Sunday, August 31, 2008

Returning to an oft explored region from years past, I finished up the search for the "Walking Club Plaque". This commemorative relic, paying homage to it's leader, dates from 1926 and is bolted to an outcrop of rock high in the hills of Hampshire County near its border with Franklin County. Afterwards, a southerly bushwhack brought me to the local Balance Rock - a modest sized (at 34 feet circumference) perched boulder but still a fine specimen of this phenomena. While trying to work some photographic magic amongst the marginal lighting of the day, a woman of some years came up the side of the rocky ridge. From that point on, all the way down the mountain side, an invigorating discussion of area's features and history ensued. Included in there was a brand new cave lead. Many thanks to my new nameless friend! The day was finished up just to the north where I traveled in to the remote Ladder Cave (not visited in nine years) for updated photos and definitive GPS location.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Trying to work things around inclement weather on a vacation week, I took on the Blackstone Region. A slamming day enabled me to make a dent in a lengthy list of projects for this very historic region, some of which I have not seen in years. First on the list is one of Massachusetts' premiere geologic sites at Purgatory Chasm. In the intervening years I had accumulated quite a bit of old photography and postcards on this now State Park. I did not set out to identify every cliff and crevice in my image inventory but a significant amount, nonetheless, was located. I also did an exploration of the first few feet of little known "Damnation Cave" and located the 'lost' "Devil's Stairway". On to the east another town brought me to Town Hall to search out a possible "Dead Man's Cave". Although I was unable to come away with any new information here, I cruised the reported area locating one small, previously unknown, cave. I will work on confirming if this is Dead Man's or not. While in town, I dropped in on Murder's Rock, not seen in many a year, to take photos. On to the north, I revisited another cave that came to light in recent years boasting a whole 23 feet of passage. On to the Upton State Forest and the Mammoth Rock Trail, home to Mammoth Rock - a big glacial erratic. A much more interesting boulder lays farther to the south (and a bit north of Whistling Cave) in an unnamed erratic with a 60 foot circumference and over 12 feet in height. Meanwhile, I returned to the car by way of Whistling Cave, perhaps the most interesting geologic feature in the forest. On the way out of town I made a passing (and unsuccessful) attempt at locating the local stone chamber now property of the historical commission.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rolling on into the Land of Granite and Arches, the early morning stop was the Keystone Bridges trail. A miracle of engineering in its day, these bridges helped the railroad cross some of the most rugged and remote terrain in western Massachusetts. Thanks to the good folks at Friends of the Keystone Arches these are now more accessible than at any time in the recent past. Since those early days, the right of way was somewhat relocated (previously using a part of the old Poontoosic Turnpike) and now some bridges carry no tracks. The second part of the trip returned me to the old pink granite quarry first located back in the spring. This time all the snow was gone but - as one can imagine - the old quarry held some water. This was a comparatively small operation, run by one local family. The remains include old pipes, cables, and pulley assemblies.