Daniel Doan Trail

A pleasant surprise.

I have climbed Smarts Mountain many times, by many routes – including some now-abandoned routes and by bushwhacking Grant Brook – but I don’t think I have ever hiked the Daniel Doan Trail.* Finally, today, we did.

The first half of the trail follows old logging roads.
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Moosilauke

Although today began cloudy, conditions slowly cleared throughout the day. Lelia and Andy and I headed for Moosilauke, climbing Gorge Brook, and then heading down Carriage Road and Snapper.

Andy and David on summit of Mount Moosilauke.

Unfortunately, there were many, many other people out hiking today – a holiday here in the US – because it has rained for the past five days and this was the first (somewhat) nice day for a week. Still, a fine day for a hike! Read on and check the Photo gallery.

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Mount Cube

Cloudy but beautiful.

Rivendell trail, Mount Cube.

On Independence Day it finally stopped raining. It has rained, more or less non-stop, for four days. True, it was a welcome respite from the hot and humid weather at the start of the week, but it the rain was getting a bit tiring. So I was eager to get outdoors, and jumped at the chance to hike Mount Cube with an old friend. The trail was wet – to be expected on Mount Cube under almost any circumstances, but especially now – but the forest was lush green, and the bugs seemingly washed away. Although there were no views – low clouds still clung to the hilltops everywhere – it was a fine day to be out.

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Vernal pool redux

Repeat visits over five weeks.

Last month I wrote a short note about the spring phenomenon of vernal pools, which can often be found in pretty, magical glens in the midst of the forest. Since then I have made repeated visits to that same small, shallow vernal pool located just a ways up the hill behind our house. I’ve photographed it from the same vantage point just to see how it evolves over time. Although these photos were taken at different times of the day, in different lighting, and not on a regular schedule, it’s interesting to see the succession of plant life as the pool dries.

June 14: A vernal pool near home.

Smarts Mountain

Wildlife in action.

The spruce-grouse hen, startled from her nesting site, squabbled noisily across the trail as I approached. I was equally startled, as I hiked up the Appalachian Trail on a quiet weekend morning in early June. Surprisingly quiet, actually; mine was the only car in the lot at 7:30am, and I had thus far passed only one small group of hikers – southbound thru-hikers, by the looks of them. So I had been strolling easily up the trail, lost in my own thoughts, when this mother hen leapt into action and directly across the trail in front of me. Read on!

David at the viewpoint on Lambert Ridge, Smarts Mountain.
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Return to Worcester

What a difference!

Rugged trail, straight up the fall line, on Worcester Mountain.

“It sure does look different in the winter”, said the hiker I met on this trail back in January. He had lost the trail just a couple hundred meters shy of the summit of Worcester Mountain, despite having climbed this trail “dozens” of times. After thanking him for his advice, I pressed on and experienced the most exhilarating hike of the season [read that story].

So today, a warm and muggy day in early June with the trees and shrubs almost fully leafed out for summer, and nary a snowflake left anywhere in New England, I decided to head back and see if Worcester Mountain really is “different in summer”. I got an early start, reaching the trailhead by 7:30am, but there were already three cars in the lot. Read on, to see what I found!

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Retroblog – Himalayan trek

I hope to return someday!

In the spring of 2009, when we lived in India, we took a trip to Darjeeling in the far northeast corner of India and spent a week walking along the Singalila ridge, which forms the border with Nepal. It was a beautiful walk, despite being in the clouds much of the time… and never catching a glimpse of Mount Everest. It was a fantastic trip, despite some challenges, and I still think often of finding some time to return. Read the original story.

Himalaya Trek: Posing with the full trekking team.

Cardigan

A visit to an old friend on a blustery day.

I’ve climbed Mount Cardigan at least a dozen times over nearly four decades… and yet my records show I have not been back since 2016. Its bald granite dome (the result of a wildfire years ago) grants visitors grand views in all directions, so it is a very popular destination for hikers young and old.

A view of Mount Cardigan from its South Peak.

Today was a cool and windy day, as I wound my way up the familiar West Ridge Trail. I arrived early to beat the holiday-weekend crowds and the forecasted rain, and enjoyed a quiet hike through the damp woods to the windy summit.

David on the summit of Mount Cardigan on a very windy day!

And windy it was! After a brief stay in the shadow of the summit firetower, I returned via the South Ridge Trail, which provided some fine views of the peak.

Check out the photo gallery, including a video from the summit.

Hike stats:
distance: 5.3km
gain: 337m
time: 1h37m

B18 bomber crash

A visit to the famous Bomber crash site on Mount Moosilauke.

On the afternoon of January 14, 1942, a Douglas B18-A bomber with a crew of seven took off from Westover Air Field, Massachussetts. Hours later, fighting darkness and bad weather on their return to base, the crew became seriously disoriented… thinking they were approaching Westover when in fact they were over central New Hampshire. Moments later, they crashed into the side of Mount Waternomee, one of the peaks on the shoulder of Mount Moosilauke. The crew scrambled out of the wreckage, but the plane caught fire and exploded. Five survived, standing in the dark in the deep snow. The story of the crash – and the mid-night mid-winter rescue – has become the stuff of legend.

More than thirty years ago, as an undergraduate we often heard rumors of the “bomber site” on Moosilauke; it was known to be difficult to find and a challenging bushwhack. I’ve been meaning to visit the site ever since. Today I finally made it. Read on…

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Vernal pool

An ephemeral opportunity.

Today was my second visit to a vernal pool in three days. These small empheral pools appear for only a few weeks in the spring (hence the name), typically in shallow depressions that capture snowmelt and early spring rains. They serve as an important breeding ground for frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians… and then disappear for the summer.

This vernal pool, near home, has grown in with moss and grasses.

Today, as I strolled along the fading skidder trails that lace the patch of forest above my home – an area I tend to explore when under winter’s deep snowpack, as I did back at the beginning of February – I was surprised to see I was not the first to visit this pool today.

A mossy tree stump served as someone’s dinner table.

Let’s take a closer look. This tree stump was covered in feathers – very fresh feathers. I’m assuming some carnivore – a fox, perhaps? – had used the stump as a dining table for consuming an unlucky member of the local avian population.

Curiously, the feathers were on the stump – and only on the stump.