If you’re going to hit the road on your 169 town tour, kicking things off with a trip to Connecticut’s highest spot, you might want to consider what is required to get you to that spot. Up in the most northwesterly corner, hiking boots would be nice. A map or compass might help. Maybe bringing some snacks to tide you over. Or developing an understanding of exactly how far three miles really is. But if you’re Elle and Emme, you know these things are totally superfluous when you can show up out of shape in a pair of running sneakers, setting aside an hour or so for you journey and carrying only your trusty TomTom (set to Irish accent, named Aonghus, to make these lasses feel right at home).
Since we were traveling to the northwest corner for our rugged, outdoorsy adventure, it seemed appropriate to travel in Emme’s far, an SUV. Emme, of course, has no understanding of Connecticut roads or geography, so she was shocked to learn that the most direct way to Salisbury is on Route 44. (Fun fact: Emme grew up on Route 44… in Massachusetts! Whoa! Small world!) But, alas, it is – and so began the first misconception. On the map, Salisbury looks like a 35 minute ride. Try one hour from the greater Hartford area, even longer when you slow to 8 miles an hour traversing the mountainside up Mount Riga Road. Nothing beat the overgrown chihuaha-pomeranian mix that ran out in the middle of the road as we turned off the pavement onto the gravel – and then ran promptly under our car. Shockingly, the dog is still alive. Actually, someone after us totally could have run him over, so I shouldn’t say that. But he survived us, so I consider that an accomplishment for us all.
Anyways, we started out at the Mass-Conn border – nothing like being in two places at once!
After one false start, we got on the right trail and into our groove. That is, until our groove became way more vertical than we’d expected. What’s with all the rocks, man?
Not having any clue as to how far a three mile hike actually feels, every time we scampered up some rocks we assumed that THIS was the top. To be honest, we’re not even entirely sure was was and wasn’t Connecticut.
But, we made it to the top of Connecticut, both vertically and north-south.
- 2,380 feet
When we finally reached our secondary destination, we were, as bloggers before us have pointed out, a bit underwhelmed. MANYCT is totally not as exciting as we thought it would be. In fact, as you’ll see in our photos, and we confirmed later on the internets, MANYCT is only marked as MA-NY. So, what about us poor Connecticutians?
Well, newsflash, 19th and 20th century cartographers and spot-markers: you were totally wrong. According to Aonghus, the real MANYCT border was about 20 feet from where you lugged that big piece of engraved rock. So there.
By the time we descended from the peak of Mount Frissell it was about 4:30 and we were about as hungry as you can imagine two girls would be after 4 hours of scrambling up and down rocks (some of them up and then down, and then up and then back down again). We drove to the center of town in search of some food, but, as you can imagine, Salisbury is not exactly a-jumpin’ on a Sunday evening. Further complicating our search was our general disheveledness – we weren’t exactly dressed for fancy Litchfield County dining in hoodies and track pants. What would Meryl Streep say if she ran into two bruised, sweaty, mud covered girls at The Boathouse Restaurant? She’d probably say “Get your muddy selves out of the way so me and my 15 Oscar nominations can get through.” And who wants that sort of embarassment? Not us. We wound up at The County Bistro where we each enjoyed a Tuscan panini and Elle sampled the potato leek soup with Italian sausage.
After an early dinner we decided to hunt down a coffee or dessert place. The Roast Coffeehouse was, unfortunately, closed, so we headed down the street and to the ChaiWalla tearoom. Emme went for bread pudding and the house Chai, while Elle opted for strawberry iced tea and some truly fabulous chai ice cream. ChaiWalla is really a must if you’re in Salisbury. We’re sure Meryl would back us up on this.
Talk to Someone
It turns out that the OneSixNine girls aren’t super talkative. Who knew?! Actually, everywhere we went was either cursed with too-busy crowds or absolutely no people, making it a smidge difficult to really kick off a conversation.
But as we were hiking, we came across a couple of hippies who were all ‘Away We Go’ed out, complete with infant strapped to dad in a Baby Bjorn, so maybe Mount Frissell isn’t as strenuous as we claim. But we also saw a few guys who we deemed ‘Master Hikers’ based on the fact that they knew where they were going (and were kind enough to help us on our way), so their hiking gear makes me feel like perhaps it was as intense as we remember. Oh, and we had our order taken by a very pleasant, but very busy, waiter at ChaiWalla. We promise, next time we’ll do way better at talking to people. We were just a little dirty and gross this time, making people way less likely to approach us.
Lessons in Connecticuting.
What did we learn from all of this?
- Driving around the Northwest Corner in the fall will make Emme exclaim, “I totally want to live here!” every 5 minutes
- Hikers should wear hiking boots
- We should have used Angus wayyyy earlier than we did
- We could totally be master hikers
- Elle is ‘too old for this s**t’
Despite the threatening signage, Emme gives this adventure 5 stars for 268 years (it was incorporated in October!) of fun.