Sunday, November 22, 2009

Monadnocks and Pulpits

Pulpit Rock: circa 1870

The gray, cold skies of late autumn portends the coming of winter but offer up some of the best outdoor experiences of the year. Before closing my season out for another year, I wanted to visit the rocky formations within the Connecticut River Valley one more time. Having such a beautiful day this late in the year is certainly a gift not to be taken lightly so I extend my journey to climbing Mt. Toby.

Toby is a monadnock standing close to the mighty Connecticut River. I used one of the old mountain roads that comes in from the west ascending past a fallen in sugar shack. The last one-third of a mile provides a nice challenging climb of about 450 feet in elevation. Views on the summit are quite limited until one climbs the fire tower (seen from the valley on the drive in) and is rewarded with a breathtaking vista. Leaving the mountain top, I checked the remains of the sugar shack seen on the ascent (just downhill from here a couple of faults trending south to north run through the area) and looked into a couple side trails.

But before pulling out of the Valley, I decided to focus on the section of rocks known in the Victorian Age as the Rock Shelter. This is the impressive territory of rock formations photographed some 140 years ago. Walking past my well known rocky acquaintances Rock Roof and Kittie' Nook, I arrived at (yet another) Pulpit Rock. In this version, Pulpit Rock is section of the grandiose ledges that has given way leaving a free standing boulder. Trying to photograph the modern day version of the antique photograph was nearly an impossible chore with today's forest all around. Although many 'quasi-cave' formations exist in the area, I finished off the day with a very real - but very small - cave, dubbed Graves' Cave when I first came across it a few years back.