Lock 12 Historic Park • Sleeping Giant State Park • July 25, 2017
Curtis: On the recommendation of a friend, we decided to take a midweek trip to go hiking at Sleeping Giant State Park. Believe it or not, but Southeastern Connecticut is flat — at least flat in comparison to the Adirondacks or Arizona. Whenever we get the chance to hike a peak with any form of prominence, we go for it. There was also the added advantage that the park was near one of the Sky’s the Limit Challenge sites. After a short day at work, we loaded up into the car and headed West on I-95. Once we got to the city of New Haven, we jogged North and soon enough, we were driving…right by the turn off for the park. We’re not perfect, so we made it work and decided to go to the Challenge site first.
The site for today was Lock 12 on the Farmington Canal, a canal connecting New Haven to as far as the interior of Massachusetts. Unlike some other 19th century locks and canals we’ve seen, not only was the lock still intact, but it was still functional! Granted, the flow rate of the canal was minimal at best, definitely not enough to raise the level in the lock. But with two men on either side – or in my case, myself and a little girl who was also visiting – it was possible to open and close both sets of gates.
What was interesting was the overall size of the lock. At least compared to others we’ve seen along the Erie Canal or the C & O Canal, this canal was puny, smaller even than the Santee Canal: one of the OLDEST canals in America! We played with the lock some more, took our pictures, found the letterbox, and then headed back to the main attraction of the afternoon: Sleeping Giant State Park.
Jess: We arrived at the park around 3 and started off on the trail we had planned to hike. Curtis had picked a nice loop with several letterboxes along the way that was doable with the remaining daylight we had left. The park is called Sleeping Giant because the profile of the mountain range looks like a giant lying down, and the different peaks are named accordingly: the cap, head, hips, feet, etc. The most popular trail is the Tower Trail, which goes gradually up a wide, road-like path to the highest point with a tower on the top. We would get to that point eventually, but we decided to take a more challenging trail up that hit a couple other peaks before reaching the tower. We started on the purple trail to the West, then took the blue trail East — which means nothing to you if you haven’t been there, so if you’re interested you can check out our AllTrails Recording here.
I have to mention our awesome letterboxing find for the day: Right before beginning on the blue trail, Curtis happened to look up the steep, slanted hill and noticed some trash — not uncommon, we find trash littered all around Connecticut trails, but that’s a rant for another day. He usually goes out of his way to pick up bottles and cans, but being a letterboxer he recognized the familiar signs of a tupperware and supplies in the woods. He climbed up and retrieved it and sure enough, it was a letterbox, and amazingly everything was still in good condition and intact despite being left out. He didn’t think he had clues to this particular box saved, but we still logged in and made a note of the name of the box, then hid it where he thought it should be nearby. After doing more research and contacting some other local letterboxers, we learned that this box is actually a “historic” one that had been listed as missing for over a decade!
Back to the trail: After beginning on the blue trail, we started gaining elevation and went up and over the Giant’s Cap. Then it became more challenging and turned more into rock scrambling over bare rock face than hiking. Charlotte didn’t even want to do some parts and forced Curtis to assist her. We finally made it to the top of this section (400 ft up in 1/10th of a mile) and sat down to catch our breath and enjoy the reward for our hard work. It was cool and cloudy and we were all alone — the perfect day for hiking! The next part was easy as we finished the walk up to the summit of Giant’s Head. The other side back down was thankfully not quite as steep, but as we were nearing the end we came across a hiker who apparently had fallen and was injured badly, and was being helped by paramedics. It psyched me out, so after saying a silent prayer for her and a thank you for getting us up and down this peak safely, I requested we take the tower trail up to the next peak rather than staying on the blue trail. Curtis obliged, and we made our way up, now passing many other hikers.
We made it up to the tower (technically the ‘Left Hip’ of the Giant), climbed and admired the view, then went a little further on the blue trail to get our last view to the Southwest and a final letterbox. We then made a quick decent down the Tower Trail and back to the car.
Once at the car we debated our route back home. We could have just retraced our steps back on I-95, but then we discovered that Charlotte’s favorite restaurant was nearby. So we grabbed Sonic and followed back roads the rest of the way home.
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Two days following this adventure was our 4 year wedding anniversary! We celebrated by picking up some fresh seafood from a local joint and had a picnic at Fort Trumbull. It was a rainy day, but we didn’t let that dampen our spirits. After walking around the waterfront, we moved on to another park in New London where Curtis did some metal detecting. He must have had “anniversary luck” because he ended up finding 3 wheat pennies! We are very thankful for all the ways God has blessed us over the past 4 years and can’t wait to see what He has in store for us this year. 🙂