The Sky’s the Limit 2016 Hiking Challenge #3
Burr Pond State Park, Torrington
March 6, 2016
There are many rewarding things about being a father. One of them is greeting your child on a sunny weekend morning and hearing him say, “Hike? Today?”
Hey listen, that came from my special needs kid. He’s not exactly expansive with the vocabulary. I was going to take a break from the hikes this particular weekend, but when a doe-eyed child looks up at me with such wonderful expectations, who am I to deny him?
Okay then, “Hike. Today.”
Despite the chill in the air and the fact that we’ve already done, perhaps, the two shortest and easiest 2016 DEEP Sky’s the Limit Challenge hikes already (meaning we had more of a “real hike” on tap, I picked the one at Burr Pond State Park.
And I’m glad I did. Not only is this a really fun and pretty hike, Damian (the aforementioned special needs ten-year-old) had one of his best outings to date. Very few “behaviors,” as we so nicely call his self-directed violence, and almost no complaints!
Today was a good day.
It simply had to be, for on the way to the trailhead we got to pass one of my favorite Connecticut Superlatives. Yes, that’s right, another chance to mention the state’s unwavering dedication in dennoting the “World’s First Condensed Milk Factory”.
If you approach the park off of route 8 along Burr Mountain Road, you pass it. I wrote it up several years ago, in my post titled, “I’ll Condense the Story, But I’m Still Milking It.”
Yeah, I really do need to write that book full of punny goodness like that.
As (almost) always, there are a few different route choices one can make attaining this challenge point. Assuming you are not hiking with a four-year-old and/or a special needs kid, circumnavigate the pond. Why wouldn’t you?
All that aside, the boys and I took the most direct route, which was still a nearly two-mile trek through the park. It’s mostly flat, but does force one to navigate a bunch of boulders and on this day, icy trails and such.
That’s what we in the hiking game call “fun.”
And if you’re curious what four-year-olds call fun, it’s this:
That’s right, throwing sticks and logs and such onto ice, hoping to break it. We did this for long stretches last week, and Calvin felt the need to do it all over again this week. The problem this time was that we had two miles to cover, and putzing around throwing sticks wasn’t the best use of our time.
Besides, we’d be hiking along the shores of Burr Pond for most of the hike, and he’d have plenty of ice-breaking, stick-throwing opportunities ahead of him.
The trail took us past the pond’s dam and waterfall. It then travels down the outflow stream, across a nice little bridge, and back up the other side to the same dam.
More sticks were thrown.
From that point, the trail skirted the pond for a while, and traversed a lot of interesting boulders and took in many pretty pondside views.
I found myself in an argument with Damian about “pond” vs. “lake,” as if he has any clue. The thing is called Burr Pond, but he was convinced it was a lake. Calvin, for his part, was in the “ocean” camp for some kooky reason.
Then he graduated from mere sticks to small logs.
The goal, of course, was the break the ice on the pond. Calvin was having no luck in doing so, but he was intrepid.
The trail is flat, but it did present its challenges. At several points, we were confronted with icy conditions.
It was a mere eight days ago that Calvin slipped and fell on pretty much every patch of ice we encountered. On this hike, there were places where such a slip and fall may have resulted in a little boy falling through the pond’s ice.
And yeah, I wasn’t about to let that happen. To their credit, they were careful and skirted most of the danger. And Damian – MY Damian – was compliant and accepted my direction and help without argument. I couldn’t believe it.
The trail passes some huge boulders. The park is littered with them and it is definitely cool to scramble over giant boulders right next to a lake… err… pond. Little boys think so at least.
This hike is pretty neat because you can see the goal almost the entire way. It’s right there across the water. The only trick is that you must walk around the whole pond to get there. I didn’t bother telling the boys where we were going, for fear that it would discourage them somehow.
And I’m not sure Calvin would have even paid attention. After all, he had graduated from sticks to small logs to half trees.
I’d like to say that he was clearing the trail, but no… he was bumbling around the woods to find these things to “throw” onto the ice.
We did have some mild success with a few tosses; sticking them in vertically through the ice was actually pretty cool, I must admit.
Halfway around the pond, keep an eye out for the blue/yellow blazes. They look like this:
This is the spur trail out onto the finger of land that juts out into the lake. The STL photo point is all the way at the end of this thing.
There’s an island just off the end of it, and you can see the beach across the pond from there as well.
To get there, the trail scurries through a tight little tunnel of laurel, which I’m sure is very pretty in June. In early March? Eh, it was still pretty cool in its own way.
As we neared the “end,” which was really the halfway point of our hike, Calvin started getting tired. However, once he saw the giant boulder and the pond surrouding him on three sides, he perked up and realized how cool this place was. Heck, I even got a couple half-decent pictures of the boys!
And we made it!
Well, like I said, we half made it. We still had to retrace our steps back to the car. For his part, Damian was awesome. He trudged along with no issues. Our little hero Calvin, though, grew weary, cold, and tired on the way back.
All that vim and vigor throwing birch trees onto the ice had disappeared, and he merely wanted to get to the car and go get a donut.
So that’s exactly what we did.