Saturday, March 26, 2016

Of Postcards and Smallpox.

Now and then I'll take in a postcard show, almost always combining the trip with the opportunity to take in some natural settings. This was a first time for me visiting the show in Spencer, although I have looked over a couple things in town during the past. Not much presented itself in the way of postcards. But often it is more about the contacts you make! I reconnected with a dealer from the Blackstone Valley who gave me background information on her home town. Then I met up with another dealer from the South Shore who was able to give me a lead on a previously unknown (to me) cave down that way.

Connecting with Rhode Island's Mike G. at the show, we eventually moved on to the land of the Smallpox Cave. This rather interesting geologic feature was examined some years back but something new had arisen! A reported second cave in the vicinity, with initials carved at the site. A pretty good search was made but turned up very little that could be called a cave. And no initials were seen. It might be mentioned the original Smallpox 'Cave' is nothing more than a ledge at this point in time. However, the writing of its inhabitant, during the early 1800's, IS still visible.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Pebble and a Roof

Time has come to move beyond the Berkshires. Two areas where rocky formations might be located were on my radar screen. First up was Trustees of the Reservations land in Franklin County with The Pebble. Nice boulder around 13 feet high and 56 feet around. Notable were a number of quartzite exposures in the base rock. A couple being pretty big in diameter.

The Pebble

Afterwards, the majority of the day was spent across the Connecticut River. Here, a large area of ledges used by climbers. The premiere feature called The Roof. A long (90') overhang with a nice sheltering area underneath, the depth is none too significant. I can only imagine if Native Americans ever slept here. A series of ledges nearby make up what is called Happy Valley and provide more than ample opportunity to test one's climbing ability.

A portion of The Roof

Friday, March 11, 2016

Burgoyne, a Gorilla, and an Egyptologist.

Three sites in the Southern Berkshires were my goal on this particular day. The first was a long overdue, first time visit, to Burgoyne Pass. I also wanted to verify, if - or if not - an old route still existed into the Pass from the East. I also had been made aware of a plaque on a rock that existed somewhere near this area.

Rock formation near the Eastern entrance to Burgoyne Pass

Apparently the old trail/woods road into Burgoyne Pass, at least from Beartown Mountain Road, has been abandoned. However, I did encounter old sections along the way. This happens to be the most direct route in, and the rocky notch through the mountain can be reached in a relatively short time after a modest climb. The plaque - I did not see, but learned later on, it is down the mountain to the west.

Gorilla Rock

Then on down into the Tryingham Valley to view Gorilla Rock. This somewhat modest sized rock is out in a pasture and only can only be viewed from the roadside. I finished farther down the Valley near the old Ashintully Estate (former home to Egyptologist Robb de Peyster Tytus) investigating a possible karst formation. This did not pan out as hoped. Although we have a water source present, it was entirely diffused with a lack of exposed bedrock. Overall, the area geology did not offer significant potential.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Into the Great South Berkshire!

First trip of the year with Gary L. from the Great Barrington Historical Society. We did not have great success on this day, but worked a number of sites. The first was Pow Wow Rocks reported to be an Indian encampment. Next was a rough hike into a karst area near Masshole, a giant sinkhole that contains a cave entrance.

Down in the farthest most corner of the State, we did a drive by, scouting out a location from an old postcard, where a young lad posed on a rock ledge at the site of an old schoolhouse. This did not bear fruit although we saw a couple possibilities.

Perched boulder - Evergreen Hill

The final stops were in Stockbridge. First, looking over an old location for Rt 7 (before it was called Rt 7) north of Great Barrington. There is also a forgotten cemetery here, an old carriage road, and a modest perched boulder on a steep hillside. Ending the day was a visit to something I had never seen before - except in old postcards: the monument to the Stockbridge Indians. A large slab of rock taken from Ice Glen and sitting upright in a small park.

Monument to the Stockbridge Indians

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Real - or false spring - only time will tell. After one of the mildest snow-free winters I can remember, weather that is more like April has graced our region. Taking advantage of that, I have sprung into action for another year.

Combining business with pleasure, I headed south to Falls Village Connecticut for the quarterly meeting of the Northeastern Cave Conservancy. After killing a good number of hours there, I headed over to Great Falls. On my last pass through the area (October 2014) the well visited side of the Falls were taken in. Here, I saw across the river, two boulders that I hoped would match an old postcard. A possibility, but water levels would have to be lower, and a significant amount of brush not present, to make an identification.

The probable double boulder above the Great Falls

On the trip north, a short stop was made in Stockbridge to visit the so-called Sliding Rock.

Sliding Rock - to the right