Friday, December 25, 2015

Little Egypt

Entrance to the old mine

On a Christmas Day that brought forth weather of a most usual nature, I returned to Little Egypt. Remarkably, it has been over nine years since my last visit. I did a more thorough check of the old lead mine, paying particular attention to any wildlife. On the hike out, an old foundation was found directly downhill from the mine entrance. I also stopped in at the nearby gorge to check out some impressive water flows down into the ravine.

The mine shaft

Two streams joining to enter the gorge

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Late Season

It has been an extraordinary Fall! So it remains to be seen how long the decent weather lasts, and what can be accomplished.

Entrance to Jacob's Cave

After Rhode Island's Mike G. returned home (previous post), I returned to the northern Berkshires. We had failed to locate Jacob's Cave on our quest together, but this time I was successful. It is small resurgence cave in the area of contact between the schist and marble.

Examining one of the rock cairns in the area

On a brisk - but clear - Sunday, it was back into south Berkshire. Here a number of stone cairns were looked at. Also in the immediate vicinity: a small shelter cave and the story of a cave used as a Native American ceremonial site. As darkness began to fall, a drive by of a Indian mound. Some have said certain 'energies' surround this particular site.

Friday, November 20, 2015


A very active week with three out of four days around the central Berkshires, and one trip out into Hampshire County. All this coincided with a visit from Rhode Island's Mike G. (the mastermind behind to the Berkshires.

Negotiating the entrance to Elephant's Den

Areas covered were Liberty Cave, Elephant's Den, Valentine Cave & associated features, a nearby karst, Phelps' Disappointment Cave, Sugarloaf Porcupine caves, an attempt to locate Jacob's Cave, and finally out to the Counterfeiter's Cave in Hampshire County. On the latter adventure, we had the pleasure of local cavers Mike T. , Tristen M., and Zack Y.

Investigating a small cave formed in schist

Monday, November 9, 2015

Great Barrington to the Land of Canaan

And once again, it was back to the Southern Berkshires, more specifically: Great Barrington, to connect with my 'partner in crime' Gary from the local historical society. After a long absence - for both of us - we returned to the impressive balanced/perched rock formation at East Rock.

East Rock

Then after drive by a local quarry site, and a visit to the Brooklyn Bridge (no kidding!), we dropped down to Canaan CT to check out a possible site for Tramp Rock and/or Weary Willy's Haven of Refuge. Stymied once again! The lead did not pan out and we cruised the state line area looking at possible sites from an old Frank DeMars photo.

The long lost Tramp Rock

Returning to Great Barrington, we checked into a cattle tunnel adjacent to a Housatonic River bridge and Mt. Peter (aka: Petra) where there once was quarrying activity. Stone from here was used to build a house, almost across the street, and one local church. Nearby to Mt. Peter, was a long ago abandoned section of highway. Barely noticeable now, but it's location is marked by parts of the remaining stone wall.

Mt. Peter - from a circa 1870s stereoview.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Boulders and Pulpits

A long standing goal of mine was Pulpit Rock in Rowe. Some years ago, I made it into the area but fell short of actually reaching it. Access was always an issue but in recent times I discovered a hiking had been put through the area. So on to Rowe I went.

My first stop was down at the base on Negus Mountain, where I had been clued in to the possibility of some large boulder formations/caves. Although I did not take on climbing Negus, I did find a couple boulders of worthy size around it's base. Driving on through Rowe, I climbed the ridge that Negus is part of (as well as the hiking trail I was looking for) and saw a good number of erratics in the woods . I finally arrived at the local substation where I hoped to picked up the trail I had seen at two previous locations.

The trail was found and the beginning of a long hike towards the north was undertaken. Along the way, a fascinating piece of projecting ledge was found with talus and a couple small caves within. Along the ridge a couple superb views were to be had, but upon finally arriving at the area of the (supposed) Pulpit Rock, I found the view somewhat obscured. As to what is 'officially' Pulpit Rock, remains somewhat nebulous. At the expected location, slightly back in the woods, were several rock outcrops. One did project itself upward, but really not any view of the valley comparable to the previous sites I passed. So this leaves me with a bit more to investigate.

