Sunday, October 26, 2014

Into the Great South Berkshires

Another journey into the southern regions of The Berkshires. Joining with Gary, from the Great Barrington Historical Society, once again, we journeyed to a far off corner of the aforementioned Town.

Icy Gorge Cave

The Ice Gulch - or Gorge - is a rugged piece of landscape not to be taken lightly. It use to be somewhat remote, as far as access goes, until the 1980's when the present Appalachian Trail location brought it within reach. Nonetheless, climbing through this cliff-lined, craggy formation, strewn with large boulders, is not for the beginning outdoors-man. On this particular day, Gary and myself were content to visit the first couple hundred yards, and peer down beyond into a virtual no man's land of geologic wonder.

The old dam

Glacial boulder with plaque

The remainder of this day proved to be more of a pleasant persuasion. Up the road a ways, we saw a minor karst system with tiny caves and much evidence of underground water activity. And up the road from here was a wonderful old dam and glacial erratic.

Continuing our journey, we dropped in on the local Indian cave, and a park that boasted old mill sites and a small set of falls.

The day was finished up exploring an old mention of a balanced rock being on the back side (west) of Monument Mountain. We did not come up with a solid lead, but within days, Gary and fellow historical society member Bernie, had located a likely site. A beautiful big old boulder but not really worthy of being in the class of balanced rocks.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

North - in the Berkshires

Once again I got the opportunity to travel with fine company. Mr. Mike was in the Berkshires for the week, so after putting our heads together, we decided on a north Berkshire route. This would put us in a position to see caves that Mike had on his list and a few others out that way.

First up, right in the Heart of the Berkshires, was a stop over at a perennial favorite: Wizard's Glen. Mike got his thrill pulling himself through a couple rugged talus caves.

Mary Constance Todd visiting Wizard's Glen. Circa early 1920's.

Rolling up the eastern side of North Berkshire, first stops were at what I label 'historic caves', in the vicinity of Brodie, due their inclusion in the book(s) of author Clay Perry. The name has since been passed on to a cave of more recent discovery (1960's).

The 'historic' cave (overhanging shelter) described by Clay Perry

Next was the northwest most part of Berkshire County, as well as that of Massachusetts. In order, visits were made to McMaster's and Carmelite Caverns. These were fairly routine explorations with McMaster's proving itself as a major mud hole. Carmelite are somewhat shallow caves but Mike managed to wiggle in to a bit of a new discovery within the system.

Entrance to the largest of the Carmelite Caverns

Traveling over the northern regions of the County, next was an overview of a branch of the Hoosic River with two caves along its bank. Then up to the Natural Bridge where once again the historic vs modern use of a cave name presented itself.

On the way back south, it was fitting that our last stop was to the final resting place of Clay Perry himself. A man who inspired many and will continue to do so for generations to come.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Hanging Rock

Columbus Day brought me back to the northwest corner of Connecticut. Its been some years since my last visit, that being a one time shot at finding Baldwin's Cave. This visit brought Gary, from the Great Barrington Historical Society, once again out with me into the wilds. Our first stop in Salisbury was the ominous Hanging Rock. Indeed, it does just 'hang' there, precariously perched above the Village, on a sloping hillside.

Historic view of Hanging Rock. Early 1900's postcard

The Double boulder above Great Falls. Early 1900's postcard

Next: a quick drive by of a former cave site that has been filled in in recent years. A quick look to see if we might access (easily) the local Indian Cave (not successful) followed, before heading on down to Falls Village. Here, we looked up Lost Brook, where a possible karst area may exist. Then it was on to the Great Falls itself, which is pretty impressive even at low water levels. A small cave in the area was explored.

Then on to The Land of Goshen (literally) where we hoped the historic Tipping Rock might be located. An initial wrong turn landed us near Rock House, where we later learned a possible Indian cave may exist. Correcting our direction of travel, a neat old cemetery was explored before making our way to the location to begin our hike.

A bit of a walk, and a bit of a search, did eventually bring us to the 'long lost' Tipping Rock. Other features of interest in the area, were old cellar holes and one gigantic boulder, big enough to camp under.

The historic view of Tipping Rock. Circa 1890's.

From there, it was only to roll on north. Back into the friendly confines of the Berkshires. That which we call home.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Central Berkshire Rocks

Two day trips occupied me during the last couple weeks. First to Centennial Rock in the Northern Berkshires, then late last week to a foothill of Mount Greylock's: Rounds Rock.

Hard to believe that eight years have already passed since my last visit to Centennial Rock. This 'sister rock' to better known Brown's Boulder, was tough to read on that last visit. Now, not much remains of the inscription. I imagine Brown's has fared no better, as it's been probably over a dozen years since my previous visit, and at time it was well on its way to being illegible. Both are the work of Captain John Brown from Cheshire. One to commemorate the American Centennial, the other: a poem of unrequited love for Susan Baker, owner of the Baker's Quarry Cave and surroundings.

Rounds Rock is an interesting little 'hillock' that offers a relatively short circuit trail to the summit and back. Around the early 1960's, a regional caving publication had a list of caves, with a reported "Rounds Rock Cave' and that being just a man-sized pothole. There is a slab near one of the summit overlooks and one could fit an adult into it. Looks to be another reference lost to time.

But getting 'lost' on the return allowed me to check out some prominent ledges with porkie dens, and one big slab of rock that had peeled off a nearby, second ledge. A couple other pieces of talus were scattered about and probably a few more porkie 'caves' in there.