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
January 2015 53.90 25h 28m 4738
Year-to-Date 53.90 25h 28m 4738
January Avg. 31.96 14h 15m 3019

The Grills

Posted By on January 25, 2015

The Grills

3.37 miles; westerly, ri

there is something in me that just doesn’t want to go out in the snow. just. doesn’t. want. so it’s like pulling teeth to get me out. once i’m out, it’s never as bad as i think it’s going to be, and i’m always glad i did. just hard to motivate.

i did the grills backwards today from the way i usually do it, to add interest—forgetting that there’s one BIG ASS hill climb up from the railroad tracks on the yellow trail going in that direction. oh well. it got me nice and warm.

icy kedinker island

icy kedinker island

you can find the grills in the hikefindertrailheadtrail map

Vin Gormley Trail

Posted By on January 21, 2015

Vin Gormley Trail

7.13 miles; charlestown, ri

today was a usual suspects hike—and fidget, who i guess is now one of the usual suspects. it was a nice, if cold day, with lots of sun. we saw noone else on the whole trail. we did it as a car spot to skip the road walking, just because we could.

i'm ready for my close-up, mr. demille

i’m ready for my close-up, mr. demille

here’s fidget on the “rock climbing portion” of the trail. game little thing! and a very good hiking companion.

you can find the vin gormley trail in the hikefindertrailhead, sorry, no trail map available online and haven’t made an “auntie” map yet. watch this space for updates.

Green Fall Gorge

Posted By on January 20, 2015

Green Fall Gorge

3.7 miles; voluntown, ct

this was a nice short, local hike, since, as usual, i have a zillion things to do today.

ice free

ice free

the gorge was surprisingly ice-free.

river crossing

river crossing

the green fall river was chugging along nicely, though, making the river crossing “interesting.”

dinosaur cave skating rink

dinosaur cave skating rink

in fact, the only major ice i encountered was at the base of the big rock formation called dinosaur caves. i made the unusually, even for me, poor hiking decision  not to climb the rocks but go around them, forgetting that this side trail is somewhat damp at the best of times. today, i literally had to make my way across sheet ice. duh.

sluice cairn?

sluice cairn?

you can find this hike in the hikefinder. i just noticed that the sluice cairn is actually marked and labeled on google maps! there is a good photo of the cairn on a previous post about the gorge, and david brierley, over at “story of the yawgoog trails,” has a very nifty old photo of the sluice cairn with the sluice still on it. i encourage everyone, by the way, to explore david’s site. it’s very cool.

this time i parked on green fall road near the narragansett trail and did the demanding part (the gorge itself) first, saving the boring 1-mile-plus road part until the end. also, that last mile is almost all downhill. this is the way to do this hike, for sure. just remember to bite the bullet and climb the rocks at dinosaur caves! trailheadtrail map

Hoffman Evergreen Preserve

Posted By on January 19, 2015

Hoffman Evergreen Preserve

3.2 miles; stonington, ct

it’s been ages since i’ve been on this avalonia property (okay, a little under 2 years), and i never really walked the whole thing. so today i did that. it’s really pretty easy walking, except for the blue loop at the very northern end, which is rocky and has a few moderate hills. it’s a pretty place.

the trail

the trail

true to its name, the hoffman evergreen preserve is mostly hemlocks and white pines, which is a nice change. there are also some beech trees, a couple of which are pretty large.

icy

icy

the trail itself was almost entirely ice-free. this spot crosses a pretty active little brook, and there was still a lot of ice. i almost had to turn back, but there were a couple of ice-free stepping stones, so i soldiered on.

pine circle lean-to

pine circle lean-to

there’s one spot on the blue trail that is labeled “pine circle.” this lean-to was constructed in the middle of it. hm.

you can find this hike in the hikefindertrailheadtrail map

Quinnebaug Trail

Posted By on January 17, 2015

Quinnebaug Trail

4.76 miles; plainfield, ct

naively thought i’d knock off another blue-blazed trail today, the quinnebaug. i’ve hiked most of it already, i just needed that last bit from flat rock road out to route 14a in sterling. it looked to be about 2-1/2 to 3 miles. “piece of cake,” i thought. “nice way to spend saturday morning.” ha.

great swamp press map

great swamp press map

here’s the area i was planning on hiking. the hubs has already been through here, and he reported a lot of major motorized vehicle activity, which i might have guessed myself, judging by the fact the trail seemed to all be on woods roads. i parked on flat rock road, where the road becomes unpaved, and headed out.

it was very very bad footing for almost the entire trip. all those dirt roads? now sheets of ice. one of my brand new yak trax actually broke. the best part of the trail is at that intersection just below the 550-foot elevation mark near spaulding road (see the map above). it’s at this point that the blue-blazes turn off the roads and head into the woods.

ctfpa map

ctfpa map

the connecticut forest and park association map shows the quinnebaug trail ending at spaulding road, but not so! when i got to spaulding road, i saw more blue blazes directly across from me heading back into the woods.

at this point i had been on the trail for an hour and a half, slowly slogging over icy roads filled with rocks, and it was getting late. i had other things i needed to do.  my traction device was busted. it was cold. how cold was it? too cold to take pictures. OKAY, OKAY! i wimped out.