Scene along the ridge near Pulpit Rock - circa 1920

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Again: the Southern Berksires ... & CT!

Once again delving into the lands of Southern Berkshire, and adjacent Connecticut, Gary L. and myself landed in Winsted CT. Here we looked up old Jumbo Rock still perched high above town where once, in the late 1880's, in had a bandstand/dance floor built upon. Before pulling out of town, we quickly visited the impressive soldiers monument, made from Quincy granite.

Old Jumbo Rock - circa 1900

Rolling back up the valley towards Massachusetts, we looked over the possibilities of finding Pulpit Rock in Robertsville. This is another site pictured in the DeMars photographs from long ago. Further research will be need here, but we have a pretty specific location.

Jumbo Rock

Finally landing in Massachusetts, one excursion was made into the woodlands to find access to the area of Hanging Mountain. There is photo, once again by F. H. DeMars, of a Tipping Rock in the vicinity. Although this initial trip yielded little, a second trip was made by another route into the base of the mountain. Numerous talus features were seen on this all-too-brief trip, but Tipping Rock was not one of those. Much more needs to be done at this location.

Tipping Rock by F. H. DeMars - circa 1900.

While driving the area of Hanging Mountain, a massive boulder was spotted. Upon inspection, it turns out to be one of the largest I have recorded in Berkshire County.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Southern Berkshires

It was back to the southern Berkshires on two different days. Both included Great Barrington Historical Society member Gary L. The first, took us back for a second attempt at locating a cave that I had not seen in years, and we missed on a previous trip a few weeks earlier.

Cave entrance in the Southern Berkshires

On the way to our second destination, a quick stop was made at Indian Rock along the Green River to see an ancient land boundary marker. Then it was over to the New Boston area to look up an unnamed rock pictured in antique photography by F. H. DeMars of Winsted CT. The original photograph showed a pastoral view of a hillside with church steeple at the bottom and a valley extending beyond. A rock of significant proportions was also in the scene, but not surprising: the rock, hillside, and view are all overgrown.

Over 100 years ago - open hillside and valley view

Two days later we were back in the Sandisfield - Otis area. A presentation - and hike - was being given by DCR's Tom Ragusa along the old Knox Trail. Tom has spent years searching out the original route that Henry Knox brought the cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. On this day, we traversed a section between Sandisfield and Otis, sometimes along trails and wood roads, but more often through woodlands. Here and there slight physical evidence remained including a cleft rock or a worn patch of the old trail known as Ye Trodden Path. The big bonus for this individual, was a chance to revisit Abiel's Rock. A huge boulder just off the Trail.

The cleft rock along the old Knox Trail route

Afterwards (and after lunch) we continued our journey down into Colebrook CT to see the site of the old town of Colebrook River. This site is often under the wasters of the Colebrook River Lake. But on this day, the water level was low enough to visit the old iron bridge, probably the only relic left to testify to the location of the town.

The old Colebrook River bridge

Friday, October 9, 2015

Rocks, rocks, and MORE Rocks

In what will likely be the final ocean visit of the year, I took to the road. But, the first stop was down in western Worcester County to make an attempt at a long standing project. There are a number of boulders here mentioned in history, and of primary interest, was one from an old USGS file. It had been sought for several years, and on this day it was successfully located - now 'buried' in the woods. Several more boulders of notable size were encountered during the day's search.

U.S.G.S. file photo dated 1907

By the time I hit Middlesex County, I had to make a decision based on time. I chose to continue on to Cape Ann, dropping in to a local cemetery. Here, an old relic of the past makes for quite a monument. A huge outcrop of stone has 16 steps carved into it, likely done by stone cutters who once worked the local quarries. I finished this day out on Pigeon Cove rocks with the huge surf piling in from an out-to-sea hurricane passing through.

