Sunday, December 31, 2006

Past Trips - 2006

For those of you that are into such things - and want to take the time to sift through all of this - here are my notes in 'raw form' Without dates, or photos, but in chronological order starting with the latter part of the year and working back in time.

Unorthodox winter weather continues, leaving the possibility of other adventures that would have waited till Spring. However, the final two days of 2006 were spent in the relative comfort of my favorite seat at the local coffee cafe. Here a substantial updating was undertaken to a portion of my notes that cover northern New England. Slowly, the groundwork is being laid for a future project that will take me across all of New England in search of a very particular type of geologic phenomena. BUT local lake, Onota, is drawn down to record low levels exposing shoreline that may not have been seen for many a year. It was a good chance to check out what usually lay beneath the waters, including rocks with many old carvings. I also gave it a go at looking for Pulpit Rock, pictured only once on an old postcard montage of rocks of local fame. Alas, the rock is either long gone, or so altered, it is now unrecognizable.

Absolutely astounding! With but a week to go until Christmas, it was in the upper 50 degree range and the woods bare from snow. Using the opportunity, I rolled on into the southwest corner of Hampshire County to get photos and measurements on Big Rock/Balance Rock. Almost 60 feet in circumference, its average height on one side was around 9 feet, and the opposite side about 12 feet high. Then moving on down into Hampden County, I climbed on up a boulder field to a ledge containing two very small caves. These had been entered a few years back by means of a home-made scaling pole. Farther on to the east was the big prize of the day in English Grass Cave. This revisit from years past was intended to more accurately plot its location (out in the middle of nowhere) and further understand its geologic makeup. Indeed, just inside it's entrance was a large pegmatite mass which the local bedrock geologic map showed to be in this vicinity. And with foliage lacking, a great view of the surrounding hills and the Westfield River below was to be had. One drawback to this time of year: just after the middle of the afternoon, dusk was already beginning to settle in.

Never have I pushed on into December but who could resist the perfect day of crisp temperatures, blue skies, no snow, and a Sunday reprieve from the hunting season! Thus, I was allowed to catch up on a few odds & ends that needed to be looked at. Up first was a large boulder field in western Hampshire County, previously seen in a driveby this past Spring. Then heading on north into Franklin County, I hiked in on cross country ski trails to the hill top of Lone Boulder Hill and its three state view. Oh Yes - the Lone Boulder is also present here, just off the brow of the hill. More to the north - and east - up in the region near Vermont was my next destination. Settler's Cave, a very small cave formation, was looked over to determine its exact origin. Nearby: the Oven was further examined as part of on going studies into carbonate rock caves in this region of the State.

With the annual Thanksgiving trek and cookout on the Appalachian Trail, my outdoor season for this year effectively comes to an end. Occasionally I will pop my head out the 'door' during the cold weather but for the most part I'll be content with starting on next year's plans. Among the areas that will be looked at early in the next spring included Essex County, southern Worcester County, and a long overdue look into cave leads in western Rhode Island. So stay tuned!

A raw November morning brought me back into western Hampshire County to further investigate the story of John Remington and Deadman's Cave. First stop was to try and locate some old Remington home sites and although the general area was located, no cellar holes were to be found. This may be due to their natural - or unnatural - obliteration or just that they were missed in the search. And even so, there is no guarantee that John's home was at this particular location presented on a hand drawn map that may lead one a bit astray. It seems a new source of information will be needed to further pursue this rather lurid tale.

Traditionally, I try to visit Connecticut around the first half of November. Although primarily a social trip, I usually do get to ramble a bit of the countryside. On this visit old sections of the Waterbury to Milldale trolley route were sought out. This also included hiking at Panthorn Park in Southington. And with that in mind, several days after my return to the Berkshires, I decided to look over some of what remains of the local trolley route. Close to my own home, sections of the elevated roadbed were still visible that once carried the Berkshire Street Railway north on its way to Adams and North Adams.

