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
July 2016 13.2 6h 11m 1212
Year-to-Date 180.84 92h 15m 16757
July Avg. 47.44 24h 11m 5591

The Sky’s The Limit Challenge, Hike 10—Collis P. Huntington SP

Posted By on July 11, 2016

The Sky's The Limit Challenge, Hike 10—Collis P. Huntington SP

3.4 miles; Redding, CT

Our last stop on our odyssey out to the far western reaches of Connecticut took us to the Collis P. Huntington State Park. This leaves us with only 4 more hikes to go to complete the Sky’s the Limit Challenge. I am so psyched!

This isn’t a long trail, as you can see from the mileage above. Or at least, the version of it we did wasn’t that long—if you check out the park map, you could definitely do a lot more mileage. But we were a little beat, as we had hiked the Henry Buck Trail earlier that day.

Wolf Statue

Wolf Statue

The first thing you see when you enter this park are two stunning statues, one of bears and this one, of wolves. They were sculpted by one of the last private owners of this land, Anna Hyatt Huntington. You can find out more about Mrs. Huntington on the park website. I won’t retype the CT DEEP information on this park—please take a few minutes and go visit. It’s got a fascinating history. Go ahead; I’ll wait.

Weirdly Split Rock

Weirdly Split Rock

Hi again, glad you’re back. Pretty cool, huh?

The park had some other interesting sights, as well. This particular split rock was marked on the map as a “Geologic Feature.” Um, yeah… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rock that split so cleanly. And to add to the weirdness, this wasn’t the only one, just the biggest one. There were 3 or 4 other rocks near here that looked just like that, with that clean, flat surface. I’d love for some geologist to weigh in on what could have caused it.

Selfie Spot Guarded

Selfie Spot Guarded

When we got to the designated selfie spot on this hike, we decided that close enough was, um, close enough. These geese we so not moving. And they are pretty darned big birds when you get that close, and they start doing a kind of bobbing thing with their heads and giving you the stink-eye. Yeah, we took our pics a little bit further away…

Pretty Pond View

Pretty Pond View

If you really did go read the website, you’ll know that there are five man-made ponds on this property. This is the East Lagoon. I’m not sure if this is the one with the sunken paddlewheel. “Paddlewheel?” you’re thinking. Ha! You didn’t go read the website, did you? Dude, go read the website.

Lighthouse

Lighthouse

And here is the little lighthouse. You know what I’m talking about. Since you read the website and all.

So that was our third hike in two days, and we were pretty beat at the end. It was hot, too. Not oppressively, but still. We decided that since there are still 2 more hikes out here on Connecticut’s western frontier, we’d plan another overnight trip for early this fall to finish off the Challenge. In the meantime, there are still two more to do on our end of the state. Stay tuned!

The Sky’s The Limit Challenge, Hike 9—Henry Buck Trail

Posted By on July 11, 2016

The Sky's The Limit Challenge, Hike 9—Henry Buck Trail

4.3 miles; Barkhamsted, CT

As I mentioned in the previous post, I inadvertently did this Challenge hike about 3 weeks earlier, so it came as no surprise. But then again, it was kind of fun to see it again so soon and to show it to my hiking partner Stacy.

Same Trailhead, New Selfie

Same Trailhead, New Selfie

Do I look sheepish here? That’s kind of how I felt.

View from the Second Selfie Spot

View from the Second Selfie Spot

This is the view from the second selfie spot on the trail, the very bench and plaque on the cliff face that I remarked on last month. Who knew? Well, I suppose I could have known had I, you know, looked on the Sky’s the Limit Challenge Hike’s website. Note to self: do that next time!

Stacy the Mountain Goat

Stacy the Mountain Goat

And Stacy is, in fact, part mountain goat apparently. At least she got a lot closer to the plaque than I did.

The Sky’s The Limit Challenge, Hike 8—Windsor Locks Canal SP

Posted By on July 10, 2016

The Sky's The Limit Challenge, Hike 8—Windsor Locks Canal SP

5.5 miles; Windsor Locks, CT

Although I now live in Connecticut, I grew up in Rhode Island, and as a Rhode Islander, I have this ingrained idea that any trip longer than about 20 minutes, you should pack a lunch. Anything over 2 hours, plan to stay overnight.

Some of the DEEP hikes are pretty far from home—definitely over 2 hours away. So my hiking partner and I decided to do 2 or 3 of the further flung challenge hikes at once on an overnight trip. And we picked, of all places, the campground at the American Legion State Forest, because, as it turns out, that hike I did less than 3 weeks ago? Actually one of the Sky’s the Limit Challenge hikes. D’OH!

Cabin

Cabin

And rather than pitching a tent, we opted for one of the 6 cabins at the campground. This turned out to be a great choice! These cabins are practically brand-new (in their 2nd year of use), comfortable and bug-free. They have 2 bedrooms. They have electricity. There’s a double-bed in the front room, along with a dining table, and 4 bunk beds in the back room. The mattresses are firm, if sort of thin, foam, covered in vinyl. And the cost was only $50 for the night, which, naturally, we split. Pretty good price for an overnight! I highly recommend them.

But before we got to the campground, we opted to do the 2nd of the 14 hikes that was labeled “easy,” Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail.

The Trail

The Trail

Yup. Pretty easy… straight and flat. The paved trail follows the towpath of the canal, and it parallels the Connecticut River. We saw lots of birds—herons, ducks, geese, swallows… unfortunately, no bald eagles, although they are quite well-established all along the river.

Tobacco Barn

Tobacco Barn

We also got a good view of one of Connecticut’s many tobacco barns. The history of tobacco in Connecticut is a long and interesting one, which I won’t recount here, but if you’re into it, you can check out this Wikipedia article. On the way out of the park we saw a field newly-planted with a crop I didn’t recognize until I realized it must be tobacco.

