Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Long Way to STA-BIL

Sunday November 23rd found me standing on the porch in my PJ’s sipping coffee and watching the birds. This is not a typical November happening in New England! As we had not yet put the bikes to bed for the season, we decided a ride was in order to fill the tanks and add the Sta-bil for winter. Thus began our 100 mile loop, or as I like to call it “the long way to sta-bil.”

I hadn’t had an opportunity to ride for a few weeks and when I pulled out of the drive I had that exuberant feeling I usually only get in spring after the long hiatus. We were in full gear and layers, but in reality, the air was very comfortable. At no time during our ride did I feel chilled. Our love of exploration took us down paths we’d never traveled before, past horse farms and quiet pastures. An occasional homeowner would be out and about in the yard, and every one raised a hand in greeting.

What we found humorous was the thought that if you were a stranger to our country, it would be hard to tell what holiday was being celebrated in these parts. Halloween, Thanksgiving and even Christmas décor was prevalent. It gave us the feeling of not only moving through neighborhoods but moving through time. I remembered an essay of the man on a train watching life's activities going on outside the window on his way to his destination. I believe the moral of that story is that it’s not the destination, but the journey that makes life worthwhile. And motorcycling is definitely all about the journey!

With the days so short and the dark shadows already gathering by the three o’clock hour, we pointed the fenders towards home. We rode into the yard around four pm and the gloom was well upon us. Only then, did we finally take care of the winterization. With the snow storm heading our way today, with up to 10 inches of the white stuff predicted to fall, we still are not calling it over. You never know, a few unexpected warm days and you just might find Blaze on the road again….just one last time. And her rider thankful for it.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Being laid off can seem like the end of the world to most folks. Yet for me it was a great blessing. I had long tired of 100 mile round trip commutes. These were sucking the life out of me. Many of my motorcycle friends would try to encourage me to ride my motorcycle and enjoy what I could of being on the road. Yet, I felt taking the motorcycle into crazy traffic jams each day would have marred my love of riding. So it was the four wheels I confined myself to each day.

Then dawned December 3, 2013; the day I was handed my walking papers. Someone filled a box of my belongings for me while HR had their little chat. I heard the exit interview only as a buzzing in my ears. Their voice was crowded out by another voice in my head that was cheering at the prospect of never driving into the city again! I nearly skipped out to the parking garage. As I rolled out into the sunny morning, I swear I heard angels sing.

That day began a wonderful 10 month sabbatical. Yes, that’s right I said sabbatical. We all have choices in how we look at our lives. Wayne Dyer tells us "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." So not working was not “laid off” but a “sabbatical to me; a desperately needed sabbatical. Instead I chose to feel set free. Then I looked closely at all the thought loops that had run through my head daily. My biggest complaint of all was not having time for this or that. I promised I would have time for it now.

My first task was to reconnect with my hometown community. Staying connected with people has become more important to me having felt cut off from them by distance for so long. I’m proud to have made great headway, in not only reconnecting, but making new connections as well. We are after all social beings, and staying connected is not only good for us, it contributes to our longevity.

Next, to keep my brain from atrophy, I tasked it with learning new things. I had dabbled in web design before, but now I was determined to teach myself how to use certain programs and applications. This led me to start my own small company “Sojourn Publications”. This satisfied another wish; that of being of service to the little guy. This new venture was barely off the ground, when a new job opportunity came my way. Yet, I haven’t put it to bed, but it’s there waiting. My plan is to work small, until such time as I want to resume in a bigger way.

I dragged more of those “if I only had more time” to the surface and did them and added a few other wishes to the list. I spent more time with nature including eating my lunch outside every day it didn’t rain. I discovered our garden and had Andy plant herbs in addition to the regular fare. I helped nurture these plants and discovered that gardening is meditation in motion.

