Green-up day

Our annual ritual.

Every year, since the children were small, we walk up River Road in early May, scanning the roadside brush for trash and debris as part of New Hampshire’s “Green-up day.” It’s a perfect time to do this – after the snow melts and before the undergrowth reappears. (Most importantly, before the poison ivy emerges.) Our kids were always eager participants, scampering down the roadside banks to fetch a soda can or a beer bottle, a cigarette pack or a shopping bag. It was a great lesson in the importance of community service, and the callous disregard of those who feel it is somehow appropriate to toss their fast-food bag and beer bottles into the roadside brush, perhaps imagining the river would wash it away. Today I ended up filling two large trash bags, of the special blue variety designated for this day; read on.

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Snow line

Winter and spring in one scene.

Early spring (late winter?) storms sometimes give one the opportunity to see the dramatic difference elevation makes. It rained yesterday afternoon, hard at times, for many hours. When I hiked up to the top of the Lyme Pinnacle this afternoon – it’s really just a grand hill, not really fair to call it a small mountain – I enjoyed the broad views into Vermont on the west and the hills of Lyme to the east. Most prominent, today, was the vast bulk of Smarts Mountain, with its level summit ridge and its fire tower rising above the trees – all coated in a fresh dusting of snow.

Smarts Mountain – dusted with snow – from the Lyme Pinnacle.
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Blowdowns and pools

Vernal pools appear.

My weekend wanderings through the woods near home allowed me more glimpses of the white-tailed deer living therein – emphasis on the white tail, because I only tend to spot them after they’ve chosen to bound away from me, white tail flashing and leaping through the trees until they fade into the distant brownness of the tree bark and leaf litter. Yesterday I saw them three times, though never with enough time to capture with a camera. Saturday I also saw a big ol’ turkey waddling off into the bushes.

Several of my favorite paths pass by vernal pools – intermittent shallow pools formed by spring rains and snowmelt, on deep-frozen ground not yet ready to absorb the moisture. Not much spring life there yet, but I’ll check again next week. (Last year these pools became active in May.)

So, photographically, all I have to share this week is another “new” thing along my path. It was very windy last week and this hemlock snapped off at the base. When a tree like this falls in the woods; do you think the deer hear it? 😉

The deer, turkey, and coyote

Lots of traffic in my patch of woods.

Yesterday afternoon I took another walk up the hill behind our home, to revisit the curious spot where a deer had met its end (discovered last week). As I climbed the hill, a family of wild turkeys slowly tried to sneak away – not easy now the snow has melted and the crisp, dry leaves of fall cover the forest floor. I noted they were heading uphill away from me, but toward the summit that I would soon reach by a looping path. As I neared the crest, two deer bounded away, flashing their white tails. One paused and turned, curious about me. I was able to approach much closer, allowing me time to capture photographs and video.

A deer paused, after initially running away, to let me take photos and video as I approached closer.
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Holts Ledge

What a difference a week makes.

A mere five days after I went snowshoeing through winter’s glorious powder in the Kinsman Range, I went hiking with two friends … in decidedly spring conditions. Granted, Holts Ledge is much lower (elevation ~1069′ rather than 4293′) but there was much more snow at the base of the Kinsmans than there was at the summit of Holts. This week’s rain and unseasonably warm weather (close to 60º during our hike) has turned the low-elevation trails into mud, and (no doubt) the higher elevation trails are packed ice.

Ken and Dave on Appalachian Trail, Holts Ledge. Photo by Tim Burdick.

This section (and other low-elevation sections) of the Appalachian Trail is now basically done for the season, and should be avoided until after mud season.

Holts Ledge cliff overlook (near the summit). Snow almost gone!

Ironically, the view above is at the top of the Dartmouth Skiway… fewer than 100m from the top of the slopes. There, skiers were still happily skiing on spring-condition snow. At least there were some views, below.

David with Tim Burdick atop Holts Ledge on a late-winter day. Photo by Ken Kaliski.
A stream crossing on Holts Ledge, with plenty of meltwater.

Sigh, we haven’t even reached the spring equinox yet.

Mount Kinsman in fresh powder

A late-winter snowstorm triggers my itch to get up into the mountains.

A massive winter storm blew through New England yesterday – starting as a light drizzle, but turning to wet snow as the temperature dropped. Here at home in the Connecticut River Valley, I was disappointed by the heavy, wet, two inches we received despite hours of snowfall. I knew, however, that there would be more – lots more – at higher altitudes, where the storm may have been an all-snow event and where the cooler temperatures would brew light, fluffy powder. As the photo below shows, I indeed found great powder conditions. Read on!

Deep drifts along the Kinsman Ridge Trail.
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Spruce Mountain

A return one year later.

This morning I was looking for a good destination for a winter’s afternoon hike. Morning business meant I could not reach any trailhead until after noon, so I picked Spruce Mountain – an easy 2-mile trail up a short mountain in east-central Vermont. I was here just over a year ago, in deeper snow, but the memories of a lovely hike were shadowed by a sad incident on the drive home that sent my Tesla into the shop for almost two months. So today was an opportunity for redemption. And a beautiful day at that!

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Moosilauke ice

A chance to finally try my crampons.

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!

Moosilauke – view toward North Peak.
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Bald Top Mountain

Breaking trail in fresh powder can be delightful.

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!

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Mid-winter light

Lovely day in the woods.

Although coastal New England was treated to a heavy snowfall this weekend, here in Lyme we barely received a dusting. From my perspective, this is a disappointment, as I was hoping to build on the current base and to enjoy some local powder this weekend. I hear there may be more in the hills to the south and east, and hope to get out soon to explore them… but today was very cold (temps in the single digits) and windy (gusting above 50mph) on the higher summits. So I stayed close to home and took a stroll up Lyme Hill, a public trail not far from home. I enjoyed listening to the creak of the cold trees as they bent with the wind, and pondering the patterns of animal tracks that criss-cross this popular trail. The sky was deep blue, the sun was low and cool, and the snow windblown. A fine day to be out!