Rapidly heading towards the close of another season, I had the opportunity to kill a few birds with one stone. A postcard show was slated for the northeast Quabbin region and I owed some copies of old photos to the local library as well. So I started the early morning hours coming in on the Mohawk Trail and dropping south into Worcester County. A report of a cave was leftover from the summer months and, indeed, a fair sized porkie den lay nestled away in the top of ledges pointed out to me by a local man on my earlier visit. Farther south I made a return visit to what was named the Williamsville Features. Here an impressive ledge had collapsed, forming blocks of rock stacked much like fallen dominoes. Within these rock piles lay an assortment of small caves. Then on to the postcard show and library. Upon leaving town, I continued my way south to do measurements on the giant erratic Sampson's Pebble or Flint Rock. This worthy boulder measures 75 feet around and probably somewhat smaller in weight than the nearby Rum Rock; with both falling far short of the area's champions: Big Rock and Great Rock in the Woods. Also in the immediate vicinity, I gave a quick look to the local Indian cave - really just a split rock formation. Indian and Whitefield Rocks, marking important events from the past, lay still farther south. Indian Rock traces its history back to the King Philip period of Native American unrest. While famed clergyman George Whitefield made use of his rock (now partially obscured by brush) for sermonizing during the first half of the eighteenth century.

The annual Essex County/Cape Ann adventure got kicked off at dawn's first light. Trying to update the current status of Pirate's Glen, I found myself wandering amongst suburban neighborhoods, surrounding a modest sized tract of land that one has to wonder how it survived. I left with indefinite conclusions about this important piece of historic property. Wandering a bit farther north, I did a portion of the lovely Lynn Woods, taking on a trail new to me. It eventually took me on up to Dungeon Rock (sometimes said to possess a 'Witch's profile') and Union Rock - a huge erratic. I made an attempt, through another section of the park, to (unsuccessfully) locate an erratic, sometimes locally known as Shoemaker Rock. Still farther north, to the famed Cannon Rock; then on into Peabody to locate Lookout Rock. This, unfortunately, proved unsuccessful (or just possibly inconclusive) but changes in the area may be an explanation and Lookout Rock may no longer exist. Also on the list of 'possibly gone' might be Wigwam Rock as a second attempt to locate it, it did not turn up amongst the several other erratics seen. But the 'Butts' does indeed still exist, laying along a stream, in the middle of big city environment. Then on up into Gloucester to consult with a local expert before heading on to the location of the Chief Wingaersheek profile. A further search of the Joppa section of Town with no "Old Man' in sight. On to the shoreline at sunset saw the Lady of Rock/Great Stone Face catch the last rays of a setting sun. Second day: On into Dogtown to check on a possible archeological site. After navigating an immense boulder field, a fellow traveler made me aware of a hunting season in progress. Thereafter, I stuck to the trail and returned via Babson's Boulders to successfully search out those I hade missed in the past. Next, I went on up to the Goose Cove Reservoir to see more of Babson's influence in numbered stones for old cellar holes. But I primarily was looking for the site on an old postcard depicting a waterfall. It was not to be found. After lunching at the Halibut Point State Park, I worked several parts of the Rockport coastline checking them against old postcard images. I revisited the Great Gargoyle and an area sometimes called the Giant's Stairs. Pulling out of 'Glawsta' early on the third day, I took on the Boston morning traffic to drop down into Middlesex County and an urban Bear's Den. Getting away from the City, I moved out to the northwest to the Brother or Two Brother Rocks, ancient landmarks from the 1600's. The final Middlesex County stop before turning home was the Wolf Rocks and local version of Castle Rock - a large deposit of erratics upon the brow of a hill.

Way out in the northern part of central Worcester County lay the Cat Rocks. These were brought to my attention by a set of stereoviews done by a Leominster photographer during the late 1800's. The ledges comprising the "rocks" have mostly crumbled to talus so a few minor caves are present. In one area, though, some gigantic blocks of rock have fallen to form the better of the caves. I then tried my hand at finding the proverbial "needle in a haystack" in the form of Sunset Rock, somewhere in central Worcester County. Despite bouncing around between a couple towns, a couple times, no rock was found to match my old photograph. Although an area State Park did have an Native American rock shelter. One more "needle in a haystack", in a town bordering Quabbin Reservoir, was not found either. But before pulling out of the area, an old favorite "Rocking Stone" was visited.

