Category — Hiking & Trails
Who knew that above Heroes Tunnel on the Merritt Parkway is a scenic state park with over 12 miles of trails?
Being a Connecticut native, I’ve driven through this iconic tunnel hundreds of times, but only just discovered the parks existence this past weekend while researching state parks online.
When I first looked at the map and saw a big yellow blob titled, “West Rock State Park,” right over the Merritt, I thought it was a mistake.
Despite my skepticism, I decided to venture up there on Sunday, and was relieved to find it existed.
To be honest, I half expected the park to be a boring open space with some amateur man-made trails. Even after seeing the entrance, I remember thinking, “this is going to be lame.”
And then I entered the park, and I was a bit taken a back by how wrong I was.
Once you enter there is this gigantic lake that appears out of nowhere, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
From the lake, there are a variety of different trail options, but I mapped out a 3.5 mile course which takes you up along the side of the mountain, and then circles you back down around the base of the lake.
The forest was so lush with vegetation, that it almost seemed foreign.
If someone were to show me the photos I took, my first guess would not be Connecticut.
The path I mapped out was a fairly strenuous 2 hour hike to the top, and there were lots of rocky sections…
So if you’re looking for something a bit more moderate, I recommend sticking to the trails that circle around the base of the lake. I actually merged onto these trails during the last 25 minutes of my hike, and it was a nice cool down
When I finally exited the woods, the sun was blinding, but once my eyes adjusted I got to experience one last view before I left.
I live for pretty landscapes.
May 18, 2010 1 Comment
Today was just one of those days where a bike ride seemed like the only thing one should do, so after a few phone calls, Michal and I managed to secure some borrowed bikes.
We also swiped the below book from my father, who basically takes my philosophy on adventures to a whole new level (such as yesterday, when he climbed one of the highest peaks in New York through three feet of snow and then trekked back down through a river–all in shorts and a t-shirt).
After reading through some of our options we decided on Old Mine Park in Trumbull, CT which is an old rail road that runs for about 11 miles. I’m happy to report that we made the right choice, because this is probably the most fun I’ve had on a bike since some of the rides I did in North Carolina last August.
The bike trail is stunning, and you cross through so many types of terrain: flat, paved, hills, gravel, bumps, woods, mud, etc…
Since the trail is broken up into sections, it’s also the perfect place to do a short ride or a long ride. Michal and I knew we wanted to make it epic, so we parked at the very start of the trail and did the entire course. The trip took us a little over two hours, but that’s because we stopped along the way to take pictures and explore the area.
I also managed to find the coolest car ever….
On the car ride home, Michal and I reflected a lot on the incredible bike ride we had just experienced, and how if it weren’t for this blog, we wouldn’t have pushed ourselves to experience something completely new.
I had grown up in Fairfield, a mere three exits away from this park, and yet I was just discovering it for the first time today.
There are two things I now know for certain:
1) Pushing yourself to discover local adventures will have a profound impact on your happiness
2) I need to buy a bike
April 3, 2010 2 Comments
I’ve had a can of Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Puree for a while now, and to be honest, I sort of had this vision while I was buying it of me finding it in my kitchen cabinet 10 years later with dust on it, but lo in behold, this morning it saw daylight…
Now I know I just did an entry about the many crazy habits adventures of my breakfast routine, but this mornings cooking experiment was way too good not to share, so I’ll try and make this brief….
Sweet Potato Pie Oatmeal
Ingredients (serves 2):
1 cup water
1 cup almond milk (or any type of milk)
1/2 cup steel cut oats (I used Quaker)
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
A sweetener of your choice sprinkled on top (optional)
Directions: In a medium sized pot, bring water and milk to a boil. Add steel cut oats, sweet potato, and spices, and reduce heat to low. Simmer on low for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. (do not cover with lid). Take pot off of heat, stir, and let sit for 10 more minutes. Garnish with raspberries and enjoy.
Some advice about cooking with steel cut oats: No matter what brand of steel cut oats you buy, they all take a really long time to cook. Depending on your stove-top, you may have to cook them for up to 40 minutes on low before the mixture begins to thicken, so this isn’t the type of breakfast to make before work. The good news is that steel cut oats taste just as good the next day, so feel free to make a big batch the night before, and then just re-heat them the next morning on the stove top or in the microwave.
If you don’t have the patience, feel free to make this recipe with regular oatmeal, but I assure you that the texture and taste of steel cut oats is worth the wait…
While the steel cut oats were cooking, Michal and I decided to fit in a trail run. Although it looked as sunny as last Saturday’s 75 degree weather, it was in fact 27 degrees.
Cold weather aside, the trail run was really nice.
All in all, we covered about 2 miles of trails and 2 miles of road, but the best part was getting to come back to a huge batch of steel cut oats waiting for us on the stove.
Alright, I’m off to relax for a bit and then do some laundry, but tonight I have an adventure lined up in Brooklyn, so stay tuned.
March 27, 2010 No Comments
There are simply not enough hours in the day to keep up with this blog, so this is me playing catch up on what I did yesterday…
Sunday I woke up exhausted and sore, but the sun was shining so brightly outside that I just couldn’t sit still, so I ate a big stack of french toast, popped some Advil, and it was back out the door.
I thought about going on a run, but the Manchester 5k seriously kicked my butt, so all my hamstrings could handle was a leisurely hike to the top of East Rock Park.
During the hike, it was nice to see signs of spring…
The only thing that wasn’t nice was having to walk through the section of the trail where I had a horrible running fall last year. It happened last April when I was doing a brisk trail run, and at the top of this hill my foot nicked a rock and I flew down it head first….
As you can see, there are no soft landings, and in just a single fall I ripped open the side of my hand, left shoulder, and left knee. Luckily I was with Michal, and he carried me to the main road, and a really amazing woman whose name I don’t know saw me and pulled over because she had a first aid kit in her car. She not only gave me her first aid kit, but she waited with me (and consoled me) while Michal ran back to his apartment to get his car. If you’re wondering why she didn’t give me a ride, it was because I was covered in blood and she had two very young kids in the car. I kept begging her to give me her name and address so I could send her something, but she refused, and insisted that I would of done the same thing for her. I still wish I knew her name though. What a nice lady.
Once we passed through the bad place, it was about a 20 minute hike to the top.
The view from the top is so pretty, and below you’ll see the same statue from the first picture, only this time it’s a bit closer.
We decided to take the Big Step Trail back down the mountain, which is a lot of fun. The trail is exactly how it sounds–massive steps carved into the side of the mountain.
Oh yeah, and did I mention you can experience all of this for free?
Nature is cool like that.
March 22, 2010 No Comments