Friday brought us a wonderful snowfall, 6″ of super-light fluffy powder. Then Saturday and Sunday brought us blue skies and moderate temperatures. Each day I drove out to the edge of town, where a generous landowner maintains (and grooms!) a vast network of cross-country ski trails. The beautiful weather and fresh conditions brought out many other skiers, eager to be back on snow after two weeks of warm weather and (gasp!) rain ruined the skiing. The sky was blue, the wind calm, and the sun glinted off the sharp edges of the fresh snowflakes coating every branch.
This landowner (very generous!) even provides warming huts, with a woodstove and amenities like hot chocolate, at strategic points around the trail network.
The trails – and parking lot – were busier than I’ve ever seen them, with dozens of people out and about. They ranged the gamut – from young families with eager children, to middle-aged adults shuffling by on their classic skis, to athletic adults skating by at great speed. Everyone was in a cheerful mood, smiling and saying hello as they passed. The many dogs were friendly and excited. It’s all enough to remind you how wonderful winter can be.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to hike Mount Moosilauke this winter. My schedule rarely gives me a window of opportunity… and this winter, those windows have often corresponded with heavy cloud cover or intense cold. So this weekend I was pleased to see that Sunday’s (today’s) summit weather appeared to be reasonable – midday temperatures around 10ºF, with winds 20-30mph – and even better, there was snow forecast for Saturday (yesterday). The icing on the cake was a hiking invitation from an old friend. Thus, we found ourselves at the Glencliff Trailhead at about 9:30am, suiting up in single-digit temperatures. Read on!
Nothing like a deer carcass to bring everyone together.
As I drove home today along the Connecticut River I noticed a dark object out on the ice – clearly, a carcass of some unfortunate deer. It was already attracting visitors that, from a glance, appeared to include a bald eagle. I dashed home to pick up my camera. When I returned, I found three bald eagles – one mature adult, and two juveniles – enjoying the spoils of this opportunity. Several crows were nearby, but were shooed away by the eagles whenever they came too close.
It was interesting to see that each eagle looked quite different – even the juveniles looked very different, perhaps of different ages. I also noticed the mature eagle flying alongside one juvenile several times. Family members? or rivals? hard to tell.
I shot well over six hundred photos, most of them out of focus – on my first visit it was snowing heavily and the snow wreaked havoc on the camera’s autofocus mechanism. But I returned later when the snow stopped and the sun came out. I saved a dozen decent photos for you in the gallery, where you can see each of the three eagles, sometimes together.
A day in the wildlife refuges of coastal South Carolina.
During my visit to Charleston, my father and I spent several hours exploring the wetlands of Bear Island WMA and Donnelly WMA – two beautiful wildlife management areas in the “Ace Basin” south of Charleston. I snapped nearly a thousand photos, and present the best two dozen in the gallery. Below, a blue heron settles in near an island, where an anhinga dries its wings; these two had an altercation earlier… read on for the drama!
A grand snowstorm ended late last night, dumping 12″ of fresh powder snow on us here at home in the valley. The snow was preceded by a day of rain, so I expect there was vastly more snow at higher altitudes – where the rain would have turned to snow much sooner … or perhaps had been snow from the start. So I was eager to get out hiking today, to enjoy the new snow. There truly is nothing so exhilarating as to snowshoeing through fluffy fresh powder. (It can also be exhausting, if you are breaking trail!) But Mount Moosilauke and other high places were forecasting single-digit temperatures for the morning, dropping into the negative single-digits by afternoon. Add some wind, and those summits were not so appealing. We went out anyway… read on!
Today broke sunny and blue, with a foot of fresh powder smothering the landscape. It snowed hard for nearly 24 hours, and left us with this beautiful, soft powder. As I went out to shovel this morning I was intrigued to see the deer had already criss-crossed the lawn and pawed through the snow under crabapple trees to see if they could find any treats.
Last week I had the opportunity to strap on skates and take a few minutes for a spin around the ice on the Dartmouth Green. Like last year, Dartmouth set up a small temporary ice rink, with free rentals and hot chocolate, to encourage the Dartmouth and surrounding community to ’embrace winter’. The weather has been cold, and the ice smooth. Here, President Hanlon and I take a few laps.