walking along a ledge

10.19.22 ~ Sassacus Nature Preserve, Groton, Connecticut

Recently we were driving down a road less traveled (by us) and spotted a sign right next to an industrial business. Sassacus Nature Preserve? The parking lot was shared with the business, and behind a chain link fence were ladders and small dumpsters available to rent. It didn’t seem to be a very natural setting. We thought we saw a path off the parking lot and decided to come back for our next walk.

When we returned we found the trail and ascended to an elevation of about 100 feet and so began our walk across a ledge. On one side of the trail was a tall, long outcrop and on the other a steep slope down to a valley. It was cool looking down onto the tops of trees.

Sassacus (Massachusett: Sassakusu (fierce) (c. 1560 – June 1637) was born near present-day Groton, Connecticut. He was a Pequot sachem, and he became grand sachem after his father, sachem Tatobem was killed in 1632. The Mohegans led by sachem Uncas rebelled against domination by the Pequots. Sassacus and the Pequots were defeated by English colonists along with their Narragansett and Mohegan allies in the Pequot War. Sassacus fled to what he thought was safety among the Iroquois Mohawks in present-day New York, but they murdered him. They sent his head and hands to the Connecticut Colony as a symbolic offering of friendship.
~ Wikipedia

Notice in the picture below how the trail squeezed its way between two glacial erratics. There was no other way around unless we wanted to tumble down the hill to the left.

After about twenty minutes of walking we started to hear water rushing and then maybe five minutes later we could see a stream way down below so I used the zoom lens to get a picture.

At this point we turned around because the path was starting to look even more tricky to navigate. Retracing our steps we found that the sunlight now illuminated some colors deep in the woods.

October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
(The Seasons)

This large glacial erratic seemed to be precariously balanced…

For the remainder of the walk back I enjoyed finding sunlight on the fallen leaves, mosses and lichens.

Truly it has been said, that to a clear eye the smallest fact is a window through which the Infinite may be seen.
~ Thomas Henry Huxley
(The Major Prose of Thomas Henry Huxley)

a little beech sapling
moss surrounding the base of a tree
in a crevice of the outcrop
sapling at eye level growing out of the outcrop

It was an adventure finding this little nature preserve in the middle of town, surrounded by railroad tracks, streets, houses and a new elementary magnet school. And then coming home to learn about Sassacus and starting to picture his people living in these woods four hundred long years ago.

31 thoughts on “walking along a ledge”

  1. Wow – you found an area of nature in such an unexpected place. So glad you did not have any problems walking in this someone rugged area. Loved those fall colors, the rocks, the leaves on the ground with their lovely Fall colors. The history lessons of the inhabitants of this area from so long ago. This was a wonderful post.

    1. Thank you so much, Peggy. It was a great change of pace and we enjoyed the hike, even if all the ups and downs and rock-hopping bothered our knees. “Keep moving” has become one of my mantras in recent years. Of course, having the gorgeous fall colors and other woodland treasures to enjoy is a great incentive.

        1. It’s a good one. Even with the aches and pains we still feel better than we would have felt being sedentary.

          1. Went on a major hike today in Mountain View in the Arkansas Ozarks. What a wonderful sunny Fall day. Will be posting some pictures soon.

          2. Oh that sounds amazing, Peggy! I’m looking forward to seeing those pictures — I’ve never been to Arkansas. I’m glad you’re getting some nice autumn weather.

    1. Thank you so much, Eliza! It seems there was conflict between men here long before the Europeans arrived.

  2. The juxtaposition of modern life with an indigenous people living in the same place four hundred years ago is what makes history fascinating. I like your photos and how they lend themselves to contemplation about how people live.

    1. Thank you, Ally. It is endlessly fascinating how people, nature, art and history are woven together through the ages. I keep coming back to the idea of impermanence and how fleeting our short lives on this planet are.

