Friday, February 17, 2012

Pistapaug to Trimountain, Durham

Biscuit up on Pistapaug
Another 50 degree day in February and we're back on the trail. Whoohoo!  Starting on Route 17, the trail  rises up Pistapaug Mountain pretty quickly and overlooks Pistapaug Pond. According to my reference book, Pistapaug means "muddy or miry pond."  The pond certainly doesn't look miry (what a great trail  word) from up above, but maybe they have dammed and deepened it. 

Sometimes the trap rock ridges are cliffs, and sometime they are almost cliffs, like the Pistapaug ridge. At least if you lose your footing you could hopefully snag a tree on the way down. 

Fowler Mountain, overlooking Ulbrich Reservoir

A very confused Green Stink Bug.
Before long, we've gone down the mountain, crossed Howd Road, gone back up, and are walking along the ridge of Fowler Mountain in Wallingford.  That's Ulbrich Reservoir down below.  It's a very pleasant stretch of trail with easy footing and broken views but no cliffs to worry about.

They are very welcoming to NET hikers in Wallingford, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the fireworks they were setting off to celebrate my passage.**  You can't see fireworks in the day light, of course, but at times they really got going in celebration and I made sure my dog was securely leashed lest she run off in a panic. Also to keep her from running between my feet.

There used to be a plaque for Washington  here.
The CFPA Walk Book notes an old colonial road that crosses the trail called Wadsworth Farm Road, now back in Durham, and I was on the lookout for that, expecting to find it in the notch between  Fowler Mountain and Trimountain (bingo).  An old USGS topo map shows it as George Washington Trail, but there appears to be no real trail there now. About 100 yards west along the road trace was a concrete post where there used to be a plaque commemorating George Washington, who supposedly used the road in 1775 and 1789.  

The trail up Trimountain.
Trimountain rises up pretty quick, and this way up involves a lot of loose trap rock cobbles called "scree." Well, at least the scree isn't miry.  Happy to have the trekking poles here.  Half way up I turned around and got a nice view of Bluff Head in the distance. Did I really walk that far?

Looking down on the Ulbrich Reservoir Dam. 

The hike up the rubble is quickly rewarded with a great lookout point at an eccentric boulder.  Many maps (including the CFPA map) and photographs mark this spot as "Three Notches," which was something of a mystery.  A "notch" is a gap between high points, not a peak.  

Back home, I found that Trimountain is named for its three peaks that form a triangle, with the three notches between the peaks.  The NET runs along the southern peaks, but misses the northern peak, which has been dug into by the quarry.   So this spot at the boulder overlook is not Three Notches.

USGS topo showing the three peaks and three notches

I'm guessing some map maker probably just put the label a bit low on the USGS map and everyone else copied it. That's how things actually get done. The boulder lookout point is just to the right of the "s" in Notches. By the way, if you click on that map you can see where the Mattabesett Trail used to go to the north, as well as the George Washington Trail, and the Tilcon quarry at the very top center of the map. 

Here's a shot looking north up the Metacomet Ridge across the Tilcon Quarry.  After enjoying the great views, the trail turns away from the ridge and meanders on down very gradually.  I was sad to see some wetland flagging along a stream crossing as the near neared Route 68. That's often a precursor to development. So much of our Connecticut blue trail system is on private property and can be closed at anytime. 

At the bottom of the mountain is one very cool shelter for hikers. There is a story here, but I don't know what it is. All I know is that it's not an official CFPA shelter (there are none along this trail), and the Walk Book doesn't even mention it.  Some nice person just maintains it out of the goodness of their heart. 

And it is VERY nicely maintained and stocked. Very clean and comfy.  Look at the benches built into the shelter facing the fire sleep behind them.

Biscuit immediately gave the shelter her stamp of approval by gnawing contentedly on her foot. 

Approaching Route 68 hides the Tree Troll.  Terriers like mine were bred for the purpose of entering dark holes, grabbing an evil varmint, and killing it. Go ahead, Biscuit. Get the varmint. I have seen her charge down a hole with only her back toes sticking out to get a woodchuck (which she shook in a gopher-killing frenzy), but she was trembling over this one.  

Back in the car, we just happened to use the driveway of the Tilcon Quarry to turn around in, so I snapped a photo. In the background is the northern of the three peaks of Trimountain, party eaten away by the trap rock quarry operations. Much lower down, behind the conveyor belt, are layers of red sandstone, also called Brownstone. It's neat to see the exposed redbeds and trap rock in the same location like that. 

** Apparently the "fire works" were actually people practicing at a shooting range and it had nothing to do with me. 

1 comment:

  1. Just hiked section of this trail from rte 68 to Ulbrich pond. I then stumbled upon your blog and you gave me a reason to hike it again - I need to find that old George Washington trail now :)