Monday, April 27, 2009

350 Done....1 to go

I used this weekend to bag the final six towns on the Cape. I didn’t want to wait until later in the season when traffic might be an issue. I headed out early on Saturday and raced at Goddard State park to kick things off. Al and Diana turned up just as the race headed off and they offered me encouragement. Al said something like “don’t leave it to a kick” or such, which is exactly true (but unfortunately something I couldn’t do anything about). Anyway, we had a pleasant warm-down in the woods and then headed off on a fire tower quest.

We first went to Tempes hill (I kept calling it Tempest hill but that is incorrect) in Wareham. It was not easy navigating the rutted dirt roads. We piled into one car and with Al driving an me navigating we found the correct spot. A quick bushwhack brought us to the ruined structure which was at one time a lookout tower. It is now falling apart and there isn’t much of a clear path to it. Next off we headed to Myles Standish state forest and Bare hill on the Carver/Plymouth town line. The tower was interesting as it wasn’t the standard tower/cab. It had easy to negotiate stairs and an open viewing platform.

Al approaches Tempes Knob

Next up was Pine hill in Plymouth, we had some navigational challenges (sometimes Google maps don’t distinguish between gated dirt roads and actual roads. We parked at the power line and hiked about a mile each way with a climb of over 300’. The tower was occupied and Al boldly called out, and wouldn’t you know it, the warden (Kathy) allowed us into the cab. It is a rare treat to get into the working cab in a fire tower and we stayed for about 15 minutes chatting. I mentioned that I was trying to visit all the fire towers and she quizzed me on a couple of them that she had worked at. After hiking down, Al and Diana headed for home and I headed for the Cape.

View from Pine Hill FT

I made a stop in Sandwich at Telegraph hill. I parked at the radio towers and jogged the last ¼ mile to the tower. There was a car parked at the tower so I tried to get the workers attention but had no luck so I jogged back to the car and headed on to Dennis. Signal hill was a drive-up with the tower only 50m from the road. The caretaker’s cabin looked like it has been unused for many years and was in a state of total disrepair. I guess they haven’t stayed at the tower after the work day ended for many years. This was my final tower of the day and I headed to West Yarmouth for the night.

Sunday came a little to quickly for me and I was out the door by 5 AM. I wanted to make it to Provincetown by sunrise and the sky was already brightening as I headed out. Sun rising on High Pole hill.

I made it to High Pole Hill and the Pilgrim monument (above) just as the sun came up. After a couple of pictures I headed over to the P-town/Truro town line and did a nice quiet run along the ocean and hit one of the higher hills in town (Mt Gilboa) as part of the run. Prior to leaving town I headed over to the huge sand dunes and did a scrambling run up Mt Ararat. The view was quite spectacular; you could see the monument and two lighthouses on the tip of the town.

I headed south with a quick stop in Wellfleet to check out the fire tower therein. It was located right on route 6 so it was a quick photo-op then off to the Wellfleet/Eastham town line. I parked at the Audubon area and did an out/back run into Eastham and a nice loop on the Audubon trails. From there I drove south to Chatham and parked near a new section of the Cape Cod Rail trail. The most unusual aspect of the run (besides a lot of wild turkeys) was the trail having the town line painted on the surface. I’ve run rail trails before but never encountered that kind of signage. The day was getting quite warm (it hit near 90 in the afternoon) as I headed off for the final town bagging of the day.

Rail trail in Chatham

I parked in Falmouth near the town line of Mashpee and had a nice trail run along the Quashnet River. The trails were well marked and the footing was very good. There was only one other user while I was out on the trail, too bad as it was a great day to be out in the woods. I headed over to the other end of Falmouth and parked about ½ mile from a fire tower (Howlands Park Hill). As I was getting ready to run up the narrow dirt road a home owner pulled in and eyed me suspiciously. I decided it was best to not enter from that side of the road as I didn’t want trouble (or to get my car towed). I drove to the northern terminus of the road and parked. I probably would have been safe as the road was not privately owned and it was only a mile round-trip to the tower. This one was staffed as well but no amount of yelling “hello” could get a response so I headed back to the car.

The final stop of the day was at Monks Hill in Kingston. It was kind of weird to see the tower from a parking lot at the Independence Mall. This was something of an urban tower. I headed up Monk hill rd (dirt road) and parked at the fork in the road and ran 2 minutes to the tower. There was a car at the tower so I tried to gain access. The warden said “no problem” and I was allowed into the cab. We chatted for about 15 minutes as he pointed out the sights and talked about his concerns for the dry weather and winds. After some pictures I was on my way home.
Monks hill fire tower

I really feel I crammed a lot into the weekend but I never felt all that rushed. Mostly it was a lot of fun, the only problem is that I’ve only got one town left and three towers. I guess I’ll have to find something else after that (shouldn’t be hard, I’ve got about 10 other lists I’m interested in).

Weekend totals:
25 miles run
6 new MA towns run in (ten towns total)
8 fire towers visited (three climbed)
1 town high point (I think)
11 peaks bagged (between 39’ and 360’)
506 miles driven
Pilgrim monument from Mt Ararat

What is left:
Only one town left and I will have run in all 351 in Massachusetts. I’m planning on running in Gosnold on Memorial day.

Three fire towers left, two in Western Mass and then one that I could not locate last time I was on Martha’s Vineyard. I guess that one will have to wait a while.

Towns Year
3 --- 1978
9 --- 1979
4 --- 1980
4 --- 1981
3 --- 1982
5 --- 1983
4 --- 1984
3 --- 1985
0 --- 1986
4 --- 1987
7 --- 1988
10 --- 1989
7 --- 1990
9 --- 1991
16 --- 1992
16 --- 1993
5 --- 1994
9 --- 1995
5 --- 1996
1 --- 1997
1 --- 1998
7 --- 1999
4 --- 2000
2 --- 2001
8 --- 2002
3 --- 2003
8 --- 2004
0 --- 2005
1 --- 2006
35 --- 2007
125 --- 2008
32 --- 2009
350 --- Total


I am a runner. "We are what we repeatedly do" said...

Dave, just found your blog! Very cool goal of the MA towns. nice work and thanks for continueing to bang out the miles with quality racing all these years. You are an inspiration. My only question is when are you gonna do a 100 mile ultra? Come on all the cool kids are doing it, and you brief stab at ultras (longer than 50k) was so amazing before.

My proudest moment in running remains the 2001 JFK 50 when I ran in front of you for 38 miles.....uh yes you pounded me by 2 minutes per mile the last 12 but still.

Take care and see you at the races
Greg Loomis (MA resident 1998-00)

double-d said...

Hi Greg:
Great to hear from you! I pounded out too many ultra's. Now I really can't go beyond 50km without real damage. The price we pay for our youth :-)

Jack Kelley said...

The coordinates on the FFLA's listing for the Wareham tower is wrong- do you havd the correct ones? I'm planning a trip to the tower but I need to know it's real location.