    1. Thank you, Donna!! I’m still trying to figure out who owns and operates the property this preserve is on. The sign doesn’t give any indication and my online searches have led me nowhere…

      1. I found this info on page 31 of 40 on a public file ( agenda suite dot org backslash iip backslash Groton backslash file backslash getfile backslash 58431 )

        “Town Council 2021-116 King Property Renaming – Sassacus Nature Preserve

        WHEREAS the property on 500 Poquonnock Road, known as the King property and,
        WHEREAS the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation recommended renaming the property Sassacus after a Pequot Grand Sachem, and
        WHEREAS the Groton Conservation Advocates recommended identifying the property as a Nature Preserve due to the unique natural features, now therefor be it
        RESOLVED, that the Town Council approves the renaming of the King property to the Sassacus Nature Preserve.”

        1. Wow! Thank you, TD! So I guess it belongs to the Town of Groton. Part of it borders the City of Groton, too. Other parks in Groton feature the words “Town of Groton” over the name of the park on their signs. I’m still puzzled why this sign has nothing else on it. The town website isn’t any help. They don’t even list all the parks that I’m aware of. Sigh.

          1. Barbara, the city council would be the gov that a name change of land or street name change would have to be file for approval. Those are the minutes of that approval which does not mean the City of Groton is the owner of the land.

            I found the reasoning why to change the name of the King property to a preserve which made sense to me.

            The next step would be to contact the county clerk land office who could look up the property owner’s name with the address. (I did not go that far, but if you have more interest below is the land clerk’s offer who would be able to tell you the process and fees if any.)

            Groton-Ct dot gov backslash departments backslash twnclk backslash index dot php

            Home, Departments, Town Clerk:

            Land Records (860) 441-6642

          2. Thanks for all the information, TD. Tim has access to property maps of the town so he looked it up for me. 500 Poquonnock Rd. does belong to the town and is also the site of the new Catherine Kolnaski STEAM Magnet School which was completed in 2008. The loop trail goes around the school. While we were hiking we did hear the PA system addressing the students briefly, although we couldn’t make out the words. I have since noticed that not all the signs at Groton owned park properties use the same format so I’m going to stop trying to figure out the rhyme or reason of it!

  3. Love Huxleys quote … as well as all those Autumn trees! How cool to find a little stream when you didn’t expect to! Roads less traveled often encourage us to open our eyes and see new things — well done, Barbara.

    1. Thank you, Debbie! Biologists like Huxley seem to have a deep appreciation for the great mystery surrounding us. All the little things they discover and share with us do fill us with wonder.

  4. At my age with walking and balance issues now, I would have been afraid to go as far as the two of you did, Barbara. Good for me that I was able to join you via your blog.

    I haven’t seen full leaf autumn colors like the two vivid photos since my Colorado hiking days (pre-knee surgery). I would get vertigo on some of the ledge hikes. My circle of people were avid hikers during those years. I took lots of photos of the single leaf color like you do! This gave me a sweet grin today.

    1. Sometimes I bring my father’s cane with me on walks and I could have used it on this one. Was kicking myself for leaving it in the car this time but fortunately I never lost my balance. Tim always carries his walking stick on our walks. Sometimes I wonder how long we’ll be able to keep doing this so I try to make the most of every walk. I bet the ledges you hiked on in Colorado were much higher than the modest ones we have here! You must have had many thrilling adventures and breathtaking vistas to enjoy on those hikes.

  5. That was quite the surprise and quite the reward for investigating this new venue. Funny that some nature preserves or venues are not as heavily promoted as others, but at least you had the place to yourself and could enjoy a slow meander through the woods. Amazing how close those two glacial erratics ended up. The sun shining through the leaves and those shadows were my favorite pictures, but I also enjoyed seeing the yellow leaves tinged with red as well. What a great Autumn walk you had. I liked the quotes, especially the one by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

    1. I’m still puzzled about who owns and maintains this property. It’s not listed on any of the open space association sites or on lists of town or state parks. The only place that mentions it online is AllTrails and they don’t say who owns it. I’m glad you enjoyed the leaf close-ups. The sunlight this time of year is exquisite but now we’ll be getting into the dark half of the year when the sunlight dims considerably and the shadows in the woods will be getting longer and longer. I love the flow of the seasons, the light is like a tide, ebbing and flooding.

