Hiking for Friendly’s: Case Mountain and Manchester Friendly’s

17 11 2017

15 November 2017

Manchester Case Mt overlook 11.15.17

Frosty, brisk, but sunny when Cherry and I meet to head to Manchester, one of our four remaining Friendly’s sites. We arrive by 9:30; I’d hoped it would take longer to get there, so it would be warmer when we started. But here we are, Case Mountain. The trailhead map calls it Highland Park, the printed material I have indicates it’s a short but steep walk to the overlook, and the return trip can be extended by taking the Carriage Road. OK, we agree, we will take the longer route or else our lunch will start before 11AM.

We climb up, catching our breath occasionally, as we talk local politics. National news. Refugees. Deportees. Difficult subjects for such a beautiful day. Frosty edges on fallen leaves. Quiet in the woods. Within a half hour, we reach the overlook and gaze at the juxtaposition of the up-close natural setting compared with the stick-looking buildings of Hartford in the distance. Several people walk by with their dogs and we become engaged in conversation with the owner of Harry, an exuberant Australian Shepherd. He (the owner) is interested in our Hiking For Friendly’s project and shares some wonderful childhood memories of eating there and then going to bowling every Saturday morning, or trying to consume an Awful-awful. As a Wilbraham Academy student, he was aware that the Blake brothers, Friendly’s founders, helped support his school also. He shared that Friendly’s hired a young man-gone-wrong that he and his wife had sponsored. We have found an audience.

 

Manchester Case Mt Harry and Kirk 11.15.17We are invited to join him and Harry on their travels in the southern portion of the park, which will extend our hike significantly and we agree. We head off on more obscure trails that wind through glacial erratics and above water-filled gorges. We talk of their trip to New Zealand waterfalls and our guide shares photos from his phone. Harry’s love for water. How dogs keep us fit. Our hiking plans when we finish Friendly’s. Harry and his owner leave us at the southern tip of the park and Cherry and I meander back towards my car.

Cherry talks about an upcoming church convention. Her cat’s excitement of finding a mouse in her house. I share my need for distraction and busy-ness. At some point, I worry, as the trail leader, that we may be off course, but we encounter others walking toward us who reassure us we are close to the parking lot.

We find the Carriage Trail and wander along Chase Pond, which is lovely this time of year. Still, peaceful, hint of fall reflections. Near the road, we find the waterfall and remnants of Highland Park. And we are back to the car, five miles later.

And it’s almost 1PM and we are starving. Friendly’s sounds even better than usual! We reach the Buckland Hills restaurant and glide into our red bench seats. The waitress comes and we are all ready; no, don’t bring our waters and then take our order! Cherry has the tuna (probably not again, she confides later) and I splurge with the 1300-calorie honey BBQ chicken and bacon on brioche. I do manage to save half for later (which turns out to be 4PM, I admit sheepishly) and we enjoy our sundaes.

Manchester Friendlys 11.15.17Cherry shares with me, and our waitress, her conversations with the Cromwell Friendly’s manager about celebrating the end of our Connecticut Friendly’s tour in the spring… only three more to go! Wow, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

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3 responses

17 11 2017
Robin Rodensky

Sounds like a perfect hike!!

Sent from my iPad

>

17 11 2017
Beth Lapin

Reblogged this on HealingNatureCT and commented:

Getting close to the finish line!!

18 11 2017
elaaw

Had to comment, Beth — I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter of the Friendly’s saga. With photos that bring us along the trail with you that beautiful, brisk day. A neat chance meetup and shared stories with Harry and friend (I thought of Ben and Stella…) And the comfortable flow of your writing, including the use of short, partial sentences in several places — very effective. Looking forward to the next three Friendly’s chapters and then … who knows!

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