April Archives

April 30, 2007 - Icky weekend weather

Well the weather was rainy and icky this weekend, so no hiking to report. We did do a quick jaunt in the woods by Aldrich Lake in Granby, MA to find the "WMC Kids Cache" geocache, but that was about it. I do recommend this cache if you would like an easy find. The area also used to be a Boy Scout camp so there are some intresting ruins around as well.

I also did receive information from another local cacher regarding my April 23rd post about the Knightville Dam geocache. Apparently the 'ski area' that I found actually was part of the Black Panther ski area. Nifty.

April 23, 2007 - Knightville Dam Geocaching Hike

Saturday the 21st I went on an awesome excursion to the Knightville Dam area. If you would like to visit their website, head to this site and check it out. In short, the Knightville Dam is in Huntington, MA, on the East Branch of the Westfield River.Right off of Rte 112. Plenty of signs. The dam is most essential to control flooding on the Westfield River, and has the ability to store 16 billion gallons of water behind it. So much water, in fact, that it has only flowed over the spillway twice in its history. (If you would like to see current hydrological data, check out this page on their website) The Army Corps of Engineers own, operate, and built the structure.

The abovementioned hydrological flow page is essential to all you kayakers and canoers out there. The Knightville dam coordinates with other area dams to release water all at the same time so you have whitewater conditions. Personally I think you're all nuts :)

Anyway, if you would like a nice hike in the summer, drive up to the top where the actual dam is. Cars cannot drive across the dam, but you can park right next to it. There is a trail that goes behind the ranger building, you can't miss it. That trail is open to horses, hikers, and hunters. No vehicles allowed.

I personally have never fully been able to follow the trail during summer. When I arrived Saturday, it was of course flooded. The water level was at approximately 540-545 feet above sea level, which makes the pool the dam was holding back approximately 101 feet deep. The normal winter pool is 25 feet deep, and summer is 0 feet deep. Yep, in the summer this is a drybed dam! As a matter of fact, if you continue up on rte 112 there are several gates that allow you to drive right to and across the dry bed. Sometimes they are open, sometimes they are not.

Overall the trail is very easy. No ankle breakers..think horse trail. There are several geocaches around this area, look for coords 42.290657° by -72.861228° and you will see a whole series.

After finishing this I headed up 112 and decided to follow the instructions to go visit Glendale Falls waterfall. Yeah...except there is a point where River Road makes a hard left turn and I kept going straight...which immediately turns into some sort of 1 lane muddy jeep-track thing. It was all good though, still have the snow tires on the Suby and despite the steep angle and the mud we didn't have any issues.

I took several pictures of Glendale Falls, the largest series of falls in Western Ma. Also, I did get some snapshots up at Knightville as well. They will be resized and uploaded as soon as I can.

On a side note, while at Knightville Dam and trudging through the woods in an attempt to circumvent the flood waters, I came across an old tow-rope setup. I am in the process of verifying that I have found yet another lost ski area, "Black Panther". Check out the Lost Ski Areas of New England website in the right info column for more information. Location, Huntington, MA. A local who saw my geocache log told me that this was Black Panther, so we shall see!


April 16, 2007 - WEATHER ALERT: Mill River Flooding

NOAA reports that the Mill River in Northampton has exceeded flood stage at 14.74 feet. Current record to date is 13.72 feet back in the rainstorm of October '05. Click HERE for updated hydrological data.

Current river flow is almost 8,000 cubic feet per second. Daily average is approximately 183 CFS. Stay away from the banks and check with your local PD for evacutation information. There is a voluntary evacutation in effect. Several local roads are also closed, including parts of rte 9 and rte 66.


April 9, 2007 - NEWSITEM: Mt. Greylock Auto Road closed

Our camping trip to Mt. Greylock for Memorial Day weekend has been cancelled. Apparently it has been made public that all auto access roads to the mountain will be closed for repair until 2009. This information was not posted on ReserveAmerica.com until after our reservations were made. I will update as to whether or not I am successful in receiving a full refund due to the miscommunication.

I am very disappointed in ReserveAmerica.com for not emailing or otherwise attempting to contact those customers who made reservations way back in wintertime before this information was public.

April 6, 2007 - A Three Mountain Tour; Daniel Shay's Rebellion

Hit up three mountains yesterday with a small group of Leah's fellow faculty. They are scouting the area to bring the city-kids on. It should be fun to hear the stories...

Anyway, we hit Mt. Tom first. From Lake Bray up the Teabag, to the M-M, to Goat Peak. Trail was medium-short and of medium difficulty. View from the top is windy, but spectacular. Great views to the Western part of the state. We had occasional snow showers and a light coating of snow on the ground thanks to the 2 inches we had on the 5th. Yesp...still snowing at this time of year, and a possibility for more on the 12-13th.

