October 23, 2007 - Geocache adopted

Hey, if you are a geocacher, check out a geocache that I recently adopted and relocated up on the Mt. Tom area. Click HERE for information on that. It will take you on an unmapped yet blazed trail.

October 23, 2007 - Northfield Mountain Recreation Area


Last week I went up to the Northfield Mountain Recreation Area in Northfield, MA. I must definitely recommend this as a place to go for all ages and abilities. A complete trail rating and mountain description available HERE

Northfield Mtn is actually a hydroelectric reservoir area owned by FirstLight Power Resources. They also own several other 'satellite' facilities up and down the nearby Connecticut River, with such activities as canoeing, camping, hiking, cross country skiing, and even riverboat cruises. The main visitors center has a pavilion and auditorium, both of which may be rented if you wish. A yurt is also available. Should you be cross country skiing, there is a halfway hut known as "The Chocolate Pot" which may be open to warm your insides up with chocoloate goodies and an outdoor fire.

Access to the main mountain area was free when I attended, but there is a trail fee should you come here in the winter to snowshoe or x-country ski. Hiking is also prohibited on the xcountry ski trails during winter as well. Also of note, the 10th Mountain Division of the National Ski Patrol has a home here. For links to cross country information, including their snow-phone, go to http://www.firstlightpower.com/northfield/ccski.asp

For the hiker in you, there are approximately 26 miles of trails to be had. Lots of them are also available to you mountain bikers as well, so there is plenty to go around. Some of the easier trails are hard packed dirt/grass, and as wide as a standard secondary road. Off of these trails you will find several snowshoeing trails (hiking in summer) and hiking-only trails as well. There are several ways to get to the top of the mountain...for beginner to expert. Steep to shallow. Heck, you can even follow the service road, which is paved, all the way to the top if you wish.

If you would like to check out a trail map (requires PDF reader), click HERE. (I would right-click link and open in a new window. Also, 2.2 meg download)

The route that I took was designed to hit most of the geocaches on this mountain. Obviously I did not get to hit all the trails, but I can describe the ones that I did take. Also of note, most of the major trail intersections are numbers uniquely on the map which match up with post-signs with the same numbers on the trail. This makes navigating for the novice very easy. All trails are VERY well labeled and blazed as well.

Starting at the visitors center, you are greeted with several different ways to go, but I chose to work the Jug-end xcountry trail first. This is a novice to more-difficult cross country trail, but an easy hike. From here, I followed a trail named "10th Mountain Division" Basically it follows the power lines in a North-South direction. There are some moderate to gently rolling hills along this trail, and the view is great in my opinion. 10th mountain has about 800 feet of total vertical climb.

After going and coming back on the 10th mountain trail, I decided to check out "Rose Ledge" trail. After the fact I found out that the Rose Ledges are a huge area rock-climbing attraction, which would explain all the geocaching-muggles around that made my geocaching adventure difficult. The Rose Ledges trail is moderate, and you are rewarded with an absolutely spectacular view of huge rock cliffs. Keep the reigns on the little ones! Rose Ledge trail will add some nice vertical to your journey.

Although I personally did not go an join the climbers, I beleive that you must take the Lower Rose Ledge trail to get to the climbing location. I could hear and see the climbers within about 150 feet of me, but couldn't quite see them, which would put them on the lower ledge trail.

If you reference the map, I continued up the Rose Ledge trail to intersection 33 and 29, steadily heading east until I got to the Northfield Mountain Summit overlook. 1100.49 feet elevation! My GPS was pretty darn spot on, telling me I was at 1095 feet ASL. This is averaged based on barometric pressure and GPS sat readings. (I calibrate the baro every once in a while).

After a short lunch, I checked out the view. You can actually see Haystack, Mt. Snow, the Mt. Hermon school campus, Hermit Mountain, and Pisgah Mountain from here. There are picnic tables here as you look out over the reservoir and rolling hills of the Green Mountains and beyond. Of note is that you do not hear any of the hydro generators or other mechanical do-dads up here. Everything, including the draw-down into the hydro unit, is underground!

I took several trails back, doubling back a few times to make sure I got all the geocaches I came up here to do. Of interest I came across an abandonded rock quarry, which has signage and a brief history plaque to let you know what it was used for. Also, I came across the "Chocolate Pot" which apparently is a warming spot halfway up the mountain for the cross country types. It looks like they have an outdoor fireplace here along with the ability to serve hot chocolate. In summer, it is closed. On a side note, if you are doing the geocache here "Behind the Chocolate Pot," don't overthink it too much...your GPS will wig on the signal, so just look in the most obvious place. You can't miss it. Well, I did for about 20 mintues until I literally sat down next to it...

