a slice of leftover pizza for breakfast and i was out the door on this 62 degrees day, perhaps the last warm day of the season (i keep on saying that, but every weekend the weather has been nice). i timed my exit so i wouldn't have to run into my upstairs neighbor, who was outside raking the leaves and doing some yard work. my original plan was to just get on the motorcycle and ride, no particular destination in mind, but i thought better of that plan and picked the great brook farm state park in carlisle as the place to go, printing out a trail map during my research. just 20 miles away, route 2A until concord, then keep on driving north cutting through concord center until you hit carlisle. the ride was amazing, and there were stretches of road where i was the only person out there. it made me sad to think i wouldn't be able to ride until 6 months later, not until spring. i can't describe the feeling, it's like total freedom, a oneness with the road, the smells, the sights, the sounds. it's also great because the motorcycle has such a small footprint, i can pull over on the side of the road anytime, making detours an easy thing to do. when i get lost, i just pull an u-turn, no awkward 3-point-turns. traffic jams? not for me, as i weave between cars. sort of like all the perks of riding a bicycle, but with the speed of a car. and no peddling. i always feel sad when i blow by a cyclist, see him straining up a hill on manpower, while i effortless zigzag along. ah, i digress!
great brook farm state park has a dairy farm that serves homemade ice cream. it seems to be a popular destination with the locals, as the large parking lot was packed with cars. further along the road are smaller parking spaces next to trails that meander into the forest. i parked by the head of pine point loop, northeast of meadow pond. right away i both liked it and hated it. it was cool because the place was large (900+ acres) with many different habitats, including swamps, ponds, fields, and forest strewn with glacial erratics. what i didn't like about it was the amount of people. the place was noisy with the sound of adults, children, and dogs. every once in a while a mountain biker would ride by, or maybe someone on horseback. i like nature places where i don't see anybody else. tranquility is a component of the naturing process, and this place didn't have it, at leat not on a warm sunday afternoon. with so much traffic, i wouldn't be seeing a lot of animals (most of them would be hiding). it reminded me of the fells in medford/malden. nevertheless, the place is big enough that if you really wanted to, you could leave the trail and find some seclusion. it's definitely a hidden gem, i never thought there was a place like this so relatively close by.
there wasn't very much to see other than the occasional scenic vistas. fall is the season where things are dying. no flowers. some mushrooms, but nothing colorful, with many black and dying. around the pond red meadowhawk dragonflies were abundant, sunning on rocks. i was able to get a few to crawl onto my finger. a flock of canada geese landed in the water. there were some wooden duck houses, empty, the wood ducks flying south for the season. sphagnum moss edged the perimeter of the pond, but no signs of carnivorous plants. i tried looking for snakes, but with all the dead leaves on the ground, i made too much noise when i walked, and they provide easy hiding places for our legless friends. i made a detour and followed beaver loop into a sedge-filled marsh, then walked around the pond following the pine point loop.
i left carlisle before sundown, trying to get back before the temperature dropped. i made it to belmont, where i had dinner with my family (homemade "bing" stuffed with slices of beef, scallions, and cilantro) before returning to cambridge.