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Cabin fever? Hiking a natural remedy

  • North Quabbin Trails Association members enjoy a hike with President Bobby Curley’s dog, Celts, last fall. To encourage families to continue enjoying the natural beauty of the valley, the association is releasing two membership trails maps per week, for free, along with access to its blog and other services. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • North Quabbin Trails Association members take a break at the summit of one of the group’s trails during a hike last fall. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • North Quabbin Trails Association members enjoy a hike with President Bobby Curley’s dog, Celts, last fall. To encourage families to continue enjoying the natural beauty of the valley, the association is releasing two membership trails maps per week, for free, along with access to its blog and other services. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • North Quabbin Trails Association members enjoy a hike last fall with President Bobby Curley’s dog, Celts. The association is releasing two membership trails maps per week for free. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • North Quabbin Trails Association members enjoy a hike with President Bobby Curley’s dog, Celts, last fall. The association is releasing two membership trails maps per week, for free, along with access to its blog and other services. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/1/2020 4:19:00 PM

ORANGE — Over the last couple of weeks, families across the county may have realized just how quickly cabin fever can come on. Perhaps that’s why North Quabbin Trails Association President Bobby Curley saw several families hiking when he went for a walk by the Newton Reservoir.

“The remedy for indoor self-isolation is to get out and hit the trails,” Curley said.

Curley wants families and their young children to continue enjoying the natural beauty of the Pioneer Valley long after the current health crisis passes. To encourage continued hiking, the nonprofit North Quabbin Trails Association (NQTA), which is operated out of the Orange Innovation Center, is releasing two membership trails maps per week for free, along with access to its blog and other services.

“I believe this crisis is a wonderful opportunity for re-inventing family time, and NQTA will be by your side in customizing any outdoor trail adventure that you may need,” Curley said.

In an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Charlie Baker issued a stay-at-home advisory urging nonessential businesses to close and residents to remain home if possible, with exceptions for travel to the grocery store or pharmacy. While it’s important to follow these orders for everyone’s health, Curley said getting outside — while maintaining social distance from those other than household members — can be a strong remedy for the self-isolation, and the mental and physical fatigue many people may begin feeling.

“This has shown me how important it can be to get outside and have some separation from the news and rest of the world for a minute,” Curley said.

Those looking to hit the trails can visit nqta.org to view digital maps. The trails association will release maps for one beginner trail and one more experienced trail each week. The association also has services to help families find various trails to change up their hiking, and lends advice on proper gear for each expedition.

The beginner trail map features an easy-to-walk trail, which is perfect for families with children, Curley said. The first week’s beginner trail was the Cutthroat Brooke Gnome Trails on the Feldmans’ property. This is a meadow conservation area type of hike with butterflies and dragonflies.

The experienced trail map has more of a physically strenuous hike. The first week’s experienced trail is the Fall Brook Gorge on the Tully Trail and the New Hampshire state line. It is a more physically strenuous hike “through millions of years of nature’s sculpturing,” Curley said.

Altogether, the North Quabbin Trails Association has more than 30 maps of local trails, which are normally obtained through membership. Membership fees go to maintain the trails and provide updated information on the Quabbin’s outdoor resources.

The association will also post a weekly blog or email written by its members and partners. It has partnered with Linda Styles of Lynrose Farm & Wellness Center in Warwick, along with Matt Sheldon, an extreme mountain biker and instructor, for this blog expansion project.

“The idea is that people are spending more time sitting around with time to read, too,” Curley said.

Styles will highlight one wellness product per week, along with educational tools for various healing practices. For the first week’s blog, Styles discussed the healing practice of reiki — an energy healing method originally practiced in Japan. She said it is being introduced as part of healing and wellness programs in many hospitals across the country because of its capacity to help with relaxation before surgery and during the healing process after.

Each week, Sheldon will be presenting and joining the trails association digitally with mountain bike trail locations, stories from his time biking and instructions for novice mountain bikers.

Sheldon said the Tully Trail is great for beginners and experienced riders. Riders should park at the boat launch by Tully Lake Campground and enter the trail there. Sheldon said there is only a few hundred feet of climbing for the whole 7.5-mile trip so it is relatively flat, and there are some quick but rocky sections. These are short and give riders a chance to practice or develop the technical skills required to mountain bike.

“There’s a perfect spot for a picnic on the side of a long pond at about the 1.3-mile point and a great place to see some wildlife on the lake,” Sheldon wrote in his blog post. “If this is your first trip on a mountain bike, it’s not a bad time to turn around as the trail does get a bit more demanding after that, but first it’s worth ditching the bikes for a small side hike to check out the falls along the foot trail.”

Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, and business can operate normally, Curley said the trails association will work with Styles to set up Lynrose Farm & Wellness Center as an outdoor activity location for daily yoga and healing arts demonstrations. They are also working with Sheldon to premiere a basic mountain bike course for youth and adults, also at the Lynrose Farm location.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.



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