UCONN SSW Fall 2014 006EcoTherapist Beth Lapin is offering a series of four workshops in May in Middletown, CT. Details:

HEALING NATURE
Dates (Thursdays): May 7, 14, 21, and 28
Times:  6:30 – 8 pm
Location: Camp Building, Ron McCutcheon Park at Crystal
Lake​, Middletown, CT​
Fee: $65
Instructor Name: Beth Lapin  (beth@healingnaturect.com)
Ages: 18+

Description: In our hectic world, discover the calming,
peaceful benefit of nature.  In this program, we will use our
senses to strengthen our connection with the natural world
and be introduced to several techniques to help relax and let
go of daily stress. In addition, we will use our creative outlets
such as writing, drawing, music/sound, and movement, to
express our experiences and address weekly environmental
topics. Come explore what nature can do for you and what
you can give back!

Use the registration form to the right, which can be mailed to Middletown Recreation Division. ​2015 HN Registration Form

​Or email Beth, contact Recreation at (860) 638-4500, or download their brochure.

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On Saturday, May 3, Beth Lapin will be offering a hike on Higby Mountain as part of the City of Middletown’s rescheduled Earth Day Celebration. We will have a rare opportunity to access the Mattabesett Trail through the city’s water department lands that include Higby and Adder Reservoirs.

Come join her for a three+ hour moderate walk up the eastern flank of the ridge, along the top, where we can snack, and then continue our loop to the water treatment building.

Wear hiking shoes (some wet areas), bring a snack and water, camera, binoculars if desired.

Directions: on Route 66, about a quarter-mile west of the junction with Higby Road (Red Dog Saloon), look for an unmarked driveway on the right (north) with an orange cone that leads to the reservoir. Follow it to the buildings, where there are restrooms and parking.

Please let her know (Beth@HealingNatureCT.com) if you are planning to join us. Questions: 860 398 4470; that morning: 860 262 2788.

Healing Nature WATER 06.21.12 004In our hectic world, discover the calming, peaceful benefit of nature. In this program, we will use our senses to strengthen our connection with the natural world and be introduced to several techniques to help relax and let go of daily stress. In addition, we will use our creative outlets such as writing, drawing, music/sound, and movement, to express our experiences and address weekly environmental topics. Come explore what nature can do for you and what you can give back!

Register online at www.middletownct.gov/webtrac, or at Middletown Park and Recreation, 100 Riverview Center, #140, $65 for four sessions, Thursday evenings, May 1, 8, 15, 22. Questions: Beth@HealingNatureCT.com or 860 398 4470.  2014 Healing Nature Class Registration Form

Nature Hikes through Middletown Park & Rec

Spring Nature Walk

Wednesday, April 16
11:00 a.m., no charge, Wadsworth State Park, Middlefield, CT; Dress for the weather. Educational walk on the trails of Wadsworth State Park. Children under age 16 must attend with an adult 18+. Register through Park and Rec (Please use 2014 Spring Nature Walk Registration Form)

Questions? email Beth@HealingNatureCT.coom

Healing Nature WATER 06.21.12 004Healing Nature Sessions

Thursdays, May 1,8,15,& 22
6:30-8:00 PM
Ron McCutcheon Park, Crystal Lake, Middletown, CT

In this program, we will use our senses to strengthen our connection with the natural world. You will be introduced to several techniques to help you relax and let go of your daily stress. In addition, we will use our creative outlets such as writing, drawing, music/sound, and movement, to express our experiences and address weekly environmental topics. Come explore what nature can do for you and what you can give back!

Email Beth@HealingNatureCT.com for more information.

Jim at Bible Rock 001Jim, who’s interested in caves and rocks, visited yesterday from Pittsfield, MA, so we did a rock tour of Middlesex County. We started at Bible Rock in Middletown/Haddam. Set back about a hundred feet from the road, this eight-foot high split rock looks like an open book, or Bible. The nearby brook is also named after this feature.

After taking photographs, we crossed the road to take a brief stroll along the rocks and stream flowing near the Seven Falls picnic area. Likely a CCC project, a mostly-intact table served as a spot for us to review maps and set our next stops.

We agreed to drive north to Dripps Road and visit Spiderweed, a Nature Conservancy preserve. After a brief exploration Spiderweed 002 of the ruined cottage, we reached the beryl-rich pegmatite outcrops and saw Appalachian sandwort (Arenaria glabra). Common to the south and abundant in these unusual rock formations in the north, it’s a spring flowering annual. We caught a glimpse of the Connecticut River through the lush spring foliage.

After a snack and return to the car, we drove south to Durham to start on the Mattabesett Trail leading directly to Coginchaug Cave. Rising thirty feet high and stretching more than fifty feet along the base of a cliff, it provided shelter to Native Americans long ago. Blacked rock and stone fire pits suggest recent fires but artifacts have apparently been uncovered at this site.

