Monday, December 3, 2012

Old friends

'Aunt Grace' at unknown rock

Old friends: one that I first met about ten years ago at Sachem Rock in East Bridgewater recently renewed contact. At that first meeting, I found out about past relatives, and old photographs, from my home in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. Several of those old photographs are now part of my own collection.

Recently I was sent a copy of another old photo by the friend showing a Victorian Age relative standing next to her bicycle at a rocky location. It was conjectured that it might be Reynold's Rock (Cheshire) but a trip out there proved it probably wasn't.

I did drop in to the rocks at Balance Rock Park (as past photos showed relatives visiting that site) and was once again unable to match anything with the photograph. Surprising on this visit were the vast number of trees that have fallen since my previous trip. One was a pine over fifty feet tall whose top now lays upon Split Rock, which once boasted its own large tree growing forth from its large namesake crack. Picking my way through downed trees, I eventually landed at Cross Rock.

Cross Rock

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Nutmeg State

Indian Rock

Another November tradition takes me down Connecticut way. Much like last year's trip, I made use of the drive through northwest Connecticut to further my knowledge on sites that were photographed by Winsted photographer F. H. DeMars. Apparently a favorite area of DeMars (and close to his home) was a waterfall, chasm, and associated power plant built at the falls in the late 1800's. With an eye towards assisting DeMars granddaughter in identifying sites on his old glass slides, I was able to access a lower area of the ravine. However, the main chasm (with a still operating hydroelectric facility) may be impossible due to landowner considerations.

The journey eventually landed me down near Waterbury where sections of an old canal/rr line, and in one case a trolley crossing, were investigated. The Barnes Museum in Southington was also visited this day.

On the second day, Indian Rock in southwestern Hartford County was seen.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rock Heaven

'The Cave': from November 2003

Come early November, a large postcard show is put on each year in Barre, MA. So a chance to not only go ' fishin'g for more antique images, but maybe catch a couple sites out that way. The show did prove to be more successful than usual with a few rare gems coming my way.

Afterwards, a couple sites around Town were hit including 'The Cave' (rare old images of this exist) and its nearby Porcupine Den. The Cave somewhat qualifies for the title of "Victorian Age Attraction" due to it's use way back during that time. A set of initials and dates from 1860 was spotted amongst the rocks. A stop by Indian (Head) Rock provided a splendid view of Mt. Wachusetts and a chance to tidy up the trail that had suffered blow-down in recent times. Along the back roads, the view through leafless trees allowed drive by sightings of many rocky formations including boulders, large rocky outcrops, and a couple 'quasi-cave' formations.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Last Hurrah

With the traditional October Essex County visit, the list of long vacation excursions basically winds down. Unfortunately conditions never allowed for a kayak launch and exploration of the coastline from the sea. However amongst the inclement weather and gale fore winds, some interesting sites were to be visited.

The old lime kiln

Early on the first day, the second oldest lime site in New England (after Newbury, MA) was looked over in Bolton, MA. Conservation land includes a network of trails and the old quarry and lime kiln. The next stop up in Tyngsborough finally culminated a search begun a few years back when I was searching for another rock pulpit used by George Whitefield. The history of this rock turns out to be much more extensive than previous thought as Indian chief Wannalancet spent the final years of his life in the vicinity. Wannalancet at that point in time was staying with Johnathan Tyng and would sit upon this rock. It is now once again marked with a plaque after the previous one had been stolen. My earlier information had the rock near the burial site of Tyng (where Wannalancet is also buried) and indeed the cemetery is a "stone's throw" away. Upon arrival in Cape Ann, two West Gloucester sites were visited: some gigantic boulders at Tompson's Reservation and Mt. Ann.

The Whitefield/Wannalancet Rock

Day Two brought 'iffy' weather so local sites were worked at the Profile Rock, Rowe's Tomb, and Andrews Woods. Some down time was spent out on the rocks at Pigeon Cove and the area of Lanes Cove and it's historic cemetery.

Day Three brought on the rains, although lighter in the morning hours so trips up to Newbury, West Newbury, and Groveland were possible. I finally was able, through two different hikes, to get into the area of rocks history records as the "Nubble Squid" - or, as it has been called in modern times, the Knobble Squid. The location is not overly rocky by Essex County standards, but it is by comparison to the immediate surrounding area, which is strangely lacking in outcrops or erratics.

Cradle Rock: circa 1905

Cradle Rock lies somewhere not too far away but several past attempts to locate it, including a Town Hall visit on this day, still proved unsuccessful. However, a token visit was made to the Stickney Boulder and Great Rock on the Newbury/Newbury town line. Another old lime site - the Devil's Basin- was descended into once I got a sleeping fox to vacate the old pit. The Fourth Day brought fair skies but terrific winds as I shot on down towards Marblehead. A variety of sites were located including possible (but turned out not probable) kayak launch sites. However, it did enable me to do some old fashioned reconnaissance by foot of the coastal rocks. During that time a small sea cave was located and one good kayak launch point eventually found.

Rain once again arrived on day five so some local touring was the order of the day. My final bit of time on the Cape for the year was filled walking a local park with an old hospital (foundations) site, an old well, and a gigantic boulder that had been partially quarried.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Once again ... Essex County!

My arrival into Essex County was by a slightly different route on this occasion. I wanted another look at an old soapstone quarry where diverging opinions exist if there is - or is not - soapstone still present. Certainly I did locate a large number of quarried stones that could be the mineral. But being beyond my limited knowledge of mineralogy, I finally moved on.

The plan was once again to continue with kayaking the coastlines, in particular Cape Ann, so upon arriving on the Cape I set about checking into a local site that would gain me access to the Magnolia section of Gloucester's shoreline. The day was finished up looking into another section of Tompson's Reservation at Sunset Mountain. The mountain is large sections of exposed granite with one perched boulder seen.

Peering into the old Indian Cave

High surf warnings from an off shore hurricane plagued the trip for at least its first half, but I found some land based activities to occupy myself with. On the second day I wandered down into the southern regions of Essex County to look at an old Indian Cave. Nearby, at a major highway intersection, I looked into the possible existence of a large perched boulder photographed many years ago. It was unlikely that with all the modern day construction, including a massive mall, it would still exist. It did not show itself.

The view down into the Swallows Cave entrances

Turning towards the ocean, I reached the shore at Revere and would begin a journey north to check into multiple locations for future kayak launches. I eventually ended up exploring some Audubon property, Swallows Cave, and Castle Rock, as part of my northward trek. I also got down below the Lynn seawall at low tide to see Sliding and Red Rocks. Traveling still further north, I worked the shore areas of Swampscott, Marblehead, and eventually Salem where I found a nifty (future) launch site and a small cave in the boulders along the shore.

Trying a hand at the Balance Rock in Ravenswood Park

Day three began with another check of the surf at Rafes Chasm. With still too much in the way of heavy seas to take on, I retreated for an inspection of Ravenswood Park, a site I had briefly visited only once some years ago. After finishing up in Ravenswood a jaunt down the road into Manchester was made to visit the Coolidge Reservation. Before leaving the area, a final check was made of the nearby launch site (in particular - parking) to prepare the way for the next morning.

Rafes Chasm - from the Ocean

The next three days were basically devoted to straight kayaking adventures along the coastline. The fourth day was started at Magnolia with a short trip down the coast to check over Kettle Cove. The it was back up along the coast past Rafes Chasm, Normans Woe, Normans Woe Rock and across the outer edge of Gloucester harbor to Eastern Point. My return across the Harbor was made a bit more north so I could take in additional stretches of the coast I had previously missed.

With days four and five, I basically finished covering most of the western side of Cape Ann, leaving by way of Lanesville. The trip north - and around Halibut Point - passed by the old quarry at Folly Point and ended out in front of Chapin's Gully. South on the following day, passed Plum Cove, Hodgkins Cove, and Annisquam. On both days many an eroded dike was seen but that is a typical feature of Cape Ann.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Blackstone Valley. South & North Shore.

With my eye on eventually ending up on the South Shore, a slight detour was made on the first day out into the Blackstone Valley. The goal was to locate Hell (cave) in Purgatory Chasm. I was successful but later on determined this is not what one explorer calls "Damnation Cave" so more to be done here. A very pleasant surprise was the location of Devil's Pulpit within the Chasm. This I missed on a previous visit although His 'Stairs' were found on that trip. But of greater interest is the old postcard of the Devil's Pulpit is not what the park once had a sign on. That sign has since disappeared.

Moving on through the Valley, my next stop was a beehive stone chamber that has finally come into the 'public domain'. Part of a Town park, this has been one of the most studied of all lithic features in New England.

