Hiking the New England Trail
It was a gray, damp morning when Deb and I met at the trailhead/strip mall on the Berlin Turnpike for the sixth section of our New England Trail (NET) traverse. Our goal was to finish by the end of the year, and we were feeling a bit pressured as it was early December and we still had close to 50 miles left.
Today, however, we were thrilled to have our dear friend Kathy with us. We had been sharing our “tales from the trail”, and we had piqued her curiosity enough that she decided to join us on a dank, 30ish degree day on the cusp of winter. Kathy and I had been friends since first grade, when we started parochial school together. She and I often recount our first day of class when she flawlessly recited the “Our Father”, while I clumsily tried to mouth my way through the unfamiliar prayer. Four years later, when St. Francis closed down because of lack of funding, we entered public school and met our friend, Deb.
Photo: Kathy and Deb taking a break atop Chauncey Peak
Photo Credit: Nora Hulton
It had taken a bit of cajoling to get Kathy to come along, as she referred to Deb and me as “real” hikers whose abilities, she felt, surpassed hers. If real hikers are people who spend an hour looking for trailheads, leave the keys to their destination car in their starting car, get lost on a regular basis, and tend to overestimate their abilities when planning a hike, then she had us pegged, we were real hikers! Needless to say, we had to maneuver delicately when persuading our dear friend to join us; we had to paint a picture of competence without scaring her with our incompetence. Apparently, we finessed our script well enough to entice her on a less than desirable day.
The first mile of the hike was a flat section of road that took us east through a sleepy suburban neighborhood, before turning south onto an old woods road. This wasn’t a particularly appealing section of trail, as it was littered with old tires, appliances, car remnants, and other assorted forms of detritus left over from its more accessible days. Soon, however, the steady climb to Lamentation Mountain commenced and within a quarter of an hour the views opened up. We were trekking easily along the ridgeline with views of the Hanging Hills and Hubbard Park to the west. Ascending down toward Crescent Lake (also known as the Bradley-Hubbard Reservoir), I illustrated to Kathy what a “real” hiker I was by tripping headlong over a rock and wedging myself, face-first, between two small boulders. We laughed uproariously, and I popped two Advil to help stave off the discomfort that would inevitably wrack my middle-aged body that evening.
Photo: The view from the top of Chauncey Peak, overlooking the Hubbard Resevoir and the "Hanging Hills" in the background
Photo Credit: Nora Hulton
Upon reaching Crescent Lake we were treated to a level pathway, cushioned with pine needles, that ran about a mile along its western shore. We navigated the icy sluice at the southern end and then headed north toward Chauncey Peak where, once on top, we were again treated to distant views of the Hanging Hills. The trail took us gently down and through a rolling wooded area and back out to our second car that we had parked on Atkins Street. The total distance was a little over 8 miles, but the terrain had been moderate, the scenery exceptional, and the company outstanding. That’s what I call a hiking trifecta!
And as for Kathy? She signed on for another outing with us because apparently, she too, is a “real” hiker.
Nora Hulton is a Connecticut Certified Master Conservationist and avid hiker. Check back in upcoming issues for the next part of her adventures.
Read Nora’s Past Articles on the NET: