We have a membership, so we just signed in and checked the map fo rthe route we wanted to take, and off we went. On the way in, we noted that the Meadow was holding a "Bird and Breakfast" event, so I was concerned that it would be very crowded, but this was already afternoon, so it wasn't too bad. We had barely gotten started though, when we ran into old friends who had stopped to look for a yellow warbler that they had heard.We spent a few minutes in conversation, then we went our separate ways.
The Brown Hill Loop is reached at the upper reaches of a meadow. We considered starting up the Birch Trail to cut off some of the hike, but after going along it for a short distance we were unsure that it was going where we wanted. A quick look at the map revealed our problem: We had grabbed a Mt. Wachusett map by mistake and couldn't confirm how the Birch Trail went. So we backtracked a hundred yards or so to take the more certain route.
The day was mostly cloudy, but not too dark. The leaves were still coming out on the trees, so the canopy was thin and the leaves themselves were a light green. This gave the hike thorugh the woods a lighter feeling than we would have in the middle of summer. The black flies, unfortunately, were getting to be quite annoying.
The trail undulates up and down, left and right as it slowly makes its way around Brown Hill. While we did pass a few small groups of fellow hikers, it was generally pretty quiet. Quiet enough that I kept reminding my fellow hikers to keep the noise down. That advice paid off--suddenly, a deer burst out from very close in front of us! It ran into the woods to our left not too far away so we could still make it out. Frances and Gary stopped to get photos while I continued on. The trail swung a bit to the left, bringing me closer to the deer, who was now watching me intently.
Deer along the Brown Hill Loop trail at Wachusett Meadow. (Click to enlarge.)
The deer watched as my route turned back to the right and went away from it. Then Frances and Gary started to follow the trail, and the deer became nervous, bounding off farther into the woods. It was then that I saw the second deer, ahead of the one we initially spotted. By watching carefully, we could see the two of them making their way more slowly through the woods and up the hill. While we thought we'd get to see them later, it turned out that we didn't.
We passed the eastern junction of the trail up to the Brown Hill Summit and enjoyed the walk around it, until we got to the western junction of the summit trail. Here, we waited as a group we had passed earlier came down from the summit, and headed up, ourselves.
Right around now, Gary found a collection of dog ticks on his socks. Frances quickly picked them off and threw them away from the trail while Gary barely was able to keep from panicking--or pretending to nearly panick as a pre-teen can do.
After a quick look around from the top of Brown Hill, where the black flies were least bothersome, we turned back the way we can, went by the Glacial Boulder, and finally through the meadow. Gary managed to pick up one more tick along the way. We gave each other a tick check, then headed home. (We managed to find one more tick, on Frances, after we got home. It had found itself a comfortable spot and was starting to attach itself, but hadn't quite gotten there yet.)