Lost in the Wilds of Northfield and Rescued by a Farmer

Jack in the wilds of Northfield.
Jack in the wilds of Northfield

We drove up to Erving this morning, planning on a hike on the M&M trail, a long one that bisects the state en route to Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire. We found a place for eight cars to park, and took a quick look at the trail map before heading out with my dog Polly, a small sized yellow lab mix, excited to be out in the woods.

Talking and hiking, we made our way on a clearly marked trail and then passed another one called the Red Trail. Some friendly folks at the start of the hike had told us that it becomes very steep up the red one, and so we kept on going on the M&M. Some times you get to talking with an old friend, and the path becomes less obvious. We kept on rambling and talking and came out to a road. Then we turned left.

Pretty soon we were seeing signs for the Northfield Mountain pumped storage facility, and eventually we came to a dramatic overlook. There below us was the half-empty huge reservoir, that ever night is filled up to the brim, and every day, released to generate power. We found out that it’s all just a matter of the price of electricity…it takes more juice to get it up there than it generates coming down but…aha! It sells for more during the day, so it’s a lucrative operation. We looked out over the reservoir and consulted the iPhone…the map told us that we were way, way off course.

But it was a nice day for a hike, so we came back down and headed on another road. That turned out to be a gigantic circle, and then we finally made it to a large clearing. It was the power lines, a swath of open land as far as the eye could see….and tough terrain for hiking with steep rock ledges and lots of scrub. We were totally off course, and eventually we found our way down to Rte 63. There, a savior named Warren who runs a farmstand with his wife told us we were about seven miles from where we had parked the car. But being neighborly, they offered us a ride and we happily obliged, after buying some of their field grown tomatoes which we scarfed down like apples.

Getting lost in the forests of Western Mass always turns out ok, in fact it’s a tradition of ours we often find that this happens and the result is usually just a little bit of a longer hike. Polly didn’t mind, she’ll sleep very well tonight.