Thanks so much to Marilyn St. Doré for making the time to help us understand how she and her husband Dave successfully get out on the trail. They take Easy Walks, but often agree to venture on more challenging trails too. After reading this story, you may realize that you too can make a difference in the life of someone you know. Here’s Marilyn and Dave’s story. MTH
We began hiking 2 ½ years ago during the pandemic as a way to stay healthy and not sit in front of the tv now that we were retired. We never dreamt at that time that we’d love hiking so much, so much so, that we try to hike nearly every dry day that we are able all year long. This is no small feat as my husband is visually impaired, legally blind to be more specific. He can barely see beyond his feet and then only shadows and maybe color in his peripheral vision. During this time, he’s come to rely on me to be his guide on hikes. What follows are some of the things I do to help him enjoy his time on the trail as well as keep him as safe as I can.
As we crunch along on the trail through fall leaves that now lie underfoot, we are reminded that winter is not far off. Here’s an excerpt from my newest book release, My Liturgy Of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) places.
Sounds of Silence
We were tromping through the drifts on a short walk in new fallen snow when I spotted the tracks. Ha! These were our own footprints—we were retracing our steps, headed back home. We had ventured to an old trolley line rail bed that still stands in the woods near our house. The dirt road cuts a straight line through the trees; the path we took did not. Despite the straightness of the trail we still created a wobbly line as we walked.
Fall is still with us in New England and we have been anxious to get out before the gray of upcoming winter sets in. We headed out to Noon Hill in Medfield on a blue-sky day, since there is a nice view from Noon Hill (thus the name).
We have spent the past several weeks exploring the SNETT (Southern New England Trunkline Trail) that runs quite near our home. Improvements have just been completed from Center Street in Bellingham, MA west to Rt. 126, near the Blackstone, MA line. What has up to now been one of the more challenging sections of the SNETT, this portion of the trail has limited views, but is key to opening up further sections of the SNETT west of here. Park at the Center Street parking area. Once parked, head west. An additional, Harpin Street entrance is next to DiPietro Elementary School, with parking across the street at the athletic fields. This area was until recently a barrier for those wanting to access other western sections of the trail.
You never know what will happen when you get outdoors. This trip started at Ayer, MA and took us all the way to Nashua, NH on the Nashua River Rail Trail. We brought along our mascot, Stormy, (aka Smoky.) He’s now Stormy, having donated his previous name to our new kitten. Our tandem bike, Shermy, did great after his international travels to Canada, including two ferry rides. And we almost encountered a black bear on the trail. The bear was quick, crossing the path before we could get a photo, but it was definitely a bear.
Third time is a charm…. Our first attempt to visit Doane’s Falls in Royalston, MA was a complete failure. The February weather had turned to the path to ice alongside the trail to the three waterfalls of this beautiful Trustees of Reservations property. Our second try was in the early days of the pandemic, and the parking area at the corner of Athol Road and Doane Hill Road in Royalston was stuffed full of cars. Visitors seeking the safety of the outdoors had squeezed themselves into the relatively narrow corridor next to the river. Too crowded for us! But a recent trip to Royalston provided all the conditions we were hoping for. A cool but not cold day, lots of shade (until the leaves fall), very few other visitors, and no ice!
We headed out toward Plymouth on a late summer day to see if we could find a place to walk along the shore. We had heard of Ellisville Harbor State Park, but learned once we arrived that the shoreline is actually about a one mile walk to reach the water. I will be fine walking this far in cooler weather, but despite being on the coast, which is always cooler than inland, the day was too warm for me to make this trek the day we visited. We wandered some more and stumbled across Shifting Lots Preserve, not far from Ellisville Harbor, held in trust by the Wildlands Trust, which also has a number of other conservation properties along the south shore.
On our way elsewhere, we passed by an intriguing spot just off Route 44, 8 Nemasket Street, in Middleboro, and discovered a very cool historic site along the Nemasket River. As soon as we pulled into the good-sized parking area I knew I had heard of this before–Peter Oliver’s Mill Park has a fish ladder that is essential for migrating herring in the spring. My friend Brenda (Natures Fairy on Youtube) has shared videos of the migrating herring, but I had no idea it had all the historic features we found.
While visiting the area, we stopped along the Quinapoxit River to walk along an abandoned road that offers great views of the river. The pavement is still mostly intact, although several areas have lost some pavement from washouts in seasonal storms. The road is open to walkers and bicyclists.
Maintenance is a fact of life. As much as we’d like to simply have things work, there are times we have to spend time (and money) and effort to maintain things we depend on. We had put off getting our adaptive tandem repainted, but rust is a serious concern on a steel bike, so off it went last month to Pike Powdercoating of Allston, in an effort to protect the bike from rust. It was wonderful to get it back and take it for its first test ride, out on the Upper Charles Trail in Holliston.