Kicking off the busy Fall season, I returned to my beloved mountains within the Connecticut River Valley. With a second article from the Rev. David Peck (1869), the initial part of the adventure turned out to be more of a geographical reconnaissance. Many of the names for the summits he wrote of, many of the views he described, just no longer exist. On this morning, I ascended a col between what use to be known as "Russell Hill" and "Heartstone Mountain" before turning to ascend to the plateau-like summit of Heartstone. No views left here of the Valley and Connecticut River laying below but then Peck's "Paradise", where one first begins to ascend, has now grown to woodland. Moving on to another section of the mountain range, I endeavored to find a more efficient access into a set of ledges explored on several previous occasions. While bushwhacking in, a "noble ledge of conglomerate" (to paraphrase Rev. Peck) was encountered that boasted it's own unique geologic features, including several small caves. Coming through Hampshire County, on the return trip home, a quick drive by was made to see into a mystery. A late 1800's geologic map shows a lens of "limestone" existing, surrounded by granite bedrock. Unsuccessful on this trip, I will return before winter, better equipped and better informed. A couple more towns to the west, I got the chance to get a better look at a project from years ago. This was one of those old "leads" from out of the books by famed cave author, Clay Perry. The "Bear's Den Gorge" really isn't a gorge as much as a rock exposure (no cave here) that bears once, presumably, use to hang at.

Working the 'list', I returned to Franklin County. One very small cave needed some basic geologic testing to determine if it might have been formed in carbonate rock, therefore, be a solution cave. In this case - the answer was "Yes" for Wildflower Walk Cave. Moving on to an adjacent town, I looked into a report of "Crystal Caves", possibly being some overhanging features under a ledge. This proved fruitless as no overhangs (thus no caves) existed and the whole area appeared to be some ancient trap rock quarrying venture.

Heading 'South of the Border' (which, in this case, means Connecticut) for some R&R, I opted for a more cultural experience. Day one was spent primarily in Hartford with the first stop at the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art. Interesting painting here of Fort Dumpling on Connanicut Island, Rhode Island, where I've spent time in the past climbing rocks on the seacoast. Next up was the Old State House, then over to the Connecticut River for the dragon boat races. Finishing up in Town, was the old Butler-McCook home, oldest single family private residence still existing in Hartford, occupied until 1971, thereafter becoming a museum. The second day saw hiking up on the border of Cheshire and Prospect to visit Roaring Falls. On the way home, a waterfall awaited, running under the highway near the Massachusetts-Connecticut border.

It is often said: In life - you win some and you loose some. And so it goes in this business. Day One of three days out, brought me into the southern suburbs of Boston, home to the Roxbury Conglomerate. While exploring a state park, a parallel investigation was begun into the possible origin of several early 1900's postcard showing a group of Boy Scouts on an outing. On these cards, references were made to the Blue Hills, Hyde Park, and Stony Brook. While in the area a number of conglomerate features were visited including Rooney Rock, Bald Knob, Overlook Ledge, and the Perch. Next up, a slight jaunt to the east to search for Sally's Rock, past home to a hermit. Alas, urban sprawl has encroached upon the Rock, right to its very base! Swinging farther on southeastward, I reached the land of the South Shore. Here a grand example of a perched boulder, upon an exposed bedrock ledge, awaited me. Originally, this boulder had been written up in both the town histories of Weymouth and Hingham. Pushing a bit farther southeast, I revisited a rock used by King Philip as a meeting spot, now located in the back of a suburban development. Turning towards the Atlantic coastline, an unsuccessful attempt was made to find someone available upon an old estate to provide information on its Toad Rock. Turning once again, to parallel the coast, I moved one town northwest to drop in on its historical society, followed by a ramble through the nearby woods to look for the local version of Rattlesnake Den. Although, a confirmation could not be made on the exact site of the Den, a previously unknown cave was to be found! On the return trip through the woods, the route took me past Burbank Boulder. Day 2 was an early morning walk in Cohasset's Wheelwright Park, home to Big Tippling, Little Tippling Rocks, and the Devil's Chair. Moving over one town, several hours were spent in the library's local history room, revealing significant amounts of information on the local history/geology scene. This will provide the basis for many years of future research. Moving from town to town, one more historical society and one more library were visited. Day 3: An attempt was made to further verify a local cave site found last year as being one mentioned in a late 1800's town history. Best guess here is the cave from last year is not the local historical site. Then back on down to a local harbor at low tide for one more try at locating the Nubian Head Rock. Despite assurances from a long time local resident, I have my doubts that the Nubian still may exist. Time to leave the coast and move 'inward' to investigate the story of a stone face. Apparently, it was destroyed during the 1920's for a road project and, at one time, an old gold mine even existed near the site. But between the local library and historical society library, a photo was to be had of the Face! A couple more towns away, an unsuccessful try was made to locate a rock with a Native American profile upon it. One more town over, brought some disappointment as I had been incorrectly informed of a shortcut into Devil's Rock which I had hoped to measure for the 'Big Boulder' list. The local library was unable to provide anything in regard to the historic site: Robber's Cave.