A most interesting start to the second day took me up to the Bay View/Lanesville section of Gloucester. Here, a huge tract of land, now owned by the Essex County Greenbelt, was explored. It was dotted with many glacial boulders surrounded by towering pine forests. On an adjacent piece of land, I connected with the landowner who filled me in on the history of the area, and his geologic wonder: Moving Rock. The day was finished up visiting a cave in the Cape Ann woods and hitting the beaches of Beverly to check on a future kayak launch site.

Moving Rock

On the morning of day three, the lone kayak trip of this week took place. It's one I've done on two previous occasions, although this time proved a bit more challenging with the ocean still VERY 'unsettled' from the recent hurricane passing. However, I made it up - and over - the tip of Cape Ann, from Lanes Cove, down the eastern side to the Devil's Den. Once again, the day was finished off visiting a cave in the local woods.

On the fourth day, I dropped down off the Cape for my first ever visit to the Breakheart Reservation. A fine property with craggy summits and one good sized boulder. I was able to reach Castle Hill, Wolf Rock, Eagle Rock and Breakheart Hill.

Castle Hill

The fifth day found me finishing up the trip and heading home before rains moved in. I returned to the Middlesex Fells with the focus around Bear's Den and Boojum Rock. The only lead I have on Druidical Rock is in this general area. Although it is considered destroyed by road construction, I combed through the adjacent woodlands on the chance it may have survived. A pleasant area, but no Druidical Rock turned up.

In the mouth of the Bear's Den

Monday, September 21, 2015

South Berkshires

Connecting once again with Great Barrington Historical Society member Gary L., we had a number of items on our plate for the day. Starting off in Great Barrington, a visit was made to Dancing Rock, a perched erratic that has come to light in recent times. Then going through the center of Town, we hit the memorial boulder behind the Town Hall and a quick walk to the Robber's Roost Cave.

Dancing Rock

On into Egremont, we made an unsuccessful attempt to find an Indian mortar stone mentioned as part of the Town's history. Heading north, we hiked on in to the dark regions a bit west of Tom Ball Mountain to locate the Devil's Den. This is the 'premiere' Devil's Den in Massachusetts with an entrance amongst the largest of all caves in New England. Minerals, coloring the rock from deep, dark red, to pale green and white, add to the effect of it being Satan's Lair.

The Devil's Den

At the end of our list, we were going to make an attempt to locate two caves that had access shut off my modern development. In the end, we were unsuccessful. However, a new cave was discovered and some nifty karst features seen.

Cave discovery!

A roadside boulder, with its own small history, finished our day as we were heading back into Great Barrington.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Return to the Ocean State - and Norfolk Co, MA

Narragansett Pier shoreline

Even though we're heading towards Fall, the hot weather persisted. So off to do some kayaking and get priorities done before the chilly winds of Winter blow on in. Four days out and the first along western areas of the Narragansett Bay. I wanted to check more coastline for possible cave activity and found a suitable put-in. BUT a big pickup truck with two Sea-Doos onboard decided to occupy the ramp so I went off to search other possibilities. I looked over four other access points, none suitable for kayak launching. But by the time I finished, I had pretty much covered the area I wished to explore from water.

The Queen's Chamber

On to Exeter for further investigations at the Queens Fort. Here among some of the largest boulder piles, I was shown to the Queens Chamber. A talus formation, almost cave-like in nature. I finished up the day with more time at the old Rocky Point amusement park.

Starting off the second day, I took my act over to Jamestown. I wanted to do a check for a future put in on the northern part of Conanicut Island. Then it was down to the very southern end, to look at a site where stones from an old shipwreck had washed up on shore. On to the boat ramp for kayak time! It was out on to the East Passage of the Narragansett Bay, and across to Newport. After quickly scouting the Pirate Cave area, I returned a bit south from the put in location, aiming towards Horsehead, a home named after a nearby rock formation. I did actually see - for the first time - a rocky eminence rising from the water resembling that of a horse's head.

After spending my second night on Aquidneck Island, I continued my eastward trek onto the mainland, or eastern shore of the Sakonnet River. Looked up a Bear's Den and headed all the way south to the mouth of the River. Kayak time again and I headed out to the islands off Sakonnet Point. One was rumored to have a cave, and a couple cave-like formations were seen, but nothing of any consequence.

Cave-like formation off the RI coast

On day four it was time to return to Massachusetts and start looking into a list of five possible sites in Norfolk County. In all, four were visited including a Devil's Den, an Indian Rock, a perched boulder, and Joe's Rock. Devil's Den is a huge rock outcrop. Indian Rock was a massive erratic and now probably the largest in Norfolk County. The perched boulder was an attempt to locate a Cart and Oxen Rock listed in an old AMC hiking guide. Identification on this site is still unsure. Joe's Rock is a fairly well know ledge with little history other than a Native American named Joe living in the area. Of curious interest was an Indian signal tree.

Devil's Den

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

There are a number of sites I've had lying around on lists for many years, just waiting to be visited. So a decision was made to lump a bunch of them together along the Middlesex and Essex County border. And while I was up in the northern regions of Essex County, I'd catch up on the Haverhill and Amesbury sites as well.

Kicked off the first day on the Squannacook River in Townsend, using it to reach Black Rock. Then on to Lowell to catch up with Sheep Rock after hiking a circuit along the Glacial Rock Trail. I learned upon exiting the forest, an Indian Head Rock lies within, but returning to the woods did not find anything definitive. An online photo of the supposed rock, left a lot to the imagination as far as this being a definitive profile. I also learned later a Horsehead Rock should be out there, somewhere in those woods. A second stop in Town at a local park was to investigate a possible king Philip's Rock. Although, the one historical reference I could find, made it see pretty iffy that Metacom ever really was associated with this piece of rock.

Black Rock on the Squannacook River

After the first of two nights in the Andover area, I tried to beat the heat (unsuccessfully) with an early morning hike. This took me over Holt Hill (passing the Solstice Stone) to Boston Hill where I connected with Elephant Rock. Then on up into the most northeastern regions of Massachusetts at Haverhill and Amesbury. This brought me the Dustin family memorial boulder, a look around at Indian Rock Road (no rock seen here) and a lead on a peculiar rock up at the castle at Winnekenni Park, where I did not find the sought after stone. Continuing on I hit up the Union Cemetery in Amesbury looking for a boulder from a postcard. It was not here but the boulder, with plaque, for the First Meeting House site was. Dropping in at the local library gained me the information to find the aforementioned boulder from the postcard, or the Golgotha Boulder as it is known.

The Dustin/Duston Boulder as it appeared in the early 1900s

The Dustin/Duston Boulder as it can be seen today

The Golgotha Bowlder - early 1900s

Slipping back over into Middlesex County, I started the third - and final day - visiting a cave site that has been built up around in recent years. So, no, I was not able to 'directly' access the site. Then to a nearby Indian Rock that was left intact when the neighborhood was built up around it during the 1970's. I finished off the trip on the Sudbury River trying to gain access a site attributed to Thoreau. But impossible landing situations made that a no go.

Indian Rock

Monday, August 24, 2015

Returning to the Land of Quabbin gave me an opportunity to reconnect with the East Quabbin Land Trust. They were having an open house at a recently purchased farm that also happens to be the location of Bell Rock. This was visited as part of a guided tour. Previous to this, I landed in Barre to further examine a reference to the Stone House and hike some Trustee of the Reservations land.

EQLT at Bell Rock

The Stone House reference comes by way of an old map. Although there is a small rock shelter in this area, I am of the mind it refers more to an imposing set of ledges nearby. The section of ToR land was new territory for me, although MANY years ago I visited the Indian Grinding Stone on this same property.

