1.13.21 ~ Stoddard Hill State Park
Ledyard, Connecticut

Several weeks after our first visit to this state park we returned to hike up the hill to the lookout, 183 feet (56 meters) above the river. The leaf-covered path started behind the cemetery and was much more steep than we had anticipated.

looking towards the Thames River from behind Stoddard Cemetery

It wasn’t long before I covered the camera lens and grabbed two strong walking sticks to steady myself. Tim already had his walking stick and was more steady on his feet, but had to stop frequently to catch his breath. I was starting to question the wisdom of embarking on this expedition! Especially when we lost the trail and decided to just keep going up…

several kinds of moss and lichen on a rotting log

When things leveled off a bit I got a few pictures…

princess pine trying to poke through the layers of leaves

Near the top we turned around near this ledge and saw the cemetery way down below…

Stoddard Cemetery from high above

At last we could see an opening in the woods and views of the river, trees and railroad tracks below. Tim said it was a good thing we came in the winter because the leaves on the trees would have blocked these lovely scenes. Keep in mind, under these ridges is that jumble of glacial erratics pictured in the last post. We didn’t go close enough to the edge to peek down there.

even way up here there were a few dead fish

Only with winter-patience can we bring
The deep-desired, long-awaited spring.

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh
(The Unicorn & Other Poems)

We found the trail again and managed to follow it all the way back down to the cemetery. I’m pleased to report that neither of us fell! I slipped a couple of feet once but my sticks saved me. πŸ™‚ That’s probably enough of steep climbs for us!

hairy woodpecker, telephoto lens
same hairy woodpecker
mallards on Stoddard Cove, also telephoto lens
thin ice on Stoddard Cove

It was nice to finally stand on level ground and take a couple of bird pictures. Phew!

30 thoughts on “winter-patience”

  1. I’m so glad you persevered to the top, Barbara. Look at all the amazing discoveries you made along the way! But a dead fish? I’m puzzled about that!

      1. Now that we’re back on solid footing I’m glad we kept going in spite of the challenging topography. πŸ™‚ The bird’s-eye views of the tree tops and the river far below were well worth the effort!

  2. Do you have bald eagles there? I frequently find the remains of fish when I’m out and about. Usually just the heads. I often wonder if they eat those last or not at all.

    It looks like it was worth the climb for the view. One reason I’m often glad I have my camera is that it gives me lots of excuses to stop when we’re climbing. πŸ™‚

    1. We do have bald eagles here — they have returned and their numbers are increasing. I do think it must be them or other birds of prey. Tim saw an owl on our previous visit. On the way down we found where we lost the trail, a tree had fallen over it. We climbed through the branches this time so we wouldn’t lose our way again. I’m glad I didn’t scratch the camera lens! πŸ™‚

  3. Well, you captured some great pictures. Am happy both of you got back down safely. I don’t believe I would have gone close to the edge either. Sounded like a very rough path to follow.

    1. Thank you, Peggy! The leaf cover was so thick it was hard to tell where the path was leading, and for some reason, there were no trail markers on the trees. At the top we could see plenty without going too close to the edge!

  4. Barbara, I always marvel of the way you catch nuances in structure and is so very refreshing to follow your trips – both in text and via images. So thank you for coloring my day !

    1. Thank you, Leelah! And you’re so welcome! πŸ’• I never know what to expect when we go for a walk — but it seems like Mother Nature always has an interesting surprise for me to get excited about. πŸ™‚

  5. I love your Hairy Woodpecker shots, well done, Barbara! Oh my, we’ve done some off-trail adventuring in past years and gotten into some hairy spots (pun intended ha!) ourselves. Always came out fine, but you just never know if one gets hurt by an accidental fall. I’m ‘not allowed’ to venture off trails on my own any more per hubby. He says he worries enough while I’m out! lol 😊

    1. Thank you, Donna! That woodpecker was so high up in the tree, drumming away and making a high-pitched peeking sound, it took me a while to find it! After I took the first picture it froze with its head tilted up, as if it was listening. It must have excellent hearing. 😊 It’s those accidental falls I worry about. You sound like my sister — I always worry about her wandering around by herself off-trail. I’m not brave enough to do that.

    1. You’re welcome, Frank. I never thought ot winter teaching me patience before I read the poem, but it does. All in good time, as my grandmother used to say…

  6. This stunning series of photos slows me right down to stillness and I can feel my heart expanding. Deep sigh.
    So, how was the trip down the hill? In similar situations I’ve found myself sledding down on my bottom! πŸ™‚

    1. Melissa, I’m so happy to know this post was so evocative for you. πŸ™ The trip down the hill was very tricky, steep and slippery. We did figure out where we lost the trail, though. If it wasn’t for my makeshift walking sticks I would have been sliding down the slope, too! πŸ™‚

  7. Beautiful photos. I like how muted the colors are in the winter, so your park calls to me. The path you took sounds tricky, so I really appreciate your pics even more.

