The Sky’s the Limit 2016 Hiking Challenge #7
James L. Goodwin Forest, Hampton
June 26, 2016
Nobody ever thinks about Hampton, Connecticut. Your mind is probably drifting away from the thought of Hampton right now. Stop doing that – focus!
Sometimes you’ll see Hampton mentioned in geo-oddity blurbs because East Hampton is southwest of Hampton. And that’s dumb. But there’s much more to Hampton than centuries-old geographic anomalies. There’s the James L. Goodwin Forest! And… and… um…
Just kidding, Hampton has some beautiful hiking and Edwin Way Teale lived at Trail Wood here and wrote some of the best natural history books ever written. Teale is a legend, with the likes of Muir, Abbey, and Leopold.
James L. Goodwin was one of the state’s earliest conservationists. He attended the Yale School of Forestry when it was still in its infancy and graduated in 1910. You can read more about him and the property here.
The boys and I wound our way down from the west and north to the blue/white trailhead on Estabrooks Road. As Calvin noted, “Papa, we are really, really in the middle of a forest!” He was right.
This is a flat walk through mostly hardwood forest, with some intermittent white pine stands. The biggest challenge of the day was the incessant swarms of gnats, mosquitoes, and black flies. As we trudged our way through endless fern fields on our way to the pond, I was thankful I had some bug repellent on hand. This seemed to be the bugs’ last stand before the summer-long drought would be killing them all soon, and they were voracious.
Also voracious? Those dang gypsy moth caterpillars. Their tell-tale jagged leaf litter crunched under our feet throughout our walk.
Before we knew it, we were on the little spur trail out to Governor’s Island.
There was another group of TSTL’ers out on the viewing platform taking their pictures, so the boys took a break after their grueling 0.88 mile hike to this point. (Note: It wasn’t grueling at all.)
Once the platform cleared and the fairly large group were on their way – offering a weird apology for making us wait – we took in the scene.
Pine Acres Pond; in 1933 Goodwin built a dam on Cedar Swamp Brook flooding the existing swamp to give us this lake today. Half of it appeared to be choked with vegetation, but a lone kayaker was out in the middle of the muck. He appeared to be doing scientific work. Or maybe he was just weird.
Before leaving the TSTL Challenge spot, Calvin pulled the ol’ “Hey, Damian – look what’s in this hole” trick. It must be noted that Calvin is the only person on earth who could get away with something like this with Damian.
Kid’s got a future.
He’s also got ninja skills. (According to him.) In order to spice up the backtrack to the car, he decided to get creative. I missed the best of his spry ninja-ing, but this video is still pretty funny.
And it serves as yet another reminder of some of Damian’s physical limitations. His hiking has improved enormously over this year, but when the ground becomes uneven, every step can still be a process. But he plugs along and at least his descending is now faster than a snail’s pace.
Once past the short rock-filled area, the remainder of the walk back to the car was uneventful. There’s much more to this area than we saw, but I’ll leave that for another day.