My Swann Song (For a Week or Two)
Northern Connecticut Land Trust (NCLT): Swann Farm, Ellington
0.5 miles, March 2019
Normally, I would write up a half-mile hike, hit publish, link it at the appropriate places, not really tell anyone, and call it a day. But this half-mile hike, which is certainly not a hike I’d recommend you drive off to Ellington to tackle, has a story.
A lesson, really. And that lesson is… crap happens.
The plan was to “complete” Ellington; to color it green on my map and celebrate my 13th “completed” Connecticut town. (At the time of this writing.) It was to be simple: a few hikes, lunch, a couple quick stops elsewhere – all with Calvin. I was excited.
As we approached the Swann Farm trailhead on Reeves Road near the East Windsor and Somers borders, that particular Ellington smell invaded my car.
“Calvin, remember the nickname for this town?”
You know what, I like that. Sure, Smellington makes more sense, but let’s call it Stinkinburg for the day. But the air, thick with manure, isn’t the “crap happens” lesson. Although, I wonder, how long does it take to get used to that smell, dear Stinkingburgites?
I found the trailhead – it’s very near the Somers town line for those of you who simply must hike this loop for some reason. There’s even a little hiker’s lot and everything. We parked and I showed Calvin the map on the nice kiosk and we began our walk.
“So this is super short? Like, it just goes around in a circle and I can basically see the whole trail right now?”
“Yup,” I said, and we began our counter-clockwise loop.
In 2000, Joan Swann offered to sell her 56 acre Ellington farm to the NCLT at a bargain price in order to ensure that it would remain undeveloped and continue as working farmland…
The Swann Farm has extensive areas of prime agricultural soil, a valuable natural resource. The property contains a wooded area with a trail and a vernal pool, two fields leased to local farmers and a one acre chestnut breeding orchard. The breeding orchard is part of a national program conducted by The American Chestnut Foundation to breed blight resistant trees and to restore American chestnut trees to the eastern forests.
It’s a short trail, through some woods that could use a bit of spring cleaning. Calvin thought it was great that our first hike of the day was only going to take about 10 minutes. So we started jogging down and ever-so-slight incline and…
Searing pain. A distinct crack of joints. A stretch of the tendons. And I was on the ground, seeing red.
On this silly little half-mile (at most) trail that no one really needs to hike, on barely a hill, on a clear trail, in good weather, I nearly broke my ankle. Adrenalin coursed through me as I “walked it off” to the car. In fact, we got gas and then I tried to hike another property.
That didn’t work out so well. I’m not smart. (I went home and RICE’d it for two days, don’t worry.) Calvin could see and sense that I was in a great deal of pain, and I think it sort of affected him. I don’t think he’s really seen that before from me, and he was quiet and pensive. And caring and empathetic. It was very sweet.
The lesson! Crap happens! I always tell Calvin to be careful when he’s rock hopping and running full ninja speed through the woods. At least now I have evidence of what can happen to anyone at anytime. In that sense, the pain and hassle was most worth it. (Just four days later I’m fine, by the way, but it still looks awful with all the bruising.)
“Completing” Ellington will have to wait for another day. But that day will come, and we’ll laugh about the day this old man got hurt but tried to keep going because, you know, hiking every trail in Ellington is really THAT important.
Oh yeah, the chestnut orchard here looked to be a bust: