Category Archives: Hikes

Fathers Day Fun Day!


This Father’s Day I decided to ask my dad if he wanted to do something with me.  Every year for Fathers Day, Christmas, and his birthday I get him the same thing – a gift certificate to the bike shop he frequents.  This year I decided to mix it up.  My dad chose the route:  the Nipmunk Trail, which is 34.5 meandering miles of blue-blazed trails throughout Connecticut.  We picked up the trail right down the road from UConn and started on our hike.  Since we got about 9 inches (literally) of rain last week, there were some really muddy parts and lots of small streams that we had to find ways to cross.  I, of course, would find the most narrow part of the stream with a big rock in the middle to make a safe crossing.  My dad, on the other hand, would tightrope walk across a thin (and seemingly unreliable) fallen tree or branch.  Luckily he made it every time, but I was completely fine taking the “safe route”.

map

dad and taz on the trail

We walked about 3 miles out, seeing a bunch of cool things:  We crossed over a little bridge with a HUGE crayfish on it.  It was dead, but it was still cool…taz thought so too.  There was also a lot of huge trees that were uprooted and had fallen over.  Taz had a great time swimming in the river next to the trail, but at times seemed a bit stressed because of the currant.

Taz on the nipmunk

taz swimming

taz and dad

sign

upturned trees

chair

erin and taz

snake

Finally we made it to the Gurleyville Gristmill.  I’ve never heard of this gristmill before, my pops discovered it on one of his long bike rides around the state, so that is where we hiked to.  Come to find out the Gurleyville Gristmill is the state’s only remaining stone grist mill and was built back in the 1720’s – that’s almost 300 years ago!!  I guess my gram is right – they just don’t make things to last like they did “back then”.  Another interesting fact:  the mill was operated for years by the family of Wilbur Cross, a former Connecticut governor.  We were able to go inside and check it out.

grist mill home

grist mill sign

grist mill

dad at mill

me and dad

After we made it back to the car, we ended our afternoon with a trip over to the UConn Dairy Bar.  The UConn Dairy Bar sells ice cream, and other dairy products, produced by the UConn Creamery, and has been doing so since the early 1900’s.  As to “not spoil our dinner” we each only had one scoop, but man-o-man was that enough.  I couldn’t have eaten two scoops if I tried!!  I got Cake Batter ice cream, and my dad got Toasted Almond Amaretto and both were delicious.

UConn Dairy Bar

UConn

We had such a great day, I’m thinking we should not wait until next Father’s Day to do it again!!

Devil’s Hopyard, East Haddam, CT


Over this past weekend, me and Taz went on a nice hike over at Devils Hopyard State Park in East Haddam, CT.  The park was significantly further from my house than I expected.  For some reason I thought it was only about 25 minutes away, but really, it was an hour.  boooo.  Anyways, it was absolutely gorgeous out, about 50 degrees without a cloud in the sky.  Of course, being me, I always wish for it to be warmer, but hey, at least the sun was shining.

I had some major issues with this hike, which I’m sure does not come as a surprise.  I started out on the Orange trail (which for some reason in my head I thought was the Yellow trail, which could have been part of the problem), and things were going well for a while, but after I hit the scenic overlook (see pic below), things got hairy and I got lost.  Must have been those devils in the hopyard.  Anyways, Taz and I were hoping all over the dang yard…we kept thinking we were back on the path, but then the path would disappear again and we were basically just walking through the woods.

