Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

A Porcupine and I Surprise Each Other

Friday  And Saturday                                Most Recent Posts:
August 26 & 27, 2016                             Finally – Vermont’s Hamilton Falls and Overlook Rocks
Winhall Brook Campground                        A Fantastic Bookshop and a Waterfall Bust
South Londonderry, Vermont



It’s Friday afternoon and  I want to hike to Angel Falls again one more time before we leave Winhall Brook.  I decide to bike down to the trail and cut the hike shorter to have more time at the falls.   Because it is Friday the campground is more full.  Folks must live close by or have taken off a little early from work to be here by 3:30.





I lock my bike to a tree at the end corner of the trail where it meets the road.



The trail is rooty, rocky and uphill just like last time.




Eventually the path widens and gets back along the rive though higher up.  This is not flat and right next to the river like the West River Trail though given its width I suspect it must have been some sort of road at one point.



There are some good views through the trees.



Lucky for me, all of the campers must be setting up.  I have the falls all to myself for my entire visit.  In fact, I see no one coming or going on my entire hike/bike.  Feels wonderful to have the whole place to myself.



I hang out taking pictures of the falls and enjoying its music.  It suffers from the drought but is wonderful just the same.



I’m not a cold water swimmer but I do have my feet in the water most of the time I’m here.





I spend over 90 minutes here and take this one final picture before leaving.  This is just such a wonderful spot and so close to our campsite.  I’m thrilled to have had it to myself for such a long time.


Not only do I really love the falls but I like the trail coming to and from them as well.




On the way back, in honor of David who is back at the rig doing the never ending “medical stuff” that is required for him to be on the road with his illness, I have some blackberries. I’d bring him some if I had a container to put them in. But I’ve come with nothing but water.



My bike is waiting for me at the junction and I start on back toward home.



I am actually looking at the river on my right while peddling along and for some reason I look up at the road. farther in front of me.   Way down there is a dark spot.  If it is a rock, it is pretty big and I hadn’t seen anything like that on my way here.

I can’t tell what it is so I stop the bike which by now is closer to it.  Now I can clearly see it is moving in my direction.  I get out my camera to take a picture.




It’s a Porcupine!!

We stop and stare at each other for a long time.  Neither of us moves.  These pictures are taken with my zoom lens.



After a while and lots of pictures  I decide to try riding by him moving WAY over to the side where he is not which is the river side.  As I start to move he does too and moves toward the side where I’m headed.  I make a quick turn to the left and get over by the rock side.  As I go by he raises his “tail” and it spreads out almost into a flower. He looks like a turkey with quills from the rear.  It is really fantastic looking, beautiful really,  but my intuition tells me not to stop for a picture.

I am so excited. I’ve seen lots of possums and groundhogs and even a hedgehog in England but this is my first live wild porcupine sighting. When I get back home I look on line for information about the Porcupine. Here’s some of what I find.



A porcupine is a rodent.  It has hairless soles on its feet that help it climb trees. It spends much of its time in trees. So watch out overhead. It is a very vocal animal and has a wide-variety of calls including moans, grunts, coughs, wails, whines, shrieks and tooth clicking.

It may have as many as 30,000 quills.  The quills are hairs with barbed tips on the end.  They are solid at the tip and the base and hollow for most of the shaft.  It has no quills on its stomach.  The longest quills, up to 5” long,  are on its rump and the shortest, about 1/2”,  on its cheeks.

Amazingly it is a good swimmer. Its hollow quills help keep it afloat. Wish I could have hung around to see if he was going down to the river to swim across. 



The porcupine uses its quills for defense obviously but it doesn’t shoot quills.  When a predator approaches, the porcupine will turn its back, raise the quills and lash out at the threat with its tail.  The quills detatch easily.  The slightest touch can detatch dozens of quills.  If the porcupine hits an animal with its quills, the quills become embedded in the animal. Body heat makes the barbs expand and they become even more deeply embedded in the animal's skin.  The barbs on the end make them difficult to remove.  Pretty sure he was making preparations as I headed by.  Glad I peddled as fast as I could as far away as I could.

Lucky for the porcupine, his quills grow back just like hair.  Unluckily for the porcupine because he’s a fairly large animal for tree climbing he falls out of trees regularly and then sticks himself with his own quills.  Lucky for the porcupine and his enemies each quill has a greasy coating that contains antibiotic material which protects the porcupine from developing infections when he accidentally sticks himself.  Lucky for me I got to see him but not up tooo close.

Wonder who pulls his quills out for him?   Not me that’s for sure.





This morning is our last visit to the Londonderry Farmer’s market.  This market is one of the finest small markets  I’ve seen anywhere and it’s one of the reasons we keep coming back to Winhall Brook, one among many reasons.

How about the scurvy ad!  “Fight Scurvy Drink Lemonade”.


If there were an award for “best display of carrots for sale”, this would win it.




David’s on his way to stock up on Veggies at the Clear Brook Farm booth.



He’s inspecting his choices.



They are many.



Subjecting the melon to a more serious test.



Of course there are two or three vendors selling maple syrup.  We purchased ours last week.



Clear Brook Farm  is at the far end of the market which is bordered by the West River.  It’s everywhere.



A more scenic location for a farmer’s market I have never seen.  This is the view from the market’s far end.



When we arrive back at the campground to begin packing up for our move tomorrow, one of the women from the ranger station is cleaning up after a black bear who tried to rip off the dumpster lid despite the bear bar in an effort to get to the cheesy yellow popcorn that someone didn’t want to eat. 


After two wonderful weeks here at Winhall Brook, tomorrow we are on our way to the Delaware Water Gap, a place we’ve never been.  We’re really excited!

Finally - Vermont’s Hamilton Falls and Overlook Rocks

Wednesday August 24, 2016                     Most Recent Posts:
Winhall Brook Campground                          Accident on the Appalachian Trail
South Londonderry, VT                                No Idea Where We are Headed – 2 Hikes in Vermont


Thanks To You
Hoping this one Posts

I’ve completely rewritten this post which was the one that got a 404 error for a week.  I did it from the beginning all by hand, no cut and past.  So this is twice I’ve prepared this one.  Sheesh!!   Fingers crossed it posts.  Thank you all SO much for all the comments and suggestions during the nearly week when things weren’t going well.  To see them pop up throughout the days was the bright spot that kept me from giving up on it all.

Thanks to You,
About That Fall

Also, in response to all your wonderful comments on my earlier post about my fall on the AT (link above), I was only a mile off of Route 11 along the trail when it happened.  It was clear to me once I did an assessment that nothing was broken which is why I continued on and even went up the Spruce Creek Trail where I had to climb up.  This is only the 3rd time in the past 25 years that I’ve fallen so it’s a very rare event.  If I were not willing to hike alone unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to do much hiking so it is a risk I am willing to take for the pleasure it gives me.

I do so appreciate all your comments of concern.  It is amazing to have people I’ve never met worry about me.  This post is about the very next day.  My injuries looked a lot worse than they were. Just bruises, no breaks, nothing torn.  As someone said to me, I guess I’m just bouncy.  The body is amazing.  


Now….. as I’ve been trying to say for a week now -



Today we go to check out nearby Jamaica State Park and to hike up to Hamilton Falls.   This is the falls that you can hike to from Winhall Brook by taking the West River trail past Angel Falls as I did in this post.    If you have read the post about Angel Falls and beyond you will remember that I hiked up to the top of the dam but to go on to Hamilton Falls nwould have added another 5 miles to my 10 mile hike.  Too late in the day for that.

But today we are going to Hamilton Falls just from the other closer direction starting in Jamaica State Park.  It too is in the Ball Mountain Recreation area. CUT AND PAST STARTS HERE It really is amazing how large the recreation area is.   You can walk between the two state parks if you have the time and inclination. The parks are about 9 miles apart by roads VT 100 and VT 30. The West River Trail connects the two. In the same post about Angel Falls, I talked about the 36 mile West River Trail built on an old rail bed.  It has very interesting history.

The trail here is 6.8 miles, goes off from the day use area of the park and along the river just as the ones we took earlier to Angel Falls and to South Londonderry. As you can see from the picture above, the trail is high above the river. Because it is an old rail bed, it is mostly flat with a gradual rise. Very easy hiking with wonderful rocks on the side opposite the river.



There are some very interesting picnic tables along the way but it’s too early for lunch just yet. This particular spot is an overlook for “the dumplings” a group of large boulder glacial erratics that in more abundant water times are used as a play place for white water boaters.  I’m not a white water kayaker but it sure would be fun to sit here and watch them.






I take a rather steep path down to the see these “dumplings” close up. David goes on toward the falls. I’ll catch him.




The water is pretty cool for a swim today I think, but I’ll bet this is a fun place to play on a hot summer’s day if there is such a thing in Vermont.




Back on the trail I find more mushrooms of course and one of the folks who apparently knows which ones are good to eat.









He’s so much fun to watch and as long as I don’t move, he goes on about his business filling his cheecks with shrooms. From the size of him, I’d say he’ll be well prepared for winter.



