It goes without saying. One should, if one desires to derive the most, engage the services of a competent guide when exploring unfamiliar wilderness. I desired to derive the most, and, consequently, I took advantage of a local guide service while exploring a portion of the western Connecticut wilderness the week of Thanksgiving. Luck was with me as two brothers, both familiar with the area I was to explore agreed to lead me through the forest.
Now I know some of us Southern folks, when thinking of those New England places, don't imagine forests populated by mighty trees with streams tumbling over rocks downward into quiet deepness through the fertile valleys. It's difficult to realize that just a hop, skip, and a jump, or more precisely a two hour car ride, from New York City there could be a postcard like rural, picturesque setting. Even in our most imagined historical scenes of colonial American farms with the rock walls bordering the pastures, we don't get the feel that today, in this 21st Century, there remains in that place a wilderness to explore.
The Housatonic River is majestic as it flows south to southwest through western Connecticut. In the wilderness that borders its banks in various places the rock outcroppings are spectacular. The occasional erratic rock, one that doesn't belong where it is but was carried there by a glacier, gives hint to the massive forces of nature that carved these valleys eons ago. The trails through these gifts of nature are not all that difficult, but it takes a guide to enrich the journey with commentary.
And so, last week Sam and his brother, Owen, led me up the mountains and down into the valleys, through the rock formations, beside the flowing waters of the river and around the occasional hint of a previous human occupation. Both were familiar with the area, having walked these trails previously. Both were at home in the wilderness, and both, apparently, were delighted to have me sharing this experience with them.
Owen seemed to be more concerned for my well-being, in that, I, obviously, was a senior citizen. Often he'd move ahead of his brother and me, scouting out the trail that all was clear ahead. On more than one occasion he advised me of some difficult terrain and suggested alternative routes that would avoid them. He seemed at home in the forest as though pumped by the fresh air, the chilling breeze and the raw smell of nature.
Sam, seemed particularly intent on pointing out the various characteristics of acorns that were evident along the trail. At one point we reached a rock out cropping overlooking the Housatonic River. The view was spectacular. Down below a lone soul paddled his kayak up the river. History says we were sitting at the spot where the Native American daughter of a chief and her lover leaped to their death. Sam, undisturbed by the sacred spot, took time to point out the various aspects of an acorn.
Suddenly, he stood up and proclaimed. “I've got to pee.” He dropped his pants and proceeded to do so, oblivious of any others who might pass by on the trail. At that point Owen spoke up without any concern at his brother's dropped pants, and exclaimed, “Hey, Daddy Guy, come see this.”
I pulled up Sam's pants and with his two-year-old hand gripping my finger followed the older guide up the trail.