Eventually I came to this road, and decided to it was in my best interest to walk back on the street…We had already walked about an hour and a half to two hours and we had 2 more stops on our Sunday Funday Adventure before going home…and the way this was going, it really could have taken all day!  All in all, we had a great time though, see for yourself:

Taz posing by the State Park Sign.  What a handsome fellow

Taz posing by the State Park Sign. What a handsome fellow

Me and Taz taking a quick scenery break

Me and Taz taking a quick scenery break

Waterfall along the way

Waterfall along the way

Me and Taz at the waterfall.  He was a bit stressed.  I think it was probably because he fall in a waterfall as a puppy and was having terrifying fashbacks.  He was willing to take a quick picture near the falls, but only one! haha

Me and Taz at the waterfall. He was a bit stressed. I think it was probably because he fall in a waterfall as a puppy and was having terrifying fashbacks. He was willing to take a quick picture near the falls, but only one! haha

Bucket List: Case Mountain


Growing up around the corner from Case Mountain, in Manchester, CT, I can easily say that I’ve hiked there hundreds of times in my life.  Since this is one of the hikes on my Bucket Lists’ 50 Hikes in CT I decided this would be the perfect time to put a different spin on the hike.  Those of you who live in Connecticut know that the state has been closed down for the weekend but for those of you who don’t, we got between 24 – 40 inches that got dumped on us, depending on where you live, and it has really put a damper on this weekend’s activities!

snowshoes

I was actually supposed to do this hike with my pops yesterday, but unfortunately the roads were still impassable, so we couldn’t go.  I did go today, though, and was able to convince my seester to come with me.  Let me tell you – if you’ve never been snow-shoeing, it ain’t as easy as it looks.  We started out on the Carriage Trail and were the first people to pass this trail.  With over 2 feet of snow on the trail, it was ridiculously hard, especially going up hill.

Me and Taz towards the beginning of the hike

Me and Taz towards the beginning of the hike

We took turns being “the leader”, as the leader was basically doing all the hard work and the follower was basically just stepping in the other’s footprints.  When we were just about to hit the summit, we noticed that the Blue Trail, which also leads to the summitt, was packed down from fellow snow-shoe-ers. Since we had already spent over two grueling hours trudging through the deep snow, we decided to take this already-blazed trail.

Kate on the trail

Kate on the trail

Seriously, it was touch and go there for a while.  At one point I even said out loud – and completely seriously – “This must be what its like to climb Mount Everest”, OK, maybe I’m a little dramatic, but seriously, It was tough.  I guess it didn’t make it any easier for me that I fell more times than I’d like to admit.  Take it from me, if you fall, while wearing snow shoes, into 2.5 feet of snow, it’s not so easy getting up-especially when you have a dog that is trying to “help” you.  Katie didn’t have this problem, but watching me go through this process time and time again was all the motivation she needed to make sure she did not have the same fate as me.

Me and Taz towards the beginning of the hike

Me and Taz on the trail – getting tired!!

We were ecstatic to reach the top – we didn’t die!  Saa-weeettt! #bestworkoutever!

Me and my sister, Kate

Me and my sister, Kate

A hike that normally takes about an hour took us just over 2.5 hours, but it was an excellent workout, which is EXACTLY what we needed after been cooped up inside for the last 48 hours eating, drinking, and basically being lazy.   I’m so happy that I was able to get at least one productive thing done this weekend, and another check off my bucket list!  Hopefully some of you were able to do something fun through Nemo!

Wonderfully Wet Watkins Glen State Park


Recently Ben and I visited with some of my relatives in the Village of Burdett, and we were able to do a lot during our visit even though we were there for less than 48 hours.  Besides visiting with my family, going to Lodi Point State Park, Wagner Vineyards, The Crooked Rooster, and the Seneca Harbor Wine Center, my aunt and uncle took us to Watkins Glen State Park, which was pretty much the highlight of the trip.

As you can tell from past posts, Ben and I love hiking, so already this was right up our alley!  Connecticut doesn’t have any cool gorges like Watkins Glen, though, so this really was quite the treat.  Watkins Glen State Park is the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks, and it’s easy to see why:  throughout the 1.5 mile path there is water flow that drops over 400 feet.  Some flows over huge waterfalls, others just over the rocks.  It is so cool too because you can see how the water has worn the rocks down over time.  My aunt is a nature fanatic and was able to tell us a lots of cool fun facts!  Over thousands of years, glaciers originating in Canada drifted down to the US to create these amazing gorges, and they also brought some nonindigenous plants and trees with them.  It was also these same glaciers that created the 11 Finger Lakes!  Interesting right?!  We can’t wait to get back up there and hike some other gorges in the area!

