On Sunday 7/9/17 my son, Mike, and I went back to finish off Appalachian Trail(AT)-Connecticut Section #2- where we had left off during our Memorial Day weekend hike with my other son, Joel, in May. We ended up doing a small part of Section #1 as well which further reduced the amount of hiking miles needed to complete my second state of the AT. Weather was in low 60s and there was mostly blue sky with a few white, puffy clouds.
After parking Mike’s car at a nearby parking lot, we headed northbound from the Iron Bridge (called the Amesville Bridge according to “AWOL” Miller’s AT Guide) over the Housatonic River in Falls Village, CT. Wet shrubs, some with small thorns, encroached upon the width of the trail. My pants soaked up the moisture while my trekking pole helped clear a path. We could hear the loud rush of water to our right but due to the thick foliage we could not see the source of the noise. However, after only about thirteen minutes of walking, a small scenic overlook opened to permit hikers to climb onto the rocks which make up the Great Falls.
After leaving the Falls, two northbound thru hikers passed us as we began the nearly 1,000 foot ascent of Prospect Mountain, elevation 1475′ above sea level, which we reached just 2.3 miles into our hike. Along the way we saw a bunch of fallen trees and trail maintainers had cut this one to clear the trail. A little AT artistry was added instead of just cutting and rolling the cut section off the trail.
We started to descend a short way from Prospect and saw to our left the sign for the Limestone Spring Shelter. It noted that the shelter was a half mile down the side trail. From prior research I found that the actual distance to the shelter was not that far but there was nothing unique about this shelter and I wanted to keep hiking to beat the summer heat as much as we could.
A little more than an hour and a half into the hike we came to Rand’s View which included this scenic view of lush fields of green grass with rolling hills in the background.
After covering about 3.5 miles in two hours, which I figured would be the hardest part of this hike due to the elevation gain, we took a sit down break at a scenic overlook called Billy’s View, which according to the AT Conservancy guidebook for MA/CT, was named after a member of the family which use to own this property.
The trees blocked most of the view but I am sure in the late Fall or early Spring, the view of the nearby Salmon Kill Valley is wonderful.
Mike and I observed four or five different stacked stone walls in areas which had dubious usefulness. The rocks seemed to be stacked in areas of very limited access.
We began a fairly steep descent down switch-backed trails where some of the hiking involved careful foot placement to avoid any slip and fall. I photographed this log ladder with supportive hand rail which was installed along this stretch of the trail. This is what the ladder looked like after we had already climbed down it. It was very solidly assembled.
While climbing down along Wetauwanchu Mountain, we started to hear the sounds of cars along CT Rt. 44. The trail parallels Rt. 44 in a flat, grassy field before emerging onto the road. Hikers cross the road, walk along the far side of Rt. 44 until the intersection with Cobble Road. This is the northern end of Section #2. As soon as we turned right onto Cobble Road, Mike saw this red colored flower and I took this photo.
Does anyone know what type of flower this is? Is it Monarda or Bee balm?
The AT continues along Cobble Road where we passed a sign for a fairly new looking Senior Residence development. Mike noted that it was located directly across the street from the St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery. Friends of any deceased residents would not have far to go for the graveside memorial service.
We continued northbound and noticed a well placed AT right turn sign which directed hikers to turn off Cobble Road into a field marked with wooden posts bearing white blazes. After crossing the field, we were back into the woods where the trail was shaded and cushioned with a layer of pine needles. We completed this short .4 mile stretch of Section #1 which got us back to the Undermountain Road (Rt. 41) hiker parking area. We got into my car, drove back to Mike’s car by the Iron Bridge and then plotted a course to the Oakhurst Diner in Millerton, NY which is located off Rt. 44 just across from the Connecticut/New York state line.
I had a great tasting cheeseburger with mashed potatoes instead of fries and Mike had a chicken caesar salad. It was amazing the amount of people walking around at the different shops located in Millerton, NY which is a small place in the Town of Northeast in the upper corner of Dutchess County.
Thanks to Mike, who was his usual excellent hiking companion and shuttle driver, today’s hike finished the remaining 6.7 miles of Section #2 and .4 miles of Section #1 for a total of 7.1 miles in a little over three and a half hours. I have now hiked 163.3 miles of the AT [89.8 in New York(completed), 43.8 miles in Connecticut and 29.7 miles in New Jersey]. I am almost done hiking any parts of the AT within a one and a half hour drive of my house. I have a few more hikes to plan to complete both CT and NJ. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, are on deck.
Rich Ballezza (aka Condor 3)