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5-mile road and trail race

The Station Loop Ramble registration desk. Thanks to Sarah and Trish for helping the runners get registered!

The Station Loop Ramble registration desk. Thanks to Sarah and Trish for helping the runners get registered!

Today we hosted the third annual Station Loop Ramble 5 mile road and trail race in New Braintree. The fog burned off as the runners started to arrive. By race time it was getting warm and extra layers were coming off. The runners took off at 10am from the former New Braintree train station site, heading up West Road. The first mile split times were shouted out as the runners made it up the first hill on their way to Unitas Road. The flat fast finish along the Mass Central Rail Trail brought the runners back to the start. Here are a number of pictures from the race. Check out our Facebook page to see more images.

Getting ready to start the race at the starting line.

Getting ready to start the race at the starting line.

 

 

They're off!

They’re off!

 

 

 

Congratulations to the first finisher!

Congratulations to the first finisher!

 

 

Maureen is the first female finisher. Congratulations!!

Maureen is the first female finisher. Congratulations!!

 

 

Waiting for the race results.

Waiting for the race results.

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Thank you to our race sponsors!

Rose 32 Bread

Country Bank

Hardwick Kilns

The Murphy Group Realtors

Hardwick Sugar Shack

R.N. Glidden Landscaping

Reed’s Country Store

Hannafords

Stillman’s Farm

IMG_20141011_090143web   Although it rained all morning, supporters of The Country Store building project and store came to the Petersham Common. We shared hot coffee and goodies under the tent. Many thanks to Larry and Rich for putting it up because we needed the cover.

IMG_20141011_102812webOne year ago, we were still working on the building purchase details. Today, the interior renovations are completed and the store is successfully leased to Ari and Jeanneane Pugliese. It is terrific to have The Country Store open again and offering local food and products as part of the mix. Work on the building exterior continues.

Sheila with her great pumpkin

Sheila with her great pumpkin

Today was also the great pumpkin weigh-in for the Petersham Grange and Library Book Sale. People came and went spreading good cheer across the common.

Charles and Ry with their great pumpkin

Charles and Ry with their great pumpkin

Josh and Ellen with their great pumpkin

Josh and Ellen with their great pumpkin

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Clearing brush along the fitness trail

 

Today volunteers worked at the Gilbertville Fitness Trail – painting the gate, clearing brush at the entrance and along the trail, and making the trail more inviting. The ten fitness stations were installed along the former railroad bed over the summer. The stations include various stretches and strength exercises, often two exercises at each station.

Great progress was made and the trail is nearly ready for the official opening on Saturday, October 25th at 2pm. The welcoming signs along Main Street will be installed in the coming weeks. Please take a walk and explore the fitness equipment and the Ware River! If driving you can park at the New Furnace Landing with the gazebo, and if you are walking the trail begins at the yellow and blue gate opposite the Hardwick House of Pizza.

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Shelby, Peter and Angelica working on the brush clearing.

Shelby, Peter and Angelica working on the brush clearing.

 

The Wheelwright end of the Mass Central Rail Trail was the focus of the trail clearing crew yesterday afternoon.  Because that end has fewer large trees and two sections of track were laid to the approach of the mill, the small trees and brush had taken full advantage of the sunlight. Thanks to Angelica, Peter, Shelby, Tom, Bruce, Mark and Cynthia great progress was made – the first several hundred feet are now ready to have the ties removed and trail graded.

Several weekends ago the trail clearing was started at the pony truss heading to Wheelwright. After another session of trail clearing the two should meet in the middle!

Tom and Bruce working on the overhead branches and brush along the rail trail.

Tom and Bruce working on the overhead branches and brush along the rail trail.

 

Monarch butterfly on a red clover at the Wheelwright entrance to the Mass Central Rail Trail.

Monarch butterfly on a red clover at the Wheelwright entrance to the Mass Central Rail Trail.

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Bob sharing information about the Swift River Reservation during our hike.

 

Today a group of folks from all over the east Quabbin region converged on the Swift River Reservation to see the sights and walk a few miles through the woods in Petersham.  Bob Clark treated us all to stories about the property – who used to live there, why there was a dam along the Swift River, how the property came to be protected and trails created. It was a real treat.

There were a few wildlife sightings, including some good sized brook trout and a bald eagle soaring northward up the valley. Beaver and porcupine left signs of their work in various locations along the trails. We witnessed evidence of the 1938 hurricane which blew most of the trees down. Did you know that there was 18″ of rain in Petersham from that hurricane?

We encourage you all to take a trip to the reservation and explore part of Petersham when you have time!

Fall colors are starting to appear in the Swift River valley.

Fall colors are starting to appear in the Swift River valley.

The Swift River

The Swift River at low summer levels

Hiking the Quabbin

Hikers at the monument on Dana Common.

Hikers at the monument on Dana Common.

 

Today our long-distance hiking group walked about nine miles progressing along the east coast of the Quabbin Reservoir. We started at Gate 40, passing through the Dana Common, stopping to read the memorial marker that is covered with lichen. The rain held off, but the grass was wet and periodically the trees shed their water. Fortunately rain coats weren’t required today!