Starting at the top left- water dripping, top right – me drinking from a natural spring (cold and delicious), bottom left- water rushing through the rocks (you can see all the different layers the water has cut through throughout the years- cool!),  bottom middle- my family standing on a bridge that was chiseled in the 1800s.  At that time, the water poured down under the bridge to a flour and feed mill that was located right about where I stood to take the picture! Bottom right- one of the couple hundred feet tall waterfalls.  The picture doesn’t do it justice since the waterfall was so tall I wasn’t able to get the whole thing in one picture!

Top left – Pic with Ben, my cousin Laura, and my Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim.  Top Right – cool pic of the water.  Bottom:  Me and my uncle Jim behind the sign.  (we both like taking pics of signs haha)

Me and Ben behind one of the waterfalls!

Sunday Hike: Gay City State Park


So as usual, this week was busy for Ben and I.  I haven’t even posted anything other than a quick picture in a couple weeks…it’s getting depressing!  Anyways, since Sunday was our only day to really hang out and do something together we made the most of it.  We started out with was supposed to be breakfast at Pastrami on Wry, but since we got there WELL after breakfast hours we had a delicious lunch instead.  Then we headed over to Gay City State Park in Hebron, CT, which is also part of our 2012 Bucket List! Gay City is interesting and has a quite a bit of history behind it.  It’s an old abandoned mill town from the 18th century and gets its’ name from the surname of the majority of the small town’s 25 families,  the Gay Family.

Despite it’s interesting name, Gay City has tons of things to do for everyone!  There is a pond for swimming and fishing, tons of trails for hiking and mountain biking, a small beach, picnic areas which are fully equipped with charcoal grills, and lots of open space for stuff like wiffle ball or frisbee.  Gay City also allows dogs, which is great!  I can’t wait to go back and bring Tazzy!  Jake may enjoy it too if we were just going to hang out, but I know Taz would love to hike or mountain bike with us (of course he would only run while we bike!).

We had a wonderful time hiking the blue trail, on to the red/white and then finished on the red.  We thought it would nice to go back next weekend with my aunt and uncle, but we’ll have to wait to see what the weekend brings!

We saw a cool bird’s nest that was stuck up on a shed with mud…very cool!k  We also saw tons of bull frogs and even cooler, tadpoles!  They were on their very last step before being full fledged froggies!  most of them had back legs grown already, and were about 4 inches long!  very cool!  We are going to get some nets and a bucket so we can start catching some of these creatures…of course we will release them though!

Loving Life: Greenwich Audubon Society, Collins P. Huntington State Park, & Larsen Sanctuary


I personally love being active.  I love enjoying my health and world around me, and I LOVE living life.  Who knows, I could die tomorrow, and if that is the case, I could honestly say that I’ve been able to do everything I wanted to and could up until this point.  Don’t get me wrong – there is still SO much more I want to do, but my life isn’t ready for it yet.  My boyfriend has the same energy level as me lately and since we haven’t been able to do anything together all week because of our busy schedules we decided to plan an awesome day together.  If you follow me on instagram (mackadoo3314), you have already seen a sneak peek of our day, but here’s the real deal:

7:00AM:  Up and at ’em!  we got up nice and early on our Saturday to ensure that we could get the most out of our “only day off” so to speak.  Breakfast sandwiches, coffee/redbull, and rain…lots and lots of rain.  But that didn’t stop us.  We’re a “whatever it takes” type of pair, and contrary to what some may thing, I’m NOT the Wicked Witch of the West and won’t melt under water.

