Friday, October 30, 2009

Naugatuck & Whittemore Trails

The Whittemore Trail starts on Route 42 in Bethany and enters another "block"of Naugatuck State Forest (this state forest is confusingly composed of several separate blocks of land in various towns).
The blue/white Whittemore Trail is only 0.8 miles long, but provides a nice connection to the Naugatuck Trail (blue). Much of it follows an old road gradually up the hill.

The Naugatuck Trail was refreshingly easy to hike after my toil on the Quinnipiac. Leaves and acorns were the greatest hazards. The drawback was the lack of scenic vistas, but that was OK. I enjoyed the last of the fall foliage instead. (There is a vista off a spur to Beacon Cap, but I didn't go that way today).

You do need to pay close attention to the blazes on this trail. About half way along the trail, midway through some substantial steps, the trail sneaks off to the right while the steps and main path head off to the left. A few years ago I walked at least a quarter mile along this old road before I noticed the lack of blazes and turned around.

I walked about eight peaceful miles seemingly far from civilization, seeing no one. Hiking can be very relaxing, the footfalls becoming hypnotic after a mile or two. I notice little plants and animals along the way, like some hickory nuts amongst the sassafras. This walking seems instinctual for me, and I reflected that woman traditionally were the gatherers and would walk for miles through the forest looking for roots, herbs, nuts, and medicinal plants for their families.

It's hunting season, so I was wearing blaze orange. I have no problems with hunting in the State Forests, but some idiot hunter had a blind not twenty feet off the Whittemore Trail, facing the trail. He was apparently waiting for deer to walk down the hiking trail! Jerk. It was unnerving that I couldn't tell if anyone was behind the blind watching me until I got even with it (there wasn't). In my son's words, "That's mad creepy."

Nearby was a tree stand, this one about 100 feet off the trail. Really? A great big State Forest and you guys have to hunt on top of the hiking trail?

But that was nothing compared to my little side trip to another block of the State Forest in Naugatuck later in the day to look for a DEP letterbox. There are no hiking trails there, just logging roads, and it had gotten late. When I arrived, there were pickup trucks parked along the road and more guys in pickups were apparently looking for placed to park. I chose my parking spot (the wrong one, it turns out) and headed down the woods road a short ways to find the letterbox. It was 4:00 and getting dim, and I heard a shot really close by. Yikes! I decided to leave that trip for another day and headed back to the car, at which point a couple of friendly game wardens stopped by. I've never seen so many hunters in one area! It was likely the local river on opening fishing day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a whole state forest that you could walk in. The hunter is allowed to be there as much as you do. In the end did a hunter point a weapon at you. No.