|(Lylah M. Alphonse)|
A nice walk in the woods
I am not much of an outdoorswoman. I have not camped since I was 13 years old, when a couple of rainy and rocky nights under a leaking tarp put me off sleeping outdoors for pretty much the rest of my life. An adventure up Mount Monadnock a few years ago, before our youngest kids were born, was so excruciating that my husband has vowed never to take me there again, though he and the older kids have climbed it since. So it was with much trepidation (on his part) that he suggested a hike through the Fells one sunny summer afternoon, and there was great surprise and rejoicing when I quickly agreed.
Here’s the thing: I might not be one for a hike up a mountain, but I do love a long ramble through the woods, and the Middlesex Fells are simply gorgeous. There are plenty of trails to choose from, and some of them even accommodate strollers. You don’t need special equipment, not even proper hiking boots. We outfitted each of our kids with a backpack stocked with their own water bottles and snacks - our 2 1/2-year-old rode in a pack on my husband’s back - sprayed everyone with insect repellent, and were on our way.
The car ride from the boonies where we live to the entry point we picked in Malden took less than 40 minutes; we parked on a street that skirts the 2,575-acre reservation, and started following the orange blazes for the Reservoir trail, a moderate hike along the outer perimeter of the Western part of the Fells. We didn’t do the whole trail - just around the Northern Reservoir, to the observation tower at Bear Hill and back, which was perfect for the smaller people in our group. I’d be up for a longer hike next time. I’m not sure my family believes me, though.