Sunday, September 14, 2008

Haven't The Foggiest

Ok, enough of this. Painting had eaten up my whole Saturday, and now threatened to go beyond Sunday morning. I need woods...stat.

The canine whole-heartedly concurred. We dropped everything, rounded up the troops, and were soon zooming north.

We headed up to Mount Tom State Park, for a hike to the famed Eyrie House Ruins.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the road leading up to the ruins is in severe disrepair, and you have to park at a gate and walk in. The ruins are about a mile up the old road to Mt. Nonotuck, the last hilltop at the end of the range. It was pretty sticky out Sunday afternoon, and misty conditions prevailed, making for a real 'summer' hike.

I've never gone beyond Goat Peak on the Mount Tom range, so this was a new exploration for me. I have however, seen many, many pictures of the Eyrie House Ruins. It seems to be one of the more photographed sites in the valley. Kelly had been here before, and led the way.

Sacajawea also managed to do a little foraging, along with directing the expedition.

We walked almost a mile, to the top of the old road where there is a small parking lot with a great view of the Oxbow. Right nearby there, is a trail head that leads up to the ruins. Some creative and careful hiking was needed, as the rocks and leaves were slick from the rainy and generally humid conditions.

In no time at all...there it was, emerging from the foliage above.

The remaining west-facing walls were much larger than I had expected. It looked a little like an old fort sitting above the trail...

The walls appear to have been wide, sturdy foundations to the resort house that stood here during the second half of the 19th century. They also appear to be made of varyingly shaped shards of the basalt lava rock that makes up the range, and held together with mortar.

Along the south side is a nicely built path, terraced with more of the shards, this time without mortar. A lot of man power was expended up here on Mt. Nonotuck, back in the day...

Around the back, on the eastern side of the hill are more ruins and foundations, though not quite as large as the western side. Apparently the resort house was quite a complex in it's day, and gave the resort house on nearby Mt. Holyoke a run for it's money. The competition lasted about 40 years, before the Eyrie house caught fire and burnt down, due to a horse cremation gone bad. You heard me. Blogger PineCone Johnny has a historical timeline, and more pics of the spot here....

At the very top of Mt. Nonotuck nearby is a radio/antennae tower. It was fenced off and 'gated', but the barriers were seemingly breached a long time ago.

It's a steep climb to the top of the rusting old tower. It's sturdy enough, but definitely of the 'at your own risk' category.

But the views there are pretty good. The Oxbow to the west:

On a clearer day it looks like the Mount Holyoke range and Skinner Mountain to the north/northeast and the rest of the Mount Tom range to the south could be seen well. It was a bit foggy at this time though for any really good shots. But it cleared up a bit later and I got some slightly better photo opportunities from the Goat Peak tower, as you shall soon see, oh faithful readers. But for now here's a short panorama video of less the less misty south and west sides:

Yes that's Chris yelling up from below. Something about goats. I think the mosquitoes were getting to him...

The annual Hawk migrations were supposed to be starting right about now. I did see a passing glimpse of one through the trees at one point. But other than that, nothing. I had heard the best times are when the winds are blowing from the northwest up the steep side of the range. The Hawks like to hang there in the updraft. But today, the wind was coming in from exactly the opposite direction, southeast. That, and maybe the foggy skies, were probably hindering their flight times today.

I climbed down and we continued on. A short ways back down the road, we connected with the M&M trail, and continued our way back through the woods.

The trail rose and fell. As we'd climb higher the fog would slip away, and as we descended, the fog would thicken. It the foggier sections gave the woods an almost dream-like quality in some areas...

Everywhere, the cobwebs were beaded up with moisture. This spider managed to catch a bit of early autumn:

Another made himself a hammock.

About three-fourths of a mile down the trail, we were back on Goat Peak. Kelly and Chris took a break, and I climbed up the nicely built, more user-friendly tower that is there.

The fog had lifted slightly, and some of the two ranges could now be seen. Mount Tom to the south..

And the Mount Holyoke range stretching way off in the distance, out to the north/northeast.

From Goat Peak it's a pleasant, easy hike back to the main park area....Autumn left a calling card on the vehicle when we got back.

An invitation to return, when the leaves are changing...


Mary E.Carey said...

What an atmospheric-looking place! I had never heard of it. The way you've captured it would be a good setting for a movie like, say, "Pan's Labyrinth.

Tony said...

Never got around to seeing that one, I'll have to put it on my 'rent someday' list...