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