With Fall right around the corner, plans are under way for one of my busiest - and favorite - times of the year. First - some valuable time is being put into revamping and upgrading computer equipment and record keeping. The transcription (for the most part) is finished on Centennial Rock, and the present information on big boulders in the Quabbin region - as well as deciding what additional information will be needed - is presently under review. It does appear the area's long held 'champion' of glacial erratics - Rum Rock - will be displaced by at least one of the other rocks in northwestern Worcester County. There may even be a King Philip site down in the southern regions of the County that may take its place on the list. The Fall projects are too numerous to list - so - let's just bring it on!

The Old Man in the Mountain, near Bash Bish Falls, was sought out, bringing me to the farthest reaches of southwestern Massachusetts. Despite a good confirmation of this rock's location, it was not found. Chances are it may lay hidden by tree growth, or even succumb to a fate similar that of its 'cousin' up in the New Hampshire mountains. Another attempt will be made - sans foliage. Shifting more eastward, one of the many Bear's Dens in the State was revisited to confirm a second - and easier - access to this locale. Raptors hovered overhead as I ascended into the ledges to get a closer look at a 'companion' cave known as Ghost Cave. A bona fide ghost exists, painted on the back wall of the cave some years ago. There is a story that Ghost and Bear's Den were physically connected at some point in time. Possible, considering their relatively close proximity. Certainly, they have a geologic connection due to their formation within the massive talus blocks of the ledge.

The hideous heat wave finally abated, giving way to temperatures more reasonable for summer. An opportunity to visit the eastern extremes of Franklin County! Up first were Indian Cave and Wabeek Boulder. Indian Cave is one of those sites of local lore - and exaggeration - as it was written that hundreds could shelter beneath its rocky canopy. Wabeek (now split into two very unequal sized portions) has its named carved upon it, as well as the writing "In the beginning". Then on into the eastern regions of Quabbin Reservoir where much remains to be done. On this day, measurements of Rum Rock were undertaken to see if its reputation as the area's largest glacial erratic can remain intact. Nearby, the local version of Indian Cave was also paid a visit. Next up was the local library to spend several hours culling through old issues of their newspaper. Success was to be had in the form of two articles by the Reverend David Peck from 1869 on geologic features in the Connecticut River Valley. Afterwards, two other sites were quickly checked, one mentioned by the local librarian and one from a U.S.G.S website, for glacial boulders. Then time to pick up the Mohawk Trail back west into the Berkshires.

Since the purported site of "Dead Man's Cave" in western Hampshire County was not that far off, I decided to give it a go and start working on its location. A somewhat similar story exists in local legends, but in their version, Dead Man was found in a sub-cellar rather than a cave. It seems two family homestead sites exist in the immediate area where the story is said to take place, but cannot be tied directly to the individual involved. This, despite some assurances from a local man that one of these IS the site!

Persevering through the summer doldrums, I've brought my 'investigations' more indoors with sporadic jaunts into the regional outdoor scene. A second trek to the northern Berkshires was effectuated to (for the most part) transcribe John Brown's inscription on "Centennial Rock" and the date of 1876 was confirmed. Checking around with my sources, I am looking to locate the "Old Man of Bash Bish" profile formation but this looks to be a good trip after the hot weather breaks. Local library archives alerted me to the wealth of information done by local author, and cave explorer, Clay Perry as part of his preparation for his now classic books on New England caves. One story that was written too late to be included in those books is the tale of "Deadman's Cave" over in western Hampshire County. Again, when cooler weather presents itself, I will take to the hills in search of the site.

