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
August 2016 16.87 10h 3m 1602
Year-to-Date 202.91 105h 7m 18841
Aug. Avg. 48.28 22h 58m 4468

The Sky’s The Limit Challenge, Hike 11—Bluff Point SP

Posted By on August 21, 2016

The Sky's The Limit Challenge, Hike 11—Bluff Point SP

4.7 miles; Groton, CT

Another Challenge Hike down, although this was, in theory, not particularly challenging. Under 5 miles, and all basically flat. How bad could that be?

Depends. If you’re a “lady of a certain age,” and very short for your weight, as I am, and you don’t freakin’ hike for almost 3 weeks, and hardly any distance at that, it can be very challenging. I swear I whined more on this hike than I did on the 10-mile Challenge Hike #1, and I had a massive freakin’ blister on that hike.

Selfie Spot

Selfie Spot

Yeah, don’t let that smile fool you. I was in pain.

Bayberries

Bayberries

Despite my copious whinging, I also managed to observe many signs of the approaching end of summer, like these heavily-laden bayberry bushes (Myrica pensylvanica)…

Beach Rose

Beach Rose

…the last gasp of the beach roses (Rosa rugosa)

Beautiful Purple Corts

Beautiful Purple Corts

…some pretty purple cort mushrooms (Cortinarius iodes)…

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed

…and a glorious stand of Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium sp.).

And we’re down to 3 Challenge Hikes left! Here’s hoping I’m in better shape for them than I was for today’s.

Scouting Trails in Norwich

Posted By on August 17, 2016

Scouting Trails in Norwich

Two in a row non-hiking report posts! It’s a new record. This is more of a report of a scouting expedition in Norwich, CT. And if you got here via my Facebook page, the answer is… The Upper Falls of the Yantic River in downtown Norwich, CT.

Uncas' Leap

Uncas Leap

The legend goes that um, well, why don’t I just outsource the story to The Distracted Wanderer, a local travel blog, and the place that first got me interested in visiting this spot?

As the story goes, Miantonomo, Sachem of the Narragansetts, led 900 of his warriors in what was to be a surprise attack on the Mohegans at Shetucket, the Mohegan capital near the City of Kings. The night before the battle, Mohegan scouts in the area observed the advancing enemy and carried the intelligence back to Uncas who formed a plan.

Uncas knew he didn’t have enough warriors to battle Miantonomo but he was a brave chief and would die for his people if need be; if one man could save many then he was willing to make that sacrifice. He told his braves that he would ask Miantonomo to fight one-on-one and if Miantonomo refused, he would drop to the ground as a signal for them to fire arrows into the enemy and then charge them hoping that the surprise would give them the advantage against the higher numbers.

Chief Uncas met the Narragansett chief between the lines of battle in the area that is now known as East Great Plain and appealed to him to prevent blood loss between both tribes by a single combat between the two leaders instead. When Miantonomo contemptuously rejected Uncas’ proposal, the Mohegan chief immediately dropped to the ground and the Narragansetts were met with a hail of arrows before Chief Uncas jumped to his feet and led his brave warriors in a charge.

Caught totally off-guard, the Narragansetts ran from the charging Mohegans with some fleeing along their familiar route while others, unfamiliar with the territory, unknowingly reached the high treacherous cliffs of Yantic Falls. Rather than surrender to the Mohegans, Miantonomo leapt across the gorge and managed to land on the other side, injuring his leg in the process. Others of his tribe attempted to leap the chasm but were unsuccessful and plunged to their death onto the rocks in the abyss below while others simply surrendered and became prisoners of the Mohegans.

When the pursuing Uncas arrived at the top of the gorge and saw his enemy hobbling away on the other side, he took a running start, flew over the rapids, and landed safely on the other side. It was an astounding leap that gave the area above the falls its future name and allowed Uncas to catch up to the injured Miantonomo who was then easily overcome and taken as prisoner.

There’s more at this link: www.thedistractedwanderer.com/2013/02/the-tale-of-indian-leap-at-yantic-falls.html, along with some very beautiful photos. You should totally check it out!

Old Power House

Old Power House

There’s much more here than just the falls, however. This is the beginning of the 2-mile Heritage Trail, which in turn is only part of a network of designated “trails” through the city.

