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Friday, August 29, 2014

Burger Hill Sunset(Hudson Valley)

An absolutely gorgeous Friday evening was setting up, so I drove down to Burger Hill Park just outside of Rhineback to watch the sunset.  A popular spot to catch the sunset, I'd been waiting for the right conditions and tonight was nearly perfect.  There is no marked trail, but an obvious wide path heads through open fields directly up to the top of the hill.
 Trucks and farm equipment near the foot of the hill.
 Looking up the wide path at a nice older couple in front of me.
 About 15 minutes prior to sunset the suns rays still spilling across the field.
 Active hay fields.
 Shadows and the suns last rays creeping in.
 Ascending the hill.
 The trail climbs for .4 of a mile through beautiful open fields, with views all around you.
 As you climb the hill, views west to the Catskills unfold.
A panorama from about 3/4 of the way up Burger Hill.
 Looking back over the beautiful landscape of rural Rhineback.
 Relaxing at the top of Burger Hill.
 A lovely older couple enjoyed the views from the top with me. 
 Looking north from the top of the hill.
 The setting sun beyond the northern Catskills.
 Rural Dutchess County.
 Nearby homes and yards.
 The radiant sky and warm evening temperatures made for a perfect setting.
 The pink glow made for a magical feel.
 Looking back down the fields.
 The moon above the sunset.
 The moon.
 A last look to the west as we all headed back down the hill.
This is one of those places that you should consider yourself lucky to visit.  Especially at sunset.  Wow.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hilltop Orchards(Berkshires)

With autumn fast approaching and prime apple picking season nearly upon us, we headed over to Hilltop Orchards in rural Richmond, Massachusetts today to visit the farm store and winery as well as walk the beautiful orchards.
The bucolic orchards are located up a hillside off of Route 295 just past the New York state line.
 A row of Adirondack chairs greet you as upon arrival just steps away from the farm store and winery's front doors.  We went for a walk first but would return to visit here.
 A pleasant walk through rows upon rows of apples awaits you, should you want to explore the fields.
 Many varieties of apples are grown here, some flourishing on the trees while others lay on the ground below.
 Ripe red apples litter the ground below this tree.
 As we walked on, the rows of trees continue gradually uphill.
 Healthy young apples and blue skies.
 Just past the last row of trees, the open fields climb gradually until you reach a picnic table.  This makes for a great spot to picnic and enjoy the beautiful southern views above the entire orchards.
  Tabletop views.
 Rolling peaks of the southern Berkshires.
 Blue skies and puffy cumulous clouds made for a gorgeous late afternoon.
 John Deere.
 Peaceful setting.
 John Deere rolling on.
Low humidity and beautiful blue skies-just what I like to see.
 Met a little buddy along the way.
 Fresh.
 Abundant apples surround this tree.
 A lone birdhouse.
 There is much to see once you are back to the farm store and winery.  Barrels of hard pressed Johnny Mash hard cider.
 Wine tasting is very popular here at the winery.
 There are many tasty fresh foods available including delicious cider donuts.
 A great spot to stop and relax before hitting the road.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary(Berkshires)

Visited Mass Audubon's 262 acre Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in Pittsfield, Mass today.  Due to high levels of humidity, the chance of thunderstorms, and wanting an easier walk I chose this location.  Although located only a mile away(as the crow flies) from Pittsfield's city center, the Sanctuary seems worlds away.  Trails are all level and easy walking through wetlands and woods.
A large parking lot and informational kiosks greet you as you arrive.  You will then proceed down an old carriage road(this was formerly a private estate) towards West Pond.  Views across the pond are excellent with the hills of October Mountain State Forest forming the backdrop.
 Picturesque West Pond is usually teeming with wildlife.
Trails follow the shores of West Pond leading towards a footbridge at the outlet.  Just beyond the bridge is supposed to be the Sacred Way Trail, but it seemed to be mostly overgrown, muddy and extremely weedy so I did not proceed further.
 Pretty wildflowers along the trail.
 The weeds and plant growth are thick along the shoreline, but there are a couple of chances to get right down to the water's edge.
 Goldenrod, a staple of late summer, was growing everywhere.
Circling around on the Carriage Trail provides different glimpses of West Pond.
 The walking was easy on a humid day, but the bugs were relentless.  Here is the Carriage Road as it wanders through the Sanctuary.
Found this little critter on accident by nearly steeping on him.  He didn't seem overly concerned as he poked around in the weeds only a few feet away.
 A boardwalk leads through a swampy area on its way towards the Wildlife Observation Building.
 The Wildlife Observation Building acts as a blind and provides a great chance to watch wildlife in a large wetland environment.
Here is a view out from inside the building.
 There are plenty of small vernal ponds and large puddles throughout the Sanctuary.  Here are some early autumn leaves collecting on still water.
 Almost looks like an oil painting.
 The Carriage Trail finally comes to an end at peaceful Sackett Brook. 
 A view downstream as the brook makes its way to the Housatonic River.
 In 2013, the dam at Sackett Brook was removed, returning the brook to its more natural state.
 I've noticed a lot of leaves changing color this past week.  Seems very early this year.
 Continued along Wolf Pine Trail which passes through an evergreen forest.  Though this cluster of tree(s) was very interesting.
 Wolf Pine Trail.
 As I neared West Pond again, the skies began to clear and with the increased sun-came increased humidity again.  A large meadow just before West Pond.
 A very easy, quiet stroll on a warm summer day.