A night's camping, then it was off to Royalston. I got in my first visit of the famous Royalston Falls, preceded by seeing another site from my long ago past: Profile Rock. The day was finished off with a visit to the local library where I scoured old records for other sites of interest.

Profile Rock

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tri-County Marathon

Dry summer heat has returned. So what to do? The water! For some time, I've had several postcard images of a very large lake in eastern Worcester County. A lake containing quite a few rocky islands. With the appropriate access in hand, I set upon the water investigating each island, often with summer homes upon. Some pleasant paddling, but little at this point that I can positively identify of the old images. I suspect one - Bennett's Rock - may be a shoreline feature and that would require a much more extensive search.

An Indian cave (shelter) in Middlesex County

Later on that first day, I was very excited to locate a Middlesex County Indian cave that has long been lost and even thought destroyed. It is not much of a shelter, really just a split rock that has shifted and formed a small overhanging area. Afterwards, I visited a nearby similar - but smaller formation - that I first uncovered years ago, and originally thought might be the aforementioned Indian Cave.

The day was finished up with a quick trip into the Middlesex Fells expressly for the purpose of photographing one particular side of the Multiform Boulder seen during my April trip. The photo confirmed the second of my two antique glass slides, as being the same boulder.

The 'Multiform Boulder". From a late 1800s glass slide.

The second day was kicked off with a social visit to an area friend, checking out a kayak put-in I would use later that day (towards high tide), and a visit to Rafes Chasm. Since it was getting towards low tide, I carefully picked my way over to the Flume for some close up photos. Just before mid afternoon, I returned to the general area to do a kayak launch. My paddling took me out - and southwestward - for a look at several small, rocky islands. I was rewarded with a couple of small sea caves and an arch.

Sea arch formation off the Essex County coast.

A light schedule on the third day. I moved up to the north to check out their local Devil's Den, which recently, has come into the public domain. The Devil has a pulpit in the immediate area as well. The whole trip was finished off on the next day looking over some area conservation land that promised significant ledges. I barely scratched the surface here with bugs and heat being oppressive. So I removed myself to Thoreau Country (back in Middlesex County) to check on a future kayak put-in to explore some of Henry David's old haunts.

The Devil's Pulpit - hidden amongst the brush

Friday, July 17, 2015

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Or a Frog and an Indian.

I've been wanting to head down into northwest Connecticut to finish up a search for the local Indian cave. And since I was heading south, a good time to investigate Frog's Landing. It was brought to my attention, in recent times the poor old froggie of Frog Rock fame was inaccessible.

The Frog - of Frog's Landing

Even though the Frog was mostly shutoff from easy access, I managed a way in. Then on to Connecticut where I tried an alternate route to Indian Cave. This proved to be a no go as I battled through dense growth which included much thorny brush. I eventually abandoned this approach, and returned to the original, attempted, access point visited last fall.

Eastward looking view of the Cave

Even this proved no easy feat, but bushwhacking and fording a stream brought me into a beautiful area of sylvan wilderness at the base of a mountain. Ledges at the base of that mountain contained the sought after cave. A weathered cave formation, it proved quite spacious at almost sixty feet long and up to twenty feet deep in one section. A couple fire rings gave testimony to it not being totally forgotten.

Westward looking view of the Cave

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pinnacle of (half) Success!

18 years is a long time. But I try to get back around to sites that have not been visited in a long time. Especially, if there's something new to be gained from such a visit. The Pinnacle is a local (and not official) name to an elevation in central Berkshire County. There is also a 4 acre parcel on that site belonging to a area land conservation group.

Entrance to the cave @ Pinnacle.

So, it was my intention to revisit the two caves located at the Pinnacle, and to see in what proximity they may be to conservation land. In the end, I was only half successful. The smaller (and less important) cave remained unfound. This despite the fact I considered it the easier of the two to find. However, while giving careful inspection to a significant run of ledges, the 'major' cave in the area turned up. High in the ledges, a cave formed by fracturing and movement of large pieces of rock, or whose formation is described as tectonic, in nature.

