After a quick internet search over coffee Sunday morning, Bill and I decided to hike Beseck Ridge, a section of the Mattabessett trail which runs from route 68 in Durham to route 66 in Meriden (although it could be Middlefield). After passing the trail head once, we turned the car around and parked in a slightly carved out half circle on the side of the road. Another car, two tops, could fit behind ours.
We walked down a slight hill and over a set of railroad tracks to get to the blue-blazed trail. The point to point trail is about six miles; our plan was to hike out 3 miles then turn back, for a total of six.
“Do you want to walk to the end?” I asked Bill.
“Six miles, right?”
“Six miles to the end, twelve miles total.” I knew the answer but thought Bill might reconsider.
“No,” he said without hesitation. We didn’t start out until about 11:30. “Maybe if we got out here earlier.” I couldn’t argue, knew it could take us five or six hours to complete the round trip. I started my garmin and off we went.
It was a typical summer day, hot and humid. I was soon breathing a little heavier than normal. My skin, glistening with sunscreen and sweat, was slippery to the touch. We powered up short, steep inclines in quick bursts, maneuvered over and around rocks, ruts and roots along flat stretches.
A severe thunderstorm rolled through the area last month and a microburst hit a neighboring town. Trees blocked the path in several areas, I’m sure a result of the storms. We scrambled over the large trunks, crouched under precariously hanging limbs.
A runner and hiker came toward us from the opposite direction, a father and daughter out for a trail run passed us from behind. For the first half mile or so, traffic and the muted sounds of gunfire from the nearby rifle range could be heard.
We hiked along the ridge until we came upon Powder Ridge. The area looked neglected but it may just be because it’s closed for the season. The grass was knee-high and wildflowers grew everywhere, a yellow construction truck sat amidst a mound of dirt. But two of the three chair lifts looked new and the wood from the ski lift platform smelled fresh, as if it had just been built.
We poked around the chair lifts and tried to picture the ski trails covered in snow, not easy when you’re sweaty and dirty and mosquitos are playing a symphony around both ears. Three miles covered we turned and headed back the way we came. We passed the hiker from earlier, asked him if he was hiking out and back. He was.
“I parked my car on route 66. I usually hike south to Powder Ridge and turn around but I had time today, so..” he shrugged, his wide-brimmed, floppy hat shading his eyes.
“Have a great hike,” we said.
Retracing our steps, talking as we walked, we saw a deer tear across the trail a few yards in front of us, its tail flagging in warning. It was swallowed up by the woods in seconds. On we walked, up where we had come down, down where we had climbed up, over fallen trees, under hanging limbs, across the railroad tracks.
At 2:30 we were back in the car, hiking shoes replaced with sandals, on our way to visit Bill’s dad. I was glad I brought an extra shirt, I changed as soon as we got there.