Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hiking While Expecting

Kelly is about 98.5% pregnant (101% by her measure), with the baby due within two weeks. Even so close to the big day she is staying as active as possible, and came out with us on Saturday for an easy hike.





We've visited several of the Trustees of Reservations sites over the last couple of years, and each one has been fantastic so far. So we pulled up another one of their sites called Chapel Brook on the GPS and were directed on a long scenic ride to a small parking area, marked by the now familiar green 'Trustees' sign, right alongside route 116, way up in Ashfield...



A short hike in past some outbound snow-shoers, and there's another welcome sign with maps and other info, under the shadows of a huge rocky outcropping towering nearby.



We were on top of Pony Hill, and the 100' tall bare rocky ledge that rose above that would be sure to provide a fantastic view...if we could just get up there...



But there was no way Kelly was going find a way up that thing from this side, which is a favorite for rock-face for rock-climbers. Luckily for us mortals, there is an easier way up...



There's a one mile trail that loops around and up the back side of the massive Chapel Ledge, as the rock is called, and it appeared to be reasonably un-steep. Kelly gave the trail map a good look and decided she was up for trying it. If it became too steep or difficult, we could always turn back. We set out on the summit trail...



The trail goes upwards briefly, then down along the bottom of a gap where a brook, (Chapel Brook I presume), meanders through.



All the while, the tall rock looms above and on the right, among a mix of evergreens, beech and birch. The ledge is also surrounded by a demarcated 'erosion zone', and small signs are put up here and there to advise hikers to be careful not to damage the soil...



The Trustees know how to pic em'. This is yet another beautiful trail through uncluttered forest, alongside some impressive rock and gurgling streams.



Ashfield is on the eastern foothills of the Berkshires, and I don't know if it was the elevation, isolation from more populated areas, or just the fact that it was such a bright sunny day; but the air was incredibly crisp and refreshing.



We moved along slowly and deliberately, pausing whenever needed and helping Kelly over and under any obstacles. There weren't too many obstacles, except for more victims of the early winter ice storms that hit a couple months ago. In many places these trees still look freshly snapped.



Another major obstacle was where the hard packed snow would occasionally give way, causing an unsuspecting foot to suddenly sink knee deep.



But making careful progress we were soon on the back side of the outcrop where the trail begins to rise with tall stands of hemlock and pine all around.



The dog earned his keep on the steeper sections by helping to pull Kelly along...



The terrain eventually started to level off and the snow began to thin out until at the top the ground almost completely snow free.



Chris reached the summit first, and called back to us with; "Dad, you're gonna love this..."



Sure enough, we reached the edge of the wood and were presented with an awesome view of Ashfield hill-country below...



Even covered in bare trees it was a great view, and it must be even more incredible in the summer and autumn. We hung out for a bit taking it in, and scrambling around the ledges looking for new perspectives...



The oxygen rich air here must have gotten to our brains, and the kid and I were soon in a heated 'debate' about such important topics as which pine needles are greenest, and other pressing subject matter...



Meanwhile Kelly had found a seat up above and rested; for her part, she had proudly conquered yet another hilltop...



Still, no sense taking too many chances; and we timed our stay on the rock to made sure we'd head down with plenty of daylight left for a safe trek back to the car.



It was another thoroughly enjoyable hike, thanks again to the efforts of the Trustees of Conservation...



...And a satisfying drive home as the sun set on yet another small but important expedition...

5 comments:

Mary E.Carey said...

Kudos to Kelly!

Tony said...

She's a trooper, no-bout-a-doubt-it...

chris said...

i hate you for posting that photo...

wombatclov said...

Another great post that highlights the hidden, beautiful places in "our valley". You should be working for the state's tourism department (or perhaps they should link to your blog!) Thanks for sharing.

Tony said...

The blog is kind of 'stay-cationy' isn't it...I think the state tourism dept. would probably be more interested in people who spend *money* on their visits though..!

Chris, the honest pictures...are the best pictures...