This Halloween, Yang and I treated ourselves to a hike in the cold autumn air at Colbrook Reservoir Park. Once a small town was on this land, but the river was damned to create a reservoir here that flooded it out. Relax, they moved the people out first. Appropriately for the day, when the water is low in times of drought, there’s a ghost to be seen. More on that later. However, as you can see in this picture, though the colors might not have been flamingly spectacular, they were still pretty.
In one direction, you can head toward the dam, which you can see here.
We went the opposite way, down the old highway that is often covered when the reservoir is not in drought mode. The two-lane highway makes for a pretty smooth walk and is in surprisingly good condition for something that’s been submerged off and on over forty or so years. You can see from this photo that the water level is waaaay down. The boat launch is yards from the water and the water looks to be extremely shallow.
There are lots of interesting rock formations and trees on either side of the road. There’s also supposed to be lots of wildlife around. We were fortunate enough to see an American Kestrel, a bird I haven’t seen too much of lately. The blue feathers on its back are gorgeous, especially when they contrast with the rusty red of its sides. I was surprised not to see much in the way of waterfowl- only a mallard powering along the water. You’d think there’d be plenty taking a rest stop on their migration route-whichever way they were going. Perhaps the water was too shallow to provide much of a traveler’s buffet. We didn’t see any beavers, but we did see the evidence of them.
There was also some nice views of the autumn colors in the hills surrounding the valley through which we walked .
If you click on this picture and look carefully, you can see the remains of old stone walls that marked the property boundaries of the people who had lived here
I love this tree!
We came to an old bridge over a run-off into the river and could see further upstream the remnants of another bridge that had once led into the town. Looking down into the river and valley from the old highway, I couldn’t help thinking of what a beautiful setting this place was in which to live, with the hills and forest flanking you on one side, the small but swift river separating you from the highway, and the hills of rock and trees rising on the other. And then there was that clear blue sky! Greenly gorgeous in summer, brilliantly flaming in fall, and Christmas-card white in winter. It must have been hard to leave such a beautiful place behind. Of course, that’s just my imagination running fanciful and feeling.
Now, I promised to tell you about the “ghost” of the reservoir. Well, it’s neither human nor animal, but metal. “Huh?” you say? The phantom is known as the Ghost Bridge. When the reservoir is not in drought, the bridge is submerged. However, in seasons where there’s a dearth of water, like this year, the water recedes enough for you to see a metal bridge that crosses from one bank to the other of the old river bed into the little settlement that had been there. This year, we were in luck! Behold some neat shots that I got. You can tell by looking at the length of the bridge that the river must have been much narrower, originally-unless cars back then had aqualungs as standard equipment. Some other people we talked to that day (from over six feet away and masked) told us that someone had placed pumpkins on the boulders on our side of the bridge entrance. If you click on the first picture and look carefully, you can see an orange object. If you click on the second picture, you can see those boundary-marking stone walls. Boo!
As beautiful an embodiment of fall as this day was, it also presaged winter. Not only was the weather brisk, but what I consider one of the first signs of winter appeared there: hundreds of slate-colored juncos! I love their slate blue coloring, with the white flash in their tails when they fly off and make a sound like little castanets!
Here are a few more shots of the foliage and rocky landscape.