Sunday, December 11, 2016

An update and some late autumn hiking

I am neck deep in our neuroscience module now and have two exams on Friday, after which I will go directly to the airport and fly back to San Francisco. Where did this semester even go?

I have a few updates I'd like to mention in this post, some important and some not. This post, of course, is also to share some photos I took of a recent hike in Middlesex Fells Reservation, which I visited in the early autumn. Taking pictures of the outdoors and fiddling around on VSCO is one of my favorite hobbies nowadays.

I also realize that I've included a potentially graphic story of a surgery I saw, so be warned.

I lost my LL Bean flannel on this very hike, actually. It was a bit warm so I put it in my backpack and fell out somewhere along the way. When I realized it was gone, we had already gone seven labyrinthine miles through the park and I was certain I could not find it again. I usually take pretty good care of my things so I was very annoyed and disappointed at myself, but I eventually did repurchase the same shirt. I liked it quite a lot and have realized that there is no way I can survive a Boston winter short on long sleeves. That's how I justified it.

School is going pretty well. I realized that I never wrote a summary or reflection post about gross anatomy, which is probably one of the most unique aspects of medical school, and one of the oldest and most arcane parts of medicine. I have time during winter break and should really do that. I also recently went to two talks: one about the history of surgery as told through advances in anatomy, anesthesia, and antisepsis; the other about the ethical transgressions in medicine and anatomy during the Third Reich. I have more research to do in both those topics.

My actual research is going well. I have a plan, a good mentor, a pile of work to do, and an abstract to revise. The project is something very important to me, and is in orthopedics, a specialty that I have long wanted to enter. I have shadowed the residents on call a few times and like the culture, like the work they do, and like their perspective. Of course, the surgery itself is cool beyond my wildest dreams.

I wrote back in the springtime about being utterly starstruck and sick with dreams after attending an orthopedics conference. I felt similarly after observing a trauma case that went to the OR. Long story short, a man in his 30s presented with a proximal and open distal femur fracture, a proximal tibia fracture, and lateral compartment syndrome. I'll spare the details for another post, but I was completely absorbed into the scene, the jagged ends of the femur sticking out of his bloody thigh, bits of plastic and glass removed, the red and yawning gash in his calf from the fasciotomy, the methodical placement of all the rods and pins and spacers to externally fix the limb...if this is bread and butter orthopedic surgery, I am all in. I've retold the story a dozen times and still go over the details. It was some parts carpentry, some parts butchery, all surgery. I want to see more.

For next semester's clinical skills class, I was placed with a general surgeon at our hospital. General surgery is second on my list for specialties and I am very excited to meet my preceptor.

Last week, some friends and I won a prize in our school's gingerbread house contest. A few hours later, some of more of us began our first Dungeons & Dragons campaign of medical school. We spent the week reading the player's handbook, building our characters, and telling each other how excited we were. Having a regular board game group has been great fun, but D&D will be even better.

Lastly, good luck on exams if you are taking them, and have safe travels if you are going somewhere.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Three documentaries, two books, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Now for a break from your regular Lord of Three Realms programming...a smattering of reviews of some recent brain food.

Three Documentaries

Staying Woke 101: watch a documentary and find discourse

Before the Flood - highly recommend

Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary about climate change is a sincere and ethos-laden warning siren about climate change. While Before the Flood does not cover much new ground, it brings the discussion of climate change once again to the mainstream, complete with interviews with heads of state, diplomats, scientists, and laypeople who recognize the dire consequences of the anthropocene. Indeed, it updates the narrative and turns the lens towards many aspects of the global ecological crisis, not just rising temperatures and sea levels, melting ice caps, or the ozone hole. This is a somber and comprehensive documentary with footage from Leo's UN appearance and the Paris Conference. Leo begins with a comparison to Hieronymous Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights and delivers through it a bleak message: capitalism and overconsumption will lay waste to the planet, and we must mobilize as a society to confront these systemic evils.

The True Cost - recommend

This one's been out for awhile and I feel that a lot of folks have heard of it. Fast fashion is one arm of global capitalism that has had tremendous ecological, economic, and mortal consequences. The Rana Plaza collapse, King Cotton abroad, pollution and emissions, and the ethical murkiness of sweat shop labor are all covered. I don't have much psychology or sociology book learning so some of the consumer behavior stuff was new to me, but I suppose this film will prompt many people to seriously consider their own consumption and relationship with objects. The documentary got the message out, but at times it does seem naively optimistic. I preferred Before the Flood much more.

