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
September 2014 19.67 9h 28m 1777
Year-to-Date 295.64 162h 14m 33113
September 2013 .5 0h 30m 40
September 2012 36.18 15h 37m 3504

Pachaug SF, Hell Hollow Loop

Posted By on September 14, 2014

Pachaug SF, Hell Hollow Loop

8.6 miles, 2.3 mph; voluntown, ct

you may have noticed that my posting has not been as frequent as in the past. that’s because i am now working during the week, and can’t normally get out to hike. because of that, i’ve tried to do more mileage during the weekends. this hike was perhaps a bit of overkill, but i made it fine, probably because i’ve switched to a standing desk at work, so my legs are getting stronger even when i’m not hiking.

i also looked back on my previous hell hollow posts and noticed that i’ve rather evolved as a blogger and a hiker, and thought this part of the pachaug required a revisit.

the trail, at least at first

the trail, at least at first

this hike started from a parking area in the evocatively-named hell hollow part of the pachaug. it’s next to hell hollow pond, on hell hollow road. i picked up the blue-blazed pachaug trail from here and headed north, to the intersection with the yellow-blazed pachaug-quinebaug crossover trail, which i followed to its intersection with flat rock road.

old farm implements

old farm implements

someone made a little pile of rusted old bits of farm implements along here, attesting to the pachaug’s history as farmland.

lockes meadow pond "view"

lockes meadow pond “view”

i decided to make a further loop north from flat rock road to visit a pond i’ve never seen, called locke’s meadow pond. don’t know why i bothered, as because of the thick vegetation, there were virtually no views of the pond from the trail despite the fact that the trail hugged the shore. at the north edge of the pond, the trail became so confused with all the crossing and intersecting atv and dirt bike trails that instead of looping around on a footpath that was on the great swamp press map, i retraced my steps for a spell, until i was able to find the unblazed path i was looking for. it’s a mountain bike trail, and once i found it,  it was fairly easy to follow… just keep an eye out for the chain marks on the rocks in the trail. it eventually intersected back with flat rock road, and fortunately i didn’t miss the best part.

flat rock of flat rock road

flat rock of flat rock road

the flat rock of the name—a very long stretch of this old road follows a big old granite outcropping.

flat rock road "overlook"

flat rock road “overlook”

there’s even an overlook of sorts, which is much better when there are no leaves on the trees.

quinebaug trail

quinebaug trail

the blue-blazed quinebaug trail follows flat rock road for a stretch until it makes a turn south. most of this 1-1/4 mile stretch of the quinebaug north of hell hollow road is rocky and eroded, which makes for some very hard hiking. as a reminder, the trails of the pachaug state forest are multi-use, which means mountain bikes, horses, dirt bikes, and atvs are all allowed on all the trails in the forest. the motorized vehicles in particular wreak havoc with the trail surfaces. in fact, i saw all but atv traffic on my hike (one of the horses i saw was wearing little booties over his hooves).

the quinebaug gets much nicer once it crosses hell hollow road and heads towards phillips pond. it closely parallels the forest road “trail 1.”

phillips pond

phillips pond

there is a very pretty little picnic area at phillips pond, and in fact this would make a nice alternate parking spot for this hike. not to mention that you would be much less tempted to cut the hike short and head back to your car via hell hollow road itself. this was, indeed, a powerful temptation. but i persevered.

from phillips pond, you can take the red/blue-blazed north fork of the phillips pond trail to intersect with the blue-blazed pachaug trail, or you can take the white-blazed south fork of the phillips pond trail, which also intersects the pachaug, but further south. i chose the northern fork.

hell hollow pond

hell hollow pond

after four hours, i finally got back to my car at hell hollow pond. honestly, this was a really fun hike, and i’d highly recommend it as long as you can take the mileage. there’s lots to see and many different trail environments to enjoy.

i have added this hike to the hikefinder, and linked to my own map.

Preston Nature Preserve

Posted By on September 13, 2014

Preston Nature Preserve

1.6 miles, 1.6 mph; preston, ct

i took a leisurely stroll around this avalonia land conservancy property with some friends. this is one beautiful and unusual property. it mostly consists of fields full of wildflowers: milkweed, goldenrod, queen anne’s lace, lots of other things we couldn’t identify.

one of the fields

one of the fields

this place must be a haven for birds and dragonflies, i would love to see it at dawn or dusk.

milkweed

milkweed

i don’t know but i imagine we’ve missed the monarch migration. too bad, as this would be a great place to see them. i’ve never seen so much milkweed in one place before.

Scleroderma citrinum or common earthball

Scleroderma citrinum or common earthball

we also saw a good number of these guys… common earth balls. not edible by any means, but interesting. it’s a puffball relative, but unlike puffballs, who disperse their spores through holes in the top, these guys just disintegrate. they’re very tough and very black inside, as you can see.

i have added this hike to the hikefinder, and have linked to the avalonia conservancy map. it’s a rather sketchy, hand-drawn affair, and i really couldn’t relate our track to it.

