Five Cold Miles on the Nipmuck Trail

DSC04232Mileage: 4.1 miles end to end, or a five mile loop if you don’t mind walking back to your car on a dirt road.

Location: Ashford, Connecticut – View this MAP for navigation points and parking information.

Description: It was supposed to be nearly 60 degrees last Sunday but it didn’t make it out of the 40s. The sun was supposed to shine, but the dark clouds threatened to rain all day. The wind howled across the ridge line so cold and fast that even the hardy mountain laurels looked unprepared to bloom next month. As Johnny Null and I hopped out of our car, and began ascending the hill to the west, we were greeted by the familiar blue blazes of the CT trail system.

DSC04169The last time I hiked this section was at night during a warm but slightly wet evening with Alpine Florist and Snake Check. We stepped over salamanders and climbed the hills with caution by headlamp. Even in the dark, the trail was clean and easy to navigate. In the daylight, Johnny Null and I were stalled with the desire to photograph everything. This included the black bear, coyote, deer and possibly bobcat scat that littered the trail. There was evidence of bears tearing at the trees to get bugs and deer eating the bark off of fallen logs. A puddle of snow fleas had even awoken from the long winter and squirmed on the swampy floor between hills.

DSC04192The trees looked as sad as the sky. Wet and dark, the woods only hinted at spring through the vibrant mushrooms growing abundantly at every turn. Even the dying Tinder Polypores and white Mossy Maple Polypores seemed beautiful, covered with strings of moss. Mohawks of turkey tail mushrooms were abundant near the overflowing rivers and streams. Tree roots curved in and out of the mud and pine needles. A fallen birch created a bleached bone yard that you would expect to find laying in the desert instead of in the middle of a New England forest.

IMAG1572I didn’t unzip my light Primaloft jacket until somewhere in mile three. That was when I finally began to enjoy the energy that only getting outside in temperatures above freezing can bring. We stopped for water, pecans and to blow our noses as we looked out at the purple mountains in the distance.

DSC04238As we descended parallel to the dirt road we had come in on, we found evidence of lightening strikes. Orange jelly fungus formed brain shapes in the holes of the burnt logs. Hidden behind thick tree trunks, covered in moss and lichen, were frozen ponds with no sign of the peepers we usually hear at this time of year. Johnny Null summed up the hike with a little grin on his face and goosebumps all over his body, “The only thing we didn’t encounter was a frost giant.”

This whole winter I have fought Lyme disease and have found recovery and strength in the changes that I have made in my life. It was nice to feel the culmination of every workout in strength instead of pain at mile four, where my left hip usually begins to ache. I could lift my knee in front of me at mile five and didn’t spend my evening cold and miserable from the exertion. My time off had done me good instead of setting me back.

IMAG1430Other Trails in the Area: The Natchaug and Nipmuck Trails join up in this section of the state and are both interesting trails with many beautiful spots. Check out these posts for more of our adventures on these two trails:

The Natchaug on YouTube

The Nipmuck on YouTube

Our Favorite Section of the Natchaug Trail

Stinky Squid, Over Easy Eggs & A Life-List Capture

How To Backpack While Pregnant

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3 thoughts on “Five Cold Miles on the Nipmuck Trail

  1. Sue Cashman

    Lovely pictures! Despite the cold, wind and dark skies your descriptions are still so inviting and I find myself wanting to hit the trail with you.

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