NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 7, 2012

Newbury trail suffered from storm's wrath

Winter’s making a job of settling in I thought on Monday of this week.

I hadn’t ventured out of doors until early afternoon. Surprised to find it more like mid-October than December I decided to make the most of it by hiking up the Southwesterly side of the Trustees of Reservations’

Old Town Hill instead of taking the shorter path from the Southeasterly entrance.

Both have their merits. The Southeasterly is shorter, steeper, and more challenging for those of a certain age. I usually stop to check my heart rate three times to keep it at reasonable levels.

There are three options from the parking area.

The one begins across the street and leading uphill to join with the trail leading to the hill’s crest. The second is up Newman Road to the main gate to take the shorter, steeper climb to the hill top.

The third leads from the parking area down to Little River.

The Southeasterly path is considerably longer along its base and up the rising spine of the hill to its grand, easterly view across the lowlands and seacoast from the Plum Island dunes to Hampton, and, on a clear day, to the Isles of Shoals.

As hill climbing goes, Old Town Hill’s height is only 168 feet above sea level and hardly a challenge for those of reasonable health.

Its significance, however, is another matter.

It rises from ancient marshes begun with the retreat of the glaciers that reached all the way to Cape Cod some 12,000 years ago, and I sometimes wonder with each step while descending how long it took for the melting glacier to have reached that point in my stride.

I usually proceed up the road from the parking area to the gate, and it was just beyond that where I was met by two first time visitors from away with whom I would later join in a disappointing discovery.

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