Interior of the Cave.

As for our "lost" cave - that's for another day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Get the Lead Out!

Long have I heard about the mining of lead - or more accurately galena, the ore it's derived from - down in the settlement of Loudville. An opportunity arose to visit that site as part of a geologic history tour. Locations visited on this day included an air shaft, tailings pile, old water course for draining a (closed) adit, site of a reverberatory furnace, and site of the processing operations.

Ruins of the firebox to the old reverberatory furnace

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Almost Quabbin

The time has come to work more, in and around the Quabbin Reservoir region in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, once again, the hot sticky weather has descended upon us. Something I do not tolerate well and only serves to limit this guy's activity.

So setting my sites upon the Belchertown area, I began with familiar territory. In the ledges near the town's three lakes is a 'weathered' cave formation. Not terribly deep - or impressive - but a lot going on in this area geologically. It will give me more to ponder during the off season, during those times I retreat to become the 'armchair adventurer".

Juniper Cave - weathered cave formation

I took a quick spin by the location of the town's stone chamber. Not surprising, the access was buried behind significant brush, some as tall as eight feet and VERY thorny. I've seen it once this way previously, and the only time I've accessed it was sans foliage. Even then it was a bit of a 'thorny issue' picking one's way through the brush and vines.

My final site was a local wildlife management area. There is a small cave formation here (looks to be another weathered formation) with three names from the 1800s inscribed in the rock. Some pleasant walking but the exact location was not known, and consequently not found on this particular trip.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

High above Housatonic

On this day, I returned to the far side of Monument Mountain, high above the village of Housatonic. This was to follow up on last November's trip, to the same area, with a more in depth look at some of its features.

Almost 500 feet of elevation later, I arrived at my first site: what appeared (from below, and a distance) to be a 'window' (cave?) in the upper ledges. Climbing up through the talus slopes, I eventually arrived. Unfortunately, the image seen from below is more of an illusion. The reality is a huge, detached piece of ledge that had shifted forward. It left, up in back, the parent ledge with an overhang. No real cave present, except for a crawl down under the gigantic piece of rock that had come loose.

Moving on, I eventually reached the site of several enormous boulders first investigated last Fall. These are massive pieces of rock with the two laying beside the trail each measuring well over 100 feet in circumference. The position of each is such that a sheltering cave lies beneath.

The backside of 'Pinnacle Rock'.

Just above these two boulders, is another enormous detached piece of ledge. This 'pinnacle' of a rock has not moved far from the original ledge that spawned it, but one can walk completely around, although some tough footing is to be found. In the immediate vicinity is an impressive section of ledge, fractured and slightly dislocated, to provide at least one small tectonic cave.

Tectonic cave

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me ..... a Valentine?

A breezy, cool day provided near optimal conditions to visit the deep woods and locate sites for two central Berkshire caves. The first - Liberty Cave - is in the vicinity of historic Crevice /Counterfeiter's Cave. The second, is a fairly recent find: Valentine Cave.

The search for Liberty Cave went off without much fuss. It was located in the bottom of a steep-sided sinkhole, one in a line of smaller sinks. This is a cave opened by area cave diggers in recent years.

Valentine Cave proved to be more of a challenge. Located in one of the foothills of Mt Greylock, it was not an obvious entrance. I had explored the area several times in past years, unaware of the nearby presence of marble, in an area that is predominately schist. The Porcupine Cave(s), mentioned in Clay Perry's cave books, are part of this area, but located in those schists.

Entrance area at Valentine Cave

It took a thorough search, but on my final pass through the area, the entrance was discovered. I was coming down out of the impressive ledges of schist when it was found at the base of a small marble ledge. Of further geologic interest: it was quite literally right at the contact zone. Explorers (of which I was not on this day, working alone) have found around 200 feet of passage within. Which, by local standards, is pretty impressive.