We planned to walk in the open field at Birchwold Farm in Wrentham, just as the first flakes began falling in what turned out to be an all day affair, dropping a foot of snow hereabouts. Seeing a number of cars in the icy parking lot, we moved on, and spotted, just across the street at Joe’s Rock, an empty parking lot. Whoo-hoo, time to #avoidcrowds!
We had had snow earlier in the week, but the trail was not icy, merely tramped down. Almost as soon as visitors leave the parking area they are confronted with crossing small stream. Two boards lie across the flowing water, and some ice was at each end, but we managed to get across without taking a dip.
As we crossed the makeshift bridge, we spotted a long line of jumbled sticks and mud next to the trail. A beaver had been very busy since we had last visited this area, creating a substantial dam. the water backed up behind the dam, and spread close to the trail, on the other side of the stream. As opposed to how dry everything was this past summer, the water in the stream was flowing at a good clip, providing that sweet “burbling stream” music I so enjoy listening to when finding these streams in the woods.
Tiny flakes of snow began collecting on our shoulders as we tromped along the trail. We chose not to climb to the top of Joe’s rock, opting instead to head out onto the ice, where we gained a very different perspective of Joe’s Rock.
From the top, it’s hard to realize how massive this rocky outcrop is, but standing out on the frozen pond, the view was startling.
We trekked along the edges of the pond, and spotted some small prints in the snow, perhaps a fox. No people prints accompanied them, so we guessed it was a wild animal, although the prints had melted, making an identification of what created them impossible. While we felt the ice in the middle to be solid, near the brush on the edges the ice was not so sound. We broke through in a few spots, into a few inches of water.
We headed back for shore rather than continue around the edge of the pond, as had been our plan.
The snow was picking up as we walked along the base of Joe’s Rock. I always feel very small next to rock outcrops such as this. In the hour or so we spent, the trail had already filled with about two more inches of very light, soft powder. We could have gone farther, but decided to head for home before roads got slippery. We spotted from a distance one person walking their dog. Otherwise, we had the place to ourselves.
It’s been a while since I got out while snow was coming down. It’s too easy to stay inside and watch the show from the warmth of my home. What a joy, and an important reminder of how it feels to walk along the empty trail, watching snow collect on the stone wall near the pond, my shoulders more and more covered with light snowflakes. No, I still have not gotten tired of the snow. Happy trails!
I learned recently that Joe was the son of the original owner of this land in West Wrentham, MA, so Joe was Joseph Grant. Thanks to Marita for her help digging this information up. And thanks to the Wrentham Historical Commission for confirming the origin of the name, “Joe’s Rock.”
For more perspectives on Joe’s Rock, read here: https://marjorieturner.com/2015/11/04/wheres-joes-rock-or-what-makes-an-easy-walk/
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in everyday (and some very strange) Places.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.