to be snowy:
Back at the car, the road surface was wet.

The drive home from Ashburnham to Concord, Saturday 11:20AM in the second hour of a snowstorm [Not rock pile related]
Headed south on Rt 12 into Fitchburg and the further downhill the more snowy it got. It became clear that Fitchburg has little to no salt budget. At the curve next to the old brick school house, a guy had spun out and hit a telephone pole - with firetrucks and policemen attending. So I proceeded cautiously to get off that hill from Ashburham and down into Fitchburg. Heading out of Fitchburg a white van came sailing down a cross street from the right, smashing the car in front of me. Luckily they cleared my lane in the process. So I inched by, giving the man who was hit a sheepish look. He was alright.
I recently learned to stop whenever possible and buy food at the Puerto Rican bakery "La Reyna" on Rt 12 in Fitchburg. The pork sandwiches - including bacon crisp - are wonderful. The donuts are chewy and kind of fun. Sandwhich +1/2 dozen donuts = $6. So I am eating happily while facing a tough drive on Rt 2 still ahead, to get back to Concord. Crossed into Leominster and they have a salt budget so the roads were wet again but one hour into the storm and no one had salted Rt 2. I got that pork sandwich inhaled by the Rt 190 split and started enjoying the donut.
The roads were getting slicker and slicker and everybody knew it. I thank my luck I was on the road with other Massachusetts drivers; because everyone was going much faster than was safe (around 40) - but we all wanted to get home and we all stayed in control. We saw a couple more accidents on the other, westbound, side of Rt 2. There was no doubt about it being slippery. 
The feeling of the steering wheel changes when you go into a skid. It feels smoother and you don't have steerage. The only thing to do is to let up on the accelerator. This happened a couple times and I had to slow down to 35. When I did, the guy behind me dropped back.
Getting through Harvard on Rt 2 you must go over two large, long hills. The first at the Rt 111 exit and the next at Oak Hill. I barely had the speed to get up these and the subsequent descent of each was another thrill ride. Somewhere in there I decided to have another donut to distract me from the fear - even though I wasn't hungry. Anyway, I finally got back to the relative flats of Acton, even down into Concord- glad I could die now, at home.
Then on the last turn, on the very last turn before home, I kept my momentum in order to not have to use the brake and looked carefully left and right for traffic. At the last moment I noticed a small white car with snow on it - almost invisible but headed for the same part of the universe as me. I skidded and skidded to no avail. Pumped the brakes and came to a stop a few feet from him. I got a nasty honk - which I deserved. And that was it.

1 comment :

Chris Pittman said...

I enjoyed your narrative about your drive very much. Anyone who lives around here can relate to those experiences. Glad you didn't crash!