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 move more quickly morphed into a hiking addiction. Below are some running totals.

  MILES TIME CALORIES
April 2014 37.82 22h 3m 6236
Year-to-Date 100.05 56h 39m 13289
April 2013 56.18 24h 7m 8347
April 2012 44.11 17h 42m 4058

Francis Carter Preserve

Posted By on April 23, 2014

Francis Carter Preserve

3.12 miles, 2.4 mph

you know that thing where you get about 1-1/2 miles into a 3-mile hike and it starts to rain? yeah. got very wet. but it wasn’t cold, and there were no bugs, and i was still out in the woods with my “usual suspect” friends, so, win.

wet

wet

it was, in fact, raining when we all arrived at the francis carter preserve, but we sat in one of the cars and waited, and it stopped. yay! hiking after all.

green hints

green hints

the rain-darkened woods made the first tentative sightings of green really stand out. not sure what this plant is, but it’s bravely budding up.

whew!

whew!

and thank goodness someone stuck this stick in place to keep the GIANT BOULDER from rolling and crushing everything in its path. and they thoughtfully posted a warning, too.

you can find francis carter in the hikefinder.

Old Furnace State Park

Posted By on April 22, 2014

Old Furnace State Park

4.83 miles, 2 mph

if ever the expression “your mileage may vary” were true, this would be the time. this was, according to everything i could find, a 1-1/2 mile out-and-back. pfft. my final total for the hike on my iPhone gps was 4.83 miles. little bit different. and nothing mentioned two blazed hiking trails. there was only supposed to be a blue trail, but there were numerious offshoots blazed orange! still, a good walk in a very nice park. and it must be school vacation week, because the park was well populated with young people… late teens, early 20′s. it was a little intimidating.

two bridges

two bridges

the trail starts out crossing a brook, and then shortly afterward, another brook. and at the second crossing, there were two footbridges. the closer one, i guess, was made difficult to get to thanks to the blowdown, but the farther one was fine. it was shortly past here that the first orange-blazed trail split off.

cliff

cliff

one of the highlights that i read about this park is the view from the cliffs, which i never actually saw. this set of cliffs is not the one they were talking about, and it’s kind of at the end of the hike anyway. and the trail just kind of circles around it.

squaw rock trail head

squaw rock trail head

this is the southern terminus of the hike, at squaw rock road. the park runs between route 6 and route 395, and you’re never really far from the road noise.

hemlock babies

hemlock babies

there were a lot of old hemlocks in this one section close to the parking area, and it was encouraging to see so many healthy baby hemlocks growing up among the old trees.

i have added old furnace state park to the hikefinder, but i’m making my own map. there are a lot of unblazed trails all through here, and i didn’t explore them, so i left them off. i have just put in the blazed trails.

Schoolhouse Pond Trail

Posted By on April 22, 2014

Schoolhouse Pond Trail

6.47 miles, 2.1 mph

wow. this was a longer hike than i anticipated. but it was quite interesting. i started out on sammy’s c’s trail, which i had explored before last december. my ankle was not up to walking the whole trail at that time, so i cut it short, but i have been wanting to go back ever since. this time i hiked all of sammy c’s trail, which comes out on what i am assuming in retrospect is the schoolhouse pond trail. schoolhouse pond is a preserve owned by the charlestown conservation commission, and it’s one beautiful pond.

schoolhouse pond

schoolhouse pond panorama (click to embiggen)

there were several large birdhouses in the trees by the water’s edge, and even a bat house (no residents that i could see). the trail to it leaves burlingame, which is where sammy c’s trail was, and crosses king’s factory road. it’s not directly across the road, however… i kind of had to guess which direction to head. i guessed right. you make a left on king’s factory road to get to the track that leads to the pond.

schoolhouse pond preserve entrance

schoolhouse pond preserve entrance

this would be a nice short hike by itself, and there is parking just past the preserve entrance. the hike is a lollipop shape… most of which is on a dirt road. but it does loop off into a very mature white pine forest. it’s well-blazed where it needs to be, at least on the preserve itself. in burlingame, however, it’s another story.

i had passed some blue blazes leading off into burlingame while i was heading out to schoolhouse pond, and i thought that was a bit… odd, since i had assumed i was already on the schoolhouse pond trail (on the great swamp press map, the schoolhouse pond trail is supposed to be blue-blazed). on the return trip, i attempted to follow the blazes, but it was quite hopeless. there were so many blowdowns and tangles that i gave up and returned to the mountain bike track i was originally following. it kind of sort of seemed to head in the right direction, so i followed it.

there were maybe 3 or 4 blue blazes that i passed—just enough to reassure me that i was headed in the right direction. and eventually i intersected with the vin gormley trail and made my way back to my car. but it was rather touch and go there for a while.

still life with pine cone

still life with pine cone

saw this  little vignette while i was on the schoolhouse pond trail of a pine cone caught in a blowdown.

old snag

old snag

also on the schoolhouse pond trail… this lovely old snag. it wasn’t till i got back and looked at it on my computer that i noticed it, well, kinda looked like a dragon’s head.

smaug snag

smaug snag

you can see that, right? kinda dragony-looking.

i have added this entire hike to the hikefinder, but you can use just the part that’s the schoolhouse pond preserve if you don’t want to do a 3-plus hour hike.

Saturdays by the Book #2: Mount Higby

Posted By on April 20, 2014

Saturdays by the Book #2: Mount Higby

4.2 miles, 1.2 mph

welcome to hike number two in my (hopefully) continuing series, “saturdays  by the book.” this week i chose nature walks in connecticut by rené laubach and charles w. g. smith, published by the appalachian mountain club in 1999. mount higby is hike number 24, and can be found (in my edition) on page 165.

this hike is along a section of the blue-blazed mattabesett trail, which is, in turn, a part of the new england trail. you can find more information and an interactive map of all the connecticut forest and park association’s blue-blazed hiking trails here, and more information and another interactive trail map of the new england trail can be found here. the mattabesett trail is a little over 56 miles long total. the new england trail is a 215-mile long-distance hiking trail that runs from long island sound in connecticut to the massachusetts/new hampshire border.

according to nature walks in connecticut, the authors say you can look forward to beautiful views (check), wildflowers (check), and long basalt cliffs (check). all were most decidedly in evidence.

round-lobed hepatica

round-lobed hepatica

first, the wildflowers. i saw only round-lobed hepatica. but it was in both this lovely shade of purple and also in a very pale pink. it was a very welcome sight; first wildflowers (not counting skunk cabbage) i’ve seen on the trail this year.

panorama view from cliffs

panorama view from cliffs (click to embiggen)

now, the beautiful views! as you can see, there were lots of folks out enjoying the sights and the gorgeous weather. this is the first spot where you can get these amazing views.

past here, the trail is simply spectacular. it goes for a long stretch along the cliffs giving you more and more views of western connecticut. it’s also, parenthetically, a rugged trail in places—full of jagged rocks and exposed roots. and there were a few places where i had to do some undignified “butt-scootching” to get down some sections, and there were also several places where i had to do some bonafide rock climbing—searching for handholds and toeholds. not a lot, though, and never for very long. other stretches of the trail are a dream to walk, with even sandy soil and gentle ups and downs.

speaking of ups and downs, did i mention that the first section is at about 850 feet and the second section, after you descend into a small ravine, is 892 feet? lotta ups and downs. but totally worth it.

basalt cliffs

basalt cliffs

there’s a black and white shot of this cliff in the book which doesn’t hardly do it justice. and see that far ridge beyond the cliff? that’s where i had lunch before heading back (as is recommended by the book’s authors).

lunch spot

lunch spot

here is my lunch spot. i had this second peak to myself. that terraced hill in the distance is mount chauncey, and that’s a massive quarry.

all in all, this was a spectacular hike. it’s a little farther afield than i usually like to go—about an hour and a quarter’s drive from home—but completely worth the trip. and the description in the book is excellent. highly recommend!

