Lost on the (Sleeping) Giant
By Paul Morrone CFP®, CPA, MSA
I lived right around the corner from Sleeping Giant State Park for decades and often considered it a peaceful place to get away. Last week, I shared some pictures of the destruction that overtook the park during the recent tornado here, and I’m sad to say I’ve heard that the park could be closed for months while the cleanup effort takes place. With hundreds of trees down and a landscape that now looks post-apocalyptic, it got me thinking about all the great memories I have had there over the years. A morning hike became part of my weekend ritual during the warmer months which always included cup of coffee, breakfast sandwich and chocolate glazed donut at Whitney Donut Shop. I’m sure I’ve hiked just about every inch of that mountain during my lifetime (hill is a better word, but it will always be the mountain to me), but two instances stand out that still make me laugh to this day.
In all my years hiking Sleeping Giant, I’ve only been really ‘lost’ twice. The first time I was young and with my entire family. We took a wrong turn and ended on the back-side of the mountain near Wentworth’s Ice Cream Shop. With the car parked too far away for my sister and mom to walk back to it, my dad was forced to trudge through the swamp, get the car, and pick us up. It took him a while, and when he came back you could see that he was up to his knees in muck. Needless to say, we were not the outdoorsy type of family.
Fast forward to 2015 and, now I’m with Jill and a group of our friends. We all opted to leave our cell phones in the car (a rarity these days) and decided to dedicate the morning to enjoying a beautiful day. We took some trails that led to the eastern side of the mountain, the road less traveled. Certain we knew where we were, me and the boys confidently led the girls deeper into the forest. After a few hours of walking, they began to question our path and, admittedly, we had gotten lost. At this point, we were wishing we had our cell phones…
Nothing looked familiar at this point but we had to keep going. Another hour or so passed and we came out onto a road which none of us recognized, but it was a relief to see some sort of civilization. We followed the road for a half mile or so and ended up in an apple orchard. And that’s when it hit me, we were at Blue Hills Orchard at the top of Cook Hill Road in Wallingford, a long way from our car that was at the park entrance by RT 10 in Hamden. With no cell phones or any way to call a ride, we stumbled into the farm stand and were offered a ride back to our car by a woman who overheard us talking about our dilemma. She kindly brought us back to Hamden and we couldn’t have been more grateful. Given the circumstances, we decided to pass on the obligatory trip to Whitney Donut after the hike and instead opted for nachos and margaritas on the deck at Aunt Chilada’s. At least there was a happy ending!