|Boxford State Forest - December 11, 2005
Activity by Ken L.
||Your Webmaster wound up on a solo visit to the Boxford
The weather could not have
been any better. On Friday there was over a foot of snow, and by
Sunday it was sunny and very warm...which actually turned out to be a
Your Webmaster chose cross-country skis for the day, given that it
looked like the trail had been broken a bit. If you're not
breaking trail, and the snow is right, you can kick and glide and really
get a move on. Life is good.
If it's below freezing, the snow stays as snow or becomes frozen if
there's been a little melting. Cross-country skis are fine.
If it's far above freezing, the snow melts a bit, and you can
generally glide along OK, and nothing tends to stick to your skis.
HOWEVER if it's at freezing and the snow has a bit of liquid in it
courtesy of the sun, that's trouble. What happens is the snow
melts on the trail and freezes instantly onto anything it touches,
including your cross-country skis. Kick and glide? No,
you're kickin' your butt for choosing your X-C skis instead of your
For most of the way the old skis were picking up skibergs (large chunks
of wet snow) or had a bunch of snow stuck to the bottom. Wax? It
worked for a few feet, then bupkus. But, hey, the trail was broken by
some earlier X-C skier, and then by someone in boots, so I was fine, right?
...hmmm...the end of the line, huh? The guy in the skis gave up, then
the guy in the boots gave up. But I didn't give up.
There are no views in the Boxford State Forest. There's not much to
see. The area comprises a bunch of old roads and trails, all through
woods with a pond or two here and there. You will spot one or two
interesting things along the way, though, like the Boy Scout footbridge.
Err...well...it seems the beavers have decided that they can do a better job
than the Boy Scouts, so it looks like someone moved the bridge out onto the
trail away from the big dam the beavers have been assembling.
(Elsewhere in the forest the beavers have flooded a road completely, and it
has become impassable, but fortunately with the little bridges this section
is still passable.)
I've been to the Boxford State Forest
many times, and I usually visit the old Russell-Hooper farmstead when I go.
quiet place for lunch is the Russell family cemetery.
first and largest of the three monuments talks about the Russells'
participation in the Revolutionary War. Yes, this site goes back a
After a stop in the sun, a snack, and a useless attempt
to apply more wax to the skis, I took my leave of the Russells and began my
trek back out. More skibergs, more tromping...ugh.
most of the day I had the woods to myself. There was nobody else
around. About 1/2 mile from the entrance some people were heading my
way. I noticed that they were wearing snowshoes. "Those were the
better option today," I remarked. "Oh, you've been walking in those,
huh?" "Yep, pretty much the whole way."
Shortly after that the snow conditions changed a little, and I was able to
kick and glide a bit! Wahoo!! Heh, that lasted maybe a few
hundred feet, at which point it was like slamming on the brakes.
Hey, I'll take slightly below par X-C skiing on a gorgeous day anytime!
|Boxford State Forest Walk -
December 3, 2005
Bradley Palmer State Park Walk - December 3, 2005
Activity by Ken L.
Alternate location and route by Michael S.
Photos by Ken L., Jennifer S.
Bradley W. Palmer State Park
Originally Jen, Michael, Jim, and Your Webmaster were going
to walk around the Boxford State Forest, but the parking lot was full when
we got there, which was puzzling. At this time of year one can easily
reason why---those pickups weren't carrying bikes or snowmobiles but rifles.
OK, Plan B! Michael Schuttenberg, who runs many
activities for GONewEngland, suggested Ward Hill, Weir Hill, or Bradley
Palmer. We opted for Bradley Palmer State Park, which is not far at
all from the Boxford State Forest.
|Just a town or two over from Boxford, MA is Topsfield, where you'll
W. Palmer State Park. It's easy to get to off Route 1.
The State Park is a series of rolling hills with trails, and one side of
the park borders the Ipswich River.
Hikers, bikers, horses, X-C skiers, and snowshoers are welcome, and
in the warmer weather there's a canoe rental company down on the Ipswich
that'll set you up for some paddling. Some trails are wheelchair
|Maps are available at the park headquarters, and we spent a few
hours making our own route through the park, under Michael's direction.
The weather for our walk was just fine, if a little chilly in the open
fields when the wind was up.
It turns out that Your Webmaster had been there once before many years
ago, but the walk wasn't as extensive, and we didn't see the main
man-made feature of the property, the mansion.
||The final part of our walk was along the Ipswich to a boardwalk
where we spotted an old boathouse.
It turns out that's just down the hill from the old mansion that sits on
The mansion was closed, but we had a look around and could peek through
the windows. After pausing there for a while we went back to the
A late lunch topped off the day.
Thanks, Mike, for cooking up a nice alternative to our Boxford State