Saturdays by the Book #1: Browning Mill Pond & Tefft Hill Trails

Posted By on April 12, 2014

Saturdays by the Book #1: Browning Mill Pond & Tefft Hill Trails

4.85 miles, 2.4 mph

new blog feature! i have decided to walk some hikes in some of my favorite books on random saturdays. i’m calling it “saturdays by the book.” my first featured hike is from walks in the watershed, a nifty little pocket-sized pamphlet by charles f. hickox and elly heyder, and published by the wood-pawcatuck watershed association. you can buy it directly from them, and i’ve also seen it at ure outfitters in hope valley. it’s a small selection of hikes in southwestern rhode island and adjacent connecticut. there are 20 hikes described and mapped, and a few pages on some other, connecting trails. i chose hike #7 on page 13, “browning mill pond & tefft hill trails.”

now i’m not saying it’s a bad omen for future hikes in this series, but i somehow missed a turn, and didn’t do the exact hike in the book, even though that was my intention. i did get through almost all of the hike in the book…

the first part of the hike as described goes from the browning mill pond parking lot on arcadia road, around the pond, and then picks up part of the handicapped-accessible roaring brook trail. it passes by an abandoned fish hatchery, a dam, the remains of an old ccc lean-to, and a picnic pavilion. and that’s just on browning mill pond!

fish hatchery

fish hatchery

here is the fish hatchery. those little dots you see on the concrete spillway are basking painted turtles. the day was absolutely gorgeous; sunny and almost summertime warm, and with NO BUGS. it also turned out to be opening day of the fishing season in rhode island, but i left the anglers behind when i veered off from the roaring brook trail.

dam on browning mill pond

dam on browning mill pond

there was even a tent set up just past the dam, above. not sure whether they spent the night or got to the pond really, really early.

once you get past the roaring brook boardwalk, you take the yellow-blazed arcadia trail, which, through here, follows along roaring brook, crossing it twice. by the time you can hear the cars on route 95, you’re close to the intersection with tefft hill trail, the white-blazed crossover trail, and dawley park, which is a camping area that was cut in half by route 95. it’s still in use, though. there was what looked like a boy scout troop setting up tents when i went by.

the white-blazed crossover trail eventually intersects the yellow-blazed arcadia trail again, and picks up the blue blazes of the north-south trail as well, but only for a very short time. it was here, i think, that i got messed up. i continued to follow the white blazes of the crossover trail, when i think i should have continued down an unmarked path to pick up tefft hill trail again. instead, the crossover trail took me farther south than i would have come out, even intersecting the yell0w-blazed arcadia trail once again before coming out on k-g ranch road, which shortly merged into arcadia road. from there it was a short walk back to the car at browning mill pond.

i have to say, i think i like my little “detour” better than the hike as originally set out in walks in the watershed. you spend more time in the woods, whereas the original hike spends a lot of time on tefft hill trail, which is really a gravel road. but either way, this is an enjoyable hike. all the trails in arcadia are really well marked and maintained, thanks to the narragansett chapter of the amc. the trail around browning mill pond is a gem, and the part of the hike that follows the arcadia and the crossover trails feels less traveled than other parts of arcadia, which it perhaps is.

i can highly recommend hike #7 in walks in the watershed, no matter which way you do it.

Connors Farm Conservation Area

Posted By on April 10, 2014

Connors Farm Conservation Area

2.26 miles, 2 mph

connors farm was hike #2 of my day. this was very much a suburban park; for long stretches, it felt like you were walking in people’s back yards. but it was a lot of ups and downs and the geology was fascinating. nice spot.

excellent signage

excellent signage

the signage was excellent. and you know i had to visit the cave trail…

"cave"

“cave”

this whole area was filled with giant slabs of sedimentary rock that looked as though it had been all just tumbled together. it made for a lot of cool little “caves.”

i have added this hike to the hikefinder. the trail map that i’ve linked to is from the blog trails and walks in rhode island. the proprietor of that site took a photo of the trail map that is posted at the entrance. in fact, the same excellent little trail map is usefully posted at all the major trail intersections. there are also several entrances to this preserve. i used the connors farm drive entrance.