Sunday, November 24, 2013

Running Notchview

Perched high up on a series of hills in the north-central Berkshires, TTOR’s Notchview Reservation is just a half-hour west from me on Rte. 9. I’ve known about it for a couple of years, and driven past many times now, especially since moving over to the western side of the valley, but have never had (or made, I suppose) the time to stop and check it out. So it felt like a long-overdue visit when, the other day, Jen and I threw on some warm clothes and headed up to do a trail run on some of the cross-country ski trails there.

[apologies to our fellow 413 Trail Runners for the last minute invite; we had such a blast at last week's 15-mile Movember Race on Mt. Tom and we wanted some of you guys to come along; we just came up with the idea pretty late in the morning.]

Not surprisingly, we were the only car in the expansive main lot. It was, after all, a 30-degree late-November afternoon with a stiff northwest wind blowing it. Before setting out, we poked into the Budd Visitor Center to use the bathroom. There we met Patty, a volunteer who was busy putting a finishing coat of fresh paint on some rooms upstairs. She offered lots of helpful information and advice, and would very quickly prove to be an excellent new friend. We also saw a map of a recent 10K held on the site tacked to a bulletin board. I traced the convoluted route it took on the map copy we’d brought, and we set off for our run (the network can be a bit confusing; here's a full trail map of the property for reference).

As soon as we stepped outside we were met with that northwest wind. Brrr… We decided to modify the early part of the run to cut out a short open field section in favor of a detour on the more sheltered Mixed Woods Trail. The footing was a bit rough on that trail, but the constant hummock hopping and low-stump dodging was actually kind of fun, especially since it wasn’t too leaf-covered and it was trending downhill. After that the going just got better and better. We climbed up through a different field and enjoyed the sunny exposure now that we were warmed up.

Our route took us along a variety of trails and terrain types. Bumpus Trail (made me think of Bumpus Brook up in the Whites), Skating Loop, and Minor Trail (which had some soggy sections). Somewhere around the Trela Shelter we bumped into Patty, out on the trails for her own run, and then we saw her again out on Shaw Road, where we joined her / she joined us for a few miles. We took another slight detour off of the 10K course, this time to climb up through a spectacularly scenic semi-open field high up on a hillside with amazing views to the south and east. Then we got on the Minor Trail again for some gradual climbing, said goodbye to Patty at junction 13 (she was off to do a tougher hill workout somewhere), and then took the somewhat rough Windsor Trail back to Shaw Road.

By far my favorite area of the day was the next mile or so, where the grassy Circuit Trail goes up and over a spruce-covered hilltop, with smaller but appealing side trails intersecting at frequent intervals (the mossy Bridge Trail looked particularly inviting). We paused to take several photos until we began to chill down and realized that, yeah, it was still 30 degrees and windy out. Back down to Trela, hard right on Circuit, and a final short ascent up and over Spruce Hill. Coming back out into the main field, we ran our last steps of the day heading into the setting sun to the southwest. An excellent workout on some very well-maintained trails at a place that definitely just became a new favorite. 

Jen sets off into the woods

leaper! (it looks a little bit like I'm wearing clown shoes in this shot)

Climbing up through Bates Field with Patty

The view from Bates Field

Circuit Trail

trail along a mossy hilltop

coming back out into the main field

journey's end

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