Cragies and Snackies

You already know that Connecticut is beautiful.  Unless you’ve never heard of Connecticut, then you’ll have to take my word for it.  Connecticut is one of the oldest states in the USA, the 5th oldest actually.  There are 3.6 million residents, one of which is the star of the 2016 classic, Nine Lives, starring the ineffable Christopher Walken.  Scrolling through notable Connecticut figures is a who’s who of brilliance, holy cow (Do people say ‘holy cow’ in Connecticut?  Do people say ‘holy cow’ anywhere?)!  Katherine Hepburn, Mark Twain, Benedict Arnold, J.P. Morgan, Arthur Miller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, PT Barnum, Seth McFarland, John Mayer, and The pride of Connecticut, The Carpenters to name a few.  But also Glenn Close, Jaehyun, Samuel Colt, Suzanne Collins, and Earnest Borgnine.  The list of notable figures from Connecticut just seems to go on forever, or at least from here to Connecticut.  ‘Connecticut’ isn’t pronounced the way that it’s spelled, that isn’t really a Connecticut fact, it’s just an admission that until now I had no idea that ‘Connecticut’ is spelled connect-i-cut.  I have not been pronouncing nor spelling Connecticut with that second ‘c’ until now.  It’s like the “Wednesday” of states.  In the end though, no one really cares about how Connecticut is spelled, it has the ocean and the autumn (I don’t pronounce the ‘n’ in autumn either) colors are beautiful.

How have I missed that ‘c’ for so long though?  Of course I mean no disrespet to the people of Connecticut.  In retrospet, I realize that I have just been incorret this whole time, I guess it’s just a dialet.  Oh well, nobody’s perfet.

In addition to The Carpenters, the silent ‘c’, the ocean, and autumn, Connecticut has climbing.  Really old climbing and really good climbing.

Climbing in Connecticut dates back to the 1920’s, that is nearly 100 years of climbing in The Nutmeg State.  The old school climbing clubs like the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Yale Mountaineering Club have been scurrying up Connecticut rock faces for a century!

The Traprock Ridge in Central Connecticut is loaded with every type of climbing you could imagine, literally thousands of routes from bouldering to ice climbing.  And new routes are being put up almost daily.  As The pride of Connecticut, The Carpenters, once proclaimed “We’ve only just begun”.

While you can’t go wrong with Central Connecticut, today we’re heading to the east coast crag of Chatfield Hollow.  There are nearly fifty routes on the main wall that range from 5.5 – 5.13, including the classic 4-star 5.12 “Shape Shifter”.  While there are no routes here dedicated to The pride of Connecticut, The Carpenters, there are some pretty fun names.  My favorite is the cleverly named “Gneiss Face”.  It’s a face climb on gneiss.  Pretty clever, right?  There are lots of other great routes on this wall too, and it’s just 150 meters from the lot in the beautiful Chatfield Hollow State Park.  All you have to do is pull up, gear up and you’ll be sending in no time!

Chatfield Hollow is the cragie, and my choice for snackies is not the typical dirtbag fare.  But we’re in Connecticut, we’re surrounded by rocks, trees, the ocean, and vineyards.  The pride of Connecticut, The Carpenter’s, would want you to splurge.  With that, we are heading just 10 minutes east to the Chamard Vineyard Bistro.  An elegant vineyard tucked between the Connecticut River and the Long Island Sound.  On acres of farmland in the perfect micro-climate for growing European Vinifera vines lies this quaint romantic bistro perfect for wine-tasting dirtbags.

The menu is superb, the views are enchanting, and the wine list is calling your name.

Everything on the menu is enticing, and all the openers sound scrumptious. While you might be tempted to go with the classic New England Clam Chowder, or an elegant wine and cheese pairing, I would recommend the Grilled Flatbread, which comes with a fig tapenade, mascarpone cheese, and arugula, drizzled with a balsamic glaze.  For the main course, again, you might be tempted to go with a classic like a local fresh caught fish and wine pairing, but forget that.  You may also be moved to stick to the cheaper side of the menu, and order the artisanal Swiss and Gouda Grilled Cheese.  Forget that too, keep your inner dirtbag at bay and just go for it.  The Parisian Gnocchi has to be the choice! Handmade gnocchi, roasted zucchini and summer squash, grape tomatoes, English peas, herbed ricotta cheese, and basil.  Now I have no idea how or why this is parisian, I mean the peas are English, the cheese and pasta are Italian, and from what I can tell the zucchini and squash are American, but hey, who am I to judge?  We’re already spending more money than the last three cragie and snackies combined, but we’re in Connecticut, so why stop here?  We might as well get a side dish, and what better side than a delightful Corn Succotash.  I didn’t even know succotash was a real thing, but this dish sounds tremendous.  It’s just fresh corn sauteed with fresh peppers, tomatoes, fava beans, garlic, and dill.  The Pommes Frites also sound delectable, but fries don’t have the reputation for the suffering endured by succotash.  So, if we can only go with one side dish, let’s pick the one that sounds like a piece of climbing gear.

I’m no wine expert, but I’m thinking a bottle of Classe Héritage Primitivio 2018 for the table.  It’s earthy and rustic just like us climbers!  I think Mark Twain would approve!  I also think The pride of Connecticut, The Carpenter’s would approve!

Chatfield Hollow and Chamard Vineyard Bistro.  After a day on the rocks, and a day in the vines, you’ll be just as The pride of Connecticut, The Carpenter’s once sang, “On Top of the World” both literally, and figuratively!

Location: Killingworth, Connecticut. “Qui Transtulit Sustinet” – He who transplanted still sustains.

Crag: Chatfield Hollow

Restaurant: Chamard Vineyard Bistro

Distance: 6.4 miles

13 Replies to “Cragies and Snackies”

  1. Here in America’s Dairyland, we still say Holy Cow!, as the cows are holy to us. Without cows, the cheese options are limited. And we have Lou and Peter Berryman and Free Hot Lunch! instead of the Carpenters, so I think we’re ahead of the game. And they are both effable.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had to look up Lou and Peter Berryman, they look amazing! Our last guest on the podcast grew up in Green Bay, and told his story of Vince Lombardi showing up to his house as a kid and giving him 1 ticket to The Ice Bowl. It was great! Wisconsin has some of the best climbing in the country, I’ll have to work hard to find the right snackies, but I’m thinking cheese curds should probably be on the menu!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Clever post! You had me with the exception of the corn. Corn doesn’t really digest and tends to scare me if it’s not ground into products like chips.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I visited Connecticut during the 1990’s and road through there in the year 2001. I have not been back there since, but yes from where I was (the part of Connecticut I went to) it was lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, the unwritten rule is the person who puts up the route, or finds/climbs a route first gets to name it. I have never been first, but that is a goal for sure. I just need to find a new rock that hasn’t been climbed before. Fingers crossed that I come across that chance one day!


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