Escape Fire - recommend

We watched this documentary for our public health class and it essentially lays out the status of health care in the United States today, and how unsustainable and costly it is. A few key points are how lack of primary care, exploitative private insurers and pharmaceutical executives, and the fee for service model is contributing to high-cost, poor-outcome care. I liked this film, though the narratives were fairly scattered and generally glossed over many structural flaws in American society that directly influence health care, but are not immediately obvious. I highly recommend this documentary as an introduction to medicine in the USA, with the caveat that there is much, much more to read and see.

Two books

All Souls - recommend; highly recommend for Bostonians and those interested in urban health, poverty and crime, and community activism

Before medical school, my knowledge of Southie predominantly came from Good Will Hunting, The Depahted, that one Anthony Bourdain episode, and Black Mass; I knew of Whitey and Billy Bulger, the desegregation riots, the Irish Mafia, etc. All Souls is one man's personal tragedy, and the community's long tragedy, that resulted from poverty and crime Bulger's drug trade. It is a story of the people of South Boston and their identity, and how it loved and feared, protected and was harmed by organized crime. All Souls is deeply moving memoir of growing up poor in South Boston, tragic and difficult to read, but an important perspective. One of the first patients I interviewed was an old lady who lived her entire life in Southie who, thinking back now, had been referencing some of the messages All Souls was trying to convey. South Boston has changed now, but All Souls was still an important read, especially for a newcomer who must learn a thing or two about Boston.

Also, our hospital features a few times in this book; if violent crime happens in Boston, chances are it will come through this trauma bay.

Hot Lights, Cold Steel - highly recommend

This is probably one of my favorite memoirs of all time. Dr. Collins write with great humor and thoughtfulness about his four years as an orthopedic surgery resident at the Mayo Clinic. From an impostor syndrome-afflicted intern to an admirable chief resident, Dr. Collins shows the highs and lows of surgery, the work ethic and discipline demanded of a resident at the Mayo at a time before the 80-hr/week cap. The graphic descriptions of surgeries are intense, gory, and left this wannabe future orthopod starry-eyed. Some cases are tremendously sad, and generally, I felt exhausted and overwhelmed reading about his life...orthopedic surgery resident, rural ER moonlighter, and father to one, then two, three, four, and more children during residency. I read this book in two sittings and didn't want it to end.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - recommend, but watch Moana or Arrival in theaters instead

This movie was a pretty indulgent visual feast with a perplexing lack of direction. I loved this movie, am confused by the direction of the Harry Potter franchise, and will probably throw money at the wizarding world for the sake of nostalgia. Eddie Redmayne plays a charmingly eccentric Newt Scamander, who I hope will star in the next movies instead of Johnny Depp. It was a fun romp through the wizarding world and roaring 20s New York, but had a loose plot with flat characters and poor sense of mood. However, I liked it quite a bit and will probably not watch the next one in theaters.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Stratton Mountain, Green Mountain National Forest | Vermont

Long Trail, I'm coming back for you someday

Once upon a time in Vermont...

...a man hiked to the top of Stratton Mountain in the Green Mountains, took a look around, and figured there should be a trail connecting Massachusetts and Canada.

And so the Long Trail was constructed by the Green Mountain Club, and still today, it stretches the length of Vermont, connecting Massachusetts and Canada. And still today, the Green Mountain Club is the steward of the Long Trail.

A few years later as the Long Trail was still under construction, another main hiked to the top of Stratton Mountain, looked around, and figured there should be a trail connecting Georgia to Canada along the full length of the Appalachian Mountains.

And so the Appalachian Trail was born, and still today it connects Georgia and Canada, and merges with the Long Trail in southern Vermont.

A few weeks ago, I went with some friends to hike up Stratton Mountain for a weekend trip. This was my first time backpacking, and my first time camping in the autumn. After a lifetime of day hikes, state and national parks and forests and monuments, I figured there was no better time to level up as a self-described "outdoorsy" person than the present.

I'll put the metrics at the end, but the short of it was: ~3 miles to summit, ~3 miles to descend and reach shelter, spend the night in the woods, and ~4 miles back to the parking lot, bookened by ~3 hours in between Stratton Mountain, Vermont and Boston. This was in early November and temperatures ranged from high 20s (early morning) to 45F.

I don't have the photos to show for it, but the drive west and then north to Vermont was a blaze of autumn colors unlike any I had ever seen before. It looked as if Massachusetts were on fire and I was frantically looking everywhere so as not to miss anything. The road near Walden Pond State Reservation was especially beautiful and really tugged at my (...Transcendentalist?) heartstrings. 

By the way, I have read Henry Thoreau's Walden and found it very pretentious and overwrought in spite of many pearls about sucking the marrow out of life and romanticizing the Great Outdoors and whatnot. I said out loud, "I feel you, Henry!" but I still roll my eyes at most of Walden.

We stopped for gas and some s'mores materials in Vermont, where homes on large plots of wooded land, stone wells and walls, and dramatically cloud-shrouded hillsides made me yearn for...some mythic American Dream out in Bernieland.

The first mile was just me getting used to the weight of the pack. I left my backpacking backpack at home and made do with my school backpack, to which I secured my sleeping bag with my belt and some string. For most of the ascent I took the lead because I have a deep fear of falling behind in hikes and a strong desire to take photos at my leisure.

The first mile, too, was a slow, steady gain in altitude, which really isn't saying much. Slowly, the beeches, birches, and maples gave way to spruces, firs, and pines. We faced a few steep climbs in the first two miles, including some switchbacks that forced us to stop and rest and enjoy the trees (and let me know that my pace was unsustainable).

The mist never let up, and cast the whole place in an eerie gloom. Forget Thoreau -- the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King were inspired by the forests of New England.

The other obvious fan of New England's forests was Robert Frost, of course. These woods, indeed, were lovely, dark, and deep.

The last stretch of the ascent was quite strenuous, consisting almost entirely of steep switchbacks and muddy, icy puddles. There were few deciduous trees, plenty of conifers, and so much mist that we were certain not to have a view at the top.

With all that said, I hope the photos show that we were so completely surrounded by beautiful woods that none of that really mattered.

By the way, I clearly wore the wrong shoes for this trip. I just ordered hiking boots yesterday, but out of the three shoes I could have worn for this trip (Bean boots, Dr. Martens boots, running shoes), I picked the worst. Not even thick wool socks could have prevented my poor toes from freezing. There were too many slushy, icy, muddy puddles on the trail for me to have kept dry.

Just when it seemed as if we were on an endless rocky green staircase up the mountain, we reached the summit at 3940 ft, having gained 1758 ft in a bit over 3 miles (if you're thinking of hiking this, keep in mind that most of the elevation is gained in the latter half). The cold caught up to us at the top and we promptly put on the layers we had shed while climbing.

Always a fire tower at the top. This one is 55 ft

One of our party estimated it was just around freezing at the summit, and indeed, the puddles were all frozen over. Whatever it actually was, the temperature differential from the bottom to the top of the fire tower felt at least ten degrees. I climbed up the tower, which was treacherously slippery, icy, and windy, determined to get a view. Of course, I could hardly see the trees below, much less the Mt. Snow or Killington.

I estimated the elapsed time using the timestamps of these photos, from the first to this one of the tower. The 3.4 mile, 1758 ft ascent took just under 2 hours.

A frigid, heart-pounding view

We rested for lunch and got the hell going. It was cold just standing around.

The next 3 miles were to get to the Stratton Mountain shelter where we would spend the night.

Some adventure!

I thought that descending would be easy going, but I was mistaken. It was muddy and icy and slippery and it took all my concentration not to step in a puddle or lose my footing, hence the lack of pictures. I assure you it was much of the same haunted conifer woods, with a progression back to broadleafs as we went down. I also promise I saw little patches of snow, but never took pictures of them.

At this point, we were tired, but in high spirits. Many of us declared over and over again how happy we were to be out in Vermont and not studying, that to seek the outdoors and tramp around the woods shivering and with numb fingers and cold toes was so restorative.

Once, a friend said that he was so tired he could just sleep in a pile of leaves. Because we had been talking about Robert Frost since lunch, I replied: "We have 3 miles to go before we sleep...and 3 miles to go before we sleep."

Stratton Pond

After about 3 miles and two river crossings, we reached Stratton Pond and took a look around. The pond is less than 1/4 mile away from the shelter, which is essentially a wooden house for hikers. Shelters of varying degrees of comfort line the AT and LT, and this one was pretty nice, with several wooden bunks and a huge loft which I could comfortably stand up in. We didn't exactly "rough it," but that's fine by me.

After dropping my stuff off at the loft in the shelter, I headed off on my own side quest to take photos of the bridge, the river, and the pond.

I came back in time to help with the fire and eat dinner. We were joined by three other hikers, some middle-aged ladies who were clearly better outdoorsmen than any of us, and well-acquainted with the Green Mountains. Earlier in the afternoon, a whole gaggle of kids took a tour of the shelter (they were part of a ski school, apparently).

It was pitch black at around 6 PM and I was too ready for sleep to study by flashlight as I had planned to. There was plenty of room for everyone in the shelter, especially in the loft. I slept poorly that night because it was so cold and the sleeping bag I rented from school just didn't cut it, and because of the wind and rain. In spite of that, I got up early and roamed around again.

The leaves look like they are levitating
The shelter

The shelters, like the rest of the trail, are maintained by the Green Mountain Club. A fee of $5 cash per hiker is required when there is a caretaker there. There was no caretaker when we had arrived, but a few hunters scoping out the area in preparation for deer season the following week.


The night's rain killed our hopes for a morning fire so we just packed up quickly and headed out. It snowed for about half an hour and the Californians (including me) got very excited and forgot about being cold for a minute. Our new friends pointed out that because of last night's rains, our original route back to the parking lot would likely be very muddy, and recommended an alternative path that they were going to take after their breakfast.

The alternate route took us over the bridge, out of the woods, and onto a mountain biking and snowmobile trail. Though it added about a mile onto our journey, it was far better than trudging through icy mud in sneakers. The rest of the way was conversation and just good times.

A very picturesque creek with a potential beaver dam?

We returned to the parking lot and I promptly changed into dry socks as we high-tailed it to a diner. The coffee was strong and the maple syrup was unreal.

I wore a t-shirt, my L.L. Bean flannel, a light fleece, hat and gloves, and leggings while hiking and brought along a sweater and cotton trousers for when we hung around the shelter. Wool socks saved my feet and I should have worn different shoes. Next time, I'll be wiser. The shirt, though, was wonderful and kept me warm.


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I ought to reflect on how good I have it. My family loves me and supports me, emotionally and financially and in every other way. I am in medical school learning medicine, training to become a doctor, which has been my dream since childhood. I had a wonderful time hiking in a beautiful forest with like-minded people with plans to see more of New England's great outdoors. I had the great privilege of learning gross anatomy by dissecting a cadaver, and am thankful for the donor and the faculty and my classmates for making it all come together.

In general, I am content with my situation in life and the direction it's taking. I am optimistic about the future and I am thankful for all that and more.

White = first day, red = second day

  • Location: Stratton Mountain, in Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, part of the Long Trail and the Appalachain Trail
  • Distance/duration: 3.8 miles to the summit, 3.7 miles to the shelter, ~4.5 miles via IP road to return; 6-7 hours of hiking over two days, though the whole thing could be done in a day
  • Elevation gain: 1758 ft
  • Difficulty: moderately strenuous thanks to rocky, muddy switchbacks up the mountain, quite steep ascent in the final mile or so
  • Points of interest: Stratton Mountain summit and fire tower, views on clear days that are apparently quite stunning, Stratton Pond, Stratton Pond shelter
  • Overall: this was the perfect beginner's backpacking trip, I thought. I was among friends, we had a good, tough little hike that I felt proud for powering through, and the forest was beautiful. I really enjoy steep steep switchbacks and would love to do this hike again.
P.S. Some other thoughts on Vermont: at the diner, I thumbed through some real estate magazines and found the best deal to be 81 acres of forest (house and creek and well included) for under $1 million. On our way back, I took in my fill of the Vermont countryside dreaming that one day I may own some of it. 80% of the state of Vermont is forest, which has had net growth since the end of WWII.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

L.L. Bean black watch scotch plaid flannel | Outfit and Review

I present the L.L. Bean black watch scotch plaid flannel, the shirt of my dreams. It is warm. It is soft. The colorway is perfect. It fits well. I love it. I went from owning one L.L. Bean item -- the very sweater I am wearing here -- to five since coming to Boston. Shipping from Freeport, Maine to Boston is quick and easy. Here is a demonstration of an outfit I was pretty pleased with including those very items, as well as my preliminary thoughts on the shirt.

