Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hiking Tyringham Cobble - Part 1

I'd been dreaming of getting back out onto a mountain trail for some time. It's always a balm for my mind and spirit, a good exercise for my body. Well, on this Monday (I don't work on Mondays) I'd done all my chores and shopping and was leaving the gym by 12:00 when I realized that the February weather was as warm and sunny as we were likely to get for quite a while, it being winter in upstate New York and all. Heavy snows and freezing rain were predicted to begin that evening and continue for a week or more. So I left the gym, came directly home and packed up the two young dogs who love to go hiking.

I printed up maps from internet sources and we were in the car and on our way by 12:25. We headed toward Tyringham, Massachusetts, where there was a hike a friend had told me about long ago but I'd not yet taken. On a weekday in February, I felt sure there'd be few if any other hikers. It was fairly short drive to Tyringham, where I passed this amazing structure:

A closer look revealed this sign identifying it as Santarella Garden, a place to "book events." I later checked the internet and found that this is the former home of a famous sculptor and is now "available as a special event venue, catering to weddings, family events, meetings or retreats, conferences and other private functions." Sounds good to me:

Tyringham appears to be a quintessential and picturesque New England town, albeit a rather wealthy one. It's close to the bigger town of Lee, in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. So close in fact that I think it might be considered a wealthy suburb of the more working class Lee. Most everywhere in Tyringham one has world class views of the surrounding Berkshires. At any rate, the hike began in a cow pasture near this barn. The cattle were gone but it was evident by the numerous cow pies that all summer long, hikers begin their trek by walking through the field of cattle. I should tell them about Red Poll cattle so they would have a breed which is gentle and hornless:

My first view of the "cobble" was rather disappointing, appearing to be just a small nubbin of a hill. I'd later find it to be more substantial than it at first appeared:

Beginning in the cow field, I had views of the town of Tyringham just below:

I saw what at first appeared to be a pair of pterodactyls flying across the field to a tree. They were quite large and had white under their wings. I recognized them to be Pileated Woodpeckers. I wasn't quick enough to take a photo, but got this one from the internet:

Though still at the bottom portion of the hike and not even begun yet to climb the cobble, I could see Tyringham below me with the Berkshires as a backdrop:

We passed another hiker with a dog but he'd taken a different, lower route. So we waved and I began the ascent with Seamus and Fergus. You can gauge their excitement by the flopping ears. In fact, you will notice lots of flopping ears in the photos which follow:

I had to develop a walking technique to angle upwards on that snowy terrain, but it was easy for the dogs. They just had to learn to be patient and I had to call them back to me more than once:

"C'mon, Dad. What's the hold up?!?"

Looking upward, I could see what would be a lookout point later in the hike. I'll post more photos from the hike in the days to come:

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