Don’t Get it Twister, Sisters
Joshua’s Trust Two Sisters Preserve, Chaplin
As I was gathering stuff for Calvin and I to venture out to Chaplin, I alerted my wife to our destination.
“Oh. Chaplin, have fun. It’s a beautiful town.”
I paused for a moment, wondering if and when Hoang had ever even driven through Chaplin in her life – let alone sought out its beauty spots. But Calvin heard her so I let it go and off we went to our first stop: the Two Sisters Preserve right off of route 6. The large Joshua’s Trust signposts on the main road appear to be brand new.
From the road, we ascended the ridiculously steep staircase and bounded up the hill away from the road and in short order, crossed the Air Line Trail. We’d noticed that the majority of trees here were felled and gone – making this not quite one of the “very pretty” areas of Chaplin my wife had promised. Joshua’s Trust has installed two signs explaining what was going on here though.
Hull Forest Products, a private logging concern, explains that these woods were decimated by a gypsy moth infestation that lasted a few summers. It’s true, eastern Connecticut was just overwhelmed by the pests – I’ve been on hikes with leaf pieces falling on me like rain from the caterpillars. Add a couple years of drought to the mix and this forest was more or less dead. Hiking through dead forests is dangerous, so Hull came in and chopped it all down.
This makes for an odd area to hike though. It’s sad and barren and I’ll say it, ugly. But it was also necessary and since this is a managed forest, it will rebound and be quite nice in about 20 years.
The Two Sisters Tract was generously donated to the Trust by the original ‘two sisters’. Elaine Mrosek and Josephine Krikorian, in 2001. It covers a sweeping hillside and the mile-long loop reaches the summit. With all the trees gone, there are some fairly unimpressive views west; with UConn’s water towers the only thing recognizable in the distance.
There are some well-preserved old stone walls along the wide ridgeline at the top, which provided something interesting for Calvin and I to talk about. He came to appreciate the labor that went into building these things 150 years ago.
We then veered into his favorite conversational territory: how old are rocks and where did they come from and how old is the earth and the moon and the universe and… kid, go into astrophysics when you get to college. I don’t have all the answers.
We completed the loop, crossed back over the Air Line Trail, descended the ridiculous (but necessary) stairs – Calvin called them “dollhouse stairs” – and ran the rest of the way to the car.
If we lived near here, it would be neat to return to this trail every summer to track the forest’s rebound. Since that’s not happening, we’ll just have to imagine.