A Wenakeening Woods Trek
Story and Photos from Tommy Zazulak
I’m lost. I admit it. Been stumbling around the Wenakeening Woods inside the Upper Charles Conservancy for the past two hours and I still have no clue where I am.
When I started this adventure into the forest, I had been standing on the sandy gravel stone path better known as the Holliston Rail Trail. Brave hearted and full of bravado, I decided more was needed. More mud, more trees and more daring. So I veered left off the Holliston Rail Trail and into the spiny, tree root littered path that ushered me into the Wenakeening Woods.
Studies in biology and anthropology will tell you Mother Nature likes to drop subtle hints when your cozy and domesticated life is about to be grossly interrupted by her majesty. A clap of thunder? Oh, it’s gonna rain. Thank you Mother Nature, allow me to return inside where I won’t get wet. An animal growls and bears its teeth. Oh, I’m about to be attacked by a rabid predator. Thank you Mother Nature, allow me to turn around and run the other way so as not to become an appetizer to a hungry coyote.
When I stepped off the Holliston Rail Trail and into the Wenakeening Woods, Mother Nature gave no hints that my stable Facebook-Snap Chat-Instagram-world was about to be held in temporary suspension. It was probably the same anxiety the Donner Party felt when the leader said “fear not brave souls, we can make it over these hills!”Anybody hungry for BBQ?
It was the silence in the Wenakeening Woods that should have told me everything was about to go wrong.
There are four marked paths in the Wenakeening Woods: red, yellow, blue and a hybrid path marked both yellow and blue.
And so I’m now on my third lap and second hour of the hybrid trail and I have no idea how to get home. I’ll confess a small bit of panic has set-in. Most wilderness trails have maps within the trails posted for all to see that outline the routes. Always on these maps is a big star that indicates “YOU ARE HERE.”
In the Wenakeening Woods there are no such maps. And it’s been a great while since I’ve seen another hiker. I’m hoping a mountain biker with a bike-mounted GPS installed smart phone will approach and I can ask for directions.
I decided I’d play it cool if such a biker approaches. I’ll just be like “Hey nice bike! You ride well! By the way, where the holy Hell are we? Better still, how do I get home!” But no such bikers have approached.
I do know this–when I entered Wenakeening Woods, I entered from the yellow trail. So that’s what I need to find. I see markings ahead for the red trail. No, that won’t help. Still walking. I see markings for just the blue trail. No, that won’t help either. Then a split marking! Two little upside-down “L’s”, one colored blue (not that way) and one colored yellow.
I followed the yellow “L” which ultimately led me to the solid yellow trail and then, finally, to a small rest stop and wooden bench. I wanted to sit but feared breaking the bench under my weight. The bench looked as if it had been resting there since the time of Moses and the great flood. And so I pressed on, finally exiting the woods.
The feeling of relief was overwhelming–like the Hobbits as they exited the Mines of Moria. Only this was real, and I’m too tall to be a Hobbit.