The old Powder House

Moving on into Norfolk County, three sites were next investigated. One would binge a stream access to an island containing Devil's Footprint formations. The stream, alas, was too dried up to even attempt pulling out my smaller kayak. But downstream makes a good access to the Charles River. Something for future consideration. The second stop also brought me very close to the Charles (and another dandy put in location) but to look up the old powder house on Powder House Rock. The final stop before heading to camp out on the South Shore was a small cave formation formed by the splitting of a huge mass of rock not far from the suburbs of Boston.

I returned to my more leisurely vacation mode for the second day looking over coastal locations. In particular, where kayak access might be granted. Part of that day was out at the old Scituate lighthouse. The tide was in but even the gigantic 'Pebble' could be seen sticking above the ocean surf. Later that day, I finally made use of a very small kayak access and my small boat to navigate the Gulf and one of its branches. A portage across a road, and further navigation up a very winding and ever diminishing stream, got me in close enough. Close enough to finally located the Cleft Rock from local history which I have been seeking for around ten years.

Indian Rock

Early the next morning I dropped in on Indian Rock and the nearby old well. More tooting about the coastal areas found 'resident sticker required' to be the norm when it came to parking and accessing the ocean. But early in the afternoon found me in Hingham where smooth access was made to the Harbor. Out there were many islands to explore with a variety of rock to be seen. Farther out I could see the closer of the islands making up the Boston Harbor Park. But I chose to skirt the outer perimeter of World's End and down towards the mouth of the Weir River.

I broke camp and pulled out of the South Shore early morn on the fourth day. A bit to the north, I landed at Squantum to once again look over the rocks - and some territory that had escaped me before. After a surprise find of an old quarry and Miles Standish Monument off in the woods, I worked the rocky confines of a low tide seashore. Somewhere - likely here - the profile of Benjamin Butler once existed in the rocks. Although I would love to confirm that, I fear the very brittle argillites have disintegrated to a point where Ben may have disappeared. Another park near the beginning of Squantum lay along some giant mud flats (tide now out completely. But this small bit of territory had a rich Native American background.

Gigantic boulders of Cape Ann

Late morning finally found me back on Cape Ann. Some woods contain gigantic boulders (some small caves) were up first. After checking in to camp, I explored put in possibilities to Gloucester Harbor but eventually settled for more exploration of the Little and Annisquam Rivers.

Approach to the Devil's Den - by water!

Day five found me once again found me enjoying the site of one of my most favorite spots of all: Pigeon Cove and its rocks. But with 'work' to be done it was time to put the touring kayak into action on the ocean. Heading on down the coast, a variety of rocky areas of the coast were looked over. Shooting the Gap at Straightsmouth Island, The journey south continued passing through Whale and Loblolly Coves. Shortly before reaching Lands End, the turn was made out to sea to catch up with Thatcher Island. From there it was across to the more northerly tip of Straightsmouth Island, down its coast, through the gap again and across Sandy Bay. I wanted one more look at the Devil's Den and came away with significantly better photos than my previous visit in June. After my arrival on shore, with just a bit of time to spare,, I shot on over to the old ruins of the former hospital in Rockport.

On sixth - and final day - I once again visited the rocky shore of Pigeon Cove to see the Bathtub and Swimming Place now emerged from the ocean at low tide. Then it was down to Pavilion Beach for a tour of sections of Gloucester Harbor. These included Ten Pound Island, Rocky Neck, Wonson Cove, and down past Niles Beach (Southeast Cove) towards the Eastern Point Lighthouse. An old geology publication mentioned cave formations within this area, and although the sea had 'worked' the rocks pretty good at some areas, there is nothing I would call a cave.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Kaving by Kayak?

It began apparent very early into my most recent vacation trip, that the focus should be on learning the ropes of kayaking and all the equipment. However, that certainly did not preclude the possibility of my usual 'norm' with the rocks and history to be explored.

Cave in quartz along the Rhode Island shoreline

All started off with a bit of a bang as I made my way across the Rhode Island border from Massachusetts and ended up in the water of the Mt. Hope Bay. A lead had surfaced on a cave there and here was the opportunity to check it out. Right in the neighborhood of King Philip's old seat of power! The cave is small. Barely able to hold one individual but its uniqueness is that it lays within a vein of quartz at an area once know as White Rocks.