Tillinghast Pond

Posted By on September 7, 2014

Tillinghast Pond

5.5 miles, 2.4 mph; west greenwich, ri

this past sunday i took a brisk walk around the perimeter of this nature conservancy property, clockwise, which is backwards from the way i’ve walked it before. it was a very nice day and a very good walk.

sign

sign

when you walk the perimeter of this property clockwise, you take the white-blazed pond trail to the orange-blazed coney brook trail, which crosses plain road. the first part of the coney brook trail is through an area that has been logged fairly recently, and it’s full of baby white pines.

quartz cat

quartz cat

someone got creative with bits of quartz by the trailside. i think it’s a cat. use your imagination.

berries

berries

i thought the jewel-like beauty of these berries was arresting, but they also made me a little melancholy, because ripe berries on brown foliage signals the end of summer. sigh. no avoiding it, i guess.

steep!

steep!

one advantage of walking this trail clockwise is the very steep descent to coney brook itself. if i had hiked my usual direction, i’d have had to climb these stairs. just sayin’. not far beyond this point you have to re-cross plain road and pick up the white-blazed pond trail again. i followed the pond trail to the yellow-blazed flintlock trail, and then back to my car.

bayberries

bayberries

there are stretches of the pond trail where you skirt the edge of several fields, and beside the trail on one of the fields there was a massive stand of bayberry bushes. the berries of this aromatic shrub are coated with a very thin layer of wax. in colonial times, these berries were harvested to make candles. it takes 6-8 pounds of these (tiny) berries to make 1 pound of wax, and a pound of wax will get you 4 4-ounce candles. not especially cost-effective, but i’m guessing free wax was free wax in colonial times.

wickaboxet loop trail sign

wickaboxet loop trail sign

finally, at about halfway through the flintlock trail, you come to the wickaboxet loop trail intersection (see my post from last week). had i had more time, i’d have continued on to the wickaboxet loop trail and added another, say 3+ miles. but it was sunday, after all, and the first patriots game was at 1:00, so i cut my walk a bit short.

you can find tillinghast pond in the hikefinder.

Wickaboxet Loop Trail

Posted By on September 1, 2014

Wickaboxet Loop Trail

4.25 miles, 2.5 mph; west greenwich, ri

i started this wildlife management area trail from a different spot today than either of the other 2 times i’ve hiked it, and it cut the mileage way down. i guess the other two trail entrances, one from pratt conservation area and one from tillinghast pond, each add a couple miles, because somehow i thought this trail was longer. anyway, it was gross outside… hot and humid, and i was just as happy it was only 4-1/4 miles!

the trail, with signage

the trail, with signage

even though wickaboxet is a state wildlife management area, i think this trail is blazed and maintained by the nature conservancy, because the blue blazes are that same “rgb” blue that we saw yesterday on frances carter. and the signage is excellent. it would make sense, because the wickaboxet loop includes a section of nature conservancy trail which is on tillinghast management area, a nature conservancy property. what i’m trying to say here is that the two properties are adjacent.

and they really really don't want you to go straight here

and they really really don’t want you to go straight here

highlights are a little blown out on this shot, but the little white sign on the post has two arrows, pointing left and right. and there’s a huge barricade of logs.

the ant mounds

the ant mounds

i am told these ant mounds were built and are populated by allegheny mound ants, and that the tunnels can extend up to 3 feet deep, and neighboring mounds can be interconnected. also, i understand that the ants are very aggressive if their mounds and disturbed and they will bite. neat. i gave them a wide berth.

accidental self portrait

accidental self portrait

another accidental self portrait. i kind of liked it.

you can find this hike in the hikefinder under “wickaboxet loop trail from plain meetinghouse road.” the map is my own. i’ve hiked this trail now from three different trailheads: plain meetinghouse road (today’s hike), pratt conservation area, and tillinghast pond management area. see those individual blog posts for mileages.

Francis Carter Preserve

Posted By on August 31, 2014

Francis Carter Preserve

3.9 miles, 2.2 mph; charlestown, ri

another sunday morning, another usual suspects hike. it was overcast and very humid, but still a good walk.

flannel moth caterpillar

flannel moth caterpillar

the trail (which has been freshly brush-cut and widened) was covered with what at first looked like just bits of fluff, but upon further inspection turned out to be caterpillars. small white fuzzy caterpillars. they are flannel moth caterpillars, and mr. google tells me they can deliver a nasty sting under that fuzzy, soft-looking fluff. glad we didn’t find that out the hard way.

autumnal scene

autumnal scene

there were some very pretty young maple trees through here, and they were all turning purple. or perhaps they were always purple and we never noticed before. not sure. anyway, the entire scene looked autumnal, and i’m just not ready for that yet!

you can find the francis carter preserve in the hikefinder.

Narragansett Trail, Green Fall Section

Posted By on August 30, 2014

Narragansett Trail, Green Fall Section

4.05 miles, 2.1 mph; voluntown, ct

also known as just “the green falls gorge,” this section of the [in connecticut] blue-blazed narragansett trail starts at the ri/ct state line marker at the spot where camp yawgoog road becomes green falls road, runs for a stretch north following the state line, and then swings west into the pachaug state forest in connecticut, where you can choose to either turn north to circumnavigate green fall pond on the blue-and-orange-blazed green fall trail or just head south towards the dam and into the gorge on the narragansett. i chose the later, though some time i will have to try the former.

peg mill brook sluiceway

peg mill brook sluiceway

the poor peg mill brook is bone dry right now. normally there’s a very sweet little waterfall here.

green fall pond

green fall pond

the pond, however, still has water in it, and it was lovely today. wish i could say the same for the green fall river in the gorge. the trail features what is usually a pretty scary river crossing, but today it was a piece of cake… a nice dry rock causeway.

arum

arum

the arum, or jack-in-the-pulpit, fruit is ripening into a brilliant red. it really stands out.

you can find this hike in the hikefinder under “narragansett trail, green falls gorge.”