Monday, July 19, 2010

Wapack Wanderings 7/18

Yesterday afternoon and evening took a hike along some of the less traveled portions of the Wapack Trail, beginning in Ashburnham (Rte 119) heading north to Windblown Ski Center off Rte 123 in New Ipswich, NH and back. I decided to skip the Watatic summit, as I wanted to cover some areas I havn't visited in some time. There was little bird song during the heat of mid-day, but I did hear a few Blackburnian Warblers and Winter Wren before hitting the New Hampshire border.
The first "land mark" was Binney Pond, a beautiful undeveloped pond a few miles into NH, were heard a few Hemit Thrushes singing despite the heat. This appears to be the kind of place one might find moose wading along the shore.

Binney Pond from the Wapack trail.

Just north of Binney Pond the trail leads toward the summitts of Pratt, Stoney Top, New Ipswich and Barrett Mountains...all 1800-1900 feet in evevation (similar in height to Watatic). On the south east shoulder of Pratt is an excellent vista, where Binney Pond and Mount Watatic can seen from a rocky outcrop. Binney Pond and Mt. Watatic, one of many fine views along this portion of the Wapack Trail.

I had come prepared, with extra containers, in the hopes of filling them with wild blueberries and I was not disappointed. A considerable amount of time was spent picking and a nice west breeze kept the heat and the insects at bay. While picking, a few Cedar Waxwings, perched in a nearby spruce tree and appeared to be agitated with my presence but I'm sure they got over it.

Wild Blueberries at their "peak" in the area.
From Stoney Top were nice views looking north west toward Monadnock and east to Pratt Pond....below

Looking NW toward Grand Monadnock

The view east down on Pratt Pond, its shoreline is dotted with camps and homes.
Moving along northward on New Ipswich mountain I heard the calls of a begging raptor and the "ki-ki-ki-ki" calls of the parent, Sharp-shinned Hawks! I had recalled reading of a report of nesting "Shins" along the ridge, on the New Hampshire birding listserv last year, that was a nice surprise! Further up the trail I flushed a family of Ruffed Grouse, one squealing parent and two young (about 1/2 the size of the adult). Not far from my "turn-a-round" point at Windblown Ski Center were a few wild turkeys, but it was difficult to see if they had young or not as they were in thick ferns.

A nice patch of ferns near Windblown Ski Center.
I would follow the same route back, but unfortunately I ran out of water 5 miles from the car, its amazing how quick a gallon of fluids can be consumed on a hot day. I did flush the grouse family again, at the previous location and more blueberries found their way into my possession, I could have easily spent the whole day picking.
From left to right, Wachusett Mountain (back), Little Watatic (small bump in the middle) and Pratt...taken from the south side of Stoney Top.
The best surprise of the day was a Black Bear, that stepped on the trail not 50 feet (~17 paces) in front of me. Fortunately the ole cliche' about "they're more afraid of you, than you of them" held true to form! Once it saw BOLTED away, plowing through thick tangles and saplings with amazing speed, before "bear" even registered in my overheated, water deprived...mental stupor. Had it known I was carrying a good "haul" of blueberries the story might have ended differently, but seriously..... truely a beautiful animal and easily the highlight of the trip.


grammie g said...

Picked you of your comment on Northern Maine of the mountains are great....liked also your bear story...made me laugh....good you got to keep your blueberries!!! : }

Larry said...

I like the looks of the locations you visited. Wild blueberries are a favorite of mine. At least you had water. My cousing and I recently went off track a bit and ended up hiking over 10 miles on a hot day without bringing water.not very bright of us. My cousin said he never brings water-his solution is to chew a piece of gum if you get thirsty.