    1. Thank you, Ally! I definitely had to work hard and take a few risks to get those pictures and so the reward was worth it in the end. I’m glad you enjoyed the soft winter colors…

    1. I meant the brants in your previous post. Here in this one I wanted to say your winter is like our fall, wonderful that you can still hike and not much snow and ice, albeit you did have a little adventure there hiking up a slope.

      1. Thank you, Arti! I guessed those were the brants you were referring to. πŸ™‚ While I doubt we ever got as much snow as you do way up north there, we have been getting almost no snow for the past five years and I miss it terribly. Feels so unnatural. I think my dream of hiking on snowshoes some day is melting away. But I will be thankful for the lack of freezing rain and sleet!

  8. Good thing you got a couple of sticks to keep you upright Barbara. I worry when walking in leaves (besides snakes and/or ticks), that I’ll step into a hole and twist an ankle or some other calamity. You had a nice walk anyway and who could ask for nicer walking weather (sans snow) in mid-January?

    1. I didn’t even think of snakes or ticks! Too worried about tripping, slipping or stumbling… For some reason I assume snakes are hibernating and ticks aren’t as active in the winter. I think. The weather was perfect, though. Warm enough so my hands stayed warm inside their gloves. πŸ™‚

      1. I was walking Thursday morning at Council Point Park and it was 36 degrees. I still wore my lug-soled hiking boots, not my shoes and there was black ice on a place on the walking path I’ve never seen it before (the side of the Park nearest the Creek gets black ice – never at this spot however). I felt myself start to slide and righted myself before I fell. I didn’t get back to the Park until this morning (rain Friday, freezing fog with icy roads yesterday). Walking to the Park, I walked in the street and was a bit nervous on the pathway, so decided to stick to the grass. I spoke to another walker who said she and another walker nearly wiped out in the same spot on the same day. At 36 degrees and it had not rained the previous day, that was a shocker. It was snowing when I left this morning, but we’re having more snow tonight and I wanted to get to the Park today as I may not make it tomorrow if I have to shovel and might be slippery. I guess snakes probably hibernate in Winter, but our Winter has fluctuated between cold and mild – a neighbor’s Snowdrops are out already which is unheard of in January in Michigan. A woman who followed my blog for a time, hiked in local areas. She told me about a small nature preserve next to a high school a few miles away. I went to visit it in the Winter. It was okay, no critters there and a few wooden walkways had broken boards. When I did the post, the person who said I should visit, said it was bad for ticks and said “you can get ticks in Winter sometimes – always do a tick check” … yikes, after I went. Warm hands makes a big difference how long I stay out sometimes.

        1. I think I memtioned before that my husband’s aunt and my brother-in-law suffer from chronic Lyme disease, and that my daughter-in-law was once hospitalized with Lyme carditis. You’d think I would be more worried about ticks but I don’t think they like me, unlike spiders, who seek me out. I’ve never found a tick on myself, even though my sister finds them on herself regularly, even after we were walking together in the same woods. I still check, though… “Blacklegged ticks, which carry Lyme disease, remain active as long as the temperature is above freezing.” So I imagine there were ticks out that day!

          1. A woman walker at the Park said she brought home a tick from the Park on the one day she strayed from the walking path. She goes from the parking lot to the path and stays on it the entire time – not me, as I meander around in all seasons (especially Winter – like yesterday when the path is slippery). I follow the squirrels and birds to take a photo or give them peanuts. I don’t think of the ticks while there and can’t say I do a tick check each time either. I do remember you told me that as I told you about our local weatherman who was an avid outdoorsman and was bitten by a tick. The Lyme disease was so debilitating he had to quit his job and was interviewed by the newspaper a year or so later and said “please be careful of ticks because these days I barely get my feet to the floor and don’t have the strength to even walk down the hall most days.” That’s scary about your family members. I worry about everything as it is Barbara … this is something more to dwell on. We have had some real cold spells this Winter, not the Polar Vortex they predicted a few weeks ago, but cold nonetheless, yet we have been above normal more days than not. I am afraid of spiders as I said in today’s post. I am afraid of them and centipedes. (Speaking of posts, my post published and I checked to ensure it was in Reader as it has not always done so in the past. I checked later in the day and it was missing. I don’t know what the issue is, but it is back just about 1/2 hour ago. “Sigh” I remember you and Ally have had posts go missing in Reader as well.

          2. Ah, yes, I do remember about your weatherman. Lyme disease can be so debilitating and can affect brain functioning, too. I guess the further we go along in our lives the more we clearly understand that life itself is a risky business. And things can change in an instant. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to keep focus on the things that bring us joy. I share your fear of spiders. But now I tolerate house centipedes when I learned that they hunt spiders. I’ve only seen a few over the years. I’m pretty much done with Reader… This winter is proving to be a real dud!

  9. Hmmm, thought I had already responded here–perhaps not. Those steep climbs up or down are not friendly to our aging bodies these days are they? Glad you decided to take this walk and report back to us.

    1. Our aging bodies were very very surprised that we made it back safely and without much to report except for the pleasing views. πŸ™‚ I think I’ve been missing a few posts, too. Sometimes I read, get interrupted, and fail to return and comment in a timely manner…

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