The Profile @ Newport. Very early 1900's postcard

The second day I decided to dig deeper into the old research files. A project I had long tried to work unsuccessfully from the shore: Profile Rock around Newport Harbor. It had been established in the past that the location was really adjacent to the Harbor (or part of) at Brenton Cove. So a very through examination of the rocky ledges was made along the Cove's perimeter. Nothing really definitive showed itself although I'm confident the area of the postcards was covered. Probably not too surprising as this seemed to be a very marginal feature likely relying on a illusion that at least partially was accented by shadows. But a tour of Newport Harbor followed carefully checking the rocky shoreline areas. In a prelude of what was to come, many interesting 'cave-like' features were seen but nothing that anyone could call a cave. Farther out on the rolling seas, I passed by old Fort Adams and briefly turn down the coast before bringing myself back into Brenton Cove.

I made the trip out Conanicut Island and the Town of Jamestown on the third day to continue exploration of the rocks between the Dumplings and Southwest Point. Although this area is reported to have a (Captain) Kidd's Cave, nothing of significance was noted. But the cave was reported to be a small hole in the rocks and yes - something like that was seen near the reported location. Nearby is also the "White Streak" a significant vein of quartz within the cliffs. Difficult to gain access by land at low tide, the view from the ocean is close to astounding.

A fairly significant profile feature was seen near Southwest Point but I have learned how difficult photography can be (nearly impossible?) from a bouncing, moving boat. The southern tip of Beavertail is also a good place to spend some time. A couple 'quasi cave' formations in an arch, and adjacent cave with intact columns, are located here. A small sea cave up the western shoreline was investigated a few years back.

A large portion of my 'down time' was spent working various shorelines and setting up future access points. By day four that paid off handsomely as I set off from the southern shore of Newport, on some VERY choppy seas, to see what might be seen over at the old Spouting Cave/Rock. The voyage was anything but routine, however I finally did end bouncing up and down - and all around - off the shore of Spouting Rock. Nothing noteworthy was seen but perhaps the view from ocean level is not the best way to view it. There is another story floating around that it was dynamited in recent times because of the landowner's impatience with trespassers. Sadly, it may be that the best images are from the library of antique photographs that exists.

A break for lunch then it was back to the water. This time on the mainland to the East at the Sakonnet River. There was a past report of a cave in this vicinity and some significant outcrops of Purgatory Conglomerate do exist. But a cave - probably doubtful.

Outcrops of Purgatory Conglomerate along the Sakonnet River

The fifth - and final day - was shaping up to be brutally hot and humid. So I got an early start and dropped in to visit some of my all time favorite (Dighton) conglomerate rock formations just across the border into Massachusetts. Amongst these were Abram's, Lion, and Wildcat Rock. Just a bit further to the west, the geology now becomes the Rhode Island formation, which I definitely noticed while out at Devil's Rock.

Already beat up by the heat by noon, I made a hasty exit to my car for the long journey hone.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Return to old Haunts

Hiding in the foliage: Boulder Cave

Always a treat to return to past areas of explorations. The Rowe Historical Society was having a program on the Hoosac Tunnel. And I had already planned to return there for the purpose of identifying a postcard.

But the day began off the Mohawk Trail a bit farther to the west. Near the borders of Florida and Monroe is a deposit of glacial boulders and within one of these boulders is a small cave formation. Very insignificant as far as size goes, it is more of a home to the porcupines. But on my way out of the area, I traveled a back road new to me. From the car, I saw numerous boulders of gigantic proportion. But with the hot sticky weather, and trying to stick to a time schedule, I settled for marking their location for a future visit.

The next stop was at one of the more glorious vies in western Massachusetts. A stone balcony on Hunt Hill overlooks the Deerfield River and the Valley.

