August 28, 2018
We got an early start just after dawn and without cooking breakfast because it was so buggy at our tentsite!
We soon came to a view of our future, an overlook of the Farmington River. From our precipice, we looked down on the small town of Tarriffville. We speculated about the origins of the name, spying on a landing on the opposite side of the river. “This would be a perfect vantage point for invaders to signal each other about boats approaching the town!” And, “This must have been the place where tarriffs originated!” We add “Tarriffville” to our growing list of places inviting further research and start our descent to the river.
In thirty minutes, we came out onto Rt 189, with just a narrow shoulder. “I sure hope there’s a shoulder on the bridge across the river!” To our relief, there was, and we got a leisurely crossing of the Farmington River as the morning traffic zoomed by.
Tarriffville seems friendly enough as we follow the blue blazes through town to the city park. We’re too early to enjoy the restaurant and the bar across the street, but make note of them to recommend to other hikers. We take advantage of the water fountain in the park and have a friendly conversation with an affirming resident walking her dog past the park gazebo.
Shortly, we continue south, turning on Mountain Road. We lose the blue blazes though and at the end of the street we see a sign for a 20-acre town woods. It’s not the NET, though! We turn back and return to the last blaze we saw, a double blaze! That means the trail goes into the woods, but where? We search, and find an overgrown path with a blue blaze hidden on a post about ten feet into the vegetation. Got it! The path shoots straight up the hill, naturally, and takes us steeply up a hundred feet to a wide, rocky old dirt road. Soon, we reach a local historic landmark, Bartlett Tower, one of my favorite features so far! I look it up with Google and find out there was a lodge here! How could that be, when the old chimney is only about ten feet from a lumpy rock outcrop?!! The ridge is narrow here too!
With our curiousity piqued, we continue our day’s walk, which takes us over more ridges through the forested rocks and atop The Pinnacle with views, then down to Lake Louise, a secluded and picturesque pond, rounded by a popular network of trails. We discuss the option of walking around the next pointy-looking profile on our map, but choose to follow the blue blazes, finding the route through Penwood State Park to be pleasantly gentle! We cross paths with one northbound runner, and see her again at the base of the mountain, completing her loop to the parking lot at Rt 185, our destination for the day! It was only 3 p.m. too, one of our shorter days. We had planned it that way when John had made a reservation for the Bloomfield Air BnB last evening! We would take a break from the heat and sleep inside after a mere 7.4 miles.
The half-mile walk to Paul’s place on Rt 185 was scary! There was no shoulder, with a sloping berm covered with knee-high weeds next to it for walking. We crossed to the other side of the road at a curve so the drivers had a better chance of seeing us! Fortunately, we came to a section that had a wide, mowed lawn between the road and a subdivision wall where we could walk safely. To our delight, our host, Paul, was pulling out of his driveway just as we got to the address. He greeted us and described how to get into the house. The private, two-bedroom wing seemed like a perfect retreat! After a long, hot shower, I hopped into the big bed and took a two-hour nap!
When I woke up, John reminded me that Wade’s Farm Store, another half mile down the road, was open for another hour, so we set out again, braving the busy road. Our terror was rewarded with tantalizing food!
We followed our habit of buying something to eat immediately, choosing a miniature lemon-meringue pie to savor under the plant shade. Then, we shopped for a cucumber, red pepper, and cheese to pack out the next day plus an ear of corn, chips and a big tomato to eat for supper and banana bread for breakfast.
On our walk back, I experimented with encouraging drivers to give me space to walk and started signaling to them with a downward and outward wave meaning “Slow down and move over!” It seemed to work with all but one honking driver. Cars were slowing down and moving over!
We even got our laundry done when Paul’s girlfriend directed me to the laundry room. We chatted about hiking while she folded a big pile of laundry. “I don’t know how you can go for a whole week with a single outfit!” she marvelled. “This is what we needed for our week away!”