Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Plan/First Day Out

Last summer, I had a goal of climbing the highpoints in all 50 states. This is still a goal for me as I just did my 8th last week, but after downloading Google Earth recently, a new goal came to my mind: walk the entire continuous U.S. coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Maine to Florida (or Texas if I decide to do the Gulf of Mexico as well). This is to be a huge undertaking that may take me a good portion of my life but being the young, stupid, and adventurous 20 year old that I am, I am thoroughly committed to it at this moment. While attending school in Ohio will certainly be a hindrance of sorts, vacations and the summer will be the best time. It is May 17th today, so I have a long summer ahead of me to do some part of this.

So in taking this on, I have established a few rules and guidelines to guide my journey and hopefully make things more interesting:

-If there is wetland, avoid it. Low tide doesn’t matter, ecology has taught me the value of preserving it and walking it on it would be a disturbance. Further more, high tide makes it unnavigable anyway so I will consider all wetlands the ocean.

-If there is a bridge, cross it. It’s built over x river for a reason: to get to the other side.

-If it’s not posted, it’s not trespassing. Unless someone asks me directly to not walk on their property, if it’s on the coast and there are no signs, I’m walking there.

-In the event that someone does ask me to not walk on their property, there are posted signs or fencing has gotten the best of me and I end up on the road, my rule of thumb is to simply keep the water in sight.

I may think of more as I continue my journey, but these should suffice for now.

Now, I am from Needham, Massachusetts, a small suburb of Boston that is infested with new families and quaint charm. It is a place I would much rather not be. Due west of here as the crow flies is North Quincy’s Wollaston Beach, a long stretch of sand along Quincy Shore Dr. riddled with broken shells that has seen some great improvements with cleanups in the last few years. Many considered it one of the nastier beaches in Boston for a long time. I walked a section of it with my girlfriend in March but I still need to do the rest. Because Needham is unfortunately my hometown and Wollaston is the closest ocean spot, I will consider this my homebase. But my father lives in Wareham, MA right on the ocean at Pinehurst Beach. So I kind of have two bases. Because of these parental bookends, my goal for this summer is to walk the South Shore and Cape Cod.

For my first real day though, I decided yesterday to take a northbound leisure walk around Squantum, an isolated knob of land in Dorchester Bay that is technically part of Quincy. Starting from Moswetuset Hummock, a small park that was once the home of the tribe where Massachusetts got its name, I walked around a large wetland into Squantum. The peninsula is entirely residential, so I did a lot of backyard-hopping. After getting around a large plot of wetland, I came upon a stretch of houses, each with docks or stone steps down to the water. Truly gorgeous Cape house architecture marked these homes, many of them empty. High eaves and big windows dominated.

After coming around the east side of Squantum, I began walking on to Moon Island, once a huge shellfishing community for Native Americans, now a training facility for the Boston Police and Fire Department. informed me that Moon Island and it’s brother Long Island were restricted from pedestrian traffic, but the entire coastline from Squantum was unmarked. When the shore ended and I got up to the road, there were posted No Trespassing signs but only in one small area by a 19th-century granite waste water treatment facility, so I ignored them and waited for a cop to tell me to leave. Walking slowly by a firing range where cops were actively training and having numerous vehicles pass by me, no one stopped me so I headed toward the Long Island Bridge. Unfortunately when I got there, there was a posted No Hiking sign. So I continued down into the Fire Department training area to finish my loop of the island. There was a windowless cement building that looked the victim of numerous fires and firemen in uniform and not were milling about. I walked along a stone wall behind some cars so I guess no one saw me but I imagine I was not supposed to be there. I continued along the rocky path beneath Moon Island Rd. back towards Squantum. I came upon Squaw Rock on the northern tip, a haven for fishermen in the area to get some good ocean catches. No one had caught anything when I asked, but the scenery was nice and a rope to pull myself up and around the fence was much needed. I walked a trail back towards town which brought me to Nickerson Beach, a small town beach which didn’t seem to get much use. I walked back to Moswetuset Hummock to get lunch and would’ve continued but a huge thunderhead threatening the sky kept me in my car (I had to get my oil changed anyway).

Squantum was a good first day out, especially considering the nice loop it provided, but I finally solved my problem of getting from point to point: my bicycle. I now plan to lock my bicycle at my intended endpoint and then ride it back to my startpoint. This should make things a hell of a lot easier. Oh, and I also hope to get a camera soon so I can post pictures of the places I go, the things I see, and maybe even the people I meet.

For next time: finish up Squantum and hopefully make it to Savin Hill (or as my friends and I know it, Stab ‘n’ Kill).

See you on the coast.

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