In between the heat and the rain, I dropped in on a couple local sites. It seems the weight of Balance Rock in Lanesborough, one of New England's most famous erratics, is questionable. For years it has been said to be 165 tons but that may be the result of just quoting the same historical reference over and over. It was brought to my attention through a local newspaper article from the early 1970's, that is false, and in reality it is 365 tons! Is it or isn't it - will be determined. Then shooting on over to Adams, I was able to locate the second of two inscribed rocks done by Captain John Brown of Cheshire, right around the three-quarter mark of the nineteenth century. One is know as Brown's Boulder and located not far from Balance Rock in Lanesborough, the second is sometimes known as Centennial Rock.

Attempting to push on with some projects through the hot summer months, I took on central and western parts of Worcester County. Beginning the day out in the vicinity of Leominster, I further investigated the report of 'Cat Rocks' on a list of antique stereoviews by Leominster photographer E. G. Davis. I was able to confirm their existence and rough location through a local source, but attempts to access the site from two different directions proved unsuccessful. A return trip for the Fall is already planned. Moving on slightly westward, a search was made for a king sized glacial boulder appropriately named 'Big Rock'. This big-boy erratic was measured with the help of a uniformed local law enforcement officer and looks to weigh in at just under 1,000 tons! This puts it into a category with some of the area's largest erratics including Rum Rock, Flynt Rock/Sampson's Pebble, and an unnamed boulder down in a region bordering the Quabbin Reservoir. While canvassing the neighborhood for Big Rock, one of the friendly locals brought me up to a previously unreported ledge and caves. Onward I pushed farther west to look at the origins of some early 1900 U.S.G.S photos as well as Indian Head Rock. Despite what a more 'recent' photo (25 or 30 years old) showed, the Indian Head lay buried deep within the forest on a hilltop ledge. This guy is also a perched erratic probably weighing in at somewhat less than 100 tons. So after extracting myself from some dense underbrush, I moved on into the next town south to try and gather information relating to four views pictured on both sides of two stereoviews. Two of those views show rocky formations but only one is labeled, with "The old ledge at Grandpa Cleveland's home". This gave me the chance to sit and chat on the porch of an elderly gentleman's house, who was able to provide much in the way of information. Then it was farther south where I dropped in on the owner of one king sized erratic to leave off some historical information on his big boulder. By then it was time to swing around the southern end of Quabbin ("Land of many waters") Reservoir to head on back into the Berkshires.

While taking a bit of a 'breather' during the hotter, more humid season, I had a chance to take in a postcard show in the southern Berkshires sponsored by a local author and historian. A couple interesting postcards were to be had: two in a bin marked only as "western Mass" and showing a rock with a tree growing out of it, along with a one of a great rocky chasm and river. Neither had any markings whatsoever to identify them. The latter seems to be of the famed Chesterfield Gorge but the former - a more interesting mystery! After the card show I jogged up through the rain to see if it might match old Split Rock in Lanesborough. Not quite a match but Split Rock - along with an adjacent boulder - were partially denuded of their mossy covering, revealing antique inscriptions from long ago. Also in Lanesborough, is a famous rock that came to be known as "Brown's Boulder" complete with inscriptions from the 1800's to go along with a story of failed romance. Apparently, Mr Brown failed more than once, as a bit father north - and east - is another of his inscribed boulders that I am presently tracking down the location and story on. AND - a visit to the local library to consult old atlas maps, has yielded clues to the location of rocky formations located way out beyond the confines of the great Quabbin Reservoir. AND a long held mystery of just where a cave once existed in the famed cliffs of Newport, Rhode Island, was finally solved thanks to another piece of old photography!

