Happy Trails

Spring! That glorious time of year when everything wakes up and comes back to life, including us humans. Just to hear the birds in harmonious ecstasy upon the breaking of dawn puts a smile on my face and an extra bounce in my step. They too seem to know that the darkness of winter is past us. It is rather funny that I always feel as if this burden is lifted from me as the days warm. Winter truly isn’t as terrible as I make it out to be; in fact it is filled with much beauty and allows me to step back a bit, but for some reason each year I find myself greatly rejoicing when the last of the snow is melted.  

At this time, I feel like a tree branching out, spreading my limbs to their limit, standing tall to catch all the glorious warmth of the sun. From now until the end of the summer I will be outside every chance I get: gardening, biking, canoeing, sitting outside with a good book or hiking. Now, when I mention to some people that I like hiking, they often think I mean setting out on trails that require cat-like skills and expensive gear. My personal definition of hiking is more around the lines of “a walk in the woods,” which could include some sweat-inducing hills, but I don’t typically carry any expensive hiking gear with me nor do I have those lovely all-weather hiking shoes. I just love getting out in nature and exploring new places. There are so many wonderful nature preserves and trails throughout Connecticut, all relatively close, which makes for a nice day trip.  

Howling Tree

This past weekend, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and grabbed a copy of Appalachian Mountain Club’s Nature Walks in Connecticut  (917.46 SMI) and Weantinoge Walks (917.46 MCN) and headed off for a weekend of hiking in Sharon and Salisbury. On Saturday, my travels took me to Wildwood Sanctuary in Sharon that is part of the Weantinoge Heritage Preserve. This one was a bit hard to find since there are no markings by the road, but once you pass over the culvert there is a little map on the tree. The trail is an “out-and-back” walk, so once you get to the end it becomes someones private property and you must go back. The trail starts off uphill so it will get your heart pumping, and then levels off. Once you pass through a stonewall, there will be great views of the rolling Northwest corners hills.  

  
 

  

 
 
 

A respite on the trail

On Sunday, my fiance and I traveled up to Salisbury to attempt Lions Head Trail that connects with part of the Appalachian Trail. We headed off through an open field with our backpack, bottles of water, granola bars, a camera and a copy of the trails book in hand. Everything seemed to be off to a great start, but shortly after we got confused on the unmarked trail. I consulted the book numerous times to see if we were going the right way and it seemed from the description in the book that we were. After crossing through a large meadow, we came to the edge of the woods and sat stumped as to which way to go. I walked a ways into the woods and eventually spotted the white trail markings, childishly bragging about my sleuthing skills (which would come back to bite me later). Off we went up a steep hill in the direction of the white blazes.   

About forty-minutes later, after passing through lovely areas of changing forests, I stopped to look at the book once more wondering why it was taking so long to go 1.9 miles and reach our summit.  It was at this time that I realized we were on the wrong trail! We were following the white markings, which indicated the Appalachian Trail, instead of the blue ones that were for our intended route on the Lions Head Trail. I was disappointed because we wouldn’t get to see the view from Lions Head, as well as a little embarrassed that I’d led us astray, but my fiance merely laughed and suggested we keep walking a little ways more to see where we ended up. As it turns out, we did end up getting to see a great view further up the trail (thanks to him), but found out from some other more experienced hikers that we would have to go back the way we came since the Appalachian trail eventually came out in Falls Village.   

The view from the top

 We headed back, and the last part of the trail was totally different from the way we had come up. We had to climb down steep, rocky terrain and neither of us had on hiking boots (which I am now adamant about purchasing!). Not only was the height and terrain difficult, but there was a deep drop-off on the left side and leaves covered much of the area making it extra slippery. Although it was a bit scary, in the end we both agreed our mishap hiking trek turned out to be a great 2.5 hour adventure!  I should note: although we looked all over on our way back for those blue trail blazers, we could see them nowhere. If you find them, please let me know 😉

 

Rocky Descent

    

 

 
 Nature Walks in Connecticut is a great guide (despite our snafu) not only because of all the details it gives, but the book actually walks the reader through the trail, explaining what the hiker might see, and noting where the trail gets steep, levels off etc. Interspersed throughout the book are fun tidbits about wildlife or the region where the trail is. I liked reading about the hummingbirds and the Tornado of 1989 that destroyed nearly all the Cathedral Pines in Cornwall near Mohawk Mountain. 

Check out its companion, Appalachian Mountain Club’s Best Day Hikes in Connecticut (917.46 LAU) that is an extended copy of the Nature Walks in Connecticut book.    

For a humorous, but descriptive account of walking the Appalachian trail I highly recommend Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods (917.404 BRY). I loved his keen observations, which made me feel I was there along-side him, as well as his willingness to make light of tough situations.   

The Connecticut Walk Book West (917.46 CON) is a great guide for the blue blazed hiking trails in our neck of the woods. Comes complete with trail descriptions, mileage and pull out maps.   

Undoubtedly, as you are hiking, you will be keenly observant of all that is around you. You might be curious about the many plants, birds and animals that you come across. Add to your pack: Birds of North America (598.2 ROB), and Connecticut Birding Guide (598.2 DEV), which have suggestions for the best locations in Connecticut to bird watch. Scats and Tracks of the Northeast (591.5 HAL) is probably one of the most interesting, and useful, books about animal scat!  It’s perfectly compact and light so you can easily add it to your pack and use it as a quick reference when you come across tracks or scat in your travels. Includes a picture and small description of each animal as well as details and pictures about their track, trail, scat, habitat, similar species and other signs to look for to help you identify the species.   

Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Trees (582.16 SIM) includes great color illustrations of all parts of the tree and full descriptions–great resource.  

I met author John Sheirer in one of my undergraduate courses and he had a really creative idea to walk one trail for a full year–365 days–and wrote a book about it called Loop Year: 365 Days on the Trail (917.46 SHE). Each day is recorded as a journal entry, noting what Sheirer saw and experienced, the time of day, temperature and the weather conditions.   

To get your walking groove on and be inspired, slip in one of our travel DVD’s into your players:  Trek: A Journey on the Appalachian Trail (DVD Travel TRE) or Scenic Walks of the World (DVD Travel SCE).   

   

Sarai is the Publicity Coordinator/Library Assistant and is looking forward to putting up her birdhouses and taking another adventurous, surprising hike! 

 

 

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