i took the road back to my car instead of going into the woods to finish. i am so ashamed. too ashamed to add this hike to the hikefindertrailheadtrail map

Be Smart About Ticks

Posted By on January 16, 2015

Be Smart About Ticks

yes, a rare non-hiking post. and a long one, apologies. but i wouldn’t blather on like this if it wasn’t really important.

as you might know, or perhaps not, i am a uri master gardener, and have been since 1990. part of being a master gardener in good standing is to accumulate at least 20 hours per year of continuing education, as defined by the master gardener association. well, it’s a new year, so time to start learning stuff again.

a friend and i recently attended a seminar at the university of rhode island called “ticksmart.” i thought i knew a lot about ticks, but i was wrong. ha! i guess continuing education is a good thing. hoocoodanode.

white-tailed deer (public domain image)

white-tailed deer (public domain image)

FUN TICK FACT #1: one white-tailed deer can be responsible for generating up to a half-million ticks per year. that’s a lot of ticks. see, each female tick that attaches to a deer—and deer get a crap-ton of ticks—makes 2,000 to 3,000 eggs. if a deer gets, say, 166 female ticks, a not-inconceivable amount, those ticks can then make as many as 500,000 eggs.

this tick id chart can be found at http://www.tickencounter.org/tick_identification

this tick id chart can be found at http://www.tickencounter.org/tick_identification

FUN TICK FACT #2: here is a partial list of diseases you can get from the 4 tick species that are most common here in new england…

  • Lyme Disease
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Tick Paralysis
  • Tick-borne Relapsing Fever
  • Tularemia
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

the best part? you can get more than one of these at the same time.

so when are ticks active, and do you need to worry about ticks in the wintertime?

FUN TICK FACT #3: ticks can survive freezing. and washing in the washing machine with chlorine bleach and hot water. the professor who gave the seminar, dr. thomas mather, spoke of experiments he’d performed with ticks under both those conditions. frozen deer ticks became un-frozen and active in a matter of seconds upon thawing out. and ticks tied into a sock and run through a bleach wash with hot water came through just fine. if you want to make sure your clothes are tick-free upon returning home from hiking or coming inside from working in the yard, dry them in the dryer for 10 minutes on high heat first before washing them. ticks might laugh at cold and giggle at hot water, but they can’t take dry heat.

FUN TICK FACT #4: you can get deer ticks any time of the year. there are seasons in which you are more likely to have nymphs crawling up your leg, and seasons in which you are more likely to encounter adult ticks, but deer ticks have a 2-year life cycle, so there are always some around. always.

by now you’re probably saying, “AUUGGHHH!!!! NO MORE TICK FACTS, AUNTIE! THEY’RE NOT FUN! NO MORE!” i can dig that. now i’m going to tell you what you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your pets.

i-s_logo

1. TREAT YOUR CLOTHES. there are two ways to go about this: a) you can send your clothes to the InsectShield™ people. here is a link to a form you can use. this is fairly inexpensive—$10 per item—and fairly quick, about a 1 week turnaround. this treatment uses permethrin, an insecticide, and once treated, the clothes can go through 70 washings before needing re-treatment. it is safe for both humans and pets, but it kills ticks within minutes of contact. kills them. dead. b) you can treat your clothes and shoes yourself with a permethrin spray, which you can buy at any outdoor supply store or hunting supply store. i get mine at ure outfitters in hope valley. it’s the same stuff insect shield uses, but a lower concentration. and if you have cats, try and keep them away from the clothes/shoes while the spray is still wet. once dried, it’s safe for cats, too. this will protect your clothing through about 6 washings. it’s around $6.00-$7.00 per can, and treats several articles of clothing. you can probably find the same thing on amazon.com or any other internet supplier of stuff. same result for the ticks, too. dead. dead, dead, dead.

perimeter spray

perimeter spray

2. PROTECT YOUR YARD. there are a zillion different kinds of tick treatments for your yard, but you should know that not too many of them work very well. again, dr. mather tested all the various sprays/treatments on the market, and found that products containing bifenthrin and permethrin work the best. the tick encounter website has much more information on this, but it really only takes 1-2 treatments sprayed around the perimeter of your yard to protect you and your pets almost completely for a year. srsly. a year later, dr. mather found NO ticks on many of the treated properties.

3. PROTECT YOUR PETS. there are dog breeds that can suffer pretty badly from lyme disease. and even if they don’t attach, ticks can get picked up and fall off your dog or your cat and onto your carpets, bedding, and children. dr. mather highly recommended seresto collars for both dogs and cats, because they kill ticks before they attach. the internal-use products, like frontline, need to have the tick attach and start feeding for them to be effective. and they don’t do anything at all for ticks that don’t attach but just come along for the ride.

and finally (i know, right???), i’m going to send you to dr. mather’s tick encounter resource center website. there you will find lots more yucky detail about tick id, tick disease prevention, tick protection, etc. please, please, please take this seriously. lyme disease (not to mention the many other nasty bugs) can be a debilitating life-long chronic illness. it’s totally not worth taking a chance with.