Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mount Higby, Middlefield-Middletown

I am happy to report that the north side of Route 66 is a real joy to hike.  After all the ATVs and litter above Black Pond, it was relief.  Most people park in a large lot across Rt 66 from Black Pond and take a blue/red feeder trail to the Mattabesett, but I started at Guida's where the mainline trail crosses the highway. The plan was to reward myself with ice cream after the hike. Sadly, they were closed by the time I returned. 

It doesn't take long before the trail starts heading up the mountain and you get a seasonal view of Black Pond and Beseck Mountain.   They say that lighting is everything. The two photos above are the same view, the same day, with the same camera.  The left photo is washed out from the glare of a high sun, while the right photo is bathed in the low light just before sunset. 

Looking toward the Hanging Hills of Meriden

Before long you're up on the cliff and what can I say, there are views. Views and more views. It's beautiful. I could post about twenty of these vista shots but you would get bored.  

I am not crazy about heights, but this trail was fine.  In the few places where the trail gets really close to the cliff, there are alternative routes further back.  A few years ago a hiker died when took a misstep and fell off the cliff.  I never want to hike so close to the edge that a simple stumble could result in a tragic fall like that.  

Up on the very top of the south peak is this chunk of rock cantilevered out over the cliff, just large enough for a person to stand on.  I hope no one does that, but I'm sure they do. 

Looking towards Higby's north peak

Mt Higby has two peaks, the south peak in Middlefield and the north peak in Middletown. The north peak is a bit higher, is more remote, and less crowded.

Old road rising up the cliff into Preston Notch
Marker along the old road
In between, the trail drops down into Preston Notch, where an old road comes up impressively from below the cliff and follows the notch.  The town line between Middletown and Middlefield is here, and so is an old stone marker.  Is it a mile marker for the road, or a boundary marker between towns? 

Up on the north peak there's a great view of this active quarry on Chauncey Peak.  The next major leg of the trail goes up behind the quarry and comes down the left side, I believe.  So I guess I could wave to my future self. 

Natural Bridge
 I was wondering what the "Natural Bridge" feature would look like.  There wasn't much of an "NB" painted on it like many references note, but it's pretty obvious this is it. No, I did not walk across it, but I'm sure many people do.

Those poor saps down there are stuck behind a traffic accident in I-91. I can see the fire engines. And here I am on a beautiful spring-like day. Whoohoo!!!!! (My punishment for such sentiments came on the way home). 

 Holy cow, the Dutchman's Breeches are popping out of the ground. It's still February!

"Blue Ridge Mountains....West Virginia...." Well, no, but the neat thing about being on the ridge, especially the north peak, is that even though you're really close to lots of people, you still can get away from it all.  There were no ATV trails, almost no litter, and although I passed a fair number of hikers, they were all actually hiking and not some kids looking for a place to hang out unseen by the authorities.

Here's a colony of gray birch, probably all clones of each other.  The tree spreads by suckers.

Back at the Black Pond overlook just before sunset, the cliffs of Bluff Head can be seen in the distance. You can tell it's Bluff Head because the cliffs are backwards, meaning they face west instead of east. I've walked that far?   I guess I could wave to my past self. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice piece. If I finally get up there, I'll wave to your past self.