When we returned to the car, we decided to take a lunch break. We then went across the Connecticut River to Portland to try to find Bodkin Rock. After several futile efforts (and getting covered in low-tide mud), we decided a water approach would be more successful and would have to wait for a future adventure.

Before returning to Middletown, we drove along the old Portland quarry, recently converted into a tasteless zipline and water park (preference for the natural features showing here). By then, it was raining and the park was closed to visitors.

The Ledges 001In Middletown, we explored the conglomerate rock ledges off Kelsey Street. We saw flowering lady’s slippers and columbine, along with a long series of shelters. We attempted unsuccessfully to match the now overgrown landscape with some 1910 photos of the area. We enjoyed the flow of East Round Hill Brook before calling it a day.

Obviously, many other rocks of notice and importance are in Middlesex County, but this was a good start!

Haddam Reservoir 04.29.13 001Cherry and I were ready to start hiking again! This time, we decided to focus on trails in Haddam, her hometown. We used www.haddamtrails.org as our guide.

It turns out there were thirteen trails in town, of which we’d already hiked one as part of the Mattabessett Trail. There also were three in Cockaponset and we’d tried some of that already. So, today, we started with Higganum Reservoir Trail. A round-trip of about a mile and a half, we knew it wouldn’t take long.

It was a cloudy day with temperatures in the fifties, which made for a perfect hike. At 8:30, we parked at the north end of the reservoir to look at the spillway, comprised of large brownstone slabs. We then meandered through a nearby cemetery to reach Hull Avenue and locate the trailhead. We talked about Cherry’s upcoming retirement and issues related to continuation of her programs once she was gone. She also shared about a potential trip she might take to Buenos Aires in January, which sounded quite exciting.

We were disappointed that the trail was so far from the reservoir, so we bushwhacked down to it and tried to follow along. We did get a few nice views of the waterway, while we talked about the current state of my writing. I talked about an in-progress short story and challenges in completing it by Thursday and Cherry was encouraging about its plot line.

Haddam Reservoir 04.29.13 002 Seeing no clear way to continue along the reservoir, we returned to the trail and encountered two women walking three barking dogs. We were glad to move past them and find the source of the reservoir, a lovely stream flowing over rock outcrops. Reaching the other trailhead, we backtracked, staying on the official trail. Cherry asked about my recent trip to Stockholm and Denmark and I told her about the various foods and sights we’d seen. By then, we had returned to our parked car.

 Since it was still early, we decided to hike along the railroad tracks along the river in the center of town. Not an official trail, it crossed Higganum Cove (a superfund site containing PCBs, municipal solid waste, and asbestos.) before reaching the river. Being very low tide, we were able to explore the small beach before hiking north along the tracks. After a half hour, we turned and retraced our steps and returned to our cars at 11:30AM.

 Cherry hadn’t been to either of these areas, so we had a nice introduction to Haddam’s trails. To top it off, we decided to lunch at Mamma Roux’s on chili and gumbo. Cherry suggested a plan for future adventures that included selecting a Connecticut town and spending the day exploring trails, shops, and museums, and sampling a restaurant. I didn’t hesitate to agree. We’ll pick our first town after retirement at the end of June. Meanwhile, we’ll head back to Haddam in May to sample another trail or two.

Cindy Lane to Clapboard Hill Road 002

Massive blow-down

Thursday, for the third time, Cherry and I set out to walk the Menunkatuck Trail between Cindy Lane and Clapboard Hill Road (the first time, we lost the Cindy Lane trail head; the second time, Cherry had car problems). Today, our car maneuvers brought us close to four deer leaping across the road before us, as they merged into the woodlands along the road margins. Eventually, we parked one car on Clapboard Hill Road and the other on Cindy Lane and, at 9:00AM, headed south on a sunny day that started mid-thirties and ended mid-forties.

Our hike was easy and steady, as we traveled through forested lands, skirted open fields, and glimpsed charming tidal marshes along the East River. Our conversation drifted to holiday plans, our perspectives on Newtown, and personal updates. Cherry was excited to announce she had given six-month’s notice of retirement to her employer and would be a free person starting in July!

Hugging the edge of an open field, we were surprised to hear voices and turned to see three women and three dogs were coming close behind. The women quickly leashed two dogs but one exuberant golden retriever (are there other kinds?) kept running pell-mell toward us, so we stopped to let him catch up before collapsing. We exchanged pleasantries and the women surged past us, pulled by their canine companions.

We continued under power lines, flushing a small rabbit and encountering another group of dogs and their owners. I confessed to some small recent victories, such as knitting a remaining sock and creating hats from a sweater my aunt had begun many years ago. We agreed that getting these nagging items off our plate provided a sense of freedom and exuberance that opened the way for new opportunities.

By 11:30, after stopping briefly for a snack, we reached the southern end of today’s trail. We reviewed the remaining section, which traveled along roads to Long Island Sound. We agreed that it would be a perfect January quest, in case snow or ice made woodland trails difficult. After discarding a tick wandering over my hand, we headed our individual ways until next year.