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.