The Art of Good Storytelling

I think about the art of good storytelling often. I try to apply it in my work, movies, and increasingly here on the site. Telling a story properly is something I fail at often and is most usually my first point of criticism when judging my own work.I’m a straight shooter and tend to get down to the details in an efficient manner, which through necessity is how this site began. Get a large number of bare-bones details up, cover the bases, and slowly develop and iterate over time.

At this point almost every entry has been updated about six times between changing the format, adding details, adding maps, and inserting links.I’ve been failing the story of these properties by taking the easy route.  Some have a waterfall, overlook, or rich history but in Connecticut, for every one of those, there are four that appear as just trails in the woods. And so I must remind myself about my aims to share the wild places of Connecticut and to convey not only what I learn about them but try to capture in words some of the reasons I head out into the woods again and again.

So this is my reminder to tell their stories as deeply as I am able.

ExploreCT. I’ve had another productive month exploring the state, though once again it has been limited to the northeast.  I did branch out to Haley Farm State Park just to explore the coast in summer and to check out how it connects north and south in the Groton cross-town trail.  I spent an early morning running a summer solstice trail race at Gay City State Park along the outer red loop.  It felt good to be competitive again, placing 27th out of 172.  I did another trail run with a friend in the Salmon River State Forest from the Comstock Bridge to Day Pond Falls.I also had two “marathon” days.  One knocking off a bunch of locations in Killingly where the trails were short and overgrown, but filled with little surprises.  My favorite was Cat Hollow with its rich mill history and dam waterfalls.  The second was a loop in Mansfield through about eight different properties which included two overlooks, iron bridges over the Fenton River, mill ruins, and an early American car.  I was really excited about how much was packed into the hike but wasn’t able to execute as well as I had hoped in the movie I made.

Education. Aside from specific research for locations and filming, general knowledge acquisition has been sparse.  In an effort to improve the descriptiveness of my writing I’ve been reading a bit of Edwin Way Teale in the morning with my coffee.  And, if I can fit it into my reading schedule, I’d like to revisit Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir with new eyes.

News Around the State. This section has never received much of my attention and my entries are too infrequent to be useful to any reader so until I can do it properly I’ll just remove it.

Site Updates. I recently added my 200th location, which means I’ve added 41 in the first half of this year.  I have also revised every page to include a trail map (when available), clickable parking link, and added zip codes for better search functionality.  I also decided to remove the contact information from each listing in favor of trail distance, main features/highlights, and my subjective rating.  The ratings are bound to be a bit contentious, but I tried to zoom out and think about the trails from a statewide perspective.  Why or how likely is someone to travel to see a particular place? 

My quick guide to ratings:

  • ★- Unmaintained, short hike, or not much to explore
  • ★★- Enjoyable hike
  • ★★★- Great hike with interesting features to explore
  • ★★★★- Great area worth repeat visits
  • ★★★★★- Must-see

Until next time, 
– Matt