Nest

Nest

Speaking of birds, we also saw this cool little nest right beside the trail. And we got our official trail selfies at one of the canal locks which, I presume, Windsor Locks was named for.

Saville Dam

Saville Dam

Once we finished this quick and easy hike, we headed for the campground, and along the way stopped to sightsee at the Saville Dam which forms the Barkhamsted Reservoir—the drinking water supply for Hartford. There is no public access to the roads surrounding the reservoir, as my hubs found out when he tried to cycle there a few weeks ago. I’m guessing this lovely structure is the pump house?

West Branch of the Farmington River

West Branch of the Farmington River

Another nice feature of the cabin we were in was that there were paths down to the river which ran right behind it. Stacy braved the water and did a little wading, but I didn’t bring swim shoes. Yeah, I’ll stick with that story. No swim shoes.

The Sky’s The Limit Challenge, Hike 7—Mansfield Hollow SP

Posted By on June 27, 2016

The Sky's The Limit Challenge, Hike 7—Mansfield Hollow SP

7 miles; Mansfield, CT

We are officially half-way through the 14-hike DEEP Challenge! This was a great hike on a very interesting property. We started from the same place I started from the last time I hiked here, back in October 0f 2014. But this time I didn’t get lost and my cellphone didn’t die, both of which happened last time. So progress!

Selfie Spot #2

Selfie Spot #2

This is a pretty long trail, and I had just walked the 7+ mile Arcadia Trail 2 days before. That said, I felt great. It’s always so nice when your legs finally get used to long hikes. It’s also a pretty interesting place (see my older post, above), and it was fun to show my hiking partners, Stacy and Dallas the Dog, some of the sights.

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

There were still a lot of wildflowers around, but alas, not many mushrooms. I’m still looking forward to Black Trumpet season, which is not far away now.

Thread City Crossing

Thread City Crossing, a.k.a. Frog Bridge

 

Bouquet Carrier Crossing Ahead?

Bouquet Carrier Crossing Ahead?

On the way home, besides the famous Frog Bridge in Willimantic, I saw a couple of creatively-altered road signs. Not exactly sure what this one is trying to tell me…

You can find out more about Mansfield Hollow State Park on the CT DEEP website.

Arcadia Trail

Posted By on June 25, 2016

Arcadia Trail

7.5 miles; Richmond, RI

This was a car spot hike with the Providence County Hiking Club. It was a through-hike of the yellow-blazed Arcadia Trail in the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area. I’ve done it before with my “usual suspect” friends, but not in almost 4 years. Wow, I’ve been hiking for four years? And blogging about it? Sheesh.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get many photos. Hardly any photos. But then, it hasn’t changed too much in almost 4 years.

Stump Stabber

Stump Stabber

I did, however, grab this shot of this wicked cool bug. I had to send out a “help!” email to my friend Bruce for the i.d., as my research assistant Dr. Google let me down this time. But seriously, this is a cool bug. See this blog post Bruce sent me. And that name… Stump Stabber. Wow.

Henry Buck Trail, American Legion SF

Posted By on June 20, 2016

Henry Buck Trail, American Legion SF

4.7 miles; Barkhamsted, CT

So the hubs and I decided to give car camping a trial run. Neither of us grew up camping, although I was a Girl Scout and I guess his days as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne might sort of count… Anyway, we’re trying to plan a longer camping trip to Nova Scotia later in the summer, and wanted to try this whole “car camping thing” out.

For no special reason except that it was on my list of “hikes I’d like to do sometime,” I picked the American Legion State Forest in Barkhamsted. The campground seemed reassuringly small, yet did have flush toilets and showers. And there were a few intriguing-sounding trails within walking distance. I chose the Henry Buck Trail for my next day’s hike.

One of Two Trailheads

One of Two Trailheads

The mileage for this trail includes the road walking from the campground. The trail loops up from the road and back down again, so there are two trailheads. I decided to start from the farther trailhead so I’d have less road-walking to do at the end. And the sign was weirdly confusing—what’s with the extra “e?” And speaking of confusing, I kept calling it the Buck Henry Trail. Buck Henry? The SNL guy? SO not the guy who built the trail!

Steps

Steps

Oh, and the trail! It was pretty tough, lots of elevation changes. I think my gps said the total elevation change was over 600 feet in less than a mile. Okay, all you White Mountain hikers, laugh. It was plenty challenging for me. But still, for all that, it was a very beautiful trail.

Plaque

Plaque

There’s lots to see. There’s an old cellar hole from a cheese box mill. Yeah, you read that right, a cheese box mill. I have no idea. And a plaque on a cliff face opposite a lovely little bench at an overlook. I got as close as I could to the plaque, but you’d have to be part mountain goat to get within reading distance. I’m not part mountain goat. I think the plaque says something about Henry Buck, and the Civilian Conservation Corps who built the trail originally back in the 1930’s. You are welcome to go find the plaque and prove me wrong if you wish.

West Bank of the Farmington River

West Branch of the Farmington River

The road that this trail loops up and back from follows the east bank of the West Branch of the Farmington River, which has been designated a part of the federal Wild and Scenic River System. It’s apparently a big trout stream, too, because there were fly fishermen in waders like, every 10 feet. It really was a lovely spot, and more like someplace you expect to see in Vermont or New Hampshire than someplace about 45 minutes north of Hartford.

You can find out more about the American Legion State Forest, the Henry Buck Trail, and the Austin Hawes Campground at the Connecticut DEEP’s website. And my verdict on car camping? Mmmm…. jury’s still out.