A Year on Rowe Hill
Immediately to the west of our property in Brownsville, Vermont, a densely wooded Rowe Hill ascends steeply. I had first climbed the hill with my sister Debbie in 1987, shortly after buying our home there. After many years of enjoying these hikes, I embarked on a project to walk Rowe Hill every day of the calendar and over a period of 9 years I was able to reach my goal. The first walk was on August 3, 2008 and the final walk was on December 20, 2016. I walked the same trail in blazing heat and humidity with both measures topping 100 and in blizzard conditions and several feet of snow using snowshoes. My most harrowing walk was during a violent thunderstorm where lightning struck a few yards away and the thunder was awesome. My most interesting walk was on a winter midnight with a full moon, when I started on one day and finished on the next. I saw red and gray squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, raccoons, coyotes, white tailed deer, salamanders, and frogs, but the bear and the moose eluded me. Wonderful birds including scarlet tanagers, barred owls, turkey vultures, and the elusive ovenbird as well as the more common ones enlivened every walk. I made careful notes after every one of the 366 walks and someday, perhaps, they will find their way into a book. I never felt like I walked the same trail twice.
Every Street in Cambridge
Cambridge is a city of approximately 100,000 people stretching from the Boston Harbor on the east to Fresh Pond on the west, the Charles River to the south, and the Arlington border on the north. Since I love to walk, I decided one day to get a map of the city from City Hall and embark on a project to walk the length of every street in the city. The map indicated 811 streets, but some of the had disappeared into new construction and there were some new ones that had appeared in sections of the city undergoing development. I began this project on December 15, 2014 and finished the final street on December 24, 2015. It involved 48 separate walks and I estimated that I covered 77 miles. I discovered wonderful pocket parks, murals on walls and fences, memorials to Cambridge citizens lost in every war from the Civil War to Iraq, schools and churches repurposed into apartments, magnificent public sculpture at MIT and Harvard, superhero architects’ work (Gehry, Holl, Piano to name a few), heavy industry in the far west, waterfront sports activity along the Charles, and ethnic neighborhoods of every kind. It was great fun and a wonderful exposure to our home town. It comes in handy almost every week as I’m driving and trying to get somewhere in Cambridge.
The Long Trail
The Long Trail, known as Vermont’s footpath in the wilderness stretches 292 miles from the Massachusetts border near North Adams to the Canadian border new Jay Peak. The trail was built between 1910 and 1930 and is the oldest long distance walking trail in the U.S. The southern 100 miles of the trail is coincident with the Appalachian Trail which breaks off just north of Route 4 when it makes a 90 degree turn to the east to continue through New Hampshire to its northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. My dear friend, Elvin Kaplan, and I decided to hike the length of the Long Trail in 2014. Being short on mountaineering and camping skills, we decided to do day hikes and accompanied on all but one of our outings by friends from Brownsville and in one case, Becca and Joe, we embarked on day hikes of 9-13 miles, driving two cars and leaving one at each trailhead. Blessed by good weather, by 2016, we had completed nearly the entire southern portion of the trail, logging 80 miles in 7 different hikes. As we both approached major birthdays ending in a ‘0’ and having completed the portion of the trail accessible for day hikes, we gave up our goal of completing the entire Trail, and happily remember the hikes we did.