For my hike this weekend I decided to return to a peak I had not visited since the early 1980s – Mount Abraham, which is one of the five 4000-foot peaks in Vermont and one of only three Vermont peaks with an alpine-zone summit. My notion was to scramble up there in the morning and to stop by the Tunbridge World’s Fair on the way back, which would give me ample opportunities for lunch of both the healthy and unhealthy kind. Read on!
The Appalachian Trail passes right through the town of Lyme, where we live. It wanders through the forests, across the brooks, and over the hilly terrain of Moose Mountain, Holts Ledge, and Smarts Mountain. Last weekend I had a little time for two quick hikes along the A.T. On Saturday I scrambled up Lambert Ridge, a shoulder of Smarts Mountain, to a ledgy outcrop that has expansive views to the east. Along the way I listened to the acorns dropping from oak trees all around… and startled a chipmunk, holding one of those prized acorns in his little paws. After a brief standoff, he scampered away.
On Sunday, I returned to the area and climbed up to Holts Ledge, which has wide views to the south. Here, a chain-link fence keeps hikers away from the edge, not just for safety but to protect the endangered peregrine falcons who nest on the cliffs. This cliff is at the top of the Dartmouth Skiway, allowing a nice loop hike by strolling down the grassy ski slopes.
The amazing thing is that both of these hikes are only 15-20 minute drive from my house, and can be completed in less than an hour of hike time, so they’re a great opportunity for a break from a busy weekend. See the small gallery.
One of the great treats of September is the arrival of raspberry season. Pam’s raspberry patch, tended and cultivated now for almost twenty years, is bursting forth with berries. We pick and freeze a a pint or two every day!
They’re remarkably hardy, and will tend to keep producing after the first frost or two. We’ll be enjoying them fresh for the rest of the month, and frozen for the rest of the winter.
On this holiday long weekend I did not want to jostle for a parking space at the popular hiking spots in the White Mountains, so I decided to head south to Mount Kearsarge. It is also very popular – too popular, as its worn, eroded trails will attest – but at least its broad, open summit allows the crowds to spread out. I was last up there in November, with a bit of early snow and ice visible; on that day I had foolishly typed “Mount Kearsarge” into my nav system and ended up on the far (southern) side of the mountain, in Rollins State Park – where the road climbs far up the southern ridge to a parking lot less than a half mile from the summit. So this time I was more careful, parking in Kearsarge State Park on the northwest side – allowing a 1.1 mile climb of the rocky Winslow Trail and descent via the 1.8 mile Barlow Trail.
One of the most useful skills I learned while a student at Dartmouth had nothing to do with academics, or computer science. It was how to use a chainsaw (safely) to fell trees and turn them into firewood – or a water bar, a bridge, or a cabin. To this day, I still find it satisfying to pull out my aging Stihl for an afternoon of hard work. This weekend we removed a few small crabapple and black locust trees from our property, where they had outgrown their location, and turned them into firewood. Many kudos to Andy and Mara, now able to wield the saw themselves, and to Pam for the instigation and for a lot of the hard work to move all the debris. We’ll all be that much toastier when winter arrives.
When I visited the river this morning I found it littered with thousands of upon thousands of dead mayflies.
These insects live in the river, then moult and emerge as a winged insect in a massive rush to procreate in their 24-hour lifespan as an adult, laying the eggs that will lead to next year’s batch. Apparently, for our stretch of the river, the emergence happened over the last couple of nights, though in some years I’ve seen them emerge in late June.
“The lifespan of an adult mayfly is very short and varies depending on the species. The primary function of the adult is reproduction; the mouthparts are vestigial, and the digestive system is filled with air.
“It often happens that all the mayflies in a population mature at once (a hatch), and for a day or two in the spring or fall, mayflies will be everywhere, dancing around each other in large groups, or resting on every available surface. … Because of its short lifespan, the mayfly is called one-day or one-day fly in some languages…. “
A pair of loons have been living along the Connecticut River, near our home. We often hear their plaintive cry early in the morning. I’ve sometimes had time to grab my camera and head down to the river edge, to see whether I can capture the beauty of these creatures. They have a remarkable ability to swim underwater, and will often disappear for several minutes while they feed on the vegetation below. Once, when the two met in mid-river, they spent close to 20 minutes doing a sort of dance, each ducking its head underwater, and then diving under and past the other, almost like a do-si-do.
My photos are still a bit grainy… I need more light, or a longer lens, to capture crisp images. I’ll keep trying, and adding to the gallery.
A grueling hike up and down the slides of the Tripyramid range.
In search of new places to go, I find myself thinking back to hikes I completed more than a quarter-century ago; enough time has passed that they may as well be “new” again, for me. I’ve had my eye on the Tripyramids for several years now, because they make an intriguing triplet, easily recognizable on any horizon. Most notably, when I climbed them last in 1985, we approached from the north, from the Kancamagus Highway; now, it was time to try the western route, up the sheer North Slide and down the scree-filled South Slide. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.