Hiking the midstate trail through Ashburnham

Posted by & filed under the hiking diaries.

hikers welcome

Today was the second leg of the Midstate Trail. We started at the parking lot of Mt. Watatic and ended where it crosses route 12 in Ashburnham.

We (Annie and I) walked mostly through forest, on cushy pine needles in some places (a welcome respite for tired feet), up a couple of mountains / hills (great interval training), through someone’s field, and along the edge of a couple of roads before heading back into the woods again. It was an overcast day, which was lovely hiking weather. At one point we were in a pine forest with a bunch of rocks and it was wet and cool. That happened on a hillier part of the hike so it was quite welcome.

I was going to map my hike (via the app) but it wasn’t cooperating. So I’m not going to publish a map. But I will post some pictures! Here you go. No selfies, so I could actually post pictures of us this time.

There were lots of stone walls along the way. And pine-needled paths. Oh, and I bought myself some hiking pants!

lots of stone walls

This was our view of the day, a lookout spot on Mount Hunger. We are looking North, towards New Hampshire. The mountain you see is Mount Watatic, which we hiked on the first leg. The water is Stodge Meadow Pond. The lady in blue is Annie! She’s a great hiking partner.

View from Mt. Hunger

There were lots of ferns. This spot had so many of them on both sides of them in their fall colors that I felt like taking a panorama. That’s the trail alongside the stone wall.

lots of ferns

We basically were walking through a field of ferns. Awesomeness.


At one point, we walked through someone’s field. Hey, is that a bonfire waiting to happen?

the field

In any case, at this point we are done with all the elevated hiking. Onward to the car!


I didn’t get a picture of the Christian camp we passed, but that was kind of cool. Can’t remember the name of it! There was a wooden cross and logs arranged as pews in a pine forest.

It appears the last leg of our hike went through a land trust. We stopped and read the sign. My big question was, what if you already were carrying firearms (one of the rules)? Would you have to turn back? Luckily, we weren’t violating any of the rules! The second sign was on the other end of the land trust and where our hike ended (besides the short walk back to the car).

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These are just iPhone photos, but it gives you an idea of the hike. It was way more beautiful in person!

Lovin’ our fall adventure!

My next hiking adventure – the Midstate Trail

Posted by & filed under the hiking diaries.


Today my new fall hiking adventure began. Last year it was hiking all the trails of Mount Wachusett. This year it’s hiking the Midstate Trail. And if we don’t finish it in the fall (it’s 93 miles total), we’ll finish it up in the spring. As long as we keep on hiking, that’s all that counts.

I’m hiking it with a friend named Annie. We took a selfie. I’m sorry, I’m not posting it. Talk about getting too close to a camera…..need one of those selfie sticks.

The trail map put out for the Midstate Trail is less than wonderful. We got a little lost trying to find the beginning. That granite marker sitting on top of the stone wall (picture above). We wound up going up Mount Watatic first then taking a trail down to the marker. But we missed a turn and got lost. I wound up pulling out my phone and opening up Google Maps and we saw that we had hiked past the MA border. So we turned around and went back down a path we had debated taking earlier (the missed turn). Sure enough, the marker was down there.

This is the marker at the top of the mountain.

Basically, we hiked a total of 7 miles in and around this mountain. A nice place to hike, but we never got to where Annie left her car. We just went back to mine. So next time, we start at the parking lot for Mount Watatic and head south.


For future reference – or yours, if you are planning on doing this – the entrance to Mount Watitic is on route 119 in Ashburnham. We got there via Fitchburg to route 12 towards Ashburnham (there is a marker to the trail head a little beyond Jewel Hill Road, where we parked Annie’s car). Then you can drive into Ashburnham center and take a right onto Ashby Road (rt 101) and then a left onto rt 119.


Once you’ve parked your car at Watatic, here’s a map:


Stay to the left and head back to the NH state line, then take the Wapack trail and stay right on the Midstate Trail. However, that doesn’t get you to the top of the mountain, which would be a shame to miss. I’m not even sure we hit that section of the midstate trail because we took Wapack to the top. I guess we might have to have a do-over when we start the next leg. Too bad there isn’t a great Midstate Trail map. (I’m not kidding, check this out. The guide is a little better, but still not wonderful.) I’m going to have to create one when this is all done!

Also, the trail guide says to follow the yellow triangles. Wapack Trail is has yellow triangle markers. A portion of the Midstate Trail had blue triangle markers. It really was all very unclear. But that’s what makes an adventure! And it was a great hike today. I love mountains.