My Dad, at 86 years, is teaching me lessons still. You see Dad has been given a very short time clock these days. While it is distressing to think your Dad will soon depart this world, his wisdom has become more important for me to hear. Recently in a conversation he said “we are all given a slice of the pie. I think I’ve been given a pretty decent piece.’ He’s talking about life of course. And as the tasks of the day sometime conflict with an enjoyment of life, I now take the enjoyment piece first. After all, the tasks will still be there when I get back from a spontaneous ride in the country. Being on the bike, connecting with friends, and loving my family are the pieces of the pie I want for myself. The dust on the furniture will still be there when I get home. While I have a new and very wonderful job, I will not forget that it needs balance. Because when my piece of pie is finally consumed, I don’t want people to say. “Wow, she showed up to work every day”, but more like “she was present in my life.”

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Best Motorcycle Road Big Horn Mountain Loop – Wyoming

By Guest Blogger Kiara Wilson

While traditional motorcycle routes typically follow just one or two state and national highway systems, Bighorn Mountain Loop in Wyoming challenges riders to follow three different state roads in order to fully experience this area's natural beauty. The directions are not too difficult to follow, and the payoff is well worth the ride. At 230 miles, Bighorn Mountain Loop covers a variety of different terrains, from the Big Horn Mountain range to the Wyoming plains that make this area so significant. No matter what bike you're riding, you'll surely find a way to make this a thrilling ride for all.

There are a few sharp turns that make the Bighorn Mountain Loop a white-knuckle ride for even the most veteran of riders, but that's certainly not the purpose behind this famous motorcycle journey. Strap in and hold on, because your eyes will begin to wander almost as soon as you begin your journey. Starting on Alternate Route 14, you'll immediately find yourself among farmland as far as the eye can see. While other areas of the country can offer a boring, scenic ride, this type of farmland is a bit different. It's reminiscent of generations past, of how things used to be. This is the Buffalo Bill Reservoir irrigation project at its finest, and this is the very backbone of this nation's farm industry. Eventually, you'll come upon the Bighorn Lake, 40 miles south of Billings, MT. This national recreation area is the site of many tourist gatherings and lodging options, therefore a night spent here is well worth the journey alone. Of course, there is still plenty more of the Bighorn Mountain Loop to be seen, so let's press onward until we cannot go any further.

Anytime you come upon a visitor's center along the Bighorn Mountain Loop, by all means stop. You could learn a little bit about the roads you're traveling, as well as the rich, natural history that the area boasts. There simply aren't territories like this in the United States as often as there once were, and it's synonymous with the present times. Before you reach Burgess Junction and after you've left the lake, you'll come upon a national monument known as the Medicine Wheel. Although little is known about this giant, circular rock formation, it has become one of the area's largest attractions, and for good reason. With mysterious origins present even before recorded history, some think the Medicine Wheel helped ancients with healing and astrological powers.

Turn south onto US-14 at Burgess Junction to continue your Bighorn Mountain Loop trip. You'll soon ride upon lush wilderness trails and Shell Canyon, an absolutely breathtaking collection of plateaus and other large rock formations. If you'd like, you can even stop in Shell Canyon for some educational trips along the area's ridge line.

It may be best to bundle up and bring some heavy clothing with you on this Wyoming motorcycle excursion, because it can get rather cool during the day, even in the dead of summer. River Road makes a great line of jackets to stay warm and protected during your ride, and the Mesa jacket may be perfect choice. After all, you are entering the northern part of the United States with higher elevations, so it's safe to pack clothing that fits this vacation. If you're more comfortable in jeans and a ski jacket, then wear what suits you best.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Daniel Boone National Forest and Beyond

I wrote a lot of quick Facebook posts while on the road, and not one blog post. This is not typical of my travel style. Yet it wasn’t for the lack of spectacular riding, but maybe because of it that I was such a slack off. Our first full day in Kentucky was spent with our friend Lee. The Nada Tunnel, Red River Gorge and the Natural Bridge were on our agenda. The roads in this area are just fabulous! It had me wondering why The Tail of the Dragon gets so much attention. These roads are as twisty if not more so, and definitely longer than the eleven miles that the Dragon boasts. In addition, we had the gorge, the tunnel and the natural bridge all along our route. The Nada tunnel was such a treat, we returned here near the end of our day to go through again from the other side. Then we selected another route out of the forest and found ourselves on some tight roads. While riding these is fun, such long stretches of twists and turns can be fatiguing. Our high tailing back to the motel on the open highway was refreshing after a day in the forest.

