Monday, May 24, 2010

The Mighty Connecticut

After paddling around local lakes for the past several weeks it was time kick up the learning curve and take on a river - the mighty Connecticut. My main objective was to scout the mid portion of the River in Massachusetts for access points, but I also hoped to work some of my more normal geologic investigations into the mix.

Internet sources mentioned a state owned 'beach' area on the Connecticut's east side so I took that up first. Most of morning was spent trying to locate the site in vain. I talked with two local people, drove to the top of Mount Holyoke looking for DCR (state) employees all without success. The feeling here is it my be an isolated parcel of land and only accessible by water but I will be looking into that further.

Meanwhile back over on the other - west - side of the river the journey took me as far south as the Dinosaur Footprint Park in Holyok. The dino park does offer an expansive view of the river with several rocky ledge outcrops on the river's opposite bank. Somewhere a bit north lies a future watery destination in Titan's Pier, an outcrop lying along side the water.

After briefly looking over an access point at the Oxbow, it was decided to head north for a quieter portion of the river at Sunderland. First order of business was to check some 'non formal' areas of river access and try to verify the exact location of reported riverside rock ledge. After locating the ledge (indeed walking over the top of it) I decided to head downstream to the formal, legitimate access point in town to put in my kayak.

Paddling north - and upstream - presented no real difficulties initially. I landed at the first of the two islands that would be passed, then continued upstream to located the ledge lying along the river opposite island #2. The area between island and shore proved to be a major challange with heavy currents, eddies, and even the occasional whirlpool. But upon making the ledge, a couple quick photos were shot before turning around to ride the current back south. From there it was all but to pack up and head on back over to the Berkshires.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Since my return from Rhode Island less than three weeks ago several things have been happening. I finally received my long awaited kayak and have been familiarizing myself with its use. One adventure took me down pass the backside of old quarry buildings used in the refining of limestone located on Cheshire Reservoir. Another - out to several islands.

You might ask, what that has to do with geology - or even history. However, I have become increasing aware that certain sites are best - or only accessible from water. Certainly this all plays in to my searching out sea formed caves. And I am reminded of a certain cave report in western Massachusetts that was located on a island. In this instance, a buddy and his canoe were able to paddle me out to my destination although the 'cave' was more of just a rocky formation. So a new activity to keep me going during those hot humid days I don't wish to be in the woods.

Old Berkshire Park, once located just to the east of the southern end of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, often appears on old postcards. After a long absence from this picturesque trail I returned one cold, brisk Mother's Day morning to investigate one site visible on one of those old postcards. I also reexamined part of a long ago abandoned road that ran out across the rail trail and entered southern Berkshire Village. This in the days before a Route 8 (approximating the old trolley route) existed from near the present day Berkshire Mall north to the Berkshire Village area.

Island 'cave'- late 1990's