Returning to Essex County and the most northeastern portion of the State, I reacquainted myself with a couple of sites first visited some years ago. The Devil's Den and the Devil's Basin are both old lime mining sites that were long ago forgotten, or just plain neglected, as the forests have grown up and surrounded them. The 'Basin' was searched for a formation seen in old photography that could almost be a representation of old Satan's 'head'. The profile was still to be found along with some small deposits of iron ore leeching its way into the old quarry hole. While over near His 'Den', the Devil's Pulpit stood quite conspicuously, having been freed from the dense overgrowth that has surrounded it in more recent times. Before leaving Town, Gerrish Rock and the local version of the 'Balance Rock' were also visited. Then it was time to drop southward onto Cape Ann. After setting up camp, the shoreline was scoured for the Lady of Rock/Great Stone Face which was found staring skyward while I was cruising about. Then it was over to a section of Gloucester formerly known as Joppa to begin a search for the Old Man of Joppa formation. Day two brought an unsuccessful search for the Chief Wingaersheek profile, a look at the Goose Cove section of Dogtown, as well as a short jaunt in along the main road to Dogtown Square. Another section of Joppa was searched, but still no 'Old Man' was to be found. Breaking from the stifling heat and the relentless pursuit by vicious mosquitoes, I combed through the archives at the Rockport Library. Before heading out from the Cape on the third day, I took on the bugs one more time to visit the local Bear's Den and it's own version of George Washington/Stone Face profile. Then three stops were made on the across the state return, to visit local historical societies and libraries at Leominster, Princeton, and Barre. Here, I was searching for old photography and information on several local sites of geologic phenomena, including Indian Head Rock and Cat Rocks. A successful location was to be had for Indian Head but with summer thundershowers beginning, it was time to turn homeward.

Ok - I admit it. I've got a bit of a 'geek streak' and I love libraries! Always searching for that ultimate 'info fix', I dropped in on the Adams Library to do some background research on a couple past projects from that Town. A substantial amount of information was gleaned from their archives. On the way out of town, I looked over access to several cave sites located there that will be checked out in the future. The real treat came on the way home when I hooked up with a local expert working a roadside farmstand.

What could two rocks and one cave karst have in common? While thumbing through Russell Dunn's latest book Trails with Tales [see farther down this page], I began to wonder if his entry of 'Rabbit Rock' at the Cobble in Tyringham, might have a rock structure similar to south Berkshire's 'Elephant Rock' and even the Beartown Karst. Beartown is a karst and cave system of the most minor nature, only interesting from a geologic standpoint, but offering close to nothing in the way of caving. In the end, all three features turned out to be formed from a highly calcitic marble, but Rabbit Rock a little less so than Elephant Rock and the Beartown Karst caves. Since I was down in the southern Berkshires, I took the opportunity to look into two or three old postcards from the Montville section of Sandisfield: one of some falls and a curious one of Big Rock. The falls were located without too much effort as a small set on the Buck River. After conversing with a couple local residents (and one glass of ice tea over local history), I ascended a local mountain top where Big Rock lay buried away in the forest.

Working with two old sources of information, an AMC trail guide and the database left from the former north (Berkshire) county caver, I set out to see what one might find. The old trail guide mentions a feeder trail to the Appalachian Trail existing way back when. Upon arrival there seemed to be a trail still remaining but the access situation looked to be a bit sketchy. SO, going in by another route I tracked down the site of a cave listing in the old database, listed as "Serpentine Cave". The bedrock geologic map does show a deposit of serpentine rock in the area and, after a modest amount of bushwhacking, the site was found. Alas, the 'cave', like many of the ones in the database that had been previously sought out, left a lot to the imagination.

With a bountiful list of sea caves awaiting me, I dropped in on a kayak demonstration to get the scoop on the whole scene. Paddles, boats, life jackets - ah, it was good to be out on the water again!

Please allow me to shamelessly put in a plug for author Russell Dunn's latest book "Trails with Tales". And no - not because yours truly makes 'cameo appearances' within, but because of it's splendid combination of history and the outdoors. Russell is best know for a series of waterfall guides in New York and his book does cover a lot in eastern New York, but a nice section on the Berkshires of western Massachusetts is included within.

During the 1960's through the 1980's, a man from the northern Berkshires was quite active in the area of cave exploration. Before leaving the area, he managed to leave a considerable wealth of information behind, including the location of an old lead mine. On my trek in through the woods, I was greeted by a thundering sound emanating from the deep and rocky chasm, whose bottom was not quite visible, but lay off to my side. Soon I ran into two old bridge abutments that use to carry the ancient road across the ravine. At this vantage point I could see a flume and a set of waterfalls. Ah - but I left the investigation for my return and pushed on, crossing both streams farther up. After awhile, and a steep ascent up the hillside, the old mine entrance was located. Partially flooded - but still within the realms of exploration - I carefully picked my way in across logs and rocks exposed above the water line. In all - maybe just over 100 feet before it dead-ended. But back to the chasm: What a feast for one's eyes! Two streams, one coming down a flume-falls and the other dropping over two sets of falls, combine and flow through a deep and craggy canyon where several other sets of falls await. This trip could not have been better timed as two weeks of rains, and one heavy downpour the night before, made for an incomparable spectacle...

