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Quabbin Watershed

Old 05-19-22, 12:44 PM
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autonomy
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Quabbin Watershed

I didn't see a separate Quabbin thread, seems like it's worth creating one to collect ideas and experiences. Lots of good riding in the area.
A couple weeks ago I got a chance to go out on an exploratory ride I wanted to do for a while, starting at Gate 40 of the Quabbin Res. DCR has a brochure on where one is and isn't allowed to bike around Quabbin, https://www.mass.gov/doc/quabbin-res...chure/download
My route was to explore the East Quabbin area: start at Gate 40, head south on Hardwick Road (paved) towards... Hardwick, then right on Sessions/Greenwich towards Gate 43, past the DCR boat ramp and into the unpaved 'wilderness' of East Quabbin and then Dana Center. There are a couple of trails in the North that I want to explore next. Mind you, no contact with water is allowed, like wading, etc.
From Dana center there are two dead-end roads leading to the shore: south to Pottapaug Pond and northwest to Grave's Landing. Due to time constraints I was only able to explore the south spur this time.

Whitney Hill, north of Dana, is officially closed to biking. That is a shame, because going that way would make for a much longer dirt loop towards Gate 29. I am not advocating for it, but I have seen people I follow on Strava bike through there, and the Strava heatmap shows a fairly strong cyclist presence between Dana Center, through Whitney and into Soapstone Hill. Next time I'm in the area, I plan to go up Grave's Landing and see what the situation is with "no biking" signs up that way.

I took this at the end of the ride, but this is what the parking area at Gate 40 looks like


Thought of taking Mellon Road as a shortcut... but then realized that I'd be cutting distance but going pretty slow on that kind of terrain and remained on pavement. Could be a fun 'off-road' shortcut for the future.


Greenwich road down to Gate 43 is an extremely fun downhill. This is ways past the gate, fun road name! Unfortunately, there was a 'no biking' sign on the gate. Gate 43 is access to the fishing area so watch out for trucks pulling boats.


No pictures of the Quabbin fishing area (it's south of Pottapaug Hill where the road crosses the pond), but this picture is right after passing it. All pavement ends and all civilization stays behind.


Somewhere nearing Dana. Why no biking!? Looking at the map, going down this road on foot might be worth it,
.


Even closer to Dana


This is the end of the spur south from Dana, Thayer Rd, I believe. Brings you to a super-nice shore area.


Not a single soul past the fishing area, just wildlife.


My primary goal was to do some off-road riding away from people but then at the last minute I decided I wanted to test some equipment as well. The plan was to just make tea in the field, but due to time constraints instead of pre-made dinner I bought a box of cous-cous and ended up making an impromptu bikepacking meal. It worked out pretty damn well for me.


I saw: 1 porcupine, 1 owl (think it was a great horned, it was big and flying), 1 deer, multiple turkeys, and a very brave beaver. 17.5 miles overall, not huge mileage, but definitely a lot of value.
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Old 05-19-22, 12:45 PM
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My route separately, since I can't attach more than 10 images
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Old 08-01-22, 08:39 AM
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Awesome stuff, I've always suspected that there's lots of good riding to be found in that area because the suburban psychos don't have much reason to drive through.
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Old 08-03-22, 09:49 PM
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More about this region:

Foster, David R.: "Hemlock", Yale University Press, April 29, 2014, 336pp, $30
A Forest Giant on the Edge

"Hemlock: A Forest Giant on the Edge" by David Foster (and seven co-authors) considers the recent (from the tree's perspective) history of the Eastern Hemlock: about ten to eleven thousand years. The primary focus is on the Harvard Forest, a collection of tracts surrounding Petersham, in north/central Massachusetts. From that base, Foster and his co-authors occasionally zoom out for a wider-angle view of New England.

Near-term, almost all Eastern Hemlocks appear to be doomed because of the hemlock woolly adelgid [uh-DEL-jid], an invasive Japanese insect. The adelgid's only natural enemy appears to be temperature below -13F. This is why Hemlocks are dying south-to-north. Because of the overall warming trend global and regional whether any Eastern Hemlocks will survive is unknown.

Hemlocks' commercial value was real but limited: mostly, the tanin in its bark. The wood itself not so much other than for pulp. No small thing though, Hemlock was and is valued for aesthetics. Because of the Eastern Hemlock's efficiency in absorbing sunlight and water, Hemlock forests are unique ecosystems and are notably cooler and drier than trees and forests that replace them. Of course, a hemlock forest floor is alive, but it's alive with species that do well with no direct sunlight and not much water.

Repeatedly, I find one of the most rewarding aspects of the book is the time frame centuries and millennia that's required for the "action" what's going on. That time frame is a respite from the pace of current news away from the forest. The 1938 Great New England Hurricane weaves its way through the book because of the extent (geography and intensity) of the destruction in the storm's path, broadly devastating forests as well as the built environment. Also mentioned (e.g.: pg 176) are other hurricanes (1815, 1788, 1655) that left long-lasting evidence. I tend to think of geologic records as being, you know, geological. The historic record "Hemlocks" explores includes the trees living, dying, and dead and seamlessly extends to the underlying soil and terrain.

A minor quibble that doesn't rise to a complaint: there could be more and better maps. One historic source of relevant records (pg 61) was "...detailed map(s) of North American Forests before they were first cut and then cleared. For this, we can thank a largely anonymous group of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century land surveyors [that] recorded the presence of individual trees by their species and sometimes by their size [and] identified and blazed 'witness trees' as permanent markers at the corners of individual lots ...." I'd enjoy seeing some of these maps.

This isn't a book for or about tree-huggers. The authors repeatedly focus on the changing ways, over time, that humans have lived with and interacted with trees and forests. It's also an appreciation of Eastern Hemlocks, not a lament about their demise. Looking ahead, loss of Eastern Hemlock will likely lead to substantially greater biodiversity, greater water flow in regional streams with more species and more abundance and, overall, greater productivity. We will also lose Hemlock, a "...flagship for old-growth and primeval forest in the Northeast. We'll lose distinctive variation..." but "... the fastest route to recovery is simply to let the impacts play out and allow nature to recover as it has for millennia before." If history is a guide, this will take at least 500 to 1,000 years. Or longer.
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