I have been thinking it’s about time I led another Appalachian Mountain Club group hike. The last one was back at Halloween. But where? The Devil’s Den again? I’ll never get tired of the Den, but after my New Year strolls at Bennett’s Pond, I had a hankering to try the trails that lead out of the state park into Ridgefield open spaces – Pine Mountain and Hemlock Hills. But you shouldn’t lead a hike you haven’t done yourself, so on Friday afternoon I set out for Pine Mountain all alone. I had hoped to do so over the weekend, but snow was forecast for Saturday, and Friday’s perfect weather was excuse enough to leave my desk early.
DATE: Friday, January 23rd.
START & FINISH: Bennett’s Pond State Park entrance, Bennetts Farm Rd, Ridgefield CT.
ROUTE: Green trail anticlockwise to meet White trail, then White to Red, and Red to Yellow. Anticlockwise circuit of Pine Mountain on Yellow, then back to Green on Red and White. Return to starting point on Green, anticlockwise.
DISTANCE: My guess, a little under 5 miles.
TIME: 2.5 hours.
TERRAIN: Gentle gradients on Green and White trails, although extensive ice (often hidden sneakily under a dusting of snow) made the going treacherous on many stretches. The south-facing Red trail into Pine Mountain open space was ice-free, but steep. Pine Mountain circuit is up and down, with one seat-of-the-pants descent made necessary by the slippery conditions.
MAPS: Two – Bennett’s Pond State Park and Pine Mountain open space.
WEATHER: Perfect blue skies, temperature about freezing.
WILDLIFE: Nothing much that I recall.
LUNCH: Second half of a store-bought wrap, eaten on the move.
– I am still delighted with Bennett Ponds, a place I discovered only at the very end of last year. They were frozen and white for this hike.
– Feeling under time pressure can kill a hike, and I felt short of time on this one (things to get done at home before going out to the movies with my wife and youngest in the evening).
KIT: I should have brought my boot chains for the icy stretches.
COMPANY: None at all.