Connecticut’s highpoint kicked off another jam-packed road trip. In order, we visited:
- Mt. Frissell, South slope (CT) Day 1
- Mt. Greylock (MA) Day 1
- Mt. Mansfield (VT) Day 2
- Mt. Washington (NH) Day 3
- Jerimoth Hill (RI) Day 3
Before we begin recounting this fun journey, a special thank you to my in-laws for use of their car (S&E, please keep our gratitude in mind as you read about where your car went!) and for bonding with our daughter while we were off exploring mountains, yet again.
Thank you also to my husband for all of the driving and for being a good sport. Highpointing is not his goal, but with the completion of this trip, he has achieved 14 state highpoints. To be clear, he hates hiking, so this is a testament to how supportive he is of my goal, for which I am super appreciative. Not only did he not complain once on this trip, but he maintained a laidback approach, chauffeured us from state to state listening to an audio book that Jill and I gave him no say over (Dark Places by Gillian Flynn), picked up our friends along the way, and got us safely up and down some harrowing roads. I’m pretty sure he even cracked a few jokes along the way. Dare I say he secretly might be starting to enjoy highpointing?
Journey to CT
Date of hike: August 9, 2014
Distance: 2.6 miles RT
Time on trail: 2 hours (including a return trip to the summit)
Our trip began with an early flight into Hartford, where we stopped briefly at the in-laws’ house to say hello to them, move some furniture (a good hiking warm up), then say goodbye to my daughter. A few brief stops to fuel up at a local coffee place and stock the car with provisions for three days of road tripping and we were on our way.
About two hours later, we found ourselves on unmarked dirt roads, the trademark of many state highpoints, we’re coming to realize. The only real direction we got was from several hand painted road signs. Unlike the steep winding roads in highpoints past where we flirt with death, this road did not have any terrifying drops or create the need for us to uncomfortably share the road with oncoming traffic. Though, much like Kentucky’s unpaved road to the HP, the approach raised a touch of minor concern in me and Jill about the possibility of flat tires and getting stranded in a remote corner of northwest Connecticut – especially so early in the trip. But, this was my husband’s home state. He’d learned to drive on these roads two hours from where he grew up and maintained a calm, collected demeanor the entire way.
Connecticut’s highpoint doesn’t offer much signage anywhere – not at the trailhead, not even at the highpoint itself. So, if you’re after this HP, you’ll be in good hands by following Don Holmes’ approach and route description. The sign below is not the actual highpoint, but it does have another register attached to its tree.
According to Peakbagger.com,
“Connecticut is the only U.S. state whose highest point is not a summit, but a ‘liner’ where the state border reaches a maximum elevation on an otherwise undistinguished slope.”
I love when state highpoints have something unique about them, even if it is being the only one that’s a liner. The highest summit in Connecticut is Bear Mountain, visible from the Frissell trail, or so we were told by other groups of hikers who gestured to the same peak, proclaiming they either just climbed it or were heading there. Still, this nugget of information is important. Being a liner, especially one without signage, means that it could be easy to overshoot. Our advice – with the ridge line on your left about 1.3 miles in, look for the cairn and mailbox in a bump-out on your right just past the brass rod that marks the CT/MA state line.
We had expected to meet a friend of ours who currently lives in Vermont, and drove down to meet us for CT’s hike. With no cell service to communicate, we started the hike about 40 minutes after we’d agreed to meet there. Our friend, Rachel, must have been only minutes behind us because about ¼ of a mile from the summit on our way down, Jill spotted her. We happily made a return trip to the summit with her before continuing down the mountain together. Thanks again for joining us, Rachel! Can’t wait to hike with you again.
On the way down, we met a guy from Virginia whose trail name is Bone Fixer. He was one of the recent Bear Mountain climbers. That begs the question – is he a doctor or did he set someone’s broken bone on a trail somewhere? A name like Bone Fixer comes with a story. Unfortunately, the conversation never presented a good opportunity to inquire. So, Bone Fixer, or anyone who knows him, if you’re reading this, please comment on this post or contact us offline. We got the message loud and clear that you don’t do social media, so we won’t ask you to tweet. We’d love to know the story behind the name and whether you named yourself or someone else bestowed it upon you. We were hoping to connect with you on Mt. Washington.
With all of the reading and preparation we’ve done, we still manage to be surprised by most highpoints. Here are a few things we wish we’d known before hiking Connecticut’s highpoint:
- Prepare for a real hike. Everything we’d read suggested this would be a stroll in the woods, hands in pockets kind of feel, a quick summit. Armed with that information, we decided we could knock this out before lunch in the clothes we flew in. Not our wisest decision.
- Prepare for a rock scramble. While maybe not a full on rock scramble, this trail requires some stability on steep rocks with hands most of the way, including what amounted to crab walking down several sections. I wouldn’t recommend poles – better to have hand stability.
- Bring sunscreen. The hike starts out shaded, but you’ll be in the sun quite a bit.
- Bring water. I realize this sounds foolish. Who doesn’t bring water on a hike? The thing is, we expected to be on a flat, shaded trail, done in under an hour. So, in addition to hiking in regular clothes, not eating lunch, and failing to bring sunscreen, we likewise did not bring water. A huge mistake in hindsight, we know. (Side note: My husband brought water, but wasn’t inclined to share).
- Prepare to pee outside. We did not encounter bathrooms on or near this hike, so expect to be at one with nature. The good news is that there’s plenty of privacy, or at least there was on the Saturday we were there.
Despite our lack of preparation for this hike, it was enjoyable. Many good views, along with fun rock traversing that required some concentration. It was a moderate workout, rewarded with a register at the summit. All of that plus good company made this highpoint worthwhile.
[Side note – someone’s reading glasses were in the summit register box].