Tracking Turkeys

Location: Boston Turnpike Trail, Eastford, CT

Links: Eastford Conservation; Brochure PDF; Trail Map

Date: Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Time: 9:30 am – 11:30 am

Hike Duration: 4 miles

Weather: Clear and sunny! Around 30 degrees F

Pond at the start of the trail

According to the posted description at the beginning of this trail, the Boston Turnpike was “the major East-West connector between Hartford and Boston, and operated from 1797 to 1879.” We always find it fascinating to ponder the daily lives of people in history who were utilizing roads such as this one. A very different life than what we are accustomed to for sure!

We crossed the marshy part of the pond on foot bridge and then passed through the field, turning left at an old blue tractor. Mostly because we had no clear direction on where the trail went from here!

We did our best to locate the trail based on following the map, and eventually made our way through the woods to the white blazed trail.

It always feels good to return to the woods after not hiking for a few weeks. It’s like our bodies and minds can breathe a sigh of relief. In an interview about his book, The Lost Words, writer Robert Macfarlane “mentions the Welsh phrase dod yn ôl at fy nghoed, which means ‘to return to a balanced state of mind’, but literally means ‘to return to my trees’.”

That’s how I feel in the woods, like I’m returning to my trees! There’s a sense of belonging there that I don’t experience anywhere else.

As we continued our walk through the trees, we began to notice areas of upturned leaves and dirt. The smell of fresh earth still hung strongly enough in the air to tell us that whatever activity had taken place here was fairly recent.

Sure enough, as we walked the trail a bit more, we encountered a flock (or technically a ‘rafter’) of turkeys about 30 feet away from us. We stood still and watched as a few dozen turkeys made their way through the woods and away from us.

Some ran quickly by foot, weaving through the trees. Some used their wings to propel themselves a little faster over the ground in desperation to keep up. Some moved more cautiously as they stepped over stones and fallen branches and then ran in bursts, squawking as if to say, “Hey! Wait up, I’m coming!”

Once the last of the turkeys disappeared over the ridge, Dennis and I continued our hike. As if foretelling the future, Dennis asked me if I had ever heard a turkey take flight. I never had.

Amazingly enough, as we made our way through the marsh back towards our car, we suddenly heard an almost deafening whooshing sound fill the air around us. My body froze in fear, looking around wondering what was happening! A single turkey taking flight from a tree above us, flew over our car into the woods beyond.

Unfortunately, I didn’t capture a picture of our turkeys, but I hope I painted enough of one through words!

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