A rumor/report of a 'cave' at one of Mt. Greylock's foothills has been floating about for several decades. In one version, it references an "old geology report". My guess is that report would be none other than Dr. Hitchcock's on the Geology of Massachusetts (1800's) as he mentions an identical location, two streams disappearing underground, and his theory on how caves might be formed in such a manner. So with the rains hopefully coming to an end, I packed up and headed out to visit some contact zones in the mountainous regions described by the reports - and Hitchcock. The unfortunate results were, very little in the way of marble was seen despite the presence of the marble unit of the Walloomsac Schist (or Owm). And certainly water aplenty was cascading off the mountainside but none was seen to go underground. However, confusion may be had here as the old name for Mt. Greylock was the same as one of its present foothills. SO that site - in the old report - might just be anywhere!

With the black flies feasting away, and the allergies raging away, it was onward - back into Huntington to work its resources list. First up were the Cook's Cascades; small, but still they managed to catch the attention of an 1800's photographer who put them onto a stereoview. Also present were some old foundations, a possible site for a mill from the past. I then hoped to climb into one of the local mountains to begin a search for ledges, rocks, and old mining sites, but access was very indefinite so this was postponed to another time. Next up were another, and somewhat more interesting set of cascades, on Bromley Brook. Finally, on the return home, Fish Mouth Rock (possible archeological site?) was located in the woods.

Returning once again to the mountains in the Connecticut River Valley, we find this year to be much like two years ago when a drought of information slowed down this particular project. However, working with what I already have, more ledges were checked, this time in the vicinity (and up to) old Moss Cascade. Interesting stuff as several sets of these ledges formed terraces in the mountainside. Graves Ledge was in the vicinity so I dropped in to gather GPS data and figure out some of the land boundaries and who owns what when it comes to all its rocky formations. On this visit, I got a second chance to visit the monolithic Fortress Rock. The return home saw a quick look for a bed of "limestone" (probably marble) plopped in the middle of a granitic mass of bedrock, showing itself on an 1898 geological map covering a section of Hampshire County. Another passing look was also given to find Martha's Rock/Cave.

The Westfield River winds its way through many beautiful towns and I made the first, of what will be several, visits to one of those towns: Huntington. A rather lengthy list awaits me of natural - and some not so natural - features to look into. On this day I dropped in on the old Town of Knightville, taken away to make room for an Army Corp flood control project. Still waiting was the monstrous Leaning Rock, itself, dwarfed by the even bigger Knightville Dam in whose shadow it stood - or "leaned". Also on this trip, downstream was a picturesque gorge, and the site of two waterfalls were sought out.

Day one of a three day adventure saw me down in Bristol County where my first stop was an area replete with boulders of Dighton Conglomerate. Checked out/into were local legends Great Rock, House Rock, and two stories of a cave in the local woods and a picture on an old postcard of a rock called "The Playmate". Locating Playmate and the cave may be a task of Herculean proportions without something more definitive in the way of information, but many other boulders scattered throughout the woods were examined. Then it was on to Dighton itself, and some splendid examples of the "type locale" for its native conglomerate, along with a few minor caves. Next in town were the remains of the Council Oak Tree, standing for hundreds of years, little remains of the one majestic tree that King Philip use to meet under. Also in town were the Beals' Rocks from antique postcard days. Continuing south, another relic pictured on old postcards, was the Hanging Rock. Then swinging east, and north, a stop was made at the rock where the last 'official battle' in King Philip's War took place: Anawam's Rock. Other sites and other rocks occasionally get mentioned as the 'correct' site of Anawam's stand and one of these was given a quick look. It was then on to (another) Great Rock and a chat with a local history expert before moving on to the local Indian Oven. Finally, before closing out the day, a quick - and unsuccessful - attempt was made to find the regional version of the Devil's Footprints. The second day brought me to Hiding Rocks Cave, the site of another local Native American legend. Then I put in time searching out the possibilities (and local library) of Tiverton and Little Compton's coasts for sea caves. While searching for Speaking Rock, a local resident did alert me to a couple of sea cave formations. A quick visit was made to Wilbour Woods to update my photos of Indian Rock/Awashonk Stone. With low tide approaching, it was time to move west over into the Narragansett Bay to look into possible sites for Captain Kidd's, and other sea formed caves. Both brought moderate success as a couple new sea caves were located. On day three, I was out on the Newport Cliff Walk with the early morning light and Seal Rock - another image out of the golden age of postcards. Then I headed back in to Tiverton and the Weetamoo Woods, Wildcat Rock, and small talus dens. My late cousin, Edward Hitchcock, mentions in his "Final Report on the Geology of Massachusetts (1841) "one of the largest bowlders (sic) I have ever seen of coarse graywacke conglomerate" lying just south of the Massachusetts border, along the river, in Rhode Island. I did seek out mentioned 'bowlder' but 165 years can change a river's bank and now the area is a big oil depot. Cutting north through Massachusetts, I once again dropped into "Little Rhody" for a visit to Massasoit Spring and an Indian mortar, King's Rock.