At the entrance to Nada Tunnel.

Lee in the chair ahead to the top of the Natural Bridge.

From the top of the Natural Bridge the squeeze to get below.

On our second day we left Lee to his own explorations, and headed for route 89. This route was spectacular also and had very little if any traffic on it. This was a good thing, as the only painted lines on this route were the white ones at the edges. I don’t think they dared even paint any yellow as those taking this route would realize just how narrow the roadway is. We did encounter a family with small children driving this route in an open Kaboda type utility vehicle. We did pass them as the Kaboda was probably going 5 miles an hour. Later we came to a narrow bridge and decided to stop here for lunch. It was the only place we found to pull over. After lunch was over, along came the utility vehicle. We had a fun time chatting with the family and kids, teasing them that they missed lunch, and them teasing us in return. I got a kick out of the local accent and the Grandma telling how the little boy in the crowd had shouted “Mama, there’s motorcycles behind us! Two of them!!!” The family had been out for a day of swimming at the “crick”. That would be creek to the rest of us (grin).

We arrived at Cumberland Falls around three pm and once again rejoined Lee. The falls here are one of the largest falls we’ve seen this year. When I say this, I mean as far as width and power by the amount of water flowing over the falls. The area is commercialized so getting there on your motorcycle isn’t a problem. Be aware that if you are low on gas, the last 12 miles to the site are bare of any amenities including gas stations.

Cumberland Falls

Our next day’s adventure took us to the Cumberland Gap. I wanted to travel up to Pinnacle Overlook. The road on the map anyway, looked challenging, but it’s also a National Park, and well, I need another stamp in my National Parks stamp book. The road wasn’t as treacherous as I imagined it to be. One of the rangers gave me courage beforehand by telling us she used to be on the fire brigade. She would often drive the fire truck down that mountain at night with the lights off so she could better spot the fires. If she could do that we could certainly negotiate the mountain in broad daylight on a couple of motorcycles. Our bonus was having our photo taken in two states at one time! The view from here of three states is awesome and being that it was a clear day was a bonus. We ended our visit to this area ended with a ride through the tunnel and back so we could say we’ve been in Tennessee on this trip. This tunnel is a mile long and nothing like tunnels in Boston! First no one is racing and changing lanes in the middle of things. Second, they have giant fans overhead, and we were not choked by fumes. I’m not a great fan of tunnels with lots of traffic, but this was actually pleasant and fun.

After we left Cumberland Gap, we headed off to Yahoo Falls at the Big South Fork. There was more happening here than this blog can describe. However, I feel that Yahoo Falls left a more lasting impression because of its remoteness, the history of the ancient people that lived in the caves beneath, and for the beauty and solitude of the area. If you are on a motorcycle, it will not be an easy ride. A dual sport would be a better bet. Also, to fully appreciate the falls you have to climb down, and then back up 160 steps. Considering the humidity in Kentucky, don’t go unless you are sure you can survive the climb back up.

The picture doesn't really show the drop.
It's a place you have to go to.

On the fourth day we again connected with Lee and headed to Mammoth Caves. We were a bit confused when we arrived near the entrance. Our watches and the time on our GPS units did not agree. It seemed we traveled across a time zone, so we were there early. That turned out to be a good thing, as the parking lot soon filled along with nearly all the tours. We were fortunate to get tickets for the tour via the “historic entrance” or as our guide quipped should be called “prehistoric entrance.” These caves are the largest in the entire world, and the awestruck feeling I had cannot be fully be described in words. It’s a place you need to visit. At one point, the guide turned out all the lights and as the tour group quieted, you were fully aware of total sensory deprivation. No light, no noise. Spooky. Be aware that if you go, not only is the Historic tour a two mile walk, but there are a total of 440 stairs to contend with. The last 155 up and out through the dome are the most strenuous. (Pictures are allowed in the caves, but not flash. Hence, no really good photos to share.)

