We are the Lords of Dogtown! At least for one day…

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Saturday, 07-Dec-13

I’ve wanted to go hiking for a while… so I chatted with Daniel and Terese, we looked at a few places, and settled in on staying close to home – There was a lot of random stuff to get done this weekend, so the Loj or CT was out of the picture.  Instead, we aimed for Gloucester, a small park on the remains of a small colonial village called Dogtown.  It had been abandoned due to the poor soil and rocky land after the war of 1812, though a philanthropist had commissioned a team of stonecutters to carve large phrases into a series of boulders along some of the trails.  These were intended to be inspirational to the homeless that had a tendency to hang around the abandoned town… whether it worked or not is debatable, though the fact remains that there isn’t anyone (that we saw) living there now…

  • Wake up when Terese’s outside.  Run in a bathrobe to let her in before Ringo freaks out.  I do not succeed… though everything works out without much difficulty.
  • Pack up lunch and gear and everything, choose a restaurant that we’ll meet Daniel at, and head to Gloucester… in the Mustang, with the top down, of course.  I mean… it’s only BARELY below freezing out, why would I keep the top up?  Don’t be silly.
  • We meet Daniel, and have breakfast at a small diner called Georges.  It’s pretty well recommended online, and I love the feel of it.  Definitely a small-town diner in a small town.  We’re not in Gloucester proper yet, by a long shot, so it’s still nice and quiet.
  • I have far too many breakfast.  I tried the “Deans Special”, which is almost a challenge for the Diner.  It’s four pancakes, four eggs, five bacon, and Hash Browns.  I expected small pancakes… but nope.  These cover a full-size American plate.  They are massive – as of writing this a week afterward, I still have some leftovers in my fridge.  It’s nuts.
  • After paying and packing up the leftovers, we head into Dogtown.  Top down again, of course.
    • hiking and exploring happens – the terrain is beautiful, very New England.  Small trees, scrub brush, and a ton of low stone walls crisscrossing the landscape.  The trails are quite well marked though, which is really nice, and the weather is perfect for hiking.
    • The goal here today was to do some hiking, but also to climb a bit.  Daniel had his Crash Pad, so we kept a lookout for any boulders that could be climbed.
    • As we loop around the trails and pass a pond / lake (that would be AMAZING for Kayaking, btw) we do a short bit of climbing and a bit of photography fun.
    • On the map, there’s a large note talking about a communications tower – we finally find it, and use it to figure out exactly where we are.  We’re not exactly where we intended to be, but thankfully this turnaround brought us to a far end of the park – giving us a very nice walk back toward the cars that would bring us past nearly all of the carved boulders.
    • Find our first engraving, then do some bouldering on a large house-sized boulder.  It’s ok climbing, but nothing particularly interesting.  Cold, but acceptably so.  We play a bit, then get a move on toward the next few targets…
    • Start chasing engravings!  There are 24 of them in total, though only 18 or so are on the main trail.  Most are short, some even a single word.  Though there is one boulder that we found that had “When work stops, values decrease” written on it.  Yeah… these engravings definitely are aiming a message… of Capitalism!
    • We find a boulder with “Spiritual Power” carved on it, and do a large bit of climbing.  This is by far the best climbing of the day – the carved boulder is huge, with a large crack splitting it in half.  Not so large that you can fit a full fist into it, but enough for some very fun hand-jams.  Daniel and I climb the crack, and I actually make an ascent using nothing but the engraving.
    • Starting to get dark, so move it on and head back to the cars right-off.
  • We make the hike back out, relaxing and chatting as we go.  As per the usual, we get back to the cars right as the sun sets behind the trees.
  • Head home, and make a dinner of a ton of random little things… apples and cheese, shrimp, peaches, mead, etc…  It’s good, and kind of nice to have a gnoshing dinner, instead of a single large course.
  • Terese and I watch Gladiator, before crashing for the night after a very successfully adventurous day.

Link to a really good guide for Dogtown:

http://www.thedacrons.com/eric/dogtown/visiting_dogtown_gloucester.php

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