Get Out! by Justin Olen

IMG_1372Last Sunday, I woke up early, stood with my torso exposed to the sun, closed my eyes, listened to the stream run, the birds call, the chickens rustle in their new pen. I went for a 20-mile bike ride cruising rolling hills, chasing down wind turbines, blasting through pockets of stream-cooled air. That night, I opened both of my windows to hear the spring peepers croaking in chorus.

The Mountain Club motto at my university was Get Out!, and that’s what I profess to all of you. To facilitate, here are some of my favorite places that I’ve adventured to in the “farm area”, and some places I want to visit in the near future.

Cricket Creek Farm Area

During a casual stroll around the farm, which you are more than welcome to take, you will run into the various farm critters: cows, pigs, chickens, guinea fowl (they sound like rusty see-saws), Creamy, Tail, and El Gato… but look to the skies and you will also see wild birds – barn swallows, red-winged blackbirds, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and more.

Travel down the road and walk the rather gentle paths of Field Farm  or follow the more rigorous Phelps trail that runs behind the farm up to the Taconic Ridge. You can also drive up or hike to
the top of the tallest peak in Massachusetts, Mt. Greylock, and check out the farm from the top.

Of course, no active day would be complete without a great meal, and Mezze right down the road is a great farm-to-table restaurant that features our farm products.

Shelburne Falls, Greenfield, and the Vicinity

Consider taking a trip to Shelburne Falls and stroll across the Bridge of Flowers.
Afterward, check out the glacial potholes, peruse the shops in town, and pick up a picnic lunch or sandwich at McCuskers Market – a small, local co-op – and a beverage at The Wine Merchant.

Drive your car up into the hills overlooking Shelburne Falls to High Ledges, a MassAudubon wildlife sanctuary. From here, you can see for miles into the vast landscape of the Deerfield River valley. Or, instead, venture farther to the seldom seen Hawley Bog, with a wide range of plant diversity, including insect-eating plants!

For dinner, there are two great options in Greenfield: The People’s Pint, if you’re looking for a great (local) brew and a (local) burger, or Hope and Olive.

Then, put on your dancing shoes because you’re in for a night of contra dancing at the Greenfield Grange. Dancing happens almost every Friday and Saturday nights and the hall will be packed!

There are so many other places that I want to talk about (and I may later), like Bartholomew’s Cobble south of Sheffield (amazing bluebird habitat, ferns, and rare flowers), Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Northampton (a great family hike – but bring the mosquito repellant), the Mt. Tom reservation in Holyoke, or Rose Ledges for some awesome rock climbing near Erving… but, for now, I gotta Get Out.

See ya!