8:00AM:  As you may know by now, Ben is somewhat of a lumberjack by trade, and he loves it.  He knows more about trees than almost anyone I know (My Uncle is also an arborist, and has a few years on Ben, so he may have him there 🙂 ). Anyways since Ben loves wood so much, he always jumps at the opportunity to tell me about what he does – so, that being said, first stop:  Beaver Brook Saw Shop in Scotland, CT.  Ben had to grab some equipment for his men, and I got to peruse the store…who knows I might need a chainsaw someday.

As you can see from the left side picture…the weather was dreary…and by dreary I mean when I got out of the car to take this picture, i got SOAKED!! To the right we have a cared beaver that stood along side of many other beavers (some real, some not) inside the shop.

9:30AM:  We started out trek down to Greenwich to go to the Greenwich Audubon Society.  I didn’t want to be negative, so I didn’t point out the obvious:  it was POURING…and as we drove, the rain seemed to get heavier and heavier.  It was even hard to see out the window at some points.  But, like I said, we were in it for whatever it takes…a little rain never hurt anyone!  2.5 hours later when we finally made to the Audubon Society, something amazing happened…the rain stopped.  It didn’t “let up” or “slow to a drizzle”, it straight up STOPPED!  It was like God knew we were on a mission and since we hadn’t given up yet he threw us a bone! Greenwich Audubon Society welcomed us with a gorgeous building where they had a gift shop (although the only thing we could afford in there was a deck of cards or a post card), an art gallery, and other various maps, etc.  Then we started out first hike…It was a bit different than I expected.  Mainly because we were at an Audubon and we didn’t see one single bird!  We did see some other cool wildlife though!  Additionally, most other audubons that I have been to, which admittedly is only about 2 have been more in marshy areas with lots of bird houses and less in the woods.

We saw a bull frog, a green frog, a painted turtle, a snapping turtle, and another bright green frog that I thought was maybe a bull frog as well but it was super bright green.  The best part of this hike?  The Greenwich Land Trust was having a guided hike, and invited us to join in on it.  Though we chose to do our own thing, they did still give us some  trail maps for this hike and others around the state, and an AWESOME heavy weight frisbee!  Score!

The Greenwich Audubon Society – As you can see the skies looming above look a little scary, but we were banking on the hope that the rain was done for good!

Some sort of Fungi on a fallen tree. It was so bright, we couldn’t resist photographing it!

At first on the trail we were seeing all these yellow and orange petals everywhere. Initially I thought they must have been from flowers, but Ben promptly informed me that they were actually from the huge Tulip Poplar trees that were surrounding us! The storm that just passed through must have knocked many of the flowers/petals off the trees.

The frogs we found! Going clockwise starting at the top right: That frog was HUGE!! way bigger than my hand. I suspect it weighed about 5 lbs. The smaller frog was cute (i thought anyway). I was pretty close to catching it, but then I got scared, so Ben had to catch it for me…which is what he is doing in the bottom picture – whata a guy!

Some parts of the the trail were replaced with boardwalks, which were really cool!

Mead Lake! We hung out here for a while because hidden in all those pretty lily pads was a whole new ecosystem. Ben found a spotted turtle (a little bigger than a half dollar) on one of the lily pads, and when he was trying to catch it he found a baby snapping turtle (a little bigger than a quarter). I didn’t get pictures of these because i was too big looking at the pretty flowers (daisies are my FAVORITE) and observing all the fish which I could see in the water while standing on the bridge.

This hike ended with another board walk and the LOUDEST, GREENEST frogs I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe that such a small animal could make that loud of a noise! I love frogs, but I wold NOT want to live next door to these fellows! They’d keep me up all night! (btw, if you can’t tell off the bat, if you look closely you can see one of the frogs in the pic on the left).