Sunglasses - Ray-Ban | Fisherman sweater - thrifted (L.L. Bean) | Flannel shirt - L.L. Bean | Belt - Uniqlo | Jeans - Uniqlo | Boots - Dr. Martens

Internet reviews agree that this shirt is boxy and runs very large -- fine by me, as I was looking for a looser fit. My first order of XS completely swallowed me up so I exchanged it for a XXS. At some point, I talked to a lovely customer service representative from Maine whose son was interested in applying to my medical school.

Shipping is free, but I was charged about $7 for the exchange, which I was fine with. I bought the original on sale, and that discount was honored on the exchange. L.L. Bean has a godly warranty, and I have heard that their scotch plaid flannels are still high quality and well worth the price ($45 regular, though I got 20%).

Please do forgive the weird angles and proportions -- I am a novice at outfit photos, and fashion blogger I am not. The only decoration in my room are my maps of Boston, Massachusetts, and New England, though I may put up some postcards when I have the motivation. Also, the sunglasses are there because I prefer to go internet incognito when convenient.

For more context on the fit, I am 5' 5" and have an approximate bust and waist measurement of 32" and 25". The shirt is in the Misses' Relaxed fit, and XXS supposedly fits bust sizes 31-32" with a 29" sleeve. It feels perfect at the shoulders, but I have cuffed the sleeves once in these pictures. The actual body of the shirt angles slightly outwards, it seems, and there is generally a lot of fabric at the midsection and in the sleeves.

The flannel is 100% cotton and made in El Salvador, very heavy and soft, and almost too warm to wear indoors. I wore it layered under this sweater -- 100% cotton, wooden buttons, made in Maine -- and was toasty warm on my walk to class this morning at 39F, and overheated when walking home at 52F at lunchtime. It is quite a stiff fabric, which is especially notable at the collar, cuffs, and midline.

I like to think that this shirt is one first step towards a wardrobe that I am very, very happy with. I was uncertain about buying a flannel shirt new for $45 ($36 on sale), but I have wanted this specific one for a very long time, and know I will cherish it for many years to come. The navy fisherman's sweater has long been a California winter staple since my senior year in high school, and I am happy that it will get more use in the Massachusetts autumns to come.

P.S. These grey jeans are too small for me, I know. When I bought them, I did not even lift, and I have made leg gains since coming to Boston. Upper body gains, on the other hand...

P.P.S Here I am wearing this shirt out in the field, a preview for an imminent blog post and adventure report.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A quick costume change

This is not the first time I have decided to go for fairy wings as a low-effort Halloween costume. However, this costume quickly became medium-effort when I found that there is a huge floral supply warehouse just a five minute walk from campus.

In ninth grade, I was a fairy in our school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream; subsequently, I have been drawn to fairies in art, literature, and design. If it isn't clear from this blog, I like plants and want to be surrounded by them. The florist supplier was a wonderland of silk flowers and foliage and ribbons -- my favorite part of any arts and crafts store, but at an unreal scale.

If/when I enter private/group practice, I will decorate my clinic to my heart's desire.

I still do want to revisit my autumnal fairy costume from two years ago (sparkly orange wings with foliage) and make a crown and wand. Maybe I can alternate Halloweens with these fairy costumes. Anyhow, I don't have a good name for this dark fairy costume. I place curses and may cause disease (congenital birth defects of the thorax, abdomen, or pelvis...exam tomorrow).

I'll keep the wings, crown, and wand for future Halloweens or costume-required events. They're props and don't take up much space, and will save me the trouble of hunting down costume items in the future. The wings were bought new, and the big blue flower, the blueberry pick, and the black leaves came from the aforementioned florist supplier. I used a friend's black electrical tape and the whole effort looks kind of cool.

I haven't decided if I'll be going to the exam tomorrow in costume. I'll bring it with me to school just in case.


And to follow, I have a more reflective post coming up, mostly about gross anatomy and my career goals and about Boston. As spoilers: it's fun/sadly almost over/lots of Latin, surgery, cold and historical. I'm possibly going backpacking in New Hampshire or Vermont this coming weekend, but I'm not sure about that yet.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Middlesex Fells Reservation, Rock Circuit | Massachussetts

At the terminus of the MBTA Orange Line, there is Middlesex Fells Reservation, a Massachussetts State Park just half an hour outside of Boston. I joined two friends on an impromptu hike on its Rock Circuit trail to experience two iconic aspects of the New England landscape: autumn foliage and granite boulders.