We waved goodbye to Lee again as we were now headed off to the historical part of our Kentucky visit. To round up our stay we visited Lincoln’s Birth Place, the old Lincoln Homestead and Perryville Battlefield. This last was a very somber visit. Any visit to a Civil War site leaves me with this feeling because of the reality of so many lives lost. Yet, on some level I probably would not be enjoying this great Nation of ours in the way that I do if not for their sacrifices.

Lincoln's Birth Place.

With the bikes loaded back on the trailer, we spent the next 14 hours of nonstop driving to home. As with all vacations, they seem too short. One spends a great deal of time researching the area, searching for and downloading GPS points and routes, making lists, organizing and expediting. Then it’s suddenly over. Yet despite being a one paycheck family these days, we were able to enjoy all on our budget and didn’t feel deprived. Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy blog. It’s not typically my style but wanted to give as full a review as possible. If you’d like to know more about any of the places we visited, feel free to drop me a line. I’m always happy to answer any questions.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Time for the Big Adventure

It’s been a few weeks since I had a chance to catch up. There is SO much going on. In addition to helping with my friend’s start-up company, his upcoming TV show and my own start-up company it’s been a busy time. I’ve been enjoying every minute of it too. That is not to say we haven’t had time for a few adventures. We are still chasing waterfalls; some of them have been in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. This is an absolutely beautiful part of the country and if you go, be sure to visit Watkins Glen. Here you will climb 800 stairs and see more beautiful waterfalls in one area than you can imagine. While Watkins Glen is certainly a must see, it’s not the only great waterfall in the area.

Andy and I also had a chance to skip over the border into Canada and visit my Grandmother’s childhood home. I walked around the old farm house, spied through the windows as the current owners were away. (Although I was ready to introduce myself and they have met other family members) and even have my photo taken on the porch in a reenactment of a photo I have of my Grandmother in that very spot. The visit affected me more than I expected, and I can feel her presence with me even today even though she’s been gone from this earth for many years.

I’m off for another adventure soon to Kentucky. We are planning a ride through the Daniel Boone National Forest, which includes stops at the Red River Gorge, the Natural Bridge, and Cumberland Falls to name a few spots. Our history buff sides will also visit some historical place and I will be sure to have an update on our adventure so come back and check from time to time. You can also visit my new company website; Sojourn Publications. You can use the contact form at the new website to let me know what you think.

For now, instead of a lot of words describing the last month or so, enjoy the photos below.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Best Motorcycles for Women

by Guest Blogger Kiara Wilson

When it first came about, motorcycling was a typically male-dominated pursuit. Though far from being an accurate statement by today’s standards, I like to think this fact about the conception of our much loved passion is more akin to a comment on the times, rather than on the nature of motorcycling itself. Our collective world history is one that has greatly favored male dominance and superiority, so it was only natural that something as macho-enabling as motorcycling would be kept for some time before being made available to females.

While the majority of the archaic and borderline superstitious reservations that men have had in relation to women motorcyclists over the years are ridiculous, it can in some cases be true that certain bikes- and in turn the riding jackets and biker vests required in order to ride them are unsuitable for women. This opinion is based entirely on the subject of dimensions and science as opposed to capability! Here are some of the bikes best suited for the modern day she-biker.

Kawasaki ER-6n
The original run of this extremely voracious and capable bike was issued with seats at a height of just 785mm, though an even lower ‘factory-fit’ option is available which measures in 30mm lower and 10mm slimmer. As suitable for a hardened road veteran as it is a shaky beginner, the ER-6n is in no way a bike designed solely for women- merely one overly accessible to them.

The market for accessories in relation to this bike is huge, making it a prominent choice for the most hard-to-cater-for female riders.

A single cylinder model for many years until German manufacturing giants BMW decided to revamp it in 2008- adding a second, the F65OGS is a bike with a particularly low chassis suitable for the frame of riders both little and large.