Eventually landing in Rowe, I worked the society members for identification on my postcard image, which is likely from the local Pulpit Rock. The program, which focused on the lining towers used in construction of the Hoosac Tunnel, proved very educational. On the way out of town, I stopped off at Pelham Brook for a quick visit with the old Profile Rock/Stone Face. Not looking too much like it's former self, in recent times.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Salt water adventures

Storm surge at the Great Gargoyle

After much anticipation - and delay, the new kayak finally found its way to salt water. Still, as I made my way towards Essex County, it seemed as if the recent weeks of rain might be a premonition of things to come. Upon arrival, the better part of two days was spent waiting out rain showers. During that interval, big boulders in the West Gloucester woods were checked out (first day), and shoreline sites on the second. Among those seen along the Cape Ann coast were Plum and Folly Coves, Halibut Point, and Pigeon Cove. The storm surges along the ocean were quite impressive but also a reminder of how dangerous it could be venturing out too far onto the rocks. I did get to see the Halibut Point sea boulder cave(s) completely immersed, while over at Pigeon Cove, the surged reached up to the base of the Great Gargoyle. Also located was one more site from an old postcard, but this was in an area well visited in the past by the Giant's Stairs/Cathedral Rocks. Pigeon Hill and Granite Pier also got a look over while in the area.

Milestone marker on the way to the Parker River

On the third day the rains did give way for a significant portion of the day enabling me to head on up to Newbury. On my way to the Parker River, a curious stone - an ancient milestone marker - was seen by the side of the road. But I finally got the kayak on out to the river with a couple hours to go before high tide. Working my way upstream, I navigated as far as that section of the waterway would allow. In the process, I passed two islands. One contains the Balance Rock. The second is accessible by land and, previous to entering the river, I had stopped in to catch Gerrish Rock as it slowly sank beneath the waters just off that island. But on the return down river, the rising tide made for a tight squeeze under the bridge but saved me climbing up an embankment to the car: the waters now reached the very bottom of the tires!

The fourth day was more for R&R as the rains once again moved in by early afternoon. However, in the morning I squeezed in Pool's Hill which is sometimes called Hospital Hill for the old Rockport hospital that once existed here. The 'Turtle Mound' is also located nearby. Downtown: the Headlands where a significant dike can be seen amongst the rocks of the shore.

Turtle Mound/Rocks near the old hospital site

The fifth day got off with a bang as part of the Tompson's Reservation with Eagle Rock was hiked. This is a BIG piece of property and certain sections contain significant boulder formations. So a return visit will be in order. A Rockport quarry was visited and my local guide explained this was perhaps the most recent of the area's past quarrying operations. Like many of the others, it now contains water. The morning was ended with a return to Hospital Hill where my guide showed me the ruins of the old hospital, now surrounded by woods. The afternoon was spent once again out on the water. The Jones River brought me out to the Annisquam where I headed north until reaching the ocean by the lighthouse.

Significant thunderstorms gave way to bright sunshine for the morning of the sixth day. It was the day to head home but I still had my primary goal ahead of me. To cover a portion of the Rockport shoreline from water. This included two visits (pre-low tide and low tide) to the Devil's Den, the Pigeon Cove area (often visited by foot) and south to (almost) Straitsmouth Gap. Observation from the sea allowed me to see two exposures of the great Pigeon Cove porphyry dike. Other observations were old postcard sites, discovery of a small sea cave formation, and in general just get a different perspective on the whole area that is unattainable from shore. But then, that is what the whole goal of kayaking was about!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Confluences: The Sequel

Building upon the recent trip to Greenfield, I returned to the Connecticut River. Entering the River north of the French King Bridge, I was enjoying a steady current downstream - and towards the French King Rock. Ah - but river currents can be a tricky thing. Especially for the still 'green' kayaker dude. Upon approaching the Rock I found strong, swirling waters that made a landing pretty much impossible. But on my VERY close encounter (of the hard kind) I did notice French King to be a rock of the conglomerate formation.

Making my way down river, I went under the Bridge, and into the Millers River. Shortly, I disembarked to examine a 'quasi cave formtion' but my return to the river and upstream was short lived as I encountered some impassible white water conditions. So I return to the Connecticut River and muscled my way up stream, examining very marginal quasi cave formtions along the west bank. I stopped opposite the French King Rock once more for few photos before making my way across the River and back to the car.

Barton Cove provided a much more sedate setting as I paddled the shoreline for a pleasant and interesting examination of the local geology. I was finally able to gain access (and float into) another of those 'quasi' cave formations I had seen in years past from an opposite shore. Also seen was a neat little cave that I had visited some years earlier.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Return of the Conglomerates

"Peep into Hades". As suggested by John Lovell's circa 1870 photograph.

An afternoon was spent scrounging the central Berkshire countryside for signs of marble; finding dolomitic, calcitic, and contacts with the local schists. Even a couple quasi-cave formations presented themselves. But the next day, it was time to return to the conglomerates: my somewhat dormant projects within the Connecticut River Valley.

