Walking in the Woods

Scene: Snowy morning. I am dressed in winter gear and snow shoes, have two dogs on a leash, and have just climbed up from the trail to a road crossing. Woman in a car stops, rolls down window.

Woman: Are you ok?

Me (perplexed): Yes...

Woman: But are you lost?

Me (still perplexed): No...?

Woman: But you came out of the woods!

Me, pointing: There's a trail.

Woman: Why on earth would you do that?

Me: Ummm....

I decided to chalk it up to a difference in perspective. Where she saw scary woods, I saw an opportunity for peace, quiet, fresh air, and exercise. And while this was certainly the most head-scratching encounter I've had while walking on the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT), it's hardly the most unusual. I've seen deer, coyotes, possum, fox, and once-memorably- a porcupine. My dogs were very interested in becoming better acquainted with Mr. Porcupine. I thought otherwise.

The SNETT is our near neighbor, with a trailhead and parking lot just down Grove Street. From there, it proceeds almost 23 miles, to Thomaston, CT, following an abandoned New Haven Railroad right of way. Begun in 1994, the SNETT has made great progress in maintaining and improving the trail. Yes, there are still some muddy sections. Yes, there are a couple road crossings where underpasses have been filled in, requiring walkers to climb up to the road, over it, and back down. And further down the trail, there are two 'unconnected' sections which require you to pay attention to your trail map or signs.

Upside: It's free. Completely, utterly free, and open to the general public. And I'd challenge you to find a more tranquil spot, whether you're seeking a gentle stroll or a longer trek through the snow.

That 'free', of course, is not entirely free. It requires maintenance, which is overseen by volunteer groups. In Franklin and Bellingham, that's the Franklin Bellingham Rail Trail Committee. On January 27, we're holding a FUNdraiser for them at the store. We'll have tasty beverages (naturally), plus snacks and info about the trail and volunteering. Tickets are a 100% donation to FBRTC and we will also contribute a percentage of sales. It's right before the Super Bowl, perfect timing to stock up for the Big Game.

If you use the SNETT-or if you don't and want to learn about it-please stop by and support this awesome local group. Better, yet, check out the trail that morning and catch us on the way back.

FUNdraiser: Sunday, January 27 1-4 PM