An extremely efficient bike (it is German after all), you’re unlikely to have many problems with the function of this bike, or for that matter- its dimensions.

Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Padded riding jackets at the ready, it’s time to see if we can find any truth in the Ninja’s now legendary reputation as one of the most dangerous road bikes available today.

Though the Ninja is by and large a massively powerful sports-bike, the 250r is a little tamer underneath. Suitable for beginners and those who rank cruise comfort (slightly) above speed and power, the Ninja 250r certainly provides that unmistakable image.

Suzuki Marauder GZ125
A beautifully versatile 125, the marauder is as equally suited for the ranks of the sports riding jackets faithful as it is for the leather clad, biker vest toting outlaw biker wannabes.

With a seat height of 680mm and a weight of 140kg, this bike is overly suitable for female riders.

Victory Hammer S

For the ladies out there who crave the full on ‘road hog’ experience, the Victory Hammer S supplies you with all you could ever need, but with (slightly) less in the way of height (673mm seat) and weight (still a rather hefty 319kg).

Dig out those leather biker vests of yours.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Discoveries and Challenges in our Waterfall Hunt
The Price for the 5.0

It’s going to be hard to encapsulate the adventures we had hunting down a couple of high rated waterfalls on my list. Let me just say that “taking the road less traveled” lead us on one excellent adventure! On this day we decided to head out to Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts for two waterfalls I wanted to experience; Tannery Falls in Savoy and Twin Cascades in Florida. We headed in the general direction avoiding of course, as Andy is prone to do, the most direct path. Along this route we stumbled first upon the homestead of a John Adams (relation to past presidents undermined). This is located on Russell Hill in Ashburnham MA.

We arrived at Black Brook Road for our first waterfall in Savoy, Tannery Falls, to find the road was closed. There was another biker sitting by the stream having a smoke who turned out to be a local. We learned the road was severely damaged by hurricane Sandy, and he described the damage to us. We would have to go around the long way to access the falls. He was heading there himself, but since he had a dirt bike, getting across the barrier was not a problem. As we watched him squeeze by with ease we thought we could do the same. Andy got his bike through, and then he took Blaze as I was unsure of my skill in such loose gravel. He almost got the girl across too! Maybe if I had been pushing instead of filming she might not have suffered a bruise to her left saddle bag. I pushed the second time and we got her across. I turned to look at the barriers we had just conquered, to discover a message scrawled across them. Well, you can see for yourself below. Also watch the video as I traverse Black Brook Road.

Black Brook Road

Click here to see Blaze take a tumble.

This was not the end of our trials. The dirt road to the falls is not maintained and with the recent rains was in an even more deplorable state. In addition it was all downhill riding; no car tracks to follow only a narrow slightly more solid middle and nothing but washed out gravel left and right. I didn’t think I’d make it all the way staying upright, but managed to do so through sheer will. We arrived finally and parked the bikes. Our next effort was the long climb down. At least the trail has built in steps as you zigzag your way to the bottom. We were rewarded with not only Tannery Falls, but Parker Brook falls too. Both are at the bottom, one coming from the left and the other from the right. There are also several falls in the area along the route, so this place is well worth a trip for a number of falls all in one place. Check out the videos I took.

Click here for Parker Brook Falls Video.

After managing the climb out of Savoy Mountain State Forest, we took the longer route back out. Along the way we discovered Susan B. Anthony’s birthplace. See photo. Our next destination was Twin Cascades. This was easier on the bikes, since it was paved all the way, with only dirt parking near the entrance to the hike. This is along a set of railroad tracks at which sits the longest tunnel this side of the Rocky’s . The Hoosac Tunnel is 4.75 miles in length and has a long and interesting history of its own including numerous ghost stories. With 195 deaths in its construction, I’m not surprised.