On my next trip up here, I plan to check out more of the North side of the mountain, as I did not hit a lot of the trails up here.


September 21, 2007 - Hike at Whistler's Arches

Went for a hike on Tuesday the 18th up in the Chester, Massachusetts area. I ended up going to view George Washington Whistler's keystone arch bridges. A leisurely 5 mile hike through the woods on a well established trail.

Check out the pictoral hike I made for you! (you may want to have a broadband connection!)

September 8, 2007 - Upcoming

So I have been on a few hikes as of late, but not posted anything regarding them. Between 3 weddings, being booked out 2 weeks in advance of work, my twisted ankle, and a bunch of other things I have not had much free time to post.

However, as a preview...I've been exploring the Kightville Dam area, doing some of the M&M trail, and of course geocaching. Some pics and reviews to come.

July 16, 2007 - Where o' where have I gone?

Yes, yes...I know I haven't updated the site in a month. I actually have spent very little of my summer outside yet, and that is rather disappointing. Why? Well first was an abrupt schedule change at work. They sent my parter to another store so I am back working by myself...so much for my 4 day on 3 day off schedule. Now I'm stuck with Tuesdays and Thursdays off. Not a big deal, right?

Wrong. The fist two weeks in June were really crappy weather on my days off, so I stayed inside. I did manage a few small hikes and geocaches, but nothing to write home about. Then came vacation. I actually did get some hiking/walking in the steambath known as Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. Nabbed a geocache too.

Then I came back and there were weddings to attend to, sickness to deal with (both myself and my signifigant other)...and now here we are. The middle of July and I barely have 30 miles of aimless woods-walking under my belt. Grrr.

Winter needs to hurry up and get here.


May 20, 2007 - Rain. Again

So guess what...it rained all weekend. Again. But I did manage to get out yesterday and do some geocaches. 9 of them to be exact. Yep, that was a full day. I managed to visit Holyoke, Hadley, Northampton, Hatfield, and Sunderland. Thankfully I have all wheel drive too, because a few of the caches took me down dirt farm roads that were all mud. I even managed to get mud on the roof of my car...

Today we are going to add some information on that little annoying pest to all hikers, the tick. You can check out the full writeup in the right column under "Survival and other Outdoor Techniques" Here are some short points:

  • Wear light colored clothing so you can see ticks crawling on you
  • Tuck pants into your socks so they can't crawl up your legs
  • Remember that tick bites are generally painless so you will NOT be aware that one has bitten you, especially if you shave your legs (no tickles!)
  • Remove ticks from the mouth parts. Do not squeeze the tick, do not burn the tick, do not use checmicals on the tick. It can cause it to regurgitate and signifigantly increase your chances of infection
  • Use Deet (topical) or Permethrin (for clothing) according to directions
  • See a doctor IMMEDIATELY if a rash develops at bite site.

For the full writeup, please see the tick-talk column under the survival and outdoor technique header in the right column.

May 15, 2007 - The Darned Weather!

Yes, there haven't been a lot of updates/blogs as of late. Every time I have a day off either the weather has been unfavorable or we are doing some geocaching on trails that are not worth mention.

I'll be sure to post any interesting news as it comes my way.

May 6, 2007 - A 7 Geocache Day

As you can see from my little geocaching statbar in the right hand column, we hit up several caches today. Leah and I headed out to Stanley park, which was packed with people on this nice 65 degree day.

We only logged one "did not find," and I have a sneaking suspicion that this is due to the recent flooding of the Westfield river. "Echoes Cache" is in a location that must have been under at least a few feet of water. The previous logs were also DNFs as well.

We did manage to hit up XPumpkin Cahce, Back Woods, Evergreen., Cally - Man, Might Be A Quicky, and May Not Be A Quicky. Most are right on track with the clues, although cachers must be especially careful of muggles.

If you are looking for a few miles of nice woodsy yet not-too-far-from-society walking trails, head on over to Stanley Park in Westfield. Parking/admission is free, there are playgrounds for the kids, tennis, soccer fields, pond, the river...all sorts of fun.

There are no trail maps available, but when in doubt just keep walking...the park is surrounded by roads.


May 4, 2007 - Fire/Red flag warning

Well May comes in with Fire warnings for Hamden, Hampshire, and Franklin county due to a nice breeze coupled with dry and warm temps. Berkshire county is under a Red Flag warning from noon until 7PM today.

When hiking please be careful and do not light fires unless absolutely necessary.

As for skinut.net, I am archiving the April month of blogs.