Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I took yesterday (Saturday) off.  And I mean really off.  I was so deep into the couch the cushions are just now starting to recover.  So this morning I woke up stiff and sore.  I either needed a sauna or, since it's nice and warm and humid, a hike in the woods.  Starting from Chestnut Lane, I had a good uneventful hike - Orange to Red Circle to Violet to Lost Vista to Blue then Orange back to the car.  Even starting at 8am the air was still and humid - it took about 10 feet to work up a sweat.  The 90 minute hike was great for loosening up sore muscles.

Coming across the Violet trail, a favorite spot is just after the Red Circle trail heading east.  You start to climb a little, moving out from under the forest canapy into the pines.  There's kind of an 'ahhhhhhhh' moment when the woods clear and open to a northwest view. 
















Sunday, June 13, 2010

Head West young man... out the Quinnipiac Trail

If you head out of the park west to Whitney, the blue trail continues across the street, up West Woods, and into the woods off Kimberly Rd.  The trail turns south off Kimberly just past the water tower and heads across to Rocky Top and Shepard Ave.

What's left of a summer cottage
The trail leads up into the woods and through what was once someone's summer cottage - right up the front step and past a stone oven and chimney.  I startled a pair of turkeys pecking on the trail; they do run off fast for big birds. The sounds of breezes and bird songs were soon replaced by generators humming, hammers pounding and a Saturday morning Top 40 radio station as the trail wanders behind Quinnipiac University's new campus - still under construction. 

You get a great view of this massive construction project from the Chest on Sleeping Giant (I took the first photo back in March). The fluttering flag poles you see from a distance are actually windmills - 25 vertical turbines from Windspire Energy spinning in a windmill garden. The university does gets power generation but the garden's description as a "kinetic sculpture" and "symbol of sustainability" may be closer to the mark.  It's a great start to self sufficient energy generation, but it seems like they had to sacrifice efficiency in the name of art.  Here's hoping they keep to the goal of making this one of the 'greenest' campuses around!

Entering the area that was clear cut a couple years ago, the scrub is starting to fill in. Oak, maple and beech saplings are growing along with the bushes and vines (and the blackberries are just starting to ripen). A pair of turkey vultures were swooping through hunting. The trail blazes that disappeared along with the trees have been repainted on the rocks and stumps (way to go, Trail Team!) - and there's been enough traffic to start creating clearance through the brush. Over to the west, you can see my destination - York Mountain.


The Quinnipiac Trail takes a trip through town - Rocky Top to Shepard to Nolan to Old Coach - and then enters the woods again following Shepard Brook.  It breaks out onto Paradise Ave and then heads west again up York Mountain to the West Rock Ridge.  Wear your mucking shoes - when I say following the brook, I mean following, crossing and hiking through the brook.  There were a couple of old log Adirondack chairs by a particularly muddy spot - I took a break to shake the trail out of my treads.  Along the way, there's an old jeep or pickup rusting away on the bank of the stream - the front end looked a little like Mater (ask the kids).

The trail between Paradise and top of York Mountain is due for re-blazing.  I found myself following patches of lichen on the trees, mistaking them for faded blue blazes!

Once the trail reaches the top of the hill, you find a tree absolutely festooned with blue blazes - the trail turns left, it turns right.  On the far side of the tree, it becomes a little clearer - the blue trail splits here with the Quinnipiac trail heading north to Mt. Sanford, and then to Roaring Brook Park, or south as the Regicides Trail to West Rock Ridge Park.  But that's a hike for another day.
From the lookouts here, you can see south over Laurel View County Club golf course and the Farm Brook Reservoir, and if it weren't so hazy, out to New Haven and the Sound.  There are a couple of rock outcrops where you can see through the trees, but the view to New Haven will be much clearer in winter when the leaves have fallen.

Back down to the trail to Shepard Ave, around the corner on Timberwood is a little piece of Hamden Land Trust property - Wolcott Falls.  This is the continuation of Shepard Brook, running over a waterfall as it heads south along Shepard Ave.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cancelled, Schmancelled !!

Today's "Hike A Giant" hike is cancelled due to forecast inclement weather.

What??  The sun is out, there's a nice breeze - it's a little hot and humid, but not bad.  Tornado warning for all of Connecticut, 75% chance of scattered and severe thunderstorms.  It's a perfect day to go for a hike!

I think there were a few people still there for the organized hike (the Sleeping Giant t-shirt and hats gave them away), but I was a little late and they were already on the way up the Tower trail.  So off I went, up the Orange trail.

I figured a west end hike - up the orange, over the green, white and blue, back on the violet (very colorful)- maybe I can get it done before the rain comes.  Ever the optimist.

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