Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Big Ridge again

I had such a good time on my last hike to Big Ridge State Park that I went again on Sunday. It was just past noon and gloriously sunny, about 60 degrees when I got there and almost 70 when I got back to my car.

This time I decided to find the graveyard on Ghost House Trail that I missed last time. I took Lake Trail from the parking lot, crossed the dam and turned right, then took the eastern loop of Ghost House Trail. From the top of the loop I took the southerly section of Big Valley Trail to the road, then crossed the road and picked up Chestnut Ridge Trail. That brought me to the cabins, and from there I had a surprisingly long walk back to my car. I think it worked out to five miles, or probably a bit under, and it was a lovely, easy to moderate hike.

At first I met a lot of people and dogs on the trail. But by the time I reached Ghost House Trail I might as well have been the only person in the park. I didn't see anyone else until I got back to my car. I didn't see any birds or animals (beyond the very common ones like squirrels), but I sure heard a lot of frogs. A few marshy spots sounded like Frogtown.
Above: Frogtown. Not a lot to see, but everything to hear.

I found the Norton Cemetery, too. If I'd only known last time, I passed within a matter of yards from it before. It's much smaller than I expected, a lot smaller than the Snodderly Cemetery I saw last time.

From the trail brochure I picked up at the park office: "According to locals...eerie and unexplainable events occur along [Ghost House] trail. ...[V]isit the sunken grave of Maston Hutch[e]son, who some think is responsible for these strange occurrences. NO HOUSE REMAINS." I was especially interested in Maston Hutcheson's grave, since Maston is a family name of my mother's family. It would be interesting to know if there's a connection somewhere in the distant past between Hutcheson and my grandfather, who went by his middle name, Maston.

I didn't see any ghosts. I didn't even get any spooky feelings. Some of the graves along the back of the little cemetery have fresh memorial markers although the people died in the 1920s and 1930s, so obviously the family is still in the area and still remember their ancestors.
Above: Why would you even name a little baby Harm unless you knew he would grow up to be an archvillain or a dentist?

I poked around the cemetery for a little while, then continued on my hike. At one point I hiked through a wide, sunny valley that made me feel really good for some reason. I took a picture and there's no real reason why I liked it there so much, but just thinking about it makes me smile. I think it was a combination of the open wood, the plentiful sun, and the low hills on either side of the trail. But really, I don't know. It was just a good place. It was like it was the opposite of haunted.

When I reached the road, I thought Chestnut Ridge trail would be obvious on the other side. But while there's a sign, the trailhead is actually well off the road on the other side of a grassy park area. There's a bridge over a creek; turn left on the other side of the bridge. The trail here got really steep, switchbacking up the ridge. I actually really enjoyed the challenge after what had been a fairly easy hike so far.

At the top there were a couple of old concrete structures that looked like some kind of silo, although silos aren't common around here, and a new structure that is probably a water tower for the nearby cabins.

The trail ended at a drive that loops around for people to get to the cabins. I'd never seen the cabins before that I remember, but they're quite nice. I was on pavement the rest of the way back to my car, which was hard on my feet after hiking all that way. I like my boots but they don't have a lot of padding. I think I'm going to have to invest in a really good pair pretty soon.

I had a good time, and there are still a few trails that I haven't seen yet at Big Ridge. I really appreciate that the trails are so well marked, too. I may go back in another month or so once the trees are green and the wildflowers are in full bloom.

Above: someone spent a lot of time and effort on this.

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