Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day Hikes: Bedford: North Segment, 11/19/2006.

The leg from Great Road, north, is a well defined rail bed edged by variegated wetlands. Oak and maple swamps, alder swales, vernal pools alternate throughout a recharge aquifer. A few cattail marshes of fairly recent formation lie west of the VA Hospital and then there is the pond called Fawn Lake. White Pine groves appear to be in their decline phase of succession with a few really large specimens capable of housing owls or raptors grow along the western edge near Fawn Lake.

In this quiet lull time before winter’s onset, the “Pik” of the Downy Woodpecker makes a solitary tone nearby with a distant background wash of Blue jays and Flickers and bass tone booms of a rod and gun club firing range. It is a Sunday and a few pooch walkers are using the main trail. The York Conservation Area has a few well marked spurs to the west and a cryptic royal blue blazed one north of the VA parking lot.

This trail offered a flat lichen dappled boulder for a sit down moment and winds through the rise of returning oak land containing the percolations of the aquifer. Fawn Lake Trail. Further north lays the pond ambitiously called Fawn Lake even though it’s smaller than Walden. A spur trail toward it is larded with risk aversion signage soon after it parts from the Bay Circuit.

A discarded sign warns of a hornet nest probably abandoned several years ago. Another sign warns of an aquacide algae treatment due to be complete by 8/27 with the year unspecified but a reference to the former DEM suggests it must precede the facetious renaming of the latter by one of the corporate GOP looter administrations the commonwealth stupidly imposed on itself to dodge taxes. There is also a trail closure sign for an inundated segment along the “lake’s” west edge mounted sturdily on a post and framed in Plexiglas with credit accorded to Alex Washer and Boy Scout Troop 114.

The Fawn Lake parking lot on its NW corner marks the current end of the BCT but another segment of the rail bed is slated for use when the extension to Andover through a seemingly reluctant Billerica. Signage indicating the existence of the BCT hasn’t appeared yet. I decided to follow the rail bed a bit further north to see if the Bedford/Billerica border is noticeable or marked.

The trail passes one last conservation area, north of the Fawn Lake parking lot, Buehler Ponds. These are so tiny they are already quickly becoming marshes. Attempts to impose a Japanese garden have already failed as the upland native forest inexorably returns. There isn’t much to indicate the border between prim liberal Bedford and slovenly neocon Billerica beyond the sudden appearance of trailside yard middens mainly comprised of rusty metal stuff. I once found it unsightly but it now looks more like quaint archeology and probably shelters voles and other small critters.

The commonwealth has become a subset mirror of the nation with blue and red towns and, oddly the red towns have the same down at the heels look as the red states I passed on a cross country rail trip while the blue towns have the same glow of prosperity. The rail bed loses its coat of rock dust and a cover of the old sand serves as a replacement. Before long, the rail bed vanishes beneath a newer development road guarded by a stern ‘No Trespassing’ sign as Private Property outranks General Access. I turn back amid jealous encroachment and, later, a scolding from a red squirrel. I end up walking a northeast trending spur trail along the north edge of the Buehler Ponds site and later discover it is the likely continuation of the Bay Circuit toward Andover.

The feverish burst of real estate speculation over the past decade has left the North edge of the spur trail hemmed by a bulwark of bulky particle board palazzos of recent vintage redolent with more private property jealousy probably attended by considerable debt burden anxiety. These poor lummox homes will be horribly vulnerable to spikes in energy costs and represent the odd boomer bloat era one day to be derided or pitied as the nation inevitably rediscovers common sense.

If one mainly looks to the south with gaze respectfully averted from these overstuffed sucker traps, the aquifer mosaic of vernal pools, mini swamps and enveloping oak resurgence is its own reward. Flocklets of chickadees and their titmice cousins gambol through it all with a comforting subdued staccato of orientation chirps that will probably enhance this sturdy biome remnant long after the palazzos go the way of ghost towns.