Sunday, April 11, 2021

30 Days of Biking: Day 9, The Merrimack Misadventure

Day 9 
Gosh it was a long day.

The day started out simple enough. I woke up early and headed north to New Hampshire, where I met my cousin Richard at a Park & Ride lot. We had some insurance details to take care of at the cottage in Ascutney, so decided to meet and drive up to Vermont in his truck together. I brought my bike with me, planning to ride the Boscawen end of the Northern Rail Trail when we were finished.

Daffodils were a surprise

We had a great day and got a few things done -- and even discovered daffodils blooming near the porch! (Neither of us are ever up at the cottage in April, so the flowers were a surprise to us both. I wonder who planted them?)

Herman's tractor

After taking care of some chores at the cottage, and stopping in Claremont for lunch, Rich dropped me off at my car in Bow. I typed Northern Rail Trail into Google Maps and hit "directions", which showed the trail only 9 minutes north. Wow! Closer than I thought! (Previously, I had googled the directions at home, and it was a 20 minute drive from the Park & Drive lot.)


I drove north to Exit 16 in East Concord and ended up in an out-of-the-way industrial park with what looked to be a trail, but no parking. I checked the map again and yep, "Northern Rail Trail". Weird. It was rather sketchy, so I decided to leave. As I was driving back to the main road, I saw a small trail head marked "East Concord Trails". I hopped out and looked at the map posted, and it looked like it met up with the Northern Trail... so I figured I'd check it out. I texted Mike to let him know what my location was just in case I didn't return.

Dry, dusty trail of a former rail bed

It was an awful ride. As I rode down the main trail, I passed two small trails off to the side, but kept going. The further I rode, the less interesting it got -- becoming wide and hot, out in the open, typical of an old rail line -- so I continued. Eventually the trail came to a dead end, but appeared to pick up again at the back of a field, in some woods. So I crossed the field and found what looked to be an old trail that hadn't seen much traffic. I looked at my gps and saw I was traveling almost parallel to the Northern Trail, heading in the right direction to intersect it.

I forged on, climbing a rocky hill, and turning down another abandoned, muddy, wide, brush filled trail that lead to a powerline that Google Maps labeled "Northern Trail". Fuckity fuck. It was not THE NORTHERN RAIL TRAIL

Definitely not THE Northern Rail Trail

With no way to coninue on or find an exit point, I turned around and went back through the evil scrub I'd just waded through. At the bottom of the hill, I got off my bike to recheck the gps on my phone, and found several ticks crawling up my legs. I pulled off three, thought I was clear, and then found a fourth. Argghhhh! Nasty buggers. 

Riding back to the trail head I kept checking myself for ticks, hoping I got them all. Eventually I came to one of the little offshoot trails I'd passed an hour earlier, 1/4 mile from the entrance, and took the detour. 

Lo and behold! Nice, pine covered singletrack with views of the Merrimack River! 

The Merrimack River

Sweet, soft trails

I was kicking myself. After a hot, sweaty hour on dry hard pack and tick infested non-trails, I could only spend 15 minutes riding by the river. I was beat and still had a 90 minute drive home. When I got back to my car, I texted Mike for "proof of life", (lol. His words), and headed home. It was a long day.

Day 9, 30 Days of Biking
Tough day