Thursday, November 30, 2017

Return of the Rhode Island Mountain Man...

There was an air of excitement late November, with the return of Rhode Island's own Mountain Man, Mike G., bringing his expertise to the Western Massachusetts region. I was fortunate enough to connect with him on two days (well: one-and-a-half, with an injury cutting the second day short) to visit old and new finds in the Southern Berkshires.

Mike as seen through the yawning cave entrance @ Sky Peak

The first destination was an old favorite of mine that I had not visited in nine years: Sky Peak Cave. It remains much as I last saw it, or have seen it over the past fifty years. Nearby was a cave-like formation is may have been the hide out of a man who committed murder across the state line in NY.

Sky Peak was followed by another area not seen in way too long a time: Silver Cave. This is part of a small karst area with the bedrock Owl. This being a basal limestone within the Walloomsac Formation. Similar to the much better known Owm marble within that same Walloomsac, of which Sky Peak Cave is a part of.

The day was finished just before dusk, high above the Village Of Housatonic, poking around the area of a cave brought to my attention a few years back.

Tight cave passage within the Carbonate Sliver

Two days later, we set out for a further examination into cave found a couple years ago, within a geologic phenomena called a carbonate sliver. As the name suggests, it's a 'sliver' (in a relative sense) of carbonate rock (marbles) within a large bedrock area of non-carbonate rocks (quartzose/micaceous phyllites). Finishing our investigations here, we hiked north to located other 'slivers' and a known cave that is likely within one of those. Unfortunately, a tragic accident occurred to this author, and it was enough of a challenge to make our way from the woods. Another day, to return.

'Fins' - or impurities - projecting from the wall @ Carbonate Sliver Cave

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Old Friends: The Sequel!

Recently, in my journey through Plymouth County, I re established contact with an old friend. Marjorie is a woman with many years behind her, a love of the outdoors, geologic features, and history. We originally met at Sachem Rock years ago when she, and her late husband, were tending to the property. Her family originally came from Western Massachusetts, and some years ago, she passed on to me several photographs of their excursions around the central Berkshires.

Balance Rock - somewhere around 1900

On this particular day, we talked, walked conservation land, and looked over a number of family photographs. Before leaving, she once again honored me with a small family album with photographs. Among those, was a family visit to Lanesborough's Balance Rock in 1927. Another photo, was a bit older, showing a child on Balance Rock with two possible options. Someone born in 1891 or 1901.

Balance Rock - 1927

So if rocks could talk - what wonderful stories they could tell!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Return...

Cave @ Crow Hills

It has been traditional in recent years, to find my way into northeastern Massachusetts during the Autumn months. In particular, Essex County. Recent times find myself making a cross State journey with stops along that way. Often in Middlesex, and sometimes in Worcester counties. This particular trip started off with such a stop - at Crow Hills. An old AMC hiking guide I've owned since the late 1960s mentions a cave here. And such a cave was located some years back. But I wished to double check that information on the possibility something else was missed. Despite a search off the southern end of the Hills, no other cave formation (other than overhang) was found.

The next stop did take me into the western regions of Middlesex County to look at a formation known as Cave Rock. Not to be confused with other 'cave rocks' looked at during the last month down Norfolk County way. This piece of geology was much more rock than cave. An erratic that had some fracturing involved and a dislocated piece that left a small opening ('cave') under one edge.

Cudjoe 'Cave'

The third stop of the first day took me much closer to Boston at the Middlesex Fells. A return visit to Panther Cave and old Cudjo(e)'s Cave were the goals. By middle-late afternoon, I was fighting my way through traffic to get out of the area and land at my campsite on Cape Ann.

Abandoned quarry and perched boulder

Day two started as an interesting day, as a sort of 'spur-of-the-moment' decision, took me down to a very urban Peabody. Which has a rich history in its rocks, including several boulder strewn moraines. I tried accessing a site located on aerial imagery, only to find condos thrown up - and in my way. A slight relocation, and I did a walking tour of a (mostly) highly developed area, once again searching for the long lost Wigwam Rock. An old bit of writing from the 1800s put it northeast of a certain body of water, but then the 1800s did not have block-upon-block of commercial buildings and pavement. Still: a later study of aerial images reveals future possibilities. A stop in South Peabody to check in on the Butts (boulder) before moving on to expand my search on one of the glacial moraines.

The third day was totally southeast Rockport. Mostly to check out a number of ocean access points. ALL for residents only. Most with little to nothing for parking. I did venture into the town center in an attempt to once again locate the site of "Oldest Inhabitant". A rocky profile formation depicted on an old postcard. Nothing definite here.

Castle Rock

A rainy fourth day kept the goals short while dodging rain drops. I headed off to Marblehead and Castle Rock. I peeked through fences of the opulent homes to try and catch a look at the Churn. Moved down to Little Nahant for a walking tour of it's perimeter (by town streets) finally ending up at a couple beaches that might make a good launch site for future kayaking. Ended the day up at Agassiz Rock reservation where I am still wowed by the enormity of Big Agassiz Rock. Close to 30' tall!

