September 1, 2018
Today’s 15 miles took us through a diverse tour of habitats and popular hiking areas, continuing our mostly eastward “noodling” through the green spaces near Meriden.
We got off from Johnson’s Inn by 8 a.m. and walked through the neighborhood starting on Spruce Brook Road, turning where the blue blazes seemed to guide us into someone’s backyard where men were hovering over a vehicle, talking loudly. We stayed our course, though, and followed the path behind houses, onto another street, then back onto an overgrown road beyond a guardrail. “We’ll go where the blazes lead! I guess this is it!” We remarked.
In the woods, we pass a long-abandoned car, stay in the woods, then ease our way up Lamentation Mountain. We meet a dog off a leash, it’s owners assuring us he’s friendly. We meet a father and son running in the opposite direction up the jaggedy ridge. The trail continues along the ridge of Lamentation Mountain, and we gaze down onto a subdivision of houses with big yards and pools. “From within those properties, the estate probably feels large, but from here, where one can walk for miles through woods, that half acre seems pretty small!” We feel wealthy to have this band of green forest to walk through! No lamenting here!
The trail makes another descent where we walk along a road, near a yard or two, then have to search out the blazes back into woods, onto a gravel road. I see a double blaze showing a right turn, see a path into woods, applauding myself for not missing the clearly marked turn. A short woods walk opens into a powerline. We can’t find a blaze, but cross the thorny field toward a golf course. No blazes! We retreat back to the woods to a sort road. We ask a woman walking her dog if she knows where the blue blazes trail is. “Yes! It’s down this road, then goes right along the lake!” We find the marked trail. We were thoroughly puzzled as to how that double blazed turn into the woods would get us here and go back to figure it out. This is one place that the blaze is just plain wrong! I take some pictures, resolving to report it to the trail association and we go where the helpful walker described. We’re on the bank of Crescent Lake, with over a dozen Sunday hikers!
Next, the NET continues its leisurely tour of the Metacomet Ridge by taking us on a loop almost completely around the lake, first on the low, flat west side, then on a well-done gradual 400′ climb, then reversing direction to a dramatic cliff looking down on our starting point, then steeply back down to the inlet of the lake. During the two hours we were walking this loop, we met a couple of dozen hikers making the same loop. They, however, closed their loop and returned to vehicles parked at Guifrida Park. We turned away to the east and went on. We had more touring to do!
A traverse of another woods brought us to Atkins Street, narrow, with poor visibility, and a bridge with a scant ledge for walking. The bridge crosses the inlet for Highland Pond, a preserve we skirted on our tour, crossing a picturesque red bridge, ambling on the edge of the lily pad strewn pond, then turning away past the concrete spillway.
Our scenic tour has to end, though, because we were getting close to Interstate 91. We knew we had to cross it. Hot and a little hungry, because we didn’t have any cheese today, we embarked on our next road walk, a mile on Country Club Road taking us over I-91.
We wondered where we would get water next, considering stopping in at the State Emergency Management building, even though it’s Saturday. Just at the head of the ramp to the interstate, though, we see the back of a trailer that looks like it has buckets, maybe water tanks. A smiling woman wearing an apron steps out into the parking lot. “Do you have food?” We ask.
“Yes! I have got dogs, burgers, and my special blend of lemonade and tea, all homemade! Come around the front!” This begins our forty-minute bonus break, called “trail magic” in hiker lingo.
Marilyn, the owner of the “Roadside Grill” decorated with her mascot, her dog Elvis, explains that she doesn’t usually park here in Saturday’s but nobody is out in the parks today because it’s so hot! She assembled two of her signature hand patted burgers topped with homemade Chipotle mayonaise, cole slaw, and sauteed onions served on a hoagie bun. Two Arnold Palmers, half lemonade, half tea go with them. We sit on our mat, next to the road, savoring the warm, saucy treats, listening to Marilyn tell her story of 14 years running her food cart, following in her parents’ footsteps, painting her cute dog’s portrait on the cart, filling out her income with house-painting jobs. We lick our fingers, pack up and thank her for being there today! She even fills our water bottles with water. That was some gooood trail magic!
But, it’s still early, just 3p.m. We still have plenty of time to go up and over the next mountain, scenic Mt Higby. On its ridgeline summit, we get a view back over the undulating route we’ve covered over the last three days! We can see Castle Craig to the west. And we can see way back to a few of the prominent buildings of Hartford, maybe even the communication towers of Ragged Mountain.
What a tour we walked!
Still, we walk, descending again to Rt 147 near its intersection with Rt 66, but not the famous one. The ice cream shop there, New Guida’s, however, used that theme in their decorations. Even though it was 5p.m., we weren’t hungry for dinner, so we just enjoyed ice cream and coffee, packed up again, then headed up our next mountain to find our sleeping spot.
We found a good one on the north side of Beseck Mountain. We figured we were at mile 175 in the NET. Adding that to our 20 miles in New Hampshire brought our total walk to 195 miles in 16 days. There was no way we would be able to count the rocks we had climbed and maneuvered on our way! By now, I had finally stopped noticing the steep ups and downs. They were just part of the scenery!