Caught him with his mouth open


About 2 miles along the West River Trail and just before Cobb Creek, which is the source of the falls, the West River Trail continues straight and the Hamilton Falls Trail goes off to the right at a steep climb. I’m told this trail was an old Wagon and truck road but I sure don’t see how they could do this rocky climb.



Along the way and through the trees on the right I can see cascades.






As I near the falls, the trail becomes less rocky and wider though still fairly steep. I haven’t caught up with David yet. He must really be hoofing it which he doesn’t usually do up hill.




When I reach the trail to the base of the falls it is so steep they have stairs.  I still haven’t caught up with him.




Down I go where I find several people at the base of the falls but none of them is David.





Thinking maybe he has gone up to the top of the falls first, I climb back up the steps from the bottom of the falls to the wagon trail and take it on to the top.

Here I find a sign in huge letters telling me these falls are one of the deadliest in the state, at least in terms of fatalities. Scary sign but no David.

I do learn later that on the day after our hike to Hamilton Falls, a 17 year old boy fell 100 feet to his death from the area beyond the sign. He was from New York and on vacation with his family who were with him. Very sad indeed. I’m not sure how any of them could have ignored this huge sign.  His death makes number 12 here.



At the top I try calling him on my cell phone which has a weak signal but it won’t work.  As I walk back down to the foot of the falls, I am starting to worry.  I’m using my camera zoom lens to look down over the trail edge toward the bottom of the falls when I see David’s red shirt through the trees.

It turns out that he just got here. How did I pass him and not see him especially in that red shirt? I have no idea. We try to figure out where he got far enough off the trail that I would have missed him. We never do figure it out.

But here we both are at what is described as the most impressive waterfall in the state. Cobb Brook, after slowly flowing through fairly level terrain, drops 125 feet. After dropping down a 15' slide into a pothole, the stream slides down a long and steep sloping ledge of schist, then shoots into a large hollowed pocket, the edge of which forms the lip of the final 30' drop.

We are here late in the summer during a drought year so we’ll have to imagine its greater flow.



Seems like a great spot for lunch.


You really can’t see the three pools of the falls from down here so after watching a few others climb up through the woods on the right side, I climb up to take a look.




David stays down and checks out the erratics at the base and on down the creek.





I am up on the right hand side of the rocks forming the falls but I am on the ground beside them. From here, I can see the little dots of people down below, yellow and red in the center opening. They look very far away.



I can see the pools by leaning up onto the rock like wall that is the side of the falls but I would have to get up on top to get pictures of them. Even though I know nothing of the tragedy to come, I agree with the sign at the top. I’m not stepping on the rocks. But from my safe spot, I can get this shot of the water falling over. It’s loud and lovely.



Coming back down through the woods I see that some brave women have donned their bikinis and are swimming in the bottom of the 3 pools. After seeing the pools, the bottom one is the only one that seems safe to me too. Bet that water is mighty cold.



Time to head back.  We take the steps up to the wagon trail and hike back down to the West River Trail.



Sights along the way down.






David prefers hiking in this direction given the steepness of the trail

   I love the works of art all along the trail. 






We are back on the West River Trail with the river now on our right when I see the cut off for the Overlook Trail.

David says he’ll have enough with 6.8 miles but I’m feeling fine despite yesterday’s fall and think I’ll hike up and take a look.

I start off up the hill and watch him head on down toward the car. It’s a narrow trail and steep but looks fine at the beginning.







Only a little further on the trail becomes rough, steep and apparently is not used much. It’s only because of the blue painted blazes on the trees at intervals that I am able to make it to the top. The trail is not apparent at many points like this one.




But ultimately the ridge and the view are in sight.



I am looking out from the summit of Little Ball Mountain.  What a view this must be in the fall with all the glorious color.



I wander around on the top for a while following what start out as paths but go no where.
Still it is beautiful up here and I spend not as long as I’d like just breathing in the beauty up here.   Someone is waiting for me though so I have to be on my way.








Heading down, I see from the signs there are two choices. The way I came up is the blue blaze. This sign calls it “To the Railroad Trail”. The other sign says “To the Campground.” If David were not waiting for me on the “Railroad Trail”  I would definitely go down to the campground and walk back to the day use area. But……I guess that’s for another day.



Sure am glad there is a blaze. I’m figuring the campground trail must be more used and hopefully easier to follow. Somehow I can’t see a family with small children hiking this one.




More lovely sights along the way.





I’m nearing 9 miles when I get back down to the river and the main trail.



My driver is waiting.  I try not to scare him when I get in to the car.



We’ve hiked another lovely trail along the West River to falls and overlooks.

Great day in Vermont!!