Addendum: I went to EMS Sports today looking for a better trial guide. There is a book put out by the AMC that has a bunch of trails in MA, but it is all descriptive. Still, I read the description of what we did and I think that piece of the trail I highlighted actually must be part of the top of the mountain. No elevation marks, so hard to tell. I was going by the old ski trail marks, but maybe they were beyond where we were standing.

See it that way

Posted by & filed under poetry.

the heart of a child

Life is beautiful.
If you see it that way.

Life is ugly.
If you see it that way.

The way we see the world is a reflection of what is inside.

People are beautiful.
If you see them that way.

People are ugly.
If you see them that way.

The way we view other people is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves.

You are beautiful.
I see it that way.

Please see it that way yourself.

There is always something that inspires me to write. It’s usually me working things out. I’m always working things out. 🙂 In my life right now, I am watching two people go through a similar hard thing and watching one person handle it with grace, the other lashing out. And sitting down to process that, this is the poem that came out.

photo credit: Summer Time of Childhood via photopin (license)

They said

Posted by & filed under poetry.

All you need is love

You’re ugly.
You’re weird.
We don’t like you.
They said.

Why did you do that?
You’re supposed to do it this way.
They said.

Leave that alone.
No, you can’t try that.
They said.

Be a good girl.
Do what you are told.
Stop asking questions.
They said.

Quit daydreaming.
Get this done.
They said.

Make lots of money.
Have a career.
Be successful.
They said.

You’re a sinner.
You are destined for hell.
You will suffer for eternity.
They said.

They can say whatever they want.
I’m not listening anymore.

Neither should you.

🎼 All you need is love. Love is all you need.

photo credit: Love is all you need…. via photopin (license)

I come to the garden alone

Posted by & filed under faith.


I was in my garden today. And the song, “I come to the garden alone” came into my head. I sang the verses I knew. Then I just kept asking “why?”

And I knew I didn’t have to say more than that one word. Because it encompasses it all. I even started to type out some of the whys in this post and changed my mind. Because why stands on its own. The rest of the words seem to water it down.

My garden brought me some respite, but no real joy today. And later in the day I stood in my 6 feet+ tall Valerian patch and breathed in the fragrance of the flowers. A peace wash over me. I gave thanks. But after I left that patch, the pain of this world returned.

I understood today why many people over the years have retreated to monasteries and in other ways left society.

I contacted my soul sister today to ask her how she was feeling. She was feeling the same. I figured that would be the case. We feel the world similarly.

And so this tough day draws to a close. And my heart still feels broken and raw for this world. I need to disconnect. I can’t take any more pain. Not the circumstances. Not people’s reactions to the circumstances.

You will find me in the garden.



Posted by & filed under poetry.

netYou lied to me today.
You know it.
And I know it.
I watched you like a fish stuck in a net
slowly wriggle free with a few words here
a few words there.
Finally, you breathed a sigh of relief
as the net fell away.
Only you didn’t escape.
I let you loose.
You weren’t worth fighting for.


photo credit: Any Catch? via photopin (license)

Rich man, poor man

Posted by & filed under miscellaneous.

In all these years I’ve lived a privileged life, I never realized something until watching two documentaries the other day. One, called Human. The other called Living on One Dollar. Both can be found on YouTube. The realizations were about poverty.

I remember my days of scraping to get by. Of working really hard to get ahead. Saving, saving, saving and going without. I wasn’t handed much by my middle class parents. I ate ramen noodles and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch during college. I remember my mom giving me money to buy some clothes once, when I told her the story of how my two rich roommates would trade outfits with each other but no one wanted to borrow any of my clothing.

It was hard, but it wasn’t impossible. I did it, with sacrifice. And my dad pulled himself out of poverty by putting himself through college at Northeastern, back when that was the intent of the college, to allow people time to work to pay their tuition. My dad didn’t come from the middle class. His parents were blue collar and hard working but didn’t make money beyond paying for the necessities. They never owned a house.

So, this has always been my perspective. Work hard, make sacrifices, and you get ahead. Part of that sacrifice for us was me working much of the kids growing up years, and choosing a job that paid well even though it also demanded much and I would have much rather just have been able to focus on being a mom.

But, really, what a privileged life I’ve led. And I know it. When people complain about money, I know I am rich compared to most of the world. It’s all about perspective. I don’t think most of us realize we have enough money. We always want more.

So, back to the documentaries. In Human, there were a bunch of people talking about their work. And poverty. They worked long hard hours at terrible jobs and they didn’t know what else they could do. One man said he didn’t have the intellectual strength to figure out a way out. Another man told – with tears in his eyes – of how two of his family members died because they couldn’t afford the medical care they needed.

