Saturday, October 19, 2013

Seeking the Balance...

Some of the gang at Balance Rock

A perfect day for a perfect hike! Joining Williamsburg Woodland Trails, and over thirty other hikers, an ascent was made to The Balance Rock - another old favorite of mine. Then along the ridge, with one view down the Valley into Amherst, before descending to - and returning - via an old discontinued back road.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Last Hurrah... far as this year's vacation schedule goes. The site was my traditional Essex County adventure. Landing in Peabody on the first day a more extensive exploration was made on one on three glacial moraine sites I've come across in recent years. This extended exploration yielded many perched/balanced erratics and probably a half dozen old quarry pits. The day was finished visiting the M S Foley Stoneworks where fine sculptured artwork in stone can be seen - and bought.

Perched boulder on the Peabody moraine

Day two saw me complete what I considered the primary mission of the trip: circumnavigating the peninsula of Marblehead Neck. Along the way, an island was visited to check into a possible cave sighted from shore last year. No go on this one. However, a small eroded formation was seen nearby whose 'cave effect' was enhanced by a small rock plopped into its upper reaches. The trip took me around the lighthouse at Chandler-Hovey Park and south along the east side of the Neck. I was especially on the lookout for an old Victorian Age attraction known as The Churn. Basically it looked to be an eroded dike chasm from all the images I have seen. Nothing I saw really struck me as being that site. However upon my return and, subsequent viewing of aerial imagery, I did confirm that a narrow dike chasm I saw was indeed the Churn. The south side of the Neck provided an excellent outcrop with two more dikes, one being partially eroded away. I finished up my visit to that section of Essex County going up to Salem Neck where a small seaside cave formation had been located the previous year. Although it appears to be formed in a number of boulders, the boulders (at least some) seem to come from the very same section of bedrock.

The Churn @ Marblehead Neck. Circa 1870s

My third day saw me returning to place that has been left aside for quite awhile: Dogtown. I had come across a story mentioning a 'deathmatch' between a young lady and a band of pirates back in the early days of Cape Ann. The story says she killed - or mortally wounded - the pirates and they were buried under a boulder at Dogtown. I located the alleged site, explored a bit at another site around Tent Rock, then moved on to another section of Dogtown. This took me into one of the rockiest sections of DT where the woods are nearly completely floored with deposits of glacial boulders. One of outstanding size was located before picking my way through the boulder field and returning via a designated hiking trail.

Tent Rock @ Dogtown

When it came to my last two days I had to make a decision as to more time on the water (not the most ideal conditions) or to put in more time hiking, which I was greatly enjoying at this time. Also, being my last visit to the area this year, I wished to spend some time at favorite spots that had not seen for some time. But I started the days adventures returning to the site of the pirate deathmatch, accessing it from a different direction. Along the way I came across another marvelous boulder with carving that indicated it was a boundary marker between the Towns of Rockport and Gloucester.

Finishing up at the deathmatch scene, I moved on and explored a trail that had caught my attention out in West Gloucester. It led to a possible quarrying site (something rare for this part of town) and a splendid perched boulder that sat with either end on two rocks below. The rest of the day was indeed spent at two favorites in Rafes Chasm and the old Stage Fort Park.

My fond farewell (for this year anyway) to Cape Ann was up to Rockport with a visit to one of its Profile Rocks. Then it was time to move on to other objectives in Northern Essex County. The first was a more comprehensive examination of the Nubble Squid. The second (finishing my day) was an old mining prospect for silver. This whole area was once one of the most heavily mined areas in Massachusetts. Numerous minerals were take from the ground including the site of the earliest lime operation from the early days of our Country.

Old silver mining site