The Crooked Canes Journal


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Dean Farm Heritage Trail ~ Apr 6, 2016

Journal entry by Diane Wisell



Today was the first Crooked Canes hike at the Dean Farm Heritage Trail - portions of which a certain group beat us to in an outing on September 17, 2015, inspiring Joanne Armstrong's assigning them the moniker "A-TEAM!"  During the A-TEAM's visit, construction of another trail was in progress on the east side of the Murray Road trail head /parking area and it was that almost three mile trail that we planned explore today.

A first wave of Canes arriving at the trail head quickly hiked the shorter loop of the A-TEAM's first outing on the west side of the road. It was quite a raw morning so a quick sprint to warm up was in order. Soon, everyone had arrived and the party continued on the west side of the road. Immmediately adjacent to Murray Road, the well groomed (though today largely snow covered) gravel trail passes a sizeable beaver pond complete with a well constructed observation dock. Though still a good environment to observe birds and in a few weeks a lot more critters preferring a marshy setting to call home, the pond needs new beavers as there is presently more brush than water. Not far beyond the beaver pond, the trail becomes a well marked and established woods trail through rolling terrain that was apparently logged not too many years ago. A notable feature is a large log into which a bench has been cut, complete with a back to lean against.

Beyond the rustic furniture department, the trail rises (and snow got deeper) into a rocky area that inspired most of us to put on our micro spikes. After a short ladder the trail enters open hemlock forest and crosses a well made bridge before rising into open forest of oak and American hophornbeam and finally leading to a picnic table on top of the ridge. Initially, we passed the picnic table, making our way to the top of a second steep section of the trail that leads back down the hill to a trail going back toward the parking lot. Not intending to go down the steep today we turned around, arriving back at the picnic table just as the clouds parted enough to allow us a mostly sunny lunch time. Conveniently, there is overflow parking on nearby logs.

After our main lunch course, desert began when Ed pulled out a highly anticipated big bag of most excellent cookies and ended when clouds once again covered the sun and raw chill returned. Those who had not already put on their spikes did so for the trip back down the hill. At an intersection passed on our way to the lunch spot, we turned onto the path not yet traveled which took us to the bottom of the steep section that before lunch we had opted not to descend. From there, we returned a short way on that trail then turned onto another not yet explored trail leading to another substantial beaver pond which then follows a pretty stream and then leads back to the trail head.

The day was not yet over for those who had not been to the Dean Farm before and who had arrived in the second wave to reach the trail head. Trails on the west side of the road beckoned and provided opportunity for another mile or so of exercise. Along the handicap accessable mile and a quarter +/- trail the group enjoyed lovely views of field, woods and stream. Viewing highlights included a bluebird's appearance and the view of a stream where rocks partially exposed above the water had been decorated by the previous night's cold with caps of ice. One of the numerous viewing stations with educational signage informs readers of a vestige of history having particular significance to one Attendee. During World War II, the 'fluff' from milkweed pods was harvested for use as flotation in life jackets and Tom Gibbs shared that he had been one of the milkweed harvesters. Lenore, thanks for the Hike-After-The-Hike update!

With all the trails hiked, friends and experiences enjoyed once again on another fun outing with the Crooked Canes, it was time to call it day for Barbara, Gail, Margie, Cathy, Ed, Jo Ellen, Tom, Katie, Jim, Lenore & Jack, Jan & Jim, Diane & Kurt. Thanks to all of you for making a raw, cool, cloudy day so bright!

2 photos



About half of our troupe crossing a really nice bridge. The other half waited until the first group crossed knowing the bridge was really nice but not knowing if it was really sturdy enough to hold 15!



Other than some unseasonably warm temperatures as signs of the changing season, pussy willows lend assurance to spring really being close at hand.



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