Trail Signage

Trail Signage

Well this only piqued my interest, so I did some more exploring on the intertoobs, and found this site, Walk Norwich, which includes a Google map of the many designated trails.

Norwich Trails

Norwich Trails (click image to go to the actual web page)

I’ve put a nice walk together, on paper, by linking the various trails. Now to find time to actually go walk it… In the meantime, here are a couple more photos from my scouting trip.

Railroad Bridge

Railroad Bridge

Not actually part of the designated trail! And it looks as if it’s still in use, so if you decide to go rogue and walk along the tracks, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Another view of the Falls

Another view of the Falls

An Update from the AMC

Posted By on August 13, 2016

An Update from the AMC

Yes, I know, it’s a very rare non-hiking-report post. I’ve posted about this before, but I thought this information was important to share again.

Picnic Pavilion (Photo courtesy "HikinginRI", used with permission)

Picnic Pavilion (Photo courtesy “HikinginRI”, used with permission)

I recently received a note from Kerry Robinson of the Narragansett Chapter of the AMC about the former picnic grove and backpacking site in Arcadia, off the Tippecansett Trail near Stepstone Falls:

We’re very close to commencing the on-site portion of the old Arcadia CCC Pavilion restoration project.  The main framing of the structure has been being prepared off-site, in Wickford, over the past several months and will be assembled, post and beam fashion (just as the original was), on-site in Arcadia, in the coming weeks.  The lumber is being milled by DEM and the last of it should be arriving to us shortly!
 
The AMC will be posting the on-site work-days as soon as we get word that the balance of the lumber is done.  If you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering on the project, please let me know…the more the merrier!
 
If you’ve been out to the area recently, you may have also noticed that the old pump house is also underway in its restoration and the DEM is finishing up new bathrooms out there, as well.  Hopefully, the new & improved “picnic area” will be respected by visitors…(one can hope, anyway!)
 
Another effort we’ll be working on, with the help of DEM, you and anyone else I can get to spread the word, is the references to the structure as a “Picnic Pavilion”.  As you know, on many websites, publications, etc., it is referred to, inaccurately, as a “shelter”.  Its intended use is and always has been as a “picnic pavilion”.  We are going to make a concerted effort to re-sign the area, directing campers to appropriate “camp sites” and indicating the “rules & regulations” of the usage of the Pavilion, in an effort to keep inappropriate usage – and potential vandalism, etc. – to a minimum.   Any help we can get in spreading the word is greatly appreciated – and I very much appreciate you taking the time to do so, yourself, on your site!
 
Hopefully, the renewed attention the site has will spill over into renewed education and appreciation for what it was the CCC originally built out there, in the “picnic grove” it once was. 
I am told, now, that work is underway at the site as i type this, on Saturday, August 13. They have plenty of volunteers for today’s work party, but can always use more for future work parties. If you are interested in joining them, you can contact Kerry directly at ker42@hotmail.com.
old ccc picnic pavilion

Old CCC Picnic Pavilion under Re-Construction

And remember: it’s a Picnic Pavilion, not a shelter! Tell everyone you know.

Poquetanuck Cove Preserve

Posted By on August 6, 2016

Poquetanuck Cove Preserve

2.06 miles; Ledyard, CT

On the drive to the Avery Preserve hike I passed a sign for this preserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy of Connecticut. Both because the first hike was so short and because I am constitutionally unable to pass by a trailhead without at least checking it out, a friend and I decided to explore it.

Preserve Trailhead Sign

Preserve Trailhead Sign

There are so many rules!

Also, there were SO VERY MANY GNATS. So very, very many… It was quite maddening to have the little bastiches constantly flying into your nose, ears, eyes, and mouth. Thank heaven they weren’t the biting kind of gnats.

My friend and were also tormented by the ridiculously high humidity (Is it possible for it to be higher than 100% without actually raining? Because that’s what it felt like.) and the heat. So yes, I would like some cheese with that whine, thanks for asking.

That aside, I really liked, or I should say, I would have liked this hike a lot. It’s not long but the terrain is quite varied, and the woods are very open. We also passed through a small stretch where there had been a fire, but it had to have been a while ago, as there wasn’t even any burned smell.

Poquetanuck Cove

Poquetanuck Cove

And as the name promised, you do eventually come out to Poquetanuck Cove, which is a long cove off the Thames River. There is also some great kayaking to be had on this cove, but be sure to come during high tide, as it’s very shallow, and during low tide you’re likely to get stuck.

