Tully Lake

I’m not ashamed to admit it: Saturday night I slept 13 hours. I went to bed at 9pm and woke up at 10:30am, confused beyond all belief. I had a shower, dressed, and sheepishly headed downstairs, to where Yen had given up on me and was eating his breakfast. You’d think after all that sleep I would have been full of energy, ready to tackle any mountain Yen threw me at. Instead, I felt dazed and groggy, and really kind of lazy. But I knew Yen wanted to do something, and the weather did look beautiful. So we packed up and got in the car, and headed west.

Our first thought was to just climb Mt Wachusett again. It’s a very nice hike. The only downside of Wachusett is people can also drive to the top. Which means when you finish your exciting climb, you suddenly come out into a clearing and find plump people drinking Dunkin Donuts. That’s just not rewarding. I balked and started thumbing through the hiking book we keep in the car, and discovered Tully – both mountain and lake, accessible from the same parking lot. Each is a 4.4 mile walk, so we could decide when we arrived.

Yen could tell I didn’t really feel like climbing anything, so when we arrived, he looked longingly for a moment at Tully Mountain over on our left(we could even see the ledges from the car – they obviously provide a great viewpoint), and suggested that we just circle the lake and take it easy. I felt so grateful for his compromise, and set out with a little more spring in my step.

Here’s what we saw as we set out.

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See? See those happy chipmunk cheeks as I realize I don’t have to climb up up up?

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Behind me you can see what an enormous sacrifice Yen was making: it was a “healthy heart trail.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that! No, we talk often about the day when we’re in our 80s, and how much we want to still be shuffling around a lake on a healthy heart trail. But for now, it’s a little below our skill level.

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We stopped off on one of the little fingers of land that sticks into the lake for some posing, and then returned to the trail. And surprise! It suddenly got interesting, weaving in and out as it followed the shore, and up and down little eskers.

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I swear I’m not scratching my bum in this photo. I’m not.

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There were a lot of downed trees on this walk. I don’t know if it’s from Sandy or Irene or even earlier than those. But quite a lot of damage to nice, mature trees.

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See? I’m getting much more awake and cheerful with each step.

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There’s a lot of beaver activity around the lake, both ancient (like this specimen), and fresh.

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After about a mile and a half, the trail turns away from the lake and turns into the woods and toward Doane’s Falls.

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Yen usually takes a photo of the map when we hike so we can refer to it without hauling paper around. I’m including this here so I can explain to you something I did wrong. See how Doane Hill Rd goes straight to a parking area? And how Tully Lake Loop continues into the woods and to the falls? I don’t know what was wrong with my brain, but I dismissed the continuation of the Lake Loop and marched up Doane Hill Rd. Not shown on this map: the road is essentially straight up. Do not endeavor to navigate it in the winter.

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Tully Lake Trail is actually 22 miles, connecting Tully Lake with Royalston Falls. It’s got a nice network of shelters along the way so you can camp. There’s also a long mountain biking trail nearby.

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Yeah, this photo totally doesn’t capture the pain I’m experiencing as I climb.

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Anyway, at last we made it to the falls.

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Apologies for the face. It’s the one I was born with.

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As you can see, it was starting to get dark, so we picked up the pace. Turns out all of our little side trips added up to more than 4.4 miles and we were taking longer than expected.

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At last, we made it back to the dam and to our car. You can’t really see here how dark it was getting, and you certainly can’t see how windy it was. Still, we passed two boys headed out to try the frisbee golf course next to the trail. That’s commitment, I guess.

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