A blazing sun conquer down on asphalt the other afternoon even though cars and vehicles roared previous quickly food items eating places, fuel stations and other firms lining Route 30, just past the I-84 interchange in Vernon.
“Fantastic working day for a hike,” I muttered, but none of my 4 companions read me above the din, as we continued to trudge joylessly together the facet of the road.
Following a mile or so, our group last but not least exited the commercial zone, followed a blue-blazed trail marker and entered blissfully silent, shaded woods. We then commenced strolling merrily on a sleek route lined with lush ferns and mountain laurel overlooking a secluded lake.
This sort of stark contrasts prevail on the Shenipsit Trail, which extends 50 miles from East Hampton in Central Connecticut to Stafford, near the Massachusetts border. Buddies and I have used the earlier numerous months climbing this footpath in levels, ranging from six to 12 miles.
I described the first fifty percent of our journey in a June 2 column, “Hiking to the Massachusetts border on the Shenipsit Trail (Aspect I).” This next and final installment addresses the past two legs of our journey from Valley Falls Park in Vernon to Ellington, and then from Ellington to the conclusion of the trail in Stafford.
Amongst individuals joining the upcoming-to-last stage have been Maggie Jones, Phil Plouffe, Chris Woodside and Steve Kurczy, who toted his 2-year-outdated son, Manny, in a backpack provider. For the last leg, the group bundled Maggie, Phil, Mary Sommer and Andy Lynn.
The most important member all through the expedition has been our unofficial guideline, Larry Lawrence, who we achieved by luck on our initially day on the trail and who agreed to sign up for us the relaxation of the way. If it were not for Larry, a member of the Meshomasic Climbing Club who previously had hiked the complete trail, we in all probability would have wound up meandering an excess 50 miles, owing to our inclination to get completely wrong turns.
A spotlight of the penultimate phase featured a hike along Shenipsit Lake, a 523-acre, purely natural reservoir that borders Ellington, Tolland and the Rockville portion of Vernon. Not only did this extend supply a welcome respite from a prolonged, oppressive street walk, it underscored how when-fast paced corridors can be repurposed as tranquil woodland trails.
In the early 20th Century, this area experienced been component of an extensive electrical railroad community that after crisscrossed Connecticut. Fortunately, a developing number of these former railbeds have been converted to hiking and biking trails.
Mother nature also is resilient, Maggie pointed out. We observed a painted turtle laying eggs upcoming to a chain connection fence close to a noisy freeway, tree swallows and catbirds feeding on insects in close proximity to a tangle of invasive vegetation and artifical retention pond in a residential neighborhood, and an enormous lifeless hemlock tree lined with living mosses and mushrooms.
Our south-north excursion “followed the unfolding of spring, from ramps and trout lilies and trilliums in late April to lady’s slippers and mountain laurel in May perhaps and June,” Maggie pointed out.
She also discovered an at any time-switching chorus of birds that serenaded us in densely forested areas, including black-throated environmentally friendly warblers, hermit thrushes, scarlet tanagers, ovenbirds and veerys
The superior place of our last phase, basically and figuratively, came atop 1,075 Soapstone Mountain in Somers, the tallest location on the Shenipsit Trail. Most people park at the foundation off Gulf Road and saunter a minimal additional than a mile up a progressively graded, gravel road our five-mile route followed a steep, slender path, riddled with slippery rocks and stream crossings. Moreover, as soon as cresting Soapstone Mountain, we however had just about 6 far more miles of hiking to get to the stop of the path.
With temperature and humidity in the mid-80s, we arrived at the summit sweaty and fatigued, but not much too exhausted to climb one more 30 feet up a lookout tower with a panoramic perspective of assorted peaks over and above the Springfield, Mass. skyline, like 3,41-foot Mount Greylock in Massachusetts. If the sky had been clearer, we may possibly have noticed Vermont’s Eco-friendly Mountains and New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
We stretched out on the tower ground and ate lunch, quickly cooled by a refreshing breeze.
The condition Division of Electricity and Environmental Defense rebuilt this tower in 2018 to swap a dilapidated one torn down in 2014.
The condition experienced obtained the mountaintop in 1927 so it could create a fireplace tower to provide Connecticut’s northern forests. Ahead of that tower was changed, the U.S. Army employed it as a Planet War II lookout station.
Soapstone Mountain is named for the soft rock that Native People carved into bowls during pre-colonial occasions. We bypassed a facet trail that would have taken us to an previous quarry the place soapstone was mined until finally 1888, and descended right for 50 percent a mile to Gulf Highway.
From there we re-entered the forest and marched an additional 2.5 miles, passing Britney’s Pond and crossing Route 190 right before achieving Outdated Place Road in Somers.
“Ok, we’ve attained the end. We can quit below,” I joked. Some of the many others looked puzzled.
“This is where the path used to end,” Larry defined. Without lacking a phase, he crossed the filth street and ongoing next blue blazes north.
In 2014, the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, which manages the trail as portion of an 825-mile statewide walking-path network, prolonged the Shenipsit by 2.5 miles to Greaves Highway Stafford. This very last part took us up and about Bald Mountain, along with a series of ridges.
At last, we arrived at Greaves Highway. Larry’s van, which he experienced dropped off before that morning with assistance from his wife, Lorraine, was a welcome sight.
No rear seats for travellers, but we ended up way too whipped to brain.
“Where’s our upcoming adventure?” Phil asked, as we bounced all over on the ground even though Larry drove back to my car or truck on Hopkins Street. No rest for the weary.
“I you should not know,” I replied — with hundreds far more miles of trails that we have nonetheless to explore, “I’m absolutely sure we will think of a thing.”
Extra facts about the Shenipsit is accessible on the Connecticut Forest & Park Association’s internet site, ctwoodlands org.
Much more facts about the 400-member Meshomasic Climbing Club, which has donated extra than $50,000 to land trusts for open-house preservation, is obtainable at
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