Prydden Brook Falls in the Paugassett Forest

Standing in front of Prydden Brook Falls

Standing in front of Prydden Brook Falls

I didn’t get to attend as many Meetup hikes with WCOA as I would have liked, but I did manage to join a Thursday evening hike in Newtown to the Prydden Brook Falls. It was the day after an epic rainstorm, so the falls were churning and the river was high. There were some beautiful flowers along the trail and the view of Lake Zoar was stunning. The Meetup group was pretty small – only 4 hikers and 2 dogs – but it was lovely company and the pace was exactly right.

All-in-all it was a wonderful, crisp day.

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A Walk Around Lake Mohegan

An old piece of farming equipment sits in front of Lake Mohegan

An old piece of farming equipment sits in front of Lake Mohegan

Lake Mohegan in Fairfield, CT is a popular swimming hole in the summer time and a nice hiking spot throughout the year. The trails are well developed and there are sturdy bridges for river crossings. In April there was a lot of colorful skunk weed and some buds beginning to open. I went with my friend Paul and we had a fun time taking photos and taking in the smells of early spring. As usual, my camera was drawn to uprooted tree trunks, intricate roots, and decaying logs.

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Early Spring at Devil’s Den

Stone walls at Devil's Den

Stone walls at Devil’s Den

I came home for about five weeks mainly to help my parents pack up for their move to Florida, but while I was there I took advantage of some of the great spring hiking in the area. I spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Devil’s Den in Weston, CT with an old friend and was impressed as always with the stone walls. I also saw some skunk weed, which reminds me a lot of my childhood, and some lovely fungi on tree stumps. Finally, a walk around Godfrey Pond capped the day.

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Welcoming Spring at Ward Pound Ridge

May Peace Prevail on Earth

One of the entrances to the Ward Pound Ridge reservation in Westchester, New York

Ward Pound Ridge reservation is the largest park in Westchester County and is a wonderful spot for hiking, camping, and picnicking. There are 10 distinct trails, ranging from 1.25 to 5.6 miles long, that loop around the 4,315 protected acres.

During my visit this past week with my friend Dori, we hiked the southern part of the reservation and hardly saw another person the entire day. We trekked to the highest point in the park, a site of a former fire tower at 860 feet, and mainly followed the RT (rock trail).

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Gutting Sandy-affected Houses with New York Cares

The Yank without a Chain tearing down a mold-infested wall in the Rockaways

The Yank without a Chain tearing down a mold-infested wall in the Rockaways

During my few months at home I’ve been getting involved with some charities and doing as much volunteer work as I can. I was a bartender at the charity: water Ball in December and most recently I’ve been working with New York Cares to gut houses in the Rockaways, Queens that were flooded by Hurricane Sandy.

Several areas of Queens as well as parts of New Jersey and Brooklyn, are still nearly entirely devastated by the effects of Hurricane Sandy’s floods and winds. Over 20,000 homes are still uninhabitable, and the more time that passes before renovations take place, the more mold grows and the worse the health risks become. And although the federal government has begun releasing $50 billion in aid, physical manpower is still necessary to assist homeowners – many of whom are elderly or disabled – in getting their homes back into habitable condition.

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Fall Foliage at the Rockefeller Estate

An American flag the Kykuit Estate

An American flag the Kykuit Estate

The day after I came home from Colombia last October, I had a quintessential New England experience: a tour of the Rockefeller Estate Kykuit complete with views of magnificent fall foliage. Accompanied by close friends, it was a perfect homecoming.

Kykuit, located near Sleepy Hollow, New York, is National Trust for Historic Preservation site and served as the private residence of the Rockefeller family from 1913 to 1979. My friends and I chose the Classic Tour, which included the first floor of the main house, the gardens, and the Pocantico Conference Center, or Coach Barn, which contains dozens of classic horse-drawn carriages and vintage cars. Mostly thanks to Michelle, our wonderful tour guide, it was an unforgettable experience that I would highly recommend to any visitors to New York City or New England.

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Hiking at Tarrywile, a Connecticut Treasure

A view of Danbury, CT from Mootry Peak

A view of Danbury, CT from Mootry Peak at Tarrywile Park

Tarrywile Park is a gorgeous, 722-acre park in Danbury, CT that is a popular spot for hiking, picnics, bird watching, and camping. I visited for the first time on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with the Western CT Outdoor Adventures meetup group and had a fantastic time with new friends, fresh air, and my newly purchased microspikes for winter hiking.

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