'Indian head' formation @ The Fells

Rain moved out on the fifth day, and me along with it. I cruised back on down to the Middlesex Fells to relocate small cave formations mentioned in my old AMC guide, and an 'Indian Head' formation also discovered on my previous excursion into that immediate area. Moving back out into Worcester County, I made quick work of a perched boulder reported. My final homeward bound destination, was to see another King Philip's rock that had escaped me all these years.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fall into... Fall!

When does a four day trip turn into a one day affair? When DCR decides to close down state camping facilities due to a little wind. Ah well - for one long day, some important objectives got covered.

Indian Rock

First up was a site laying in the shadows (almost) of the famed Blue Hills of Norfolk County. This area can hold an interesting mix of 'different' rocks along with the more famous Quincy Granite. An area of scattered erratics has a formation locally known as Indian Rock, which has a slight purplish hue to it. I've also seen greens in this general area during the past (see: Petrology of the Alkali-Granites and Porphyries of Quincy and the Blue Hills, Mass. [1913], U. S. A. : Charles H. Warren). A small rock shelter/lean-to type of formation was also spotted just to the northeast of Indian Rock.

Minister's Rock

A slight hop to the north (and north side of Rt. 93) - and a slight bit of poking around - found me the Hermit's Cave. It is an old lead I've had kicking around for some time, and always understood to be little more than a very small niche under some exposed bedrock.

A short excurions to the southeast brought to the Land of Sachem's Rock (later visited) to check on the status of Minister's Rock. Several years back, the 'evil' development project moved into the area with its backhoes and other construction equipment, and I feared for the rock's safety. Fortunately, it had been recognized, and left unscathed. Well, except for a good scrubbing to clean it up a bit.

Indian grindstone

Most of the remaining afternoon was spent with local resident Marjorie, a woman of some years, who has a sincere interest in rocky formations and other sites of historical interest. Marjorie has a small Indian grindstone located in her back yard. We also got the opportunity to do a bit of hiking on nearby conservation land and look for an old fish weir. Not to be seen due to to high water levels.

Sachem's Rock - circa early 1900s postcard

Finally before leaving the area (and discovering a lack of campsite availability), I made a quick trip to nearby Sachem/Sachem's Rock. One of the more historic rock sites we have in Massachusetts. Where "on March 23, 1649 o. s. Massasoit traded with Myles Standish and others this land called Satucket".

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rockin' On...

Old Patients Rock @ Wallum Lake

Three years after my initial investigation, I returned to Wallum Lake in northwest Rhode Island. The purpose of this trip was to introduce fellow explorer, Mike G., to the lake and its multitude of rocks. We first stopped by Patients Rock, before making out way up the west side into Massachusetts. Then it was on down the east side, back to the put-in. Still missing is a somewhat mysterious postcard showing Hunt Rock on this lake.

Then, together, we made our way about two-thirds of the way south across the State, to visit a more recent discovery: a small cave in the Arcadia Management Area. Afterwards, a relatively insignificant site was looked at as we made our way back up towards the Warwick area. Parting ways at this point, I made my way back across the State line into Massachusetts for the night.

Gilly's Cave

On the second day, two towns in Massachusetts, just to the northeast of the Burnt Swamp Corner in Norfolk County, were investigated. This is an area I spent much time in during the late 1990's and early 2000's, locating significant rocky formations. Several cave and cave-like formations were found, along with large erratics, including a very nice balanced boulder.

The Balanced Boulder...

Monday, June 26, 2017

Tri-State Tramp

Meeting up with Mike ('Rhody' Mountain Man) G., the goal was some small time caving in the region near the Connecticut and Rhode Island borders. First stop was right at the rendezvous location. 'Lightning' Cave has a brief reference in an old 1800's history, and this site, of very small cave-like features, may be the deal.

Into the Mouth of the Lyon!

Moving on over to Connecticut, gave us the opportunity to examine the small - but visually impressive - Lyon's Den. Afterwards, it was on to a location once known as the Seven Wonders but more recent history (100+ years) finds it called Squaw Rocks hearkening back to an association with the Native Americans who once dwelt in this area.

Part of the Seven Wonders complex

The second day brought me out of a RI campground into Massachusetts. I planned on once again visiting two sites first seen during the Spring of 2016. An Indian rock shelter that I failed to locate last year, brought me back to an area just a bit north of the State Line. I was furnished coordinates by a local history expert as to where the shelter might be. Once again, the search proved fruitless. However, I did spend a bit of time scouring the woodlands to see some moderately impressive granite outcrops.

Out of the Mouth of (the likely) Rattle Snake Cave

The second - and final stop of the day - was a return to the likely Rattle Snake Cave(s) for further photographic opportunities.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Lee-ward side of things...

South Berkshire again - and boulders were on the list!

Gary L. once again joined me as we set out to search the source of a turn-of-the-century photo. This one showing late 1800's/early 1900's ladies in long gowns enjoying the day by a stream with a large boulder for company. Luck was with us on this one. It did not take long to locate the boulder, laying pretty much where it was in Days of Old. A beautiful locale in a ravine with small falls.

The Boulder on the Brook

The next site to check on was pretty much straight forward. It was part of Berkshire Natural Resources Council's properties. A loop trail of about two-and-a-half miles brought us by some pretty impressive boulders within modest sized boulder fields.

BNRC property boulder

Before finishing off for the day, we did a quick drive by of one of Southern Berkshires larger boulders, laying alongside Jacob's Ladder Trail.