You need a breath of fresh air, a place to “get away from it all”, some exercise, or a place to meet up with friends. Where do you go?
One popular destination is Sleeping Giant State Park, that “random geological feature” that has delineated the local horizon for millennia. Countless generations have roamed its ridges and its valleys. Some have left more evidence of their passing than others.
The Quinnipiac and other native peoples who inhabited the area took only what they needed from the land and left little lasting impression upon it. When the European settlers arrived, however, they brought with them the concept of ownership. Moving stones and cutting down trees to clear land so they could farm, using those rocks to build stone walls to set boundaries, harvesting hardwoods to build their homes and keep them warm - they set about re-forming the landscape to suit their own needs. They left their mark.
As years passed, the area became more settled and more industrialized. A road was cut through the area known as The Steps and New Haven was connected with Cheshire; Joel Munson built a mill along the Mill River, traffic increased, and Mt. Carmel began to develop into a community. The folks of this generation left their mark.
Pleasure seekers began to “look to the hills” to escape the increasing urbanization; the ridges and ravines of Sleeping Giant called to them to wander the woods and , in some cases, to build cabins. While no cabin remains, there is evidence that hikers left their mark; especially on the flatter open areas at overlooks. Initials, names, and dates are there for those that pay attention. Today we’d called such defacement “graffiti”. Instead we find these engravings compelling, perhaps they reflect a time when this area was still wilderness, a time when people were ‘making their mark’ and claiming the wilderness as their own, a time, in fact, of fewer people. We have such little evidence of their stories, and we want to know them. We accept their ‘mark’.
So…does that mean we should leave graffiti today? A resounding NO! We are too many … and evidence of our passing by is too invasive. Consider the beech tree; bark smooth and shining, swaying in the breezes … does it REALLY need initials carved into its silvery skin? OUCH! That outcrop that affords a view all the way to Long Island…does it need foot high letters in glaring yellow paint announcing that “Ashley was here.”
“The sleeping giant unposted, unfenced, open for all to enjoy and to have in common ownership; the sleeping giant, yours, mine and everybody’s…” If you want folks to know you’ve been on Sleeping Giant, take pictures! Do you want to make your mark? Become a member of the Sleeping Giant Park Association! Donate! Volunteer! Please, leave the Giant better than you found him