In living on One Dollar, a group of young men voluntarily went to Guatemala to live like the people there live. They brought enough money to live on one dollar a day and had a system where they pulled out a number randomly each day to mimic not getting paid some days. They started living on rice and beans. They quickly grew hungry and lost the energy to do the work they needed to do to survive. They interviewed a Guatemalan who said some days his children just had tortillas to eat. And during those times they didn’t get the nutrition they needed to have the energy to go outside to play.

Did you process that, dear reader?

There are people that are in poverty where it is so bad that they can’t figure out how to get out. Where, even if they can buy food, they have to buy cheap stuff to fill their bellies but it is devoid of nutrition which makes them what the privileged world would call lazy.

These people need our help. Period. As fellow human beings with compassion.

Yes, there are and will always be truly lazy people in this world. Just as there will be evil people. But do we want to punish those who could really use some help to make enough money to live because some people abuse that help? And do we really think America is great when this is happening on our own shores? Really, it is happening all over the world. Affluence and poverty, side by side.

I say it’s time for us all to wake up and snap out of this crazy nightmare. Reconsider your perspective on the truly poor and let’s all use our brains and other talents to figure a way out of this mess. And those of us with money also need to carefully consider how we are spending it. Are we buying things that perpetuate the system of slave labor on substandard wages? That’s what one man in Human said. That we need to hold ourselves accountable.

I end with this…


Posted by & filed under my life.


Some days, I feel so lonely.

It’s a chore – a literal chore – being so different.

I have to make myself separate meals, because everybody else I know eats dairy and eggs and meat and wheat…and fat and processed foods and sugar.

I’m the only one at the party not eating the cake.

I have to request going to a restaurant that will have something I can eat. (That’s a friend you want to hang with, right?) And what a hassle to be at the restaurant and ask for special consideration. And by the way, I didn’t ask for whatever it is that makes me feel so crummy when I eat the Standard American Diet. Or consume the Standard American Diet of entertainment.

I feel like the canary in the coal mine.

I’m someone who doesn’t like to make waves or stand out. I’d much rather blend in. You can be different and quiet. I’ve done it for years. I should know. And in some ways it’s easier.

Because I have to expend so much energy just to live my values. And I wonder why more people don’t share them. I’m so thankful for the ones who do. My tribe. It’s a small one, but it’s a tribe.

I can’t turn it back off, you know. I made the decision to let myself out. To be okay with who I am and not keep it quiet anymore. To truly listen to my soul and buck the system to which I was domesticated. My inquisitive, sensitive, quirky self was domesticated. I can look back and see it.

I was the reader, the dreamer, the artist, the writer, the thinker.

I wasn’t like the rest of the kids. I knew it. And they knew it. Eventually you figure out how to fit in. Until you decide not to, anymore.

And so here I am now, realizing it again. I’m not like the rest of the kids. I know it. And they know it.

Some days, I feel so lonely.

And some days it’s just so much easier being alone.

I almost hesitated to post this, because I am not unhappy. I have wonderful friends. I have a wonderful family. I feel blessed, and thankful, and appreciative of every day. But I occasionally feel like this, and I’m actually pretty sure I’m not the only one. My tribe is out there. Different, and quiet.

original photo credit: D7K_6992.jpg via photopin (license) (with artistic treatment by me)

Merry Christmas 2015

Posted by & filed under my life.

Each year it gets harder for me to write a chatty Christmas letter. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The older I get, the more I appreciate each and every day and realize that life is a precious gift. I am thankful for so much.

This year we watched little Landon grow and discover the world. It is always so important to have a little child in your life so he or she can remind you how exciting the world really is. Landon especially loves lights, and all the animals in his life, and a couple of his favorite words are “oh, wow!” Just yesterday Kelly was saying, “do you think he thinks it’s magic when you flip a switch and the lights go on?” I think he must, because it amazes him every time.

Landon Christmas

The exciting news from the Samoiloff household is Greg and Kelly’s engagement this year. An August wedding is planned, and we are beyond thrilled that Greg is officially joining the family (he was already an unofficial family member). Kelly and Greg have been together since their sophomore year in college. They are a wonderful couple.

kelly & greg

All the kids (Tracey, Roberto, Alex, Kelly, Greg) are doing well in their job/careers and are healthy and well. What more could anyone ask for?