View of the Quabbin Reservoir at the end of Camels Hump Road looking out at Leveau Island.

View of the Quabbin Reservoir at the end of Camels Hump Road looking out at Leveau Island.

After visiting Dana Common we climbed north along Whitney Hill Road and then walked down Camels Hump Road to the reservoir. Stone walls and empty cellar holes followed us along the way. There was one area with a handsome curved wall marking a special spot for prior residents.

Down at the shore we sat for an early lunch. Two loons and another diving duck were spotted, along with two fishermen in a boat. A beautiful location for lunch!

dam at Fever Brook

The breached dam on the east branch of Fever Brook

After retracing our steps for a couple hundred yards we found the unused road to Rattlesnake Hill. At the bottom we crossed the east branch of Fever Brook, just below the dam. Some of the stones in the dam were huge. This would be a great spot on a hot summer day!

Though the wildlife sightings were sparse, probably because we were talking too much to possibly sneak up on any unsuspecting birds or mammals, the scenery was wonderful. We encourage you to explore the area yourself.

The fourth and final segment of the east coast hike will be on Sunday, October 26th. We will meet at Gate 31, then carpool back to Gate 37 to start the hike. The walking distance is approximately seven miles. Please join us! If you have any questions contact Cynthia at chenshaw@EQLT.org or 413-477-8229.

Clearing crew just starting to open the trail, and the pony truss is visible in the distance.

Clearing crew just starting to open the trail, and the pony truss is visible in the distance.

 

It was hot and humid yesterday out along the Ware River. With an early start our crew of dedicated volunteers made huge progress at the rail trail.

The first wave of trail clearing removed all the brush for half the distance from the pony truss to Wheelwright. Next step is to remove the old ties and then continue pushing back the brush and trees to widen the usable space along the trail.

 

Bridge decking timbers are fully installed on the new beam bridge section and more were delivered onto the pony truss ready for the next work day. If you are available next Saturday, please come help continue the great work begun to open the rail trail to Wheelwright.

The beam bridge getting ready for new decking.

The beam bridge getting ready for new decking.

Dropping off new decking timbers.

Dropping off new decking timbers.

The land trust and Hubbardston-Ware River Nature Club hosted an evening titled “Moths and Munchies” last night to introduce the world of moths. With a full living room Wendy Howes and Brian Klassanos shared a bit of their passion for watching night fliers. Turns out that we are at the end of the season, so it’s not surprising that only a few varieties of moths came out to the lights. Also, there are many, many moth species. Taking a photograph, then zooming in is a great way to see the rich detail in their wing patterns and body structures. Here are a few samples with moths on white sheets.

 

There were munchies too!

There were munchies too!

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Beautiful Bloodswamp

Hikers taking a quick break along the edge of Bloodswamp on the Barre/Rutland/Oakham town line

Yesterday morning we got an early start, well early for weekend standards, on a three mile hike along Bloodswamp which is located in the corner of Barre, Oakham and Rutland. This whole area is part of the Ware River watershed land owned by the Commonwealth. The 25,000 acres were originally taken from the villages of West Rutland, Coldbrook Springs and White Valley to supplement the drinking water supply of the Wachusett Reservoir for homes in the greater Boston area. The aqueduct connecting the Ware River to Wachusett Reservoir was finished in 1931. Just two years later the aqueduct connecting the Quabbin Reservoir to Ware River was finished. For the most part, water from the Quabbin Reservoir flows through the aqueduct. Water from the Ware River is principally a back-up source.

The beavers are keeping the area flooded. Trees that filled the valley are now standing dead amid a variety of wetland plants. The great blue herons are nesting in a half dozen trees in Bloodswamp.

New England Blazing Star

We also saw a rare liatris, the New England Blazing Star which is a species of special concern. The beautiful purple blooms were found along Pine Plains Road in disturbed areas near the dikes.

Three dikes were part of the loop hike. While it’s not confirmed, the assumption is that these dikes were built to increase the capacity of the Barre Falls Dam during flooding episodes. The Barre Falls Dam was authorized in 1941 after severe flooding in the Ware River valley in 1936 and 1938. The dam and dikes were finished in 1958 and have the capacity to hold back 7.9 billion gallons of water. In 1987 there were four or five days of rain and the dam was closed and saved downstream communities from certain flooding. Over 5 billion gallons of water was slowly released from the valley after the storm system.

 

Fun at the Fair

Harry is relaxing a moment before the Fair gets rolling on Saturday morning.

Saturday was a beautiful day on the Hardwick common for the 252nd Annual Hardwick Community Fair. Friday night was cool, but the temperature and brief shower didn’t deter folks from coming out to the common. The Fair was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new neighbors. This year we had a wide variety of tee shirt colors to choose from and plenty of Preserve maps to share! If you didn’t make it this year, be sure to put it on your calendar for 2015. A good time that shouldn’t be missed!!

The target was hit and the seat released as this dunkee heads for the water!

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