Written by Becky Palermo, Media Coordinator, Team Massachusetts
My generation has grown up with Google Maps and iPhones and GPS units on pretty much anything. So to get from town to town, our team has barely cracked open the program’s road maps. Instead, we’re pretty much willing to follow Emily phone’s directions. And we’ve followed them some pretty dubious places with a somewhat reckless trust in technology.
So when Team Mass left the lovely Agape Farms outside of Ware, Massachusetts, and headed for Northampton, we did not question when the GPS led us along some side streets instead of route nine as everyone had suggested. As the streets got narrower and narrower, we began to grow suspicious. Finally, we arrived at a street with a dead end sign that the phone insisted would lead us to Northampton. I’m not one to argue with a phone, so I biked ahead to scope out the street.
A woman who was watering her lawn told me that the road was pretty much a dead end: it trailed through the Quabbin Reservoir, but so many trees had fallen recently that she didn’t think that our bikes could get through. I didn’t even mention the trailers.
I came back with the bad news, and Team Mass barely debated rerouting back to route 9, an extra 8 or so miles. The voting was unanimous: we would go through the woods.
Impassible? Challenge accepted.
Off-roading with the trailers, in the mud, was unpleasant. Getting the trailers uphill on rocky trails became two or three person operations. You don’t need to hear me wax poetic about the exhilarating but terrifying feeling of biking down a gravel hill, or the exquisite sensation of sandy mud covering your legs.
And yet, for a team that had spent so much time on large roads, around Boston, in the suburbs, to be out in the middle of the woods and in nature was so refreshingly clarifying. For me, environmentalism always has deep roots connecting to the natural world, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the unpaved back trails of the Quabbin.
So thanks to the reservoir for your steep hills, your questionable shortcuts, your shelter from the rain, and your reminder of what started me on this journey: a love of nature, and a feeling of its resilience.