Andy and I are busy with life in Princeton. Andy with his sports, me with my gardening (and I hiked every trail on Mount Wachusett this fall). I couldn’t do my piece without Andy, though. He’s built chicken coops and an additional duck house and cuts down trees to let more sun into our young orchard. The ducks are to help with the slugs, which we have in abundance. This permaculture adventure is one learning moment after another, and every success and every failure contributes to the learning.

After all, that’s what every moment in life is about!

I wish you a Christmas full of wonder and love and a joyous new year full of amazing surprises and abundant health.

And let there be peace on earth.


Mission – joyfully – accomplished

Posted by & filed under the hiking diaries.

Last entry in the hike-Mount-Wachusett hiking diaries!

Today I finished hiking all the trails on Mount Wachusett. It was my “project” for the fall. And it has blessed my socks off, including the fact that I finished something I set as a goal (I tend to get these grand ideas and then get bored and move on to the next one).

Here are the trails we hit today:

I needed to hit the remaining section of Semuhenna Trail and the rest of Balance Rock Road.


Plus, I realized I hadn’t done that little piece of trail (off of Harrington Trail) that goes up to the wind farm. Stopped the car on the drive back to do it.


You will note Dickens Trail is not highlighted. That heads in the direction of the bird sanctuary, not up the mountain, and after a little ways in, dogs aren’t allowed. So I didn’t bother.

And here, in all it’s yellow marker glory, is the physical map I’ve been carrying with me and highlighting:

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I hiked dirt roads but not the paved roads for driving to the top. No fun walking on pavement and dodging vehicles when you have trails at your disposal.

So I entered at North Road and hiked up to the Mount Monadnock view.


(I wanted to get a panorama but making it small shrinks Monadnock to almost negligible. Look hard and you can see a blue bump.)

You can see the sign for Semuhenna Trail in the distance, to the left once you hit the road. There is another one across the road for heading up.

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We begin by entering into a pine forest.

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I knew that some of these trails would be slow going with a couple of dogs. But I took them both, anyway, because there was also a lot of road. What really slowed me down was a huge amount of leaves on the ground. And look at this! Ice!

And so it begins. I finished this last hike just in time.

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The dogs like to try to rub off their haltis (their “bridles”) all the time. I wish I could just walk them on their regular collars, but they’re too strong for me. I’ve been pulled down. So, they’ve brought this on themselves and I don’t feel guilty. Although I do feel sorry – for all of us. And especially because I’d love to walk them off-leash.

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We transition to Old Indian Trail for a bit.

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Another one of these markers. I’m beginning to wonder if they are part of the Mid-state trail system. (BTW, I’m considering that for next year’s project. That’ll have to be mostly on weekends, though, but maybe I can hit some of the closer part of the trail on weekday mornings.

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A piece of bark with trail marker on the ground.

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Now we’ve hit Balance Rock Road. We turn left.

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I was looking for my tree picture of the hike. This was it. I couldn’t help but feel it was a metaphor for life after being with an older woman yesterday that has real trouble walking and getting up and down from a sitting position, and yet she is still standing.

Half of the bottom of this old tree has separated. But it is still standing.

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There were a couple of groups of kids hiking with their parents/group leaders. I loved hearing their happy voices. And I loved the fact that they were out here hiking. (I’m going to bring all my grandchildren hiking!)

Then I heard a little boy’s voice: “I don’t like walking. Why couldn’t we have driven up to the top of the mountain?”

Hopefully after this hike he’ll change his mind.

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These two people were mountain biking. The mountain has something for everyone! And, being a Sunday, there were lots of people there. Saw a few townspeople I knew hiking, too!

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This pond was filled with water. In the spring, there is a waterfall over the rocks. In the summer, it dries up to a skanky puddle that I won’t let the dogs in.

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But today, they got to go for a swim.

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Here we come back to North Road. We head right to go back to the car.

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Then we drive to Harrington Trail to hike up to the windmills.

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I had really trying to capture the scale of them. There is actually a little kid in this picture, but he’s only the size of a dot.

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The windmills were moving today, but I braved them and went up and touched one of them. This is the view looking up.

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And the second windmill.

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And the view from up there, looking south-ish.

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The dogs were walking around trees and each other like doing that dance around the may pole where you braid the ribbons. They were especially bad on this part. Either because it was new to them, or because they were bored with hiking. The leaves were also really slippery here. At one point I looked and saw that the dogs feet were covered. Then I looked at my own and couldn’t see them, either!

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So, we end with this. Time to stop the hiking on the deep woods trails, for my own safety. Well, until the snow falls, at least. I bought myself these:

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Plus, I have snowshoes. I’m ready for my next adventure!