Second trail was the M-M up to Skinner. (Section 7) Start on the M-M from a dirt road and head north, following up the ridgeline of the mountain. At first the ascent is somewhat steepish, with some scrambling over rocks. You are rewarded with a nice view within a few minutes from the power-line right of way. Following this you are greeted with a few ups and downs through nice hemlock groves, and only minor rock scrambling is needed. If you are a geocacher, there is a geocache in this area. I had already found it so I did not detour. There was light skim-ice and snow in places.

We finished by doing the M-M from the Notch at 116 to Mt. Norwottuck (Section 8). This section of the M-M brings you up to the 1106' summit of Norwottuck where you are afforded nice views all around, primarily to the north. There were several slippery spots due to ice and snow on the trail. I most likely would have like to start with this one, for some reason I always get a bit winded on this route.

If one wants to continue on the M-M over the crest of Norwottuck, it make a steep descent and another mile on the trail will bring you to the horse caves. The horse caves were alledgely where the men following Daniel Shays, of Shay's rebellian (ca. 1786-1787) hid from the Massachusetts Militia after their defeat in Springfield. It's a great geological feature if you want to check it out. Click HERE for a history of Daniel Shays Rebellion.

Trail ratings for these trails coming soon, today was not a good day to rate them due to the unseasonable weather.

April 1, 2007 - Mt. Toby State Forest; Geocache

Went on another geocache today, at the Mt. Toby State Forest, Sunderland. MA. (Wildlife Mangement Area). Hit up a multicache there, along with a few others in the area. We took the longer, but easier way up the mountain by following the access road that winds all the way up. If you are looking for more of a challenge, try out the Telephone Line trail. (Half distance, but same elevation gain!)

If you are going to do this area, it is vital that you have a Mt. Toby area map. There are numerous trails and due to the nature of the geography, it may look like a trail heads in one direction when in fact it is just going to switch back to another location.

Overall it was a cool afternoon, in the 50s. SallyDog (Kim's Escort) was quite fascinated with the whole nature thing, and wanted to eat all the other dogs around. We found all the geos we were looking for. We didn't hit up two of them because we were on the trail of the the multicache. (Whats a multi? It's when you find one cache that really is just directions to somewhere else, you go there, find more directions, etc...until the cache owner thinks it isn't funny anymore and you find the real cache!)

Hike Difficulty: 2 (Mostly Moderate, with a few short steeper areas)
For trail: Follow Access road all the way.
Terrain: 1 (All hardpack sand/gravel)
Distance: 2 (Approx 3 miles from gate to summit)
Notables: Make sure you plan your way. Fire tower at top for a great view
Traffic: 3 (Very popular route, passed at least 25 people)

March 31 , 2007 - First Group Geocache of the Year. Bub's Cache

Well we had the first group Geocache of the year. Bub's Cache, located on the Podick conservation area of Amherst, MA. Right off of 116, south of Bub's BarBQ. (Great place for food, btw!!)

First off, a warning about this cache. If you are going during this mudseason, also known as "Spring", watch where you park and expect to get wet whilst on this cache.

The cache itself is relatively easy. A peaceful walk through a small conservation area with the cache cleverly hidden. When you get to the field with the sign that states the trail forks, I highly suggest taking the right fork. If you take the left fork (or take the right and do the whole loop), you will have a nice tour of Great Swamp. Included with this wet 'n' wild sloshing is a free introduction to Mephitidate Mephitis. What's that? SKUNK! (Striped to be exact)

Yes. I was walking around the 'outer rim' of this swamp, in a vain attempt to stay a little dryer. I clambered up on a root ball, put my foot down, and looked. No more than 10" away was a cute skunk who was apparently balled up and sleeping. Until I put my foot down. The peaceful little guy suddenly turned into a quite suprised and fearful furball equipped with quite the set of vocal cords.

Speaking of vocal cords, I apparently am also equipped with a pretty good set. A pretty good set of leg muscles too, I beleive. I hopped like a ballerina from rock-to-rock and got away from there right fast. (at first the skunk thought it funny to mirror my moves in the direction that I wanted to go, but he gave up.)

No, I didn't get sprayed. Skunks are actually quite hesitant to spray and usually won't do so if there is a way out.

Below you will find some quick notes...I plan on putting these up on a different part of the site with color keys and all that jazz, but I do not have enough of a collection yet to do that.

Hike Difficulty: 1 (Walk)
Terrain: 1 (Flat)
Distance: 1 (Short)
Notables: Ticks; Swamp/Mud (passable by going other way); Close Parking
Traffic: 1 (Light) Saw one person.

April 1, 2007 - March Archive

The March news/blogs have been archived. See the linkage in the bottom of the right column for information.