Hoosac Tunnel

The climb to Twin Cascades is not for the faint of heart. The trail is narrow, muddy and slick and runs along the ravine. All I could think about were those donkeys in the Grand Canyon and wished for the sure footedness they possess. One mishap and down you go. There is some climbing too; one being over a large man-made concrete barrier probably as old as the tunnel. We arrived at the base of the falls where there is another manmade dam. Here I could get video of the falls to the right, but for a better view of the cascades to the left, I had to cross the stream. While it was not deep, I feared slipping on stones and getting my book and phone wet. Andy added a few more stones for me to step across. (See both videos below of the falls left and right.) I did do some hand over hand climbing along the rock face to reach the top of the dam. Once there the water is fairly shallow and I could walk from one side to the other enjoying the falls. While we survived the hand over hand climb up and down, don’t try this unless you have good traction shoes. If you have fear of heights as I do, just don’t look down.

If there is one thing I’m learning, it’s to expect the unexpected. It’s difficult to put into words the feeling of being in the presence of such power, and the wilderness in which you find these falls. The scent of the forest, the damp of the earth, the babble of a brook or the thunder of the water leave one breathless not only at the majesty but from the exertion itself. But every step is well worth it!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Motorcycling with Children

Ever since our grandson Aiden was able to walk, his grandfather has been talking about taking him on a motorcycle ride. His grandmother on the other hand had other things to say about it, not to mention that the child has a set of parents with their own views on the topic to consider. Yet, year after year, Papo and Aiden would inspect the motorcycles and even sit atop the pillion seat to test it out. I am not keen about children riding on motorcycles. They are our precious links to the future and exposing them to unnecessary risk is not something I take lightly. Each year as Aiden grew, I preached on the conditions that would have to be met before I would consider the idea of him riding pillion. Here are a few of my insistences:
• No child younger than 8 years old should ever be a passenger on a motorcycle.
• The child’s feet must be able to reach and rest comfortable on the pegs.
• Despite age and height requirement, the child must possess a level of maturity that allows for following instructions.

The day arrived when these conditions became evident. With permission of his father Aiden and Papo would get their long awaited motorcycle adventure. Yet not until I had a serious conversation with Aiden did I bow to the request of having a child along for an afternoon ride. These are the items I ticked off for Aiden.
• First we sat on our haunches while I pointed out the muffler. These, I told Aiden, are the “pipes” he had to avoid or risk serious burn. While there, I then pointed out the pegs, where he should keep his feet at all times.
• Next we sat on the pillion. Here I instructed him to “hug” Papo around the waist, put his hands on Papo’s waist, or he could hold the strap on the seat. Whichever of these made him comfortable was OK.
• Next, I told him that whenever we stopped someplace, he must wait until Papo says “OK” before he gets off or on. We talked about balance and the stability of the motorcycle.

Aiden listened well. You have to know the child before you can reliably be sure they understand. I was very serious and he appeared to receive the message of importance I wanted to deliver. Next came riding gear. The laws are different in every state so be sure to check on what is required. I have my own requirements that cover any law on the books. A helmet is mandatory! We had to do the best we could for the rest. One of my old leather jackets was too big, so we did what we could to make sure no skin was exposed. We put gloves on the hands, jacket, long pants, and shoes. He did come to us with a pair of boots, but the laces were so long, that I envisioned a horrible scenario should they get caught in the spokes or what have you.

With all my conditions met we departed, Papo ahead and me behind watching like a hawk. Aiden rode the pillion like a pro! He obeyed all of my instructions. I felt pride and only a few twinges of fear at risking the life of my daughter’s only child on a motorcycle. Our first stop was ten miles out at Trap Falls in Ashby Massachusetts. This is a family friendly place and Aiden had a ball! He challenged himself leaping from stone to stone across the brook. There is really no danger as the water is ankle deep and any spot I said no too, he obediently avoided.