After an ear-freezing walk from our apartment building to Mass Ave station, we took the Orange Line to Oak Grove station, then walked through Boston suburbia to the trailhead about a half mile away. Not to imply that Boston is some urban jungle or bustling metropolis, but it was nice to not be surrounded by red brick and cars, and just enjoy the peaceful morning golden hour. There were fewer Halloween decorations than I had expected, though.

One of many unnamed boulders to climb

The Rock Circuit trail is just under 5 miles and basically picks out every significant granite boulder and goes up and over them, and links together various rocky outcropping and vista points on even large granite boulders. I've included a crude map of our route below, but we did not do the entire Rock Circuit (white blazes), but rather cut across it on the connector trail (orange blazes) and resumed the trail on the northern edge. Based on photo time stamps, we completed our route in around 2 hours. Next time, we will probably take the entire Rock Circuit trail to extend our hike.

View of Boston from Pinnacle Rock

Opinions on the difficulty and length of this hike vary across internet sources. It was a pretty easy hike, but I can see how a lot of going up and over boulders can be strenuous. Elevation gain is minimal. One thing to note is that there are few stretches of trail that are well-beaten and easy to walk on: rocks are everywhere, and watch your feet to prevent inversion injury.

As far as "scrambling" goes, there are certainly boulders where you will need to use your hands to traverse. I was wearing gloves and was generally more eager to scramble. Some descents are long and steep and need some careful route-finding, but nothing is scary or difficult. Overall, the boulders were fun, interesting obstacles that other trails would have gone around. Not the Rock Circuit.

Boojum Rock

It was quite chilly for the first 45 minutes or so, and I wish I had brought a hat. It's getting colder in Massachussetts, but the crisp morning was just perfect for a quiet ramble through the woods. This park is apparently quite busy, but we did not encounter fellow hikers until about an hour in.

MIT Observatory

The Rock Circuit brought us to the historic MIT Observatory built in 1899. It's now in ruin, but a good place to rest, take off a layer, and plan our route. We followed this blog post as a guide and figured we didn't have 3.5 hours to spare since we missed our first train and had a late start. Matching our pace to that blogger's, we could have probably completed the entire Rock Circuit in under 3 hours. After all, what's the point of waking up before sunrise to hike if we can't get a few good hours of actual hiking in?

It was good to get out of Boston for a bit, and especially to get away from school. We had our first set of gross anatomy exams earlier in the week and I needed a break from it all. I'm very happy with the results and am excited to tackle the next module (last one was Back and Limbs, this one is Thorax-Abdomen-Pelvis), but after I go out and see some beautiful New England autumn.

On White Rock

Leaves are slow to change color in Boston proper, but out in the Fells, the foliage was all ablaze. Earlier this week, I went on a jog near the Back Bay Fens and was disappointed to find greenery, but I'm pretty happy with all the autumn I saw on this hike.

Melrose Rock

In other news, my Thanksgiving plans are still up in the air. I'm not going home, and will either be spending the holiday in Virginia with a friend, in New York, or in Boston with other stranded West Coasters. As we hiked, we tentatively planned a camping trip to the Fells or maybe to New Hampshire or Vermont, which would be a real treat (but very cold).

Melrose, MA from Melrose Rock

I wish I could go hiking more, and for $5.50 roundtrip, this hike is about accessible as it gets. I'm hoping to get more friends in on this hike for next time, and I hope I have the strength to keep going even in the wintertime.

Black Rock

View from Black Rock

Lots of beautiful autumn colors

Cascade without water

All said, I still miss hiking in California, and wished that there could be more elevation change here. Boulders are all well and good, but I want hills. We also did not see many woodland creatures, though the blue jays were screaming like hell.

In total, ~4 miles and  <300 ft elevation gain, very rocky with plenty of big boulders to get up and over, and nice vista points of the Boston skyline or charming, quiet suburbs. We began our hike at around 7:20 AM and ended at around 9: 15 AM, but got stuck at the station for nearly an hour due to a delayed train. Overall, the hike was a moderate one which requires some scrambling and careful climbing. Sneakers are fine, but I think that real hiking boots, or at least shoes with better tread, are needed if hiking in the wintertime.