i woke up this morning to drive down to sturbridge with my parents to go camping at the wells state park. turns out the campsites were all booked up for this long labor day weekend and of course we didn't have the foresight to make a reservation. for a $2 parking fee we were allowed to use the picnic area and walk the 10 miles worth of trails, so that's what we decided to do. i visited the interpretive center nearby, a mini-museum of sorts, filled with a rather morbid display of skulls and furs and skins and feathers of animals found in the park.

we did the mill pond loop (1 mile) and parts of the north trail (2 miles), taking in two scenic vistas (one of them being carpenter's rock, with a mountain view of the camp-exclusive walker pond beach), a beaver inhabited pond, and several "wetlands." i don't know what those places are called, those areas flooded with water, covered in this opaque green film, dotted with dead trees. maybe they're just flooded lowland forest areas and don't really have an official name.

i saw a brood of snapping turtle hatchlings crawling across the parking lot. i almost missed them, because i had already ventured out by myself on the mill pond trail, but when i tried to call my parents on my cellphone and realized i had no reception (never underestimate the remoteness of the wilderness), i hurried back to the picnic site and hoped they'd still be there. "turtles! all over the place!" my mother shrieked when she saw me, and they took me to the parking lot, where earlier it was covered in baby turtles. the park volunteers had already been by in their golf cart and picked up most of the turtles so they wouldn't get runned out. i figured maybe they were painted turtles, and thought there wouldn't be anymore, while my father looked under a few cars, until he saw one, and them we saw a few more. i immediately recognized them as snapping turtles (jagged edged shell, long tail), and was at the same time attracted to these baby turtles as i was repulsed by what they'll eventually become as adults. the ones on the parking lot were crawling into the shade of the cars to escape the hot sun, while the ones closer towards the woods were trying to find shade underneath the trees. mill pond was nearby, and that's probably where they're heading. so fresh were these turtles that they were still covered in dirt, having just crawled out of the ground.

with so many wetlands nearby, there were of course some late season dragonflies. i saw some familiar red meadowhawks, as well as managing to get photos of a male spreadwing and a female eastern pondhawk. i also managed to spot my very first massachusetts eft. i was walking out front, casually scanning left and right, when on some leaf litter off of the main trail i saw something red and long. "i found one," i motioned to my parents with one outstretched arm, "i got an eft!" this proves that efts really do exist in places other than vermont. i'm also especially proud of this find because it hadn't even rained, which is usually when efts come out, so it was a more uncommon "dry" find. this was one of those lethergic efts that remain perfectly motionless as i took my photos.

christmas fern

chistmas fern sori

sensitive fern

polypody fern

polypody sori

beaver chew

3 hours worth of hiking later we left wells state park and drove out to nearby brimfield state forest looking for a campsite, despite the fact that we called as far as the berkshires to learn there weren't anymore vacancies for this weekend. brimfield was an interesting drive though dense woods. although there was no state campsites, however there was a private campground that seemed to be infested with rv types, parents and young children, eyeing us suspiciously since we didn't fit the demographic.

calling it quits, we came back to boston after dark and got dinner at brown sugar on commonwealth avenue. we were told it'd be a 15 minutes wait, but it turned out to be twice as long. fortunately, the delicious food made it for some of the bad customer service, but the place gets so crowded on the weekends, it's almost not worth going without a prior reservation.