More ledges were examined for long lost formations photographed by John Lovell from Amherst over 140 years ago. No success to be found here. But I returned to a well known site that Lovell also covered at one point. Here a premiere cave formation exists that has long been know to history - for almost two hundred years! I recreated a number of Lovell's views, shot a few of my own modern interpretations, before moving on to another set of ledges.

In returning to Graves Ledge - or Rock Shelter - I came with a much more 'improved' image of Etta's Nook courtesy of a recent internet auction. Although I must have visited Etta's more than a dozen times in the past, I finally got to see exactly where JL had taken his photo from. A modern 'now' photograph is pretty much obscured with tree growth. But before leaving the Valley again, I was able to visit the ledge above Etta's and see it's geologic connection with Graves' Cave. The Cave is formed by gravity assisted movement of a large section of the cliff that is adjacent to Etta's, and forming the Nook's left wall.

"Etta's Nook": As suggested by John Lovell's circa 1870 photograph.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Quartzites and Marble

Outcrops of Cheshire Quartzite overlooking the Town of Cheshire

The central Berkshires, to the north, offers a significant area of Cheshire Quartzite. Of course, the type locale would be Cheshire where a marvelous exposure exists at the Cobbles. This also happens to be somewhat across the valley from the schists and Stockbridge Marble karsts where many of the central Berkshire caves can be found.

So with my vacation plans to the Ocean thwarted by foul weather, I used the opportunity to ascend the Cobbles, accessible via the Appalachian Trail. Notes from the late speleologist Alan R. "Al" Plante suggested crevice cave formations in the vicinity. However, my observations indicate the best opportunity for 'caves' (and I use that tern VERY loosely) may exist in the talus that has come off the face of the Cobbles. Better examples can be found about four and a half miles to the S SW at the Gulf and Wizard's Glen.

But a pretty good (almost 180 degree) view can be had from the quartzite ledges. A view across the Valley that allowed me to see a mass of dark gray rain clouds moving in over Mt. Greylock. Soon, being pelted with freezing rain, I made a quick check of the ledges and talus before descending back down to the trailhead.

[4/28/12] Not wanting to show any 'favorites' amongst the rocks, a long forgotten marble quarry right in central Berkshire County was visited. According to an old geologic bulletin, this was the likely Brodie Quarry.

The old Brodie Quarry in central Berkshire County

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Confluences and French Kings

King Philip's - or French King Rock - on the Connecticut River

Greenfield offers up a pretty good postcard show during April, so a chance to visit the Connecticut River Valley. After scooping up a modest bunch of select cards (including a rare 'cave'), I headed out further East. Here I searched out the confluence of the Millers and Connecticut Rivers for possible put in locations. This would allow access to both rivers and a possible visit to the Millers River Cave(s).

Along the way a pretty good land based look was gained of King Philip's (French King) Rock in the Connecticut. There is one story that the first planting of a French flag on American soil was at this location. Seems I've also heard one of those buried treasure stories in connection with the Rock.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jump into ... Spring?

The unorthodox 'winter' and its weather has not gone wasted in recent times. Ice recently receeded in local lakes, eventually leaving altogether, allowing me to start up kayaking once again. Time will be devoted to training and testing new equipment for the eventual return to the ocean.

But, tying up one loose end: a return to a shoreline feature in the Central Berkshires at Pulpit Rock.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Day

The Williamsburg Balance Rock: November 2002

I would hate to call any trip into the outdoors "routine" but perhaps the term I'm searching for might be "low keyed". Such was First Day, something I always wanted to do an outdoor hike on, but usually I'm socked away hibernating at home for the winter. This year provided no excuses as the most perfect of weather - and most perfect of opportunities - prevailed.

Williamsburg Woodland Trails is one of many organizations who in recent years watch over and protect much outdoor landscape across Massachusetts. They have an annual First Day hike and this one provided just the right opportunity. The beautiful weather brought a record number of walkers (around eighty) to a sponsored hike by WWT and a pleasant surprise to leader Gwen Blodgett. I had met Gwen several years earlier at the local Balance Rock after investigating the Walking Club Plaque farther to the north.

On the return home, I did a more intensive search for the local mineral Cummingtonite at one of the sites looked over recently. Success at locating the mineral in ledges along an old abandoned road.