Monday, June 20, 2011

Nature Walk and History Time at Devil's Hopyard

 Hello, my name is Colin.  Tonight, I'm giving Kristin some time off.  She's worked so hard on her blog and I don't want her to get overwhelmed.

Today, after weeks of prodding, I finally got Kristin out of the cave (our hotel) and got her to go on a hike with me. We get out sometimes, but it's been tough to get here out into nature ever since our run in with ticks at the beach.  We went to a really great state park called "Devil's Hopyard" about thirty minutes outside of Waterford, CT.  The park is known for a really beautiful waterfall and several unnaturally large potholes indented into the large granite boulders covering the landscape.  You're probably wondering where the name for the state park came from.  It certainly is unusual and there are two theories about its origin.
The waterfalls from above
 The first theory says that many years ago, when the countryside was countryside and not suburbia (seriously, in Connecticut you can't get away from people, even the access road into the park is lined with houses and power lines), there was a small farm which made its money by growing hops for a local brewery.  Apparently, this "hopyard" was quite well known by the locals and for many years one farmhand, Dibble, was the sole tenant of this patch of land.  Logically people coined the phrase "Dibble's Hopyard" and used it to reference that general part of the countryside.  Like a classic game of telephone, the name Dibble evolved into Devil and so came the modern name "Devil's Hopyard."  Now, this seems like a reasonable story, but I think the second theory is a little more believable.

The second theory is told as follows:  Many, many years ago (probably around 1692), the Devil - complete with horns, cloven hooves, and that ugly balding tail - emerged from a large molten fissure in the Connecticut hillside.  You see, He intended to come up near Salem, Massachusetts to check in on his newly recruited witch clan but missed his mark.  This meant for a pretty long walk, one he hadn't planned for, so he was already pretty pissed.  He started heading in the direction of Salem when he stumbled upon the large waterfall that marks today's state park.  As the devil tried to cross over the falls, he lost his footing and dipped his tail into the clean, cold, Connecticut water.  Now in case you didn't know, the devil hates getting wet.  Hates getting wet!  He was furious. Smoke started coming out his ears, his horns started glowing red, and he proceeded to have a full-on devil tantrum.  With his massive cloven hooves, he stomped all over the Connecticut countryside leaving unnaturally large hoof prints, and when his anger peaked, he hopped from boulder to boulder indenting the rocks with his rage, forming the potholes we see today, and hence the name "Devil's Hopyard."

It's pretty obvious that the second theory is probably correct, but there will always be skeptics.  Either way, these days the park is a really great place to spend an afternoon.  I've been lucky enough to visit in both early spring and summer and both times, the scenery has been astounding.  I only wish I could see it during the turning of the leaves.  Kristin was a really great sport during the whole trip even though the state park wasn't immune to the tick epidemic that seems to plague Connecticut this time of year.  We spent about two hours hiking the trails and snapping some nice forest pictures.
Here's a nice mushroom ball.
We weren't up for the steeper hike to the "Devil's Oven" due to our limited foot wear - one of the side affects of living in a hotel.  Though, we were able to snap a picture of where we expected the oven to be through the trees.
"Devil's Oven" - either where the devil cooks his soul pizza's or where emerged from.
All in all, the day was a really nice way for Kristin and I to spend some time together away from the hotel.  The weather was perfect for the trip and we were able to see some really beautiful facets of New England.
Flower we found and picked (sorry bees)
There was also a really nice stream in the park that made me wish I had my fishing gear (and a license), but just seeing it was enjoyment enough.
Quiet stream - the cherry on top

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