The Land of the Sleeping Giant

IMG_0310IMG_0303IMG_0308IMG_0322As Shannon McCarthy takes the reigns of the drunken priest’s wagon, a distant hill, in the shape of a giant, comes into view. The priest assures Shannon, who has been disguised as a boy since leaving New Haven, that the giant will not awaken as long as she remains “a good Christian lad.”
Heading north from Whitneyville, another landmark overlooking the Farmington Canal Greenway in Southern Connecticut is Sleeping Giant State Park. According to the Sleeping Giant Park Association, Native Americans once thought that the giant was actually an evil spirit named Hobbomock, put to sleep forever by a good spirit, Keitan, seeking to end the giant’s reckless and violent behavior.
Today the park, just opposite the Quinnipiac University campus in Hamden, CT, is a great place for hiking, fishing, picnicking, camping (if you are affiliated with a group such as Boy Scouts) and just hanging out. There are over thirty miles of trails across the giant, some extremely challenging and others, like the one my kids and I took to the lookout castle at the top of the hill, (about a mile and a half one way) are more like a walk in the park.
The scalp of the giant marks the site of a quarry where stone was mined during the early years of the 20th Century. One of the more challenging hikes in the parks makes its way along the rocky ridge above the quarry and can be seen from route 10, Whitney Avenue in Hamden.
It is here, not far from the chiseled scalp of the sleeping giant, that Shannon McCarthy finds herself unloading crates of bibles for transport up the canal to Farmington. Although the Hamden lock keeper is less than hospitable to the disguised Shannon, she sees her chance to proceed up the canal in search of her father and at the lock keeper’s house Shannon becomes a stowaway.


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