The Walking Posts

The posts labeled with the little “Truckin’ ” man are from my Walking Journal, which I've been keeping since January 1, 2012. What began as a simple New Year's Resolution to exercise more quickly morphed into a hiking addiction. Below are some running totals.

  MILES TIME CALORIES
June 2016 9.96 4h 49m 914
Year-to-Date 147.24 74h 59m 13722
June Avg. 34.82 17h 56m 4064

Pachaug SF, Laurel Loop

Posted By on June 8, 2016

Pachaug SF, Laurel Loop

6 miles; Voluntown, CT

I know I have kind of badmouthed the Pachaug Trail. It tends towards rocky and eroded in a lot of places because of motorized vehicle traffic, and that just does not make for a pleasant hiking experience. But I have to say that today’s hike was wonderful. I started off from the beach area at the Green Fall Pond campground, and almost right away I realized this section of the Pachaug was different.

Lemon Squeezer

Lemon Squeezer

The first part of this hike was quite hilly, with a lot of rock scrambling, and then there was this “lemon squeezer” part. Fun!

I actually did this hike once before, but that was way back at the beginning of my hiking “career,” in April 2012, and I don’t remember really enjoying it much. I think it was pretty wet. I don’t know why I felt so differently about it today. Maybe I was just in the mood for it.

Mountain Laurels

Mountain Laurels

As the name implies, there were TONS of mountain laurels throughout the vast majority of this walk. They’re not quite in peak bloom yet, but they soon will be.

Caterpillar Hunter

Caterpillar Hunter

There were also quite a few of these gigantic beetles. Seriously, they were huge, maybe an inch and a half long. Turns out, they’re called Fiery Searchers (Calosoma scrutator), but another common name for them is Caterpillar Hunters. Welp, they should be thriving this year. The gypsy moths have been horrible, though they’ve seemed to have tapered off finally. For a while there, you couldn’t go outside without being bombarded with them.

Through Laurel Thickets

Through Laurel Thickets

Even before I got to the trail junction with the Laurel Loop part of the hike, the laurels were spectacular. There were long sections spent walking through green tunnels of laurels with blooms overhead. Amazing.

Pink Variety

Pink Variety

There were even some pink laurels.

Trail Junction

Trail Junction

This is the spot where the Laurel Loop begins, and the Pachaug goes right. The Laurel Loop is blazed blue and yellow.

Fern Shadow on Quartz

Fern Shadow on Quartz

From the Laurel Loop, I picked up the Nehantic Trail back to my car. The Nehantic is another of the CT Forest & Park Association’s blue-blazed trails, like the Pachaug.

I’m not saying it was a perfect hike… there were plenty of the usual summer annoyances, including gnats and spider webs, but it was still fun.

Map of the Green Fall Section of the Pachaug State Forest, including the Laurel Loop, here.

Breakheart Pond Loop

Posted By on June 6, 2016

Breakheart Pond Loop

3-3/4 miles; Exeter and West Greenwich, RI

This hike started out normally enough until, about 1/4 mile in, I run into “Nature Boy,” out for a nude hike. How do I find these people? First it was the couple making the beast with 2 backs on the Ayers Gap trail, then the girl taking a selfie of her junk on the Duval Trail, and now this. Sheesh. Also started off with the intention of doing the entire Breakheart/Shelter Loop but changed my mind part way in. Just too much to do to take half a day in the woods today.

Beech Tree Blossom

Beech Tree Blossom

The beech tree flowers have just about gone by, but the old monster tree by the Frosty Hollow Pond was just full of these.

Mountain Laurels

Mountain Laurels

And the mountain laurels are almost there… a few more hot days, I’m thinking, and it will be showtime.

False Solomon Seal

False Solomon Seal

There were a lot of ephemerals still in bloom today, too.

Falls on Unnamed Brook

Falls on Unnamed Brook

I couldn’t find a name for this little brook, but its little waterfall was in full spate.

Obligatory Pink Lady Slipper shot

Obligatory Pink Lady Slipper shot

And a day in the Rhode Island woods at this time of year wouldn’t be complete without these little beauties.

Breakheart Pond Panorama (click to embiggen)

Breakheart Pond Panorama (click to embigify)

Breakheart Pond, which I ended up circumnavigating, was really lovely today, too.

Witch-hazel cone galls

Witch-hazel cone galls

This is one surefire way to i.d. witch hazels… these little cone galls. They look like little witchs’ hats. They are formed by a tiny aphid.

