Friday, November 22, 2019

Return to the Southern Berkshires/CT

Late into the season, we go back to a site first seen a few weeks ago: Tipping Rock in the Southern Berkshires! Gary L. from Great Barrington wanted to see this old relic photographed by F.W. DeMars of Winsted during the early years of the 1900s. Arriving at the venerable old rock, Gary did a clean up of the usual forest debris one might find on and around the rock W thene set about creating our own versions of the 'Then' and 'Now' photographs. From there it was on down to the Colebrook River Lake, which was running pretty low. The well know bridge (visible at the lowest water levels) left over from Colebrook's early days, has been removed.

Hanging Mountain - from a distance

Down into Winsted CT, we cruised an area that likely will be used as a future access to Robbers Cave. Then it was slightly to the west, checking about for anything that might fit the name of Perch Rock along Highland Lake. Several sites were checked out including a couple Dog/Snoopy Dog rocks. An antique shop and lunch rounded out our time in Winsted. Then it was up into the northwest corner of the Nutmeg State for a quick excursion through an old lime quarry and its prolific deposits of crushed limestone. Two more antique shops in town finished out our time in Connecticut and we returned to the Southern Berkshires along old Route 7, passing Mount Petra marking the gateway to downtown Great Barrington.

'Snowy' looking scene in the old lime quarry

Thursday, November 7, 2019


Finishing out RMM's last full day in the Berkshires, we took Jacob's Ladder Highway out of the Berkshires! Time had come to introduce Mike to the rugged cliffs of Mt Tekoa, overlooking the Westfield River and the Massachusetts Turnpike.

I had not been back here in many years and was not entirely sure we could find my old haunts. But with a little poking around the lower limits of talus was found, along with several small cave formations. Greatly perplexing was the apparently loss of a massive lean-to slab that formed a nice cave right along the base at one of the cliffs. I can only imagine Mother Nature reclaimed it in some large scale movement of the rocks. Of interest is a persistent legend of a Counterfeiter's Cave existing somewhere in the Mountain! No one that I know of has ever confirmed this.

Mike exits a lower entrance of a talus cave

With rain moving in, we made our down the mountain and back to Lee along the same route we took earlier. Passing through the heavily mined town of Chester, the picturesque Huntington, along with Becket. All towns greatly explored over past years. In Lee it was time to say goodbye with Mike planning a solo adventure the next day on his return to Rhode Island. But that is a story for another time!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Housatonic to Stockbridge

The omnipotent Rhody Mountain Man (occasionally know as Mike) made his way back to the Berkshires for his annual week's stay. I was fortunate to join him on two days during that week. On this particular day, our objective was the Village of Housatonic (within Great Barrington) and Stockbridge.

Mike exits the 'back door' of the cave above Housatonic

Housatonic is bordered to the east by Flag Rock, a slightly lower summit of the better know Squaw Peak summit of Monument Mountain which is slightly less than a mile to the southeast. Several hundred feet above the Village is a cave, difficult to access and very well hidden. Just over 50 feet in length and roomy enough to stand in, it shows the typical signs of being visited in the past, perhaps by the people from the local area. Mike and I obtained our photos, got our measurements, before proceeding down the mountainside to our next destination.

The Sedgwick Rock, summer 2017

This next stop was none other than Ice (sometimes: Icy) Glen in Stockbridge. It had been many years since either of us made the full trip through. It was preceded by incorporating a jaunt along the trail system to Shark Fin Rock and the Sedgwick Rock. A primary destination that we sought out within the Glen, was the location of Robbers Cave. It was here that legend tells us, a would be bank robber took refuge during the day, while working his plot to drill into the local Stockbridge bank at night. The 'cave' is not much of a cave (there are better in Ice Glen) but a rocky site comprised of large boulders. Many such sites like this exist in the Glen.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Hampden County motor tour!

In the days of my long ago youth, a good friend who was MUCH older than myself, mentioned taking a motor tour at the Norcross Sanctuary in Hampden County. Along this tour was a location called Tunket Cave, which was the correct name of a site given in Clay Perry's renown books on New England caves. Perry had mistakenly labeled it Plunkett Cave but my friend mentioned tunket alluded to the sound of a counterfeiting operation that operated in the vicinity long ago.

Somewhere around 20 years ago, I visited the property finding out the motor tours had been discontinued. Flash forward to present day, and they once again exist! So after seeing them advertised for at least several years, I finally got myself booked in. It is an extremely jam packed hour and a half (or slightly more) with all sorts of botanical and other natural science information. The history of the area is also covered to a large degree. Who settled the area. Who lived there. Anecdotes of their lives.

A close up Tunket Cave (this is the correct spelling) was not ensued due to it being inhabited by a number of porcupines. But our illustrious guide provided another possible origin to the name "tunket". It apparently is also a synonym for "Hell".

"Jacob's" Boulder

After the tour, I tried to revisit nearby Cat Rocks. It had been 17 years since my last trip there. Unfortunately, like with so many areas, access was posted with the well known "No Trespassing" signage. But on the way home, back in Hampshire County, I waded through the Westfield River in search of a massive boulder brought to my attention by a friend. It IS a big one! Among the largest in all of Western Massachusetts.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Catskills!

