Thursday, December 5, 2013

Reservoir Loop, Middletown

Asylum Reservoir #2
The forecast was for temps near 60°, with the sun coming out in the afternoon, but I got cool, moody fog instead. That's OK, fog can be fun to hike in. Also, it keeps the riff-raff out. No other hikers, ATVs, bikes, nothing but the sound of water dripping off the branches and some chickadees. 

Connecticut State Hospital -- "the asylum" -- est. 1866
There are several "Asylum" reservoirs, cleverly numbered from one to four. The reservoirs were built to supply water for Connecticut State Hospital, the state's first mental health facility, or "insane asylum" as they called it at the time.  The reservoirs were uphill from the sprawling facility, and could supply not only drinking water, but water under pressure to fight fires. 

The Mattabesett Trail follows the west shore of the reservoir with several overlooks of the reservoir and Hartford that were nothing but fog during this hike. I'll be back here again, hopefully before it snows, to finish up the spur, so I'll get another look. 

Lichens are greening up after the drought
Although I like hiking in the fog or on a misty day, the rock can be quite a hazard. There were no steep sections on this hike, but the rock doesn't have to be steep to cause a fall. The rock was coated with a slick layer of slime, and the going was very slow. 
This was very tough to get down.
 While laying out a trail, bare rock, like the one in the photo above, is very enticing for the route -- it's already cleared! -- but it's treacherous to walk down in wet weather. For the above photo, I chose to find a way around rather than hope my feet wouldn't slip on the slimy rock.
4.2 miles to the end of the NET Spur
The Reservoir Loop is made by turning right onto the blue/yellow trail at a sign. The blue/yellow trail was a much easier walk in the wet weather. Need to watch very carefully for the blazes, though. 
View from the blue/yellow trail
It's not all gray out there.
What a view
Old pegmatite quarry
We're getting closer to the heart of Connecticut's pegmatite district, and the trail passed along the top of an old quarry.  The trail above was littered with countless shards of quartz. The colonial miners were probably looking for feldspar to use in ceramics. 

Chunk of pegmatite: white feldspar, gray quartz, black biotite, silver muscovite