Tuesday, October 27, 2009

cave near Pulpit Rock, Berkshire County

Cave formation near Pulpit Rock

Continuing to build upon the past, both the recent and far, descent was made upon a section of central Berkshire County once known as the Sikes District. The name (like many old geographic features) is taken from the surname of a family once common to the area. The prominent geologic feature of the area is Pulpit Rock (yet another) and a visit was made earlier this year to meet with the owners and discuss the past in regards to their own farmland. Another feature somewhere in the area is quarry from which stone was used to build a couple local churches.

On this trip an old comrade from past excursions, Mr. Tom Hoffman of Washington, joined in for the hike up the old mountain road and on in to Pulpit Rock. A large ravine near this rock contains several small caves and probably exhibits enough characteristics to be classed as what speleologist call pseudo-karst. The area as a whole is part of the Dalton Formation with feldspathic quartzite (at Pulpit Rock) and a more schistose variety at the nearby ravine and caves.

After a thorough look at caves and pulpit, a hike was made out in the direction of the old mountain road following the general topography that drains into the cave ravine. This brought us out to the woods road at a elevation higher than where the bushwhack in to Pulpit Rock began. This area was once where the Sikes (later: Sykes) families once settled. The local mountain once bore the name "Rock Mountain" and even Herman Melville spent a year during his teens teaching at the Sikes District School.

Starting our descent, we were greeted by a carefully constructed drainage channel under the road hand crafted from native rock. Farther into the woods lay a modest size quarry probably a source of rock used for projects in the immediate area. Several hundred feet farther down the mountainside, a brief stop at Sikes Cave - a talus cave - then a return to our car already contemplating our next adventure into the old Sikes District.