Sunday, September 21, 2014

Devil's Den Preserve

Redding Great LedgeYesterday I checked another state off my hiking list, adding Connecticut to the roll.

Devil's Den Preserve was the only hike of any significant length in the state listed in my local hiking guide. While the book didn't suggest that it was do-able via public transit, it is - as long as you don't mind nearly doubling the hike length with road walking.

It's three miles from the Cannondale stop on the Metro-North Danbury line to the entrance of the Nature Conservancy preserve. It's three miles of country roads ("country" meaning mansions on an acre or two each, "road" meaning 25 mph blacktop) with no sidewalks and mostly no shoulders. You would not want to do it at night.

The preserve itself is quite pleasant, with gentle undulations in the scenery that provide variety for the eyes without unduly tiring the legs. Well, that's provided your legs are in okay shape to begin with - mine were much more weary than I was willing to admit from a high intensity interval training class two days previous. The guidebook listed the hike around the preserve as 450 miles of elevation gain over seven miles; the road walk also has some elevation change.

Most of the really interesting stuff is near the entrance: Godfrey Pond, the old sawmill equipment, and Ambler's Gorge and Vista. At the far end of the park are the Great Ledge and the Redding Great Ledge. Of the vistas and ledges, only the Redding Great Ledge (pictured) is worth it; the others don't have any views, at least not while the trees are leafed out.

There is also a logistical challenge to doing this hike via train, as the return trains run every three hours. You're likely to have time to kill, and there isn't much to do in the vicinity: an expensive restaurant and an acupuncturist are right there, and supposedly there is a coffee shop a half-mile away. You might be better off renting a car from the city and driving.

I don't know that I would do this hike again, but it was worth doing once.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Van Cortlandt Park hike

UnderpassThe Friends of Van Cortlandt Park group offers led hikes about once a month, so I decided to go on their September hike. I went in part because it was in the northeastern woods, a part of the park I don't know very well.

We hiked about four miles, starting at the wetlands in the southeastern, and then following the Croton trail into the northern half of the park. Luckily, the forecast rain held off.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Trail building with Friends of Van Cortlandt Park

In the ditchYesterday, the Van Cortland Park volunteer trails crew started up again. We worked on a drainage ditch on the John Muir trail, in an area that can get pretty damp.

The ditch had been dug and the inside wall built from rocks. We lined the bottom completely and made good progress on the outside wall.

Although it was supposed to rain in the late afternoon, it held off. Although it would have been nice to see the ditch in action!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Appalachian Trail hike

Eastern PinnaclesOn Sunday I went hiking with the Ramblers. The weather left something to be desired; it was brutally humid, and the forecast called for late-afternoon rain. Still, there was going to be ice cream, so why not?

The hike started in Sterling State Park and then hopped onto the Appalachian Trail, ending at the Bellvale Farms Creamery. Although the hike was 14 miles, it felt longer. At 3:30 we got caught in a downpour, although being under the trees provided some shelter. Even after the rain stopped, we had to be careful climbing on slippery rocks.

We arrived for ice cream with perfect timing - 30 minutes prior to the next bus. The ice cream was very good (and I don't think it was just that everything tastes good after 14 miles). Then, as we waited for the slightly late bus, the rain returned - hard. My rainjacket covered my torso, but the rest of me was totally soaked, which was pretty much the case for all of us. Then the bus came and we had to endure two hours of blasting air conditioning. I was never so excited to get to a stifling hot subway platform in my life!

Nice hike, though. Rain happens.