Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 Hike #3: McLean Game Refuge - Granby, CT

Date Hiked: Sunday, January 8, 2017
Estimated distance:  2.52 miles
Weather: 20°F, overcast
Resources: McLean Game Refuge, Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  snow still on the trees
Progress toward 2017 Outdoor Goals:  3/52 hikes; 11.07/250 miles hiked

Let's get the unpleasantness out of the way first. 

I was only a little way into my hike - enjoying the quiet, snowy woods - when I was jarred by the sight of some miscreant's vandalism.   I really don't understand people like this.  It's all me, me, me.  Idiots.

Okay, back to more pleasant things.

I had hoped to get out with my hiking partner this weekend, but with the snow forecast for Saturday, we decided not to venture out.  I don't mind driving in the long as everyone else stays off the road!  I had plans on Sunday afternoon, but decided to do a short loop in the game refuge while the snow was still clinging to the trees.

My husband suggested bringing the MICROspikes and I was glad I did.  It had only snowed a couple of inches and it was very light and fluffy.  Underneath it was still all ice.

Brook just before Spring Pond.

Spring Pond.

 I noticed some tracks winding their way across the frozen pond.  I went over to investigate because I didn't think the ice was that thick.  It was thick enough to hold a deer, apparently.

Deer tracks.

 The prettiest sight was the snow still on the branches of this little pine plantation.

I hiked up the hill and took a look across the field over to one of the Barndoor Hills.  Then I continued on the trail through the woods around the field.

I met a couple out cross-country skiing who, when I asked, said the conditions weren't very good.  With the ice underneath it was hard to use their poles to push off and the few inches of light snow did not provide enough cover when they went over roots or branches.

 I didn't go that far, but I enjoyed getting out and seeing the scenery in the fresh snow.  I know people don't want to hear it, but I'd love to get a chance to do some snowshoeing this winter.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017 Hike #2: Great Pond and Wagner Woods - Simsbury, CT

Date Hiked: Monday, January 2, 2017
Estimated distance:  4.44 miles
Weather: 32°F, overcast
Resources: Massacoe State Forest, Great Pond Trail Map, Simsbury Land Trust, Wagner Woods Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  Walking with ease on my MICROspikes!
Progress toward 2017 Outdoor Goals:  2/52 hikes; 8.55/250 miles hiked

With the trails still icy, I had thought a hike in a town in the eastern part of the state may would be a good idea. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with what is available and I was going to be by myself, so I ended up sticking closer to home.

I chose to hike at Great Pond and connect to the trails at Simsbury Land Trust's Wagner Woods property.  The parking lot at Great Pond was still open - I think they may close the gates once it really snows - but it was an ice rink.  I had put the MICROspikes in the car for yesterday's hike and never used them, but today I decided to break them in.  They are fantastic!  I had my poles with my, too, but I was able to walk across the ice with the MICROspikes on as I was extending my poles.  Not even the slightest slip.  Once they were on, I didn't really notice them.  This is in comparison to Yaktrax where I could feel the grip running under my foot and it actually made me feel a little unsteady, like my boot wasn't in full contact with the ground.

I headed off around Great Pond in a counter-clockwise direction.  The first view of the "pond" took me by surprise although it really shouldn't have.  I know there is a drought and had seen drastic evidence of it during my hike at Colebrook River Lake last fall, but it hit home again today.  The pond is empty except for a ring of water around the outside edge.  I am not sure it actually forms a complete ring.

The ground was pretty icy most of the way around the pond.  It started to get patchier in the last quarter of the circle.  I was able to keep the MICROspikes on, though.

After completing the walk around Great Pond, I took one of the side trails that brought me out just east of the parking area for Wagner Woods.  I had taken the MICROspikes off at this point because the trail was free of ice and snow.  I walked west along Great Pond Road and put the spikes back on at the entrance because it looked pretty icy on the red (Wagner) trail.  I was taking them off again a short time later because the blue (Boehm) trail was pretty clear and I kept them off until I was nearly back to my car at Great Pond.

Along the blue trail.  No water.

Witches Butter.
From the blue trail, I looped around to the yellow (Stierle) trail and then to the orange (Hop Brook) trail.  I took that down to the Hop Brook Overlook.

Hop Brook.

I backtracked up to the field and reconnected with the red trail and followed that out.  Along the red trail there are signs identifying some old foundations - one for the Boehm home which was destroyed in a fire.  It made me sad to think of the family losing the home that sat on this beautiful property.

Around the site of the Boehm home were the trees pictured below.  Does anyone know what they are?  The bark is what drew my notice.  Very thick and deeply furrowed.  Black locust?  I didn't walk over to investigate what leaves may have been lying about.

Foundation for an old barn and silo.

I carefully negotiated the ice near the entrance to the red trail, crossed the road and headed back to my car over at Great Pond. 