1:30PM:  Lunchtime!  Whenever we go hiking we go prepared with lots of PBJs, water, and other snacks.  We scarfed down our first round of sandwiches and hit the road!  Off to Redding to the Collins P. Huntington State Park.  It took us about an hour to get there from Greenwich, which was a perfect break in between hikes.  We LOVED this park and are definitely planning on bringing out mountain bikes down here.  In the 700 acres of property gifted to the state by Archer Huntington (Collins’ stepson) there are hundreds of trails.  We were only able to stay for a couple hours, but let me tell you…we really could have meandered on these trails all day long.  If you do ever want to go down there, just be forewarned that the growth on either side of the trail is EXTREMELY heavy.  There is poison ivy and other things like that, so be careful!  Some of the trails on the map are impassable (unless you regularly carry a machete with you).

We saw TONS of wildlife here!  It was awesome!  We saw what I believe is a Red Winged Black Bird, a black bird with a white tail and yellow head (which I’m having a really tough time identifying), a red fox, a white-tailed deer, a tree snake, and 3 water moccasins.

These two sculptures are part of Anna Hyatt Hutington’s collection. Anna was Archer’s second wife. She is best known for her equestrian statures world-wide.

Starting at the top left: This is where we saw all the birds (it was a marshy area with lots of high grass. Ben carved our initials into a tree (top right), A fern (right middle), The park sign (bottom right), two fireflies (bottom middle), and a pretty butterfly (bottom left)

I’m not exactly sure what this is, but it’s definitely an old foundation to something! Cool!

This is about where I was peeing my pants…Ben found some water moccasins…3 to be exact. I’m not afraid of much wild life, but snakes, particularly water snakes…and ESPECIALLY poisonous ones are NOT my cup of tea. Of course, Ben being a boy, wanted to catch one. I didn’t want to burst his bubble so I just stood back and dealt with the onset of severe anxiety and prayed he didn’t get bit. He didn’t THANK GOD, and luckily after about 15 minutes, he decided not to continue testing his luck.
Can we also appreciate his tube socks? 25 going on 60! haha

4:00PM Snack time again!  Another PBJ and some crackers and we were ready to go to our 3rd and final hike of the day:  Larsen Sanctuary in Fairfield, CT.  It only took about 15 minutes to get to Larsen Sanctuary from Huntington State Park, in fact its right down the street!  This place was AWESOME!  all the trails were well marked- this would be a GREAT hike to bring small children on.  It’s completely flat, well marked and there are tons of short trails.  So you can really go for as long or short of a hike as you want.  It is apparent that a Boy Scout troop is actually doing a project there, so everything was super pristine.  We only saw some regular stuff there like chipmunks and squirrels, but towards the end of the hike we saw a HUGE red-tailed hawk!  It was awesome!  This peaked our interest on birds of prey, which lead to Ben “getting into” the bird sanctuary to sneak some pictures.  Don’t worry, we left a donation to aid the “high price of food/care for these birds”.  Take a look!

Larsen Sanctuary! We are ready for this!!

Trail markings – between this and the map, we were totally ready to go!

Me and Ben ❤

Barn Owl ben snapped a shot of! So cool!

6:00PM: Last stop:  FOOD!!  thank god!  we were famished from all the walking/hiking we did all day.  My sister told me about this pizza joint in Fairfield called Colony Grill.  I’m a fancy myself a pizza connoisseur and have been dying to try this out for months.  They have pizza and beer.  That’s it.  limited toppings, no extras, no salads, no wraps…this is my kind of place! We got 2 pizzas:  one with pepperoni and bacon, and the other with sausage and peppers!  They were both AMAZING!  Thin crispy crust, light sauce, light cheese, and the perfect amount of toppings!  I can’t wait to find a reason to go back…and I’m sure I wont have much trouble “finding a reason”!  Especially since Ann Taylor Loft is directly across the street…shopping spree anyone??

Jager Bombs, and Pizza!! can’t go wrong!!

8:00PM  We started our trek home.  As you can see, we had a wonderful day together!  Did SO much stuff, and got some great exercise and GREAT pizza…if only every day could be so amazing!! I can’t wait to continue our mission of finishing our “50 Hikes in CT book” and look forward to many more days like this in the future!

I hope your Saturday was just as great!

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