Monday, April 9, 2012

A Different Kind of Easter Hunt

Easter brings rebirth to the Pioneer Valley.

Buds are tightly unfurling on local branches. Yards are blurring with colorful flowers. And Peeps, in all their sugary, chicky charm, have appeared in our kitchen. The winter felt long, even if abnormally warm. It's good to see life returning, riders out on the roads.

My first jaunt of the year on the Vaya today; I planned only to poke around little Lake Warner near our house in search of decent trails.

Old mill building converted to alluring home on the burbling dam at Lake Warner
No luck with rideable trails, but on the way back, climbing rustic Mt. Warner Road (my favorite neighborhood stretch) I noticed for the first time a wide trail starting at the side of the road, and no "Private Property" sign.

A camouflaged barn on rustic Mt. Warner Road
Ever on the lookout for trails near my house, and being on the very bike that was built for exploring such mysteries, I hung a right. Lo and behold... a network of trails stretched well into a secret patch of woods surviving quietly between farms and houses. Happy Easter to me!

I spied four ATVs trundling home on a far part of the trail as I entered, and, a few hundred yards later, an empty camp with six or so stumps set up in a sitting circle. Empty beer cans were strewn everywhere and overflowing a very large wooden box off to one side. I wondered if a mere cyclist on an effete (non-mountain) bike would be welcome on these trails. I didn't let the question stop me.

Further down the trail, I found a beautiful wreck of a pick-up truck.  I seized the photo opportunity.

Sculptural pick-up wreck...

...joined by sculptural dirt road bike

I poked around for half an hour or so, stringing together stretches that were rideable, though challenging on a bike more suited to gravel-road than single track. There was more trail, but I was expected at home. Hence, I made the obligatory "wrong turn on a new trail system as the sun was going down" on the way out. Got lost for 10 or 15 happy-scary minutes, pushing the bike through small forests of prickers and using the angle of the sun for navigation. There's no feeling quite as sweet as spotting the trail you rode in on after being lost.

You can bet I'll be returning soon to map out this little treasure. In the meantime, happy rebirth to y'all. May you feel new life in your life!


Jonathan said...

Sounds great. Would love to see some of these roads. Do you map your rides?

Velosopher said...

Jonathan, do you live nearby? I could send you directions to this tiny trail system. I mapped it out yesterday, you can't do more than a mile on it, but it's fun. As for the Lake Warner access, turn right off of Rt. 47 (when heading north) onto Stockbridge Rd., and look sharp -- a tiny sign on the right, in about 100 yards says "Kestrel Trust land access" or some such, and you can get back to the lake on some double-track. No real trails to speak of, but lots of good crashing around on foot and beautiful spots.

I do have maps of other rides if you're in the area and are looking for rides.

Jonathan said...

I found my way tonight to the trails past the firepit and the cool pickup truck.

My favorite part was the "Speed Limit 40 MPH" sign hanging above a stretch of rooted and rutted barely-rideable trail.

Didn't have time for the Lake Warner section, but I'll be back for that soon.

Velosopher said...

Congrats, Jonathan! If you prove yourself trustworthy :-) I might even share the sweet short trails I found off of 47, on the other side of that hill. I'm hesitant to post about the location of those -- they're pretty visible from the nearby houses on whose property the trails lie and I don't want to abuse their goodwill...