This was a long awaited return to the Catskills with Great Barrington's Gary L. After our late winter trip (with many of the park's gates closed) we desired to seek out a number of the famous rocks that can be found in the vicinity of South Mountain and the old Mountain House site.

Dinosaur Rock

A little poking around got us to Alligator and Dinosaur Rock. The former is an oft photographed formation with many old images from the Golden Age of postcards. Afterwards, more poking around brought us to a spectacular vista at the former location of the Mountain House. We tracked down a rock that General William Tecumseh Sherman posed by - with family - likely during the late 1880s. Then it was back up to the Mountain House site for an invigorating walk along the precipice that forms the eastern perimeter of South Mountain. Here a number of Victorian and Gilded Ade attractions can be found. We located Boot Jack and Bowlder Rock.

Bowlder Rock (occasionally: Rip's - or Rip Van Winkle's - Rock)

After a much delayed lunch, we wound our way back through Windham with an eye towards locating Cabin Rock. Then rolled back through Catskill once again, passing by the site of Road Cut Cave (looks like a demolished entrance) which I explored MANY years ago during my youthful days.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Southern Berkshires and Connecticut

This is the time of the year when I look around and focus on exactly where I wish to put the limited time remaining before the usual 'winter hibernation' sets in. I've wanted to return to Abiel's Rock, and I had a couple leads tossed my way by a northern Connecticut man.

But my first stop was to check into a lead given me by Great Barrington's Gary L. Someone had mentioned a boulder to him that this individual knew LONG ago. Like 50 years plus! This did not pan out as no boulder turned up in my search.

Tipping Rock

The next stop was pure magic! I had been given GPS information on the 'lost' Tipping Rock of Sandisfield. It also was originally photographed by Winsted Connecticut's F.W. DeMars during the early 1900s. This was located without too much difficulty, so it allowed me enough time to take on a steep climb in adjacent Colebrook CT. This was in search of another 'lost' formation: the Pulpit Rock, also photographed (or brought into his collection through a purchase) by DeMars. Although an impressive boulder was located (once again due to my CT contact) I did not see it matching the old DeMars photo.

Boulder at Colebrook

On the return home, I once again scouted out South County's Abiel's Rock . One of the largest boulders in Berkshire County.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

To Connecticut ... and beyond!

Squaw Hole @ Bolton Notch

On this latest sojourn, I once again met up with Rhode Island's, Grand Explorer: Mike G., whom we call the Rhody Mountain Man - or just RMM for short. The first stop of the morning was to examine small cave formations in marble beds at Bolton Notch, CT. These cave formations have a long ago history connected to the Native Americans of the area. With this under our belt, we pressed further east to the Wolf Den where Israel Putnam made his famous wolf kill within the small cave. Finishing up our day together, we went over to the 7 Wonders to see the 'new' discoveries RMM made with the assist of some old time literature describing rocky formations that can be found there. I then bid Mike goodbye and headed on over to RI for a one night camping stay.

Sliding Rock @ Fall River

Upon arising the next day, it was across Rhode Island with my eye on landing in Fall River, MA. First order of business was to drop in at old South Park, now known as Kennedy Park, to see the Sliding Rock. I then shifted to the northern end of town to take a new set of photos of Creeping Rock that would replace the poor results I obtained two springs ago. Jumping over to Dartmouth, I found absolutely no success in accessing the Nonquitt shoreline as it is all a private, gated community. But I did locate a kayak put in a couple miles north. So stay tuned: more may follow. Before heading off to my campsite for the next three nights, I sought out the location of the now collapsed Profile Rock in the Assonet section of Freetown. Another great loss of a unique geologic feature.

House Rock @ Fall River

Gary Rocks - early 1900's postcard

The third day was begun by hopping over to the west side of Taunton - often known as Westville - to continue previous explorations in the Rocky Woods section. Several boulders - and several walks - were involved. One to 're-acquire' the location of House Rock which I seemed to lose along the way. But, it did allow me to track down a large split rock formation (strangely) called ... Split Rock! After killing the morning in Westville, I headed on up to Norton for the purpose of which I brought my kayak along. This was the search of Barrowsville Pond for Gary Rocks. A Miss Gary disappeared in the fall of 1782 only to have her body found the next spring wedged in these rocks. A weed choked pond made for difficult navigation but I was successful. Heading north, I kayaked up the waterway feeding the pond to see pleasant surroundings and wildlife.

Solitude Stone

Day four started slightly to the east at the rock that the Town of Rock takes its name from. Then it was north to the Land of Bridgewaters to observe the present situation at Minister's Rock, which has (seemingly) been incorporated into a modern housing development. The next couple hours were spent with local resident Marjorie, an old friend I first met over 15 years ago at Sachem's Rock. A bit to the west was Pulpit Rock and Solitude Stone. The day was finished in the north in northwest corner of Plymouth County at Indian Cave, sometimes called King Philip's.

Split Rock @ Borderland State Park

Day five was the final day and time to pull up camp. I knew it would likely be a short day but made it count with among the boulders at Borderland State Park. Included was Balance Rock, the gargantuan Split Rock, and the Ames Boulder, named for the family who once owned these grounds.