Today was a glorious day. Sunlight warmed the vibrant fall foliage. It was a perfect day to explore one of GWLT’s sites with my dog, Floki.
I opted to try Blueberry Hill for the first time. The site is unmarked, but there was a nice, level parking spot which could accommodate at least 3 cars. I was the only one at Blueberry Hill today.
The trail was pretty level and our footsteps were cushioned by a layer of composted leaves. Light dappled through the deciduous canopy and illuminated vast swaths of wild blueberry bushes. Although summer’s berries were long gone, the shrubs leaves took on a wine colored hue.
We encountered an area where old mattresses, a sink, and other old items were dumped. A rather ominous message was spray painted on a piece of plywood. Although we were in the woods, this was not a pristine landscape. At this point, we could see homes beyond an old stone wall. We could hear the ever present drone of the highway. But, this kind of hike provides its own sort of pleasure. There is a thrilling juxtaposition between the peace of nature and the jarring presence of human activity.
The deciduous forest gave way to a pine bower. The hum of the highway contrasted with the clatter of hungry woodpeckers. The cries of a hawk echoed through the woods. The pines cleared and we entered into a magical fern meadow. The golden fronds glistened in the warm light.
The trail followed a barbed wire fence. Beyond the fence, we could see a rosy sea of highbush blueberry bushes.
We started to make our way back on the yellow trail. Unlike the red trail, the yellow trail was a steep uphill climb. We saw some nice mushrooms and a lovely cluster of “Ghost Pipes”.
Further up the trail, we saw outcroppings of large, angular granite stone. At first, I thought that it could have been an old foundation. The stone area was almost perfectly rectangular, but opened on one side. But, these slabs were much too large to be the remnants of an old structure. A mystery!
Along the path, we saw another curious granite outcropping. This appeared to be in the same size and dimensions of the one further down the hill. A gnarled pine tenaciously clung to the wall, its roots gripping the unyielding stone.
On the other side of the trail, we saw a small pond. Large plinths of granite were scattered nearby.
As we explored this area, I noticed drill marks on some of the slabs. Mystery solved! These stones were quarried. But, when and why were they taken? Was this an early colonial endeavor? A part of the construction of the nearby Wachusett Reservoir? Perhaps the quarry helped in the construction of the nearby highway.
As we continued up the trail, we saw a beautiful garter snake. She was sunning herself across the path. What a delight to see a snake this late in the season!
As we reached the top of the hill, we encountered a few glacial erratics. These massive boulders were deposited here thousands of years ago by receding glaciers.
Blueberry Hill is a place of contrast. Agrarian and industrial pasts intersect with the present. The din of the highway coexists with the harmony of nature. This place is a reminder of the ever changing essence of our landscape; shaped by glaciers, adapted for farming, industry, and modern transportation. But, also, as the light scintillates on the leaves of blueberries, I take joy in the eternal beauty of the natural world.