The Pond With Two Identities

June 25, 2015

At New Fairfield, CT

Spent much of the morning at Squantz Pond in New Fairfield, reacquainting myself with this small lake that I expect to mention in the book I am working on, my guide to the Connecticut outdoors.

The west shore of Squantz Pond in New Fairfield, CT, is hilly, forested and undeveloped. It is within Squantz Pond State Park or the adjoining Pootatuck State Forest. Click to enlarge.

The west shore of Squantz Pond in New Fairfield, CT, is hilly, forested and undeveloped. It is within Squantz Pond State Park or the adjoining Pootatuck State Forest. Click to enlarge.

It is as if Squantz Pond were two ponds. The east shore, paralleled by Route 39, is lined with homes and docks, powerboats moored at most of the docks. The west shore, owned by the state and part of Squantz Pond State Park and Pootatuck State Forest, is hilly, forested and all but entirely undeveloped. They could not be more different.

The lake itself is 270 acres and as much as 40 feet deep, and drains into Candlewood Lake, on the other side of Route 39. Fishing is supposed to be good in Squantz, with largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout and walleyed pike, with the walleye both abundant and fairly large. The northern end of the lake is more shallow and here there are abundant and fairly large carp. Many dozens of them were rooting around the shallows and sometimes flopping on the surface as I paddled. I paddled the entire shoreline of about 4 miles in an hour and 25 minutes.

The state park, at the southern end of the lake, just off Route 39, can be hugely crowded on a hot weekend day in summer, but there were few people around while I explored the lake and the park, from 8 a.m. until about 10:30, on a beautiful day. I suspect plenty of people showed up in the afternoon. From the park, you can follow a trail about a mile along the west shore, through the forest.

A trail that begins in Squantz Pond State Park follows the west shore of the pond for about a mile through hardwood forest. Click to enlarge.

A trail that begins in Squantz Pond State Park follows the west shore of the pond for about a mile through hardwood forest. Click to enlarge.

The state park has bathrooms, a beach, a nature center, and picnic areas. No alcohol allowed. Interesting that on a summer weekday, with sunshine and warm temperatures, I almost had the lake to myself until at least mid-morning.

I saw plenty of birds as I paddled, including spotted sandpiper, red-winged blackbirds, rough-winged swallows, tree swallows, swifts, mallards, Canada geese, crows, great blue heron, red-shouldered hawk, turkey vulture, grackles, robins, and red-bellied woodpeckers.

Never Mind the Gorp, Let Me Have a Slice of that Pizza

June 21, 2015

At Farmington, CT

Taking a look today at how technology is changing life on hiking trails, using the 2,189-mile-long  Appalachian Trail as an example.

A group of hikers at Weverton Cliffs on the Appalachian Trail recently, Potomac River in the background.

A group of hikers at Weverton Cliffs on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland recently, Potomac River in the background. Click to enlarge.

Now that cell service has expanded even into some of the less populated and mountainous areas of the East, long-distance hikers have discovered that with a smart phone you can search for a nearby pizza parlor when coming into a village and have pizza delivered to a trailhead. Whether that truly is in keeping with the culture of the trail is a question. But one thing is clear, the digital revolution means life on the trail is ever changing.

The Connecticut Forest & Park Association, the state’s venerable conservation and hiking organization, has now embedded something called QR codes at 63 trail heads on major trails in Connecticut. A hiker walks up to a kiosk at the trail head, and, having downloaded a QR app, scans the code and immediately a map of that section of the trail downloads to the hiker’s phone. Now that is a very handy app.

My stories on technology on the trails along with some suggested day hikes on the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York appear in today’s editions of The Hartford Courant.  Here is a link to the story with five suggested Appalachian Trail hikes in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York. All of them are day hikes, some of them done easily in a half day, all with nice scenery.

And here is a link to the hiking and technology story.

Yoga in a Magnificent Setting

June 5, 2015

The Be.Yoga studio in Avon, Ct., has organized a yoga retreat in the mountains of Italy near Tuscany. Click to enlarge.

The Be.Yoga studio in Avon, Ct., has organized a yoga retreat in the mountains of Italy near Tuscany. Click to enlarge.

To all my yoga friends. I am posting a link here to the Be.Yoga website that outlines an upcoming yoga retreat in Italy you might find appealing. Be.Yoga co-owners Leslie Gordon and Kristin Cork are two very experienced, terrific yoga teachers who know how to have fun. They’ve organized a trip to  a most peaceful retreat venue in the mountains near Tuscany, with yoga and meditation – and lots of places to explore. If you have a moment, give the retreat outline a look. http://www.beyogainavon.com/gubbio-italy/

If you’ve ever been to Umbria or Tuscany, you know the food is special, the wine flows and the scenery is unforgettable. Add yoga, and, well, it is all good, all day.