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
November 2014 79.12 39h 35m 7492
Year-to-Date 439.8 242h 7m 47015
November 2013 12.61 6h 55m 1858
November 2012 51.10 25h 16m 5324

Queen’s Fort

Posted By on November 22, 2014

Queen's Fort

exeter, ri

this doesn’t really qualify as a hike, per se. it’s just an interesting little property near fisherville brook (see below) that i decided to visit while i was in the area. i got this description from a geocaching website:

In 1675, a friendly indian reported to English colonists that Wampanoag sachem Metacom (also known as King Philip) was planning to exterminate the colonists. Metacom had the informer killed, and the colonists tried and executed his killers. These incidents soon blossomed into the short but brutal conflict known as King Philip’s War.

On Sunday December 19, 1675, a large body of English colonists, aided by a few hundred friendly Indians, attacked an island fortress village in Rhode Island’s Great Swamp. In this village were several hundred Wampanoag women and children, who were under the protection of the neutral Narragansett tribe. The battle that took place, known as the Great Swamp Fight, marked the defeat of the Narragansetts.

A few survivors joined other tribes in CT and western RI. Others apparently retreated to a stronghold on the borderline between the modern towns of North Kingstown and Exeter. Here they rallied around their queen, Quaiapen. Although only a few miles from an English fort, Quaiapen’s band held out for the rest of the war in this natural hilltop fortress formed by an ancient glacial moraine. The site was not discovered by the English until after the war, when Quaiapen’s band had moved to Connecticut, where they met their final fate.

Early histories of the area claim that Quaipen lived in an underground cavern that was very well hidden. Perhaps, as you search for this cache, you will discover it.

Drive west on Stony Lane to just west of the intersection with Narrow Lane. Look for a dirt road leading into the woods at N41 35.564 W71 31.273. You can park on Stony Lane, or if you have 4WD, venture into the woods on the dirt road. This is state property. There are at least two paths that lead up the hill from the dirt road to the remarkable hilltop redoubt. Be sure to take some time to explore this fascinating area.

um, i didn’t really find a dirt road, exactly, but i did find a barely-discernible track that might have been a dirt road, once. again, as in the post below, this entire site was covered to ankle depth in leaves, so paths and dirt roads were really hard to guess at.

lots of rocks

lots of rocks

there sure were lots of boulders all through here, and had it not been for the leaves, i might have stayed to explore more, and maybe look for the mysterious cavern mentioned above. but the footing was tricky, so i poked around for maybe 10 minutes and called it a day.

rock wall

rock wall

one of the other bits of lore about this site that i found on the intertubes mentioned that the queen had with her a man who was renowned as a mason, so i looked for some rock work and this is what i found. it’s not anything special, but it is on the top of a hill and overlooks the small valley, so maybe this is the spot?

tree carvings

tree carvings

there were a lot of beech trees on this property, and i’m guessing this has been a popular site for a lot of years, as the poor trees bore witness to hundreds of carvings. i was able to make this one out, “1923,” and saw another one that was dated 1954.

i have not added queen’s fort to the hikefinder, as it’s not really a hike. you can copy the coordinates above and paste them into google maps if you want to visit here.

Fisherville Brook

Posted By on November 22, 2014

Fisherville Brook

3.37 miles; exeter, ri

i know i’ve been here at least 3 or 4 other times, but i actually had to go back and read what i said about it to see what i thought. i apparently enjoyed it a lot those other times… not so much this time. there was a relentless ankle-deep carpet of leaves all over the trail, making slogging along noisy and a bit treacherous. and since these woods are so open, with hardly any undergrowth, it made the trail hard to see. thank heaven it was well blazed.

oh look! a bench!

oh look! a bench!

this is the bench-happiest place i have ever walked. i must have gone by a dozen. it seemed as if there was one every quarter mile or so. do people really get that tired hiking under 3-1/2 miles? really?

beaver activity

beaver activity

this little body of water is called “upper pond.” lots of beaver activity, though i imagine that right now they’re all snug in their lodges. there was a skim of ice on the surface of the water.

fields

fields

this property kind of skirts along the edges of several large fields. it makes for a welcome change from the endless sea of leaves.

you can find fisherville brook in the hikefinder.

Dragonfly Update

Posted By on November 21, 2014

Dragonfly Update

so remember this guy from wednesday’s hike?

common green darner

common green darner

i asked my friend bruce fellman about him. bruce is a naturalist who has a particular passion for dragonflies. here is what he told me:

“…it’s a Common Green Darner (Anax junius) and one of our most abundant large odonates, particularly in the late summer/early fall, when they form enormous feeding swarms just before they head out, en masse, on a one-way-trip south in a migration similar to that undertaken by the Monarch butterfly. In fact, if you get down to Napatree in September and October, you can sometimes see butterflies and dragonflies traveling down the beach together. No one really knows exactly where the Common Greens go, but the best guess is at least to the mid-Atlantic states, where they lay their eggs and, later, die; it’s the kids who’ll be coming back to our area, starting in mid-to-late May. There’s also local breeding here, too, but the earliest Common Greens are always individuals who were born in more southern areas and flew up here.

“The one you found is probably one of the last of the year, and a surprise to me, since I haven’t seen a Common Green in our area since the beginning of the month. I had figured they had called it a year. This one, alas, overstayed his welcome and called it a lifetime.”

i love that i know somebody who can answer these kinds of inquiries! thanks bruce!

by the way, if you’re not following bruce’s blog, you should be. he’s a fantastic photographer and a fascinating writer about the natural world.

Vin Gormley Trail

Posted By on November 21, 2014

Vin Gormley Trail

7.88 miles; charlestown, ri

today felt like a good day to get in a long hike, and i’m glad i did, although that last mile was COOOOLLLLDD with the wind whipping across wachaug pond. not much to say about the vin gormley that i haven’t said before. i do love this hike, especially if you do the boring road mile at the beginning instead of the end.

covered bridge

covered bridge

it was nice to see some actual water in the perry healy brook again. i guess we’re still technically in a drought, but we’ve had some decent rains recently, so there is some water around.

you can find the vin gormley trail in the hikefinder.

DuVal Trail

Posted By on November 19, 2014

DuVal Trail

5.05 miles; south kingstown, ri

i just felt like some hill work was in order today, and also wanted to follow the blue-blazed trail as far as i could. i did both, and the hills weren’t as bad as i remember. turns out the complete “out-and-back” on the blue trail is 5 miles even. i have updated the map that is on the hikefinder page under duval trail. it now includes mileages on each of the segments of this south kingstown land trust trail.

old quaker cemetery

old quaker cemetery

i don’t think i’ve ever talked about the old quaker cemetery that is an alternate start to this trail. the actual blue-blazed trail starts a little further to the west, but there is an unblazed trail that goes right through here. it’s kind of peaceful and beautiful in its way.

red house road trail head

red house road trail head

the blue-blazed duval trail winds up at the intersection of sand hill trail, red house road, and l’ahinch road, and the trail head here isn’t too obvious. this sign, set back a ways from the road, is the only indicator that there’s a trail here.

yeah, that's why i took this picture

yeah, that’s why i took this picture

okay, a butt, right? can’t believe i never noticed this before…

dragonfly

dragonfly

and i found this perfectly preserved dragonfly body on the trail. had to take him home. isn’t he beautiful? his wingspan is over 4-1/4″. big sucker.

you can find the new duval trail map, as well as the trail head, on the hikefinder.

Wahaneeta Preserve and Woody Hill WMA

Posted By on November 18, 2014

Wahaneeta Preserve and Woody Hill WMA

3.81 miles; westerly, ri

i decided to pay a visit to a new (to me, anyway) westerly land trust property, the wahaneeta preserve. this is an old girl scout camp, and still has some of the infrastructure remaining from that time, including some cool fireplaces and a lodge. and it looks as though the westerly land trust folks are putting in brand-new bathrooms! in fact, i ran into some folks who were just leaving after putting in a morning’s work on the property, and i’m glad i did, because one of the very nice gentlemen i met told me about another trail leading from the westerly land trust property onto woody hill wildlife management area.

old lodge

old lodge

but not to get ahead of myself, here is the old girl scout lodge. it looks like it’s being well maintained. i decided to follow the perimeter trail from here until i got to the spot that leads off onto woody hill. the wahaneeta preserve itself is really kind of small, so it would hardly have made a decent hike by itself.

nooner tree

nooner tree

this land trust property is very well maintained and blazed. as i followed the perimeter trail i came upon this really massive old tree, and thought it must have been a “nooner” tree; i.e., a spot for livestock pastured here to hang out to avoid the noon-day sun, so it was likely pretty old.

tree plaque

tree plaque

sure enough, as i rounded the tree, i saw this plaque which means it’s registered as a significant tree. nothing to indicate its age.

blue blazes

blue blazes

don’t know who is responsible for clearing and blazing this trail, but it’s a sweet one! woody hill is absolutely lousy with stone walls and old foundations. you come across a big complex of cellar holes almost as soon as you leave the land trust land and enter the management area.

old, uh, thing

old, uh, thing

there’s even the occasional old, uh, thingy left here and there. i have no idea what this was part of. an old stove maybe?

huge swath of club moss

huge swath of club moss

botanically speaking, woody hill is interesting too. that complex of old cellar holes i mentioned is in the midst of a big grove of red cedar. you usually don’t see so many or such old ones, as they’re a pretty transitory species which quickly get overwhelmed by their more robust cousins, white pines, and then the deciduous trees follow. cedars need a lot of sun, so they usually don’t survive very well in forests. and in another area there was one of the biggest areas of club moss i’ve ever seen in one place. and they were all “candling,” or sprouting new growth. pretty cool.

curly tree

curly tree

the blue dotted trail ended at an old dirt road, which i found out later is woody hill road. not really knowing where i was or what was around, i just kind of decided to follow woody hill road for a while. the fellow at the parking area told me that i’d be better off just backtracking on the blue dot trail, as there isn’t a clearly marked loop. but i wanted to see a bit more of woody hill, so i kept walking north. this old tree was pretty interesting!

eventually i made a left turn where there was obviously and old track or road, and came upon another vast old cellar hole, this time surrounded by a big grove of tamarack trees which were all shedding their needles. it was raining yellow needles! and the trail was soft with them. you can kind of see the tamaracks in the background of the above photo (the yellow trees). the left turn i took isn’t far from this curly tree.

fungus

fungus

as i walked along beside the old foundation on the track i’d turned off onto, i noticed that it seemed to be flagged with yellow tape. hm. i checked the gps, and it looked as though it was headed back towards the blue dot trail, so i decided to follow it, and sure enough, it hooked back up with the blue dots, making a nice little loop. i’m guessing there will be further blazing in the future through here.

all in all, i have to say that this little taste of woody hill just made me want to come back and explore some more. i don’t usually like to go places that don’t have good maps, but this property is just too cool, and i may break my rule and just wander about.

i have added this hike to the hikefinder, but i cheated on the map. i just kind of pasted in the westerly land trust map and added it the bit with the blue dot trail.