The trail is a lollipop loop, although you won’t find a trail map at the Nature Conservancy website, as usual, although you can go to the “Comments” tab on that web page where some kind soul has posted a gps track. Also, you will see that TNC is “currently creating maps for a dozen of our preserves in Connecticut, including Poquetanuck Cove Preserve. We should have those ready in a month or two.” This reply is dated 2 years ago. Breath not being held.

Avery Preserve

Posted By on August 6, 2016

Avery Preserve

2.2 miles; Ledyard, CT

This hike was a guided hike sponsored by the Avalonia Land Conservancy. Which, by the way, was named after the prehistoric microcontinent of Avalon, parts of which can be found in Great Britain, the Maritime provinces of Canada, northern Maine, all of Rhode Island, and parts of coastal Connecticut. That’s all the prehistoric geology you’re getting from me today, but feel free to google it.

The Avery Preserve is a small tract of land in Ledyard, Connecticut, and it is on both the east and west sides of Avery Hill Road. Our hike today explored the west tract.

Sheep Wash Pen

Sheep Wash Pen

The interesting stone construction, above, was described to us as a sheep wash pen. This is where farmers would wash down the sheep before sheering the wool. It was on the margins of a creek which was very low due to our local drought conditions, so it was kind of hard to imagine how it worked. But I guess there are historical records which confirm its use.

False Solomon's Seal Berries

False Solomon’s Seal Berries

The Avery Preserve is a very nice, and very diverse property, with lots of ferns and other interesting wild plants. We saw New York ferns, Christmas ferns, Hay-Scented ferns and, in the damper areas, Royal fern. We also saw Tulip trees, False Solomon’s Seal and Downy Rattlesnake Plantain, which, contrary to its name, is neither a snake nor a plantain, but a wild orchid. The berries of the False Solomon’s Seal pictured above, are not ripe. They turn bright red when they ripen, and I am told they are edible. Your mileage may vary.

We were led on our walk today by the lovely Amanda of the Avalonia Conservancy and my friend Bruce Fellman, and I can’t tell you often enough to go check out Bruce’s excellent blog. Go check out his blog at brucefellman.zenfolio.com/blog.

You can find out more about this property and download a trail map at the Avalonia Land Conservancy’s website.

Cornell Farm and Frank Knowles-Little River Reserve

Posted By on July 24, 2016

Cornell Farm and Frank Knowles-Little River Reserve

5.2 miles; South Dartmouth, MA

I decided to check this place out after seeing a post about it on my friend’s blog, Trails & Walks in RI. And am I glad I did. This is not only a very beautiful place, and a nice long trail system, but the suspension bridge is the most fun I’ve ever had on a hiking trail. What a hoot!

Salt Marsh

Salt Marsh

The trailhead we (my sister-in-law and I) chose to start from was the Smith Neck Road trailhead at Cornell Farm—a working farm and agricultural education center. This is also where to find the hiking trail which takes you first through some fields and then across the salt marsh at the head of Little River. It’s a stunning view.

Boardwalk Across the Marsh

Boardwalk Across the Marsh

There are not one but two long boardwalks across the salt marsh. The views go for a half mile south across the marsh, and they are wonderful. There are even benches for resting at the halfway point on both boardwalks.

Suspension Bridge

Suspension Bridge

But the absolute highlight of this hike is the suspension bridge. It’s unnerving to walk on at first until you get a rhythm going, particularly if you’re not the only one walking on a stretch. So. Much. Fun. The bridge is 200 feet long, with a viewing platform in the middle, and it takes you for a bird’s eye view of a red maple swamp.

Car-cass

Car-cass

The remainder of the hike was your normal southern New England walk through second growth oak and beech woods, peppered with the usual massive stone barn foundations and stone walls, cellarholes, and the odd rusting hulk. It was anti-climactic compared to the beginning. We were able to re-trace our steps over the bridge and boardwalks, though, as we walked a lollipop loop to and from the parking area on Smith Neck Road.

This hike is on two combined properties, one owned by the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust and the other owned by the Trustees of the Reservations. There is more information on this property, plus a link to a trail map, on this DNRT page. You can read more about Cornell Farm, which is where we began our hike, on this Trustees page.