 

The Sky’s The Limit Challenge, Hike 6—Burr Pond State Park

Posted By on May 23, 2016

The Sky's The Limit Challenge, Hike 6—Burr Pond State Park

3-1/2 miles; Torrington, CT

My hiking companions, Stacy and Dallas the Dog, decided to knock off a second Challenge Hike since we were out this way anyway. This is probably the most scenic and sought-after part of the state, and it’s also the corner that the Appalachian Trail cuts through. Burr Pond State Park was no exception; it was quite beautiful.

Frightened Duck

Frightened Duck

The trail here basically circumnavigates the pond, with the designated “selfie” spot being at the end of a peninsula that sticks out into the pond. At one point we startled a duck. Sorry, dude.

Selfie

Selfie

And here’s the selfie.

Island

Island

This little island is directly behind me in the photo above. And every time I see a small island in a lake with pine tree(s), it reminds me of this photo:

Spirit Island, Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Spirit Island, Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Uh, okay, yeah, not so much alike. Still, it made me remember it.

Gigantic Boulder

Gigantic Boulder

Check out this gigantic glacial erratic, with Stacy and Dallas for scale.

Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis

Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis

And I’m not quite positive on this plant i.d. Interestingly, if it is buttonbush, my research assistant Dr. Google tells me it’s related to the coffee plant. Who knew?

You can find out more about Burr Pond State Park here, and the CT DEEP’s Sky’s the Limit Challenge here.

The Sky’s The Limit Challenge, Hike 5—Black Rock State Park

Posted By on May 23, 2016

The Sky's The Limit Challenge, Hike 5—Black Rock State Park

2 1/2 miles; Watertown, CT

Another of the TSTLC hikes, this time a long drive from home, out past Waterbury, CT. This particular hike was designated as “difficult.” It really wasn’t that bad, though. Short mileage, and c’mon, at least half of it was downhill.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Lotta Jacks along the trail. It’s such an interesting-looking plant.

Old Carving

Old Carving

There were some carved dates and initials right by the “selfie” spot. It looks to me like 1885? Maybe?

Black Rock Overlook

Black Rock Overlook

And here’s the selfie. I’ll admit to a bit of whining about it all being uphill, but the view was quite spectacular.

Info and a map of Black Rock State Park here.

Breakheart Brook Fishing Access Trail

Posted By on May 20, 2016

Breakheart Brook Fishing Access Trail

2 1/3 miles; Exeter, RI

This was a “Ladies Hike” on one of my favorite trails in Arcadia, the Breakheart Brook fishing access trail. I went with a friend. It was a lovely day, but the few wildflower photos I took came out blurry. I am gonna definitely get an external lens for my iPhone for macro work.

Along the Trail

Along the Trail

It really was a perfect spring day. Warm but not hot, and sunny.

Blurry Swamp Azalea

Blurry Swamp Azalea

See what I mean? I tried so hard to make the iPhone focus on that blossom, but to no avail.

Blurry Wild Ginseng

Blurry Mayflower

And blurry mayflowers. Sigh.

RIP, Bucky Beaver

Posted By on May 15, 2016

RIP, Bucky Beaver

8-1/4 miles; Charlestown, RI

I have some sad news to report… my old pal, Bucky Beaver, is no more.

I decided it was time to hit the Vin Gormley Trail again, and as is my wont, I parked at what I like to call the Bucky Beaver Trailhead on Kings Factory Highway. When I got there I was shocked and saddened to find Bucky was no longer at his post… instead, I found this:

Ratso?

Ratso?

Bucky! Where are you, dude? And who is this ratty imposter?

No answers were to be found, so I hiked the trail in a rather melancholy fashion, reflecting on the mortality of us all.

I found Bucky on my second ever hike of the Vin Gormley Trail. I had started off at the beach and hiked the road to the trailhead on King’s Factory, and while on that dismal road section, discovered poor old Bucky lost and discarded by the roadside. I picked him up, but I didn’t honestly feel like carrying him the whole remaining 6-1/2 miles, so I kind of stuck him onto a nail just under the mileage sign. And there he stayed for four long years.

I guess I’m just going to have to reconcile myself to the rat. I guess I could call him Ratso Rizzo. But he’s no Bucky, that’s for sure.

Bucky RIP

Bucky RIP

Please imagine the sad music of your choice while viewing. Thank you.