I had been meaning to connect these two sets of trails for awhile, and now I have done it.  It made for a nice hike.  You can add a little more mileage if you do some of the side trails at Great Pond instead of just sticking to the trail around the pond.  Something to investigate next time.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Hike #1: Northwest Park - Windsor, CT

Date Hiked: Sunday, January 1, 2017
Estimated distance:  4.11 miles
Weather: 43°F, scattered clouds, breezy
Resources: Friends of Northwest Park, Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  bald eagle, view of frozen reservoir
Progress toward 2017 Outdoor Goals:  1/52 hikes; 4.11/250 miles hiked

Let's start the New Year off with a hike!  The tricky part is figuring out where to go.  We've had a little snow and then rain on top of that, so icy trails were likely.  I chose Northwest Park because it is relatively flat with a lot of open fields.  If the conditions were too bad, I hoped that at least the trails around the fields would be free of ice.  I threw my microspikes into the car just in case.

There were some icy spots in the parking lot and then again in front of the nature center, but overall things looked pretty good.  As you can see from the pictures, the snow is pretty much gone.  I left the microspikes in the car.  The nature center was closed today for the holiday, but I think it is normally closed on Sundays anyway.

I headed behind the nature center and back toward the reservoir.  The trails were pretty good except for an occasional icy patch and I just took my time and used my hiking poles.

I stopped for a moment to consult my map and see if there was a trail around the field I had just come to.  When I looked up again, there was a bald eagle flying over the field toward the reservoir.  Already a great hike!

I picked up the yellow (Wetland Forest) trail that runs along above Rainbow Reservoir.

From the yellow trail, I connected with the pink (Rainbow Reservoir) trail.  It became much more icy here, but in many cases the worst of the ice could be avoided by walking along the edge of the trail.

The reservoir was frozen, but I doubt the ice was very thick.

Someone got a little carried away with the pink blazes, but it added a little color to the scene.  The trails at Northwest Park are very well marked.  The only problems I have are when I come to the criss-crossing woods roads.  Putting numbered markers at the corners and marking those on the map might be helpful.

The picture below shows the dam at the end of the reservoir.  Somewhere along here, I looked across a cove and thought I saw a sign on a tree that said "Portage Here".  By the time I got over to that spot, I had completely forgotten about it, but now I am curious.  If it really did say "portage" where are you supposed to go?  Looking at the Farmington River Watershed Association website, there is no mention of a portage here.  You would take out at across the reservoir at the boat launch (Access Point 29) and drive down to River Street to put-in again (Access Point 30).  Curious.

I left the pink trail and picked up the black (Triassic) trail.  This took me through the woods and then out into a field.  I thought the trails would be free of ice here, but the trees block the rays of the sun on the trail that runs along the east side of the field.

When I got to the next field, I walked on the trails on the west side of the field which brought me to one of the old tobacco barns.  The roof is in bad repair, but the beams inside still look pretty good.

I made my way back to the entrance with a quick detour to see the animal barn.  This was a very nice hike on a beautiful first day of the new year.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Outdoor Goals

A new year and time to set some more goals.  I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to last year, so those things will stay on the list for the new year.  My new list is titled "Outdoor Goals" instead of "Hiking Goals" to more accurately represent the things I am trying to accomplish.


1.  52 hikes.
One hike per week.  I think this is a good goal.  I was able to complete just over the average one hike per week for 2016.  The idea for this goal came from the 52 Hike Challenge.

2.  Hike 250 miles.
I was short of this goal in 2016, and I really want to make sure I reach it this year.  I have been happy with MapMyHike and plan on continuing to use it to keep track of my miles in 2017.

3.  Visit 3 waterfalls one of which has to be Bash Bish Falls (Massachusetts).
I never made it to Bash Bish last year, so I'll try again.

4.  Hike Mount Monadnock (New Hampshire).
Another one I didn't accomplish in 2016, and I am hesitant to put it on the list again this year, but a goal is a goal!

5.  Visit two "new-to-me" state parks or forests in Connecticut and one in Massachusetts (Bash Bish does not count).
This did get me out to the DAR State Forest last year and I have already started a list of places I want to visit this year.

6.  Visit two "new-to-me" Trustees of Reservations properties.
I have been to Bartholomew's Cobble a couple of times and it is fantastic.  I have been making a list of other Trustees of Reservations properties.  I'd like one of these to be Monument Mountain in Great Barrington, MA.

7.  Visit a National Park Service site.
This idea comes from the 52 Hike Challenge: Adventure Series.  There are no "typical" National Parks in CT, but there are places that fall under the banner of the Park Service.  Two that I have come across in my research for places to hike are Weir Farm National Historic Site and The Last Green Valley.  The Appalachian Trail would count as well, but I reached the goal of doing a hike (albeit a short one) on the AT last year.

8.  Hike to a body of water.
Hmm.  I don't have a place in mind, so I'll have to do some research.  This made me think of the children's book by Allen Say called The Lost Lake.

9. One group hike.
I actually accomplished this last year without it being on my list when I hiked with the folks from a local land trust.  I could do something similar this year or sign up with a local meet-up group.  Still hesitant about that one.


10.  Go kayaking at a "new-to-me" location.


11.  Bike to the northern end of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail in Westfield.

12.  Bike on another bike trail.
Probably either part of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in NY or the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in the Berkshires.  I'd also consider biking in a state park that allowed it.


13.  Read at least 3 books about hiking, nature, or other outdoor pursuits.

14.  Make enough progress on my "places to hike" list that I can publish it on my blog.
When trying to decide where to hike, I have to go to multiple sources to find what I am looking for.  I also lose track of ideas of where to hike.  I am working on creating a master list of places to hike by town.