      1. Is AllTrails able to help with info if you contact them? It didn’t seem like you need to worry about trespassing issues at all. The sunlight shining through the leaves is always stunning. I hope my pictures come out okay from Saturday with the golden leaves with the sun shooting through them and the squirrel with its corncob … all golden tones. The last of the beautiful leaves for 2022 I’m afraid to say. Those shadows getting longer make for interesting photos as well as human shots too.

        1. I don’t get very far navigating the AllTrails website before they start asking me to pay and join for access. I’m happy you got some good pictures of the critters before the leaves were done with their show. We still have some color here and we should be getting out for a walk this morning. My sister came home with a tick last night! I got it out with tweezers and trapped in scotch tape in case it needs to be tested. Never a dull moment…

          1. I keep seeing that AllTrails vehicle at the Park and can’t figure out if it is because they are creating a map or marking a trail. I see the white vehicle with the emblem but no person driving it. I have photos for next week’s posts, then have to sort through them again. I feel jammed for time and now it will not rain all weekend, which I planned to organize the groceries and straighten things inside. I will still do this job on Sunday, especially with having that extra hour – at least put a dent in the mess as I may not finish. That’s terrible about the tick Barbara. I do worry about coming home with one and especially if it was in an area I couldn’t reach would be problematic. And I’m not ambidextrous, so conditions would need to be perfect to extricate that tick by myself. Good thing you got it out and preserved it. I hope your sister is okay. So many worries about ticks and mosquitoes in Fall – sometimes by now we’ve had a hard frost and the pests are gone.

          2. I don’t see Council Point Park mentioned on the AllTrails website, maybe they are mapping it out and getting ready to add it to their database. 🙂 It’s funny how often the unpredictable weather and life itself just gets in our way and foils our plans. I hope you manage to catch up with yourself one of these days! I guess you could always visit a walk-in clinic if you needed help extracting a tick. We haven’t had a frost yet down here by the shore, but at least we’re not seeing any mosquitos. Ticks do survive the winter, however, by going dormant or latching onto a host. Ugh.

          3. I have never been to one of the walk-in clinics before, but we sure have alot of them around here, so that is a good idea. I once got a rose thorn embedded in my index finger on my right hand and had to have Marge get it out for me – it was quite far down under the skin and she had to really dig it out.

            My mom had cactus gardens on the kitchen windowsill … two horizontal gardens that filled the entire window sill. She was short and for watering them had to bring the planters to the countertop as she couldn’t reach over the double sink. She got a cactus spine embedded in her forearm … she didn’t say anything and tried to get it out herself and it got infected. Because my mom had cellulitis in her legs, a mosquito bite, a mere scratch and certainly an embedded cactus spine, could start a flare-up even though she was on a maintenance antibiotic all the time. She had to go to the doctor to have it excised. We will be 74 on Saturday but strong winds (40 – 45 mph) coming Saturday night which will knock the heat back a little, but no cold in sight for at least another week – amazing! I have heard if the Winter is not cold enough the ticks won’t die off and just go dormant – another worry to deal with.

          4. Oh my, that sounds painful, having a thorn deep into your finger. Yikes! Thank goodness you had Marge available to help. And your poor mother! I wonder what it was about cactuses that she liked so much. I know some people are fond of succulents, but without the thorns. My mother grew lots of hens and chicks outdoors in her garden. Same here with the weekend weather, in the 70s with a strong breeze. Tim turned 70 this week and we’re thinking of going to a restaurant with outdoor dining on Sunday to celebrate. Hope our food doesn’t blow away…

          5. Yes, my poor mom didn’t need one more medical issue and this thorn was under her skin sideways. I told her she needed to have it taken care of and the weather was bad (icy/snowy) so she rarely went out in Winter unless it was clear and she had good footing.

            My grandmother’s hens and chicks … she liked them and the hollyhocks. They were all over the yard.

            The winds have not yet gusted to near 45-50 but the wind advisory is until 9:00 p.m. We had rain off and on as well, but tomorrow is nice. Happy birthday to Tim and I hope you do get to go to a restaurant with outdoor dining – that’s safer. You will get our winds tomorrow as you’re a day later weather-wise. A fellow blogger in Wisconsin always mentions the weather as they get their bad weather a day before us, but we never get their heavy snowfalls (thank goodness).

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