Another picture perfect spring day and this visit took me to a remote set of mountains above the Mohawk Trail and close to the Vermont border. This area offers a perfect blend of geology and history in numerous rocky animal dens and caves, along with former settlements from the post Revolutionary War era. Little is left of the former homestead sites but, of course, the rocks still persist.. One of the main features in these hills is a distant, and long forgotten, Bear's Den. An old road use to wind its way up through the hills and westward into the next town. That has all but been obliterated. GPS data, in comparison with detailed maps, was used to get a rough feel for what territory it once may have covered. But in covering a large expanse of acreage, a massive ledge of schist was encountered, parts of which had broken apart and fallen to form talus dens for the local animals, while the spring runoff had formed numerous cascades of a smaller nature. Afterwards, I moved to a nearby tract of land to take a quick look for "Spirit Rock" listed in an old history on the area. The 'scenic route' was taken on the way home in an effort to contact individuals having a large glacial erratic upon their property.

Just the absolute perfect day to be in the outdoors and feel the earth, once again, beneath my feet! After taking in the Boston Antique Photo Image Show in northwest Middlesex County, a stop was made in northeast Worcester County. Here I checked into a reported "Half House (Rock)" that showed itself on an old stereoview circa 1870's. The effort was a success and Half House was found. While in the neighborhood, I dropped in again on the Devil's Pulpit/Pulpit Rock.

With one of the best beginnings to Spring in recent memory, I jumped in with "both feet" and a three day outdoor marathon. The first day brought me to the northern Berkshires and the site of two old postcards from its Golden Era. One was of an old reservoir with small natural falls below, and a bit farther downstream, a beautiful relic out of the past in an old stone arch trolley bridge and more falls. Day two brought the first trip of the season back into the mountains east of the Connecticut River. The goal on this visit was to more familiarize myself with an area written about, circa 1870 by the Rev. David Peck, as Paradise. A paradise indeed as it was bordered by a rocky, stream filled ravine and small falls, a precipitous cliff with unparalleled views of the valley, magnificent exposures of conglomerate rock ledges, and another tract of wilderness Peck called the Garden of Eden. I eventually moved farther north to Peck's "Home of the Rocks", part of the rocky formations photographed around 1870 by John L. Lovell. Here, I made an attempt to do my own photographic interpretation of Lovell's "Rock Shadow" but it proved a near impossibility as the 135 plus intervening years saw the view mostly shut off by tree growth. Much better luck was to be had at my second attempt of capturing the inspiring "Curve Rock". And day number three put the old Ford truck back on the road to journey up and over into Hampshire County to begin a search for a set of rocks pictured on an old postcard by the rocks' owner and dated 1913. While in Town, I dropped in at old Campbell Rock for photos and talk with a gracious, friendly local dude.

Late winter blessed us with a very Spring like day! I jumped on the opportunity to get some long neglected geologic reconnaissance out of the way. The goal on this day was to examine 'contact zones' or areas of two adjacent bedrock formations. Under certain circumstances, karst areas can be formed with the possibility of cave development. This trip yielded nothing positive but it allows me to cross it off my list and move on.

Another sunny, crisp winter day lured me out to look at rock formations near the base of a local mountain. There has been a report of a 'den' of some sorts used by local youths over 60 years ago. Nothing quite matched the available description but several insignificant talus caves were visited.