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Ann and Michell's Excellent Adventures in the Woods Note

Ann Gadwah

November 2023

Greetings! Welcome to the first article on the amazing and excellent hikes that I have been doing this summer with my friend and fellow Military Outdoors volunteer, Michelle Lefebvre. We have explored some of the Connecticut woods this past summer and want to continue to share the beauty and magnificence with you good people. 

 

So, a little background. Michelle and I met in the fall of 2022 at the Veterans Rally Point in Norwich, Connecticut. Sierra Club Connecticut had received a grant from the National Military Outdoors program and my colleague Alycia Jenkins and I were traveling around the state to Veterans Organizations to promote the program and the Veterans Rally Point was one of our stops. In October, the chapter held an outing and a leader training. Michelle attended, we hit it off, and so began our excellent adventures in the woods. 

 

Summer 2023 has been quite a ride. Michelle and I have been on 10 outings together, some with other folks, some with just the two of us. Every month, I am going to highlight a few of the more incredible hikes we have had. The following are our favorites from the summer.

Devil’s Hopyard Hike – June 16, 2023

Michelle and I met up with Tanya Bourgoin, chair of the Sierra Club Connecticut Wildlife Committee, and took a hike in Devil’s Hopyard State Park in East Haddam. We took the orange trail, which was about a 2.3 miles round trip, and put us past landmarks such as Devil’s Oven and to a lovely outlook. Many Connecticut hiking trails have a lookout, showing the rolling hills and valleys of our beautiful state and this was no different. The walk was moderately challenging, some parts rocky so we were grateful for our hiking poles. At the end, we visited the waterfall close to the entrance, which was gushing from the recent rainfall and was a sight to behold. Overall, I give this hike a 10/10 for the interesting features, the beauty of the area, and the company.

 

 

Sleeping Giant State Park – July 30, 2023

Michelle and I went on a hike to Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden. A popular place for hiking, dog walking, and running, this outing was well-attended, with a dozen folks joining us. We hiked the Tower Trail, which was gravel covered and well traversed with other adventurers. It was a 3 mile up and back hike, with a stone tower at the summit. We climbed up the tower, had a drink and snack, and took a group photo. This was one of the program's most successful hikes of the summer, attended by Sierra Club members and volunteers, veterans, and local folks. I give this hike a 10/10 for the iconicness of the location; the large, diverse group; and the view from the top. 

 

Giuffrida Park – August 31, 2023

Michelle and I hiked Giuffrida Park in Meriden, along with my trusty canine companion, Red. We did the Giuffra Park Loop, which is a 4.4 mile loop up over the mountain to Chauncey Peak and along the ridgeline of Lamentation Mountain, back down the Crescent lake area. The trail was rocky and steep in some parts, and there was a bit of construction, but you were able to work around it. The views from Chauncey Peak were beautiful, and there were folks sitting on the rocks enjoying the sunshine and the day. The second viewpoint, up along the ridgeline of Lamentation Mountain, was also stunning, seeing all the way up to New Britain and Farmington. Crescent Lake was a unique shade of green, as we finished up the hike along its banks. I give this hike a 10/10 for the unique trails and the different terrain of the park, the otherworldliness of the area (you don’t feel like you’re in Central Connecticut, you feel like you’re in the Shire), and a challenge accomplished with a good friend. 

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Please tune in next month for another update on Ann and Michelle’s Excellent Adventures in the Woods and be sure to check our Events page so you can join us for an upcoming hike. Our next hike will be up Bear Mountain (the tallest peak in the state).

 

Ann Gadwah is Advocacy & Outreach Organizer with a focus on our legislative work at the State Capitol and outings.

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