Off we went again, on a longer loop home. The trick with children is reading the body language. Aiden did great for a total of 60 miles which included stops. At one light when I noticed a bit of flushing of cheeks, and not so wide eyes, I knew it was enough. Children can be lulled to sleep riding in cars, and this can happen on motorcycles too. It was time for home. Not only was our outing a success, but we were fortunate that with all the graduation parties on this June day, most people were off the road, giving us open byways with little traffic. As for Aiden and Papo they forged a new bond experiencing the world together as only motorcyclists can.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Easy to Moderate

This weekend took us to two new waterfalls on our list of 400 we want to visit in the New England Area. One was classified as easy (in terms of hiking time) and the other moderate. I’m not familiar from where the classifications are derived. Is there a scale published by the AMC? In any event, there should be a scale within a scale; easy 1 for no effort at all, to easy 5 for “easy” but a bit of scrambling. This is what came to mind after we visited Pollards Mills (easy 1) and Welton Falls (moderate 3) on Sunday. At Pollards Mills we relaxed a short distance from the Motorcycles and enjoyed a picnic lunch by the falls. For Welton Falls, we had a moderately arduous trek through the woods and nearly gave up the search. While the trail is well maintained by the AMC, the path is prolific with roots easily stumbled upon, steep ups and downs on slippery pine needles, and there is a moderately harrowing leaping from stone to stone across fast moving water to connect with the trail on the other side.

Of the two, it is hard to say which is better. While Pollards Mills Falls themselves are rated a 3 on a scale of 5 being the best, and Welton Falls is rated a 4, there is much more going on in these two places that rating the falls alone can tell you. At Pollards Mills, the South Branch of the Sugar River that carves the granite walls of this place show that no artist can create the beauty that the powers of nature can. The walls on either side tell of how this river can rage at high water, leaving one side with smooth slabs of granite, while the other shows layers upon layer of rock, shaded even at high noon, with mosses and even trees growing from the crevices.
Welton Falls on the other hand is located within the Welton Falls State Forest, and the trail head to the falls starts at the AMC Cardigan Lodge. This should have been our first clue to the nature of this hike. With Mount Cardigan looming above us we start at the trail head with a trail board posted with warnings, one being to watch out for bear. A short distance onto the pathway there are a few AMC camping spots complete with bear bins to lock your food into. As we progress on the trail, the trees become denser, the trail prolific with toe stubbing roots. Along the trail we hike up, and then we hike down. We have to call into service walking sticks to help us maintain our balance. They come in handy on the down slopes, and for pulling us up the next grade. There are so many marvelous treasures on this hike, that the damp skivvies I had from the excursion was well worth it.

Aside from the many simple wonders of nature, are the unexpected trail twists we didn’t anticipate. The first is coming to what we thought was the end of the blazed trail, only to discover the blaze on a tree across the Fowler River. This is where our walking sticks came in handy as we leaped from stone to stone across the fast moving waters to the other side. The next hill climb began, and here near the falls the trail divides left and right. I took the left fork first, which leads to a granite ledge with a serious overhang. I eased my way along the ledge as far as I dared, and could see the first of the plunges below. Getting a photo however filled me with vertigo, so there isn’t much I have to show. What I have is the awesome feeling of standing with nothing more than a wire cable keeping me from doom. The cable here looked more a cautionary device than a safety one.
We backed away from this ledge and took the right fork around to the other side. Here is where the magnificent of this place opens up. The 30 foot drop of these falls in the hard to reach section of the State Forest keeps it protected from the ruins of mankind. The water leaps over the edge of this granite divide in a roar that lets you know Mother Nature is the real boss.
As riding destinations; Pollards Mills is certainly easily doable. Welton Falls on the other hand can only be reached by dirt roads. If you are not comfortable navigating dirt roads you will need to visit Welton Falls by car, but you must visit. If you are a dual sport rider, make this your next destination! As for bear, we did encounter one, but only as she raced across our path while atop the motorcycles.

Special thanks to Marty, Tim and John whom we met at Pollards Mills for their friendly conversation about the history of Pollards Mills and for pointing us to Dale, the owner of the property. While Dale was not about, John was just arriving home and happily agreed to show us a couple of old photos of the mills that used to stand along this stretch of the South branch of Sugar River.

Marty and Tim

Photos from Dale's personal collection.

Pollards Mills Falls

Welton Falls