Hiking in snow

A lovely outing in late-fall conditions.

Today I went out with a friend for a short hike in the hills on the eastern side of Hanover. It was a warm afternoon, but we were surprised to see an inch of fresh snow on the leaf-covered forest floor, with melting snow dripping from the fir trees overhead. It rained hard here last night – down along the Connecticut River – but only a few hundred feet higher it had apparently snowed.

First snow along the trails of the Shumway Forest in eastern Hanover, with views to Moose, Smarts, and Moosilauke.

It was nonetheless a lovely hike through the forest along a set of trails managed by the Hanover Conservancy, culminating in a series of rocky overlooks on the ledges of the ridge that extends south from Moose Mountain.

First snow along the trails of the Shumway Forest in eastern Hanover, with views to Moose, Smarts, and Moosilauke.

We wore bright-orange vests, because this weekend is the first big weekend of deer season, and we could frequently hear the report of rifle shots in the valley to the east. The sight of snow – as much as an inch of heavy, wet snow in some areas – reminds me of how quickly winter is coming.

Hike stats:
Distance: 3.94km
Time: 1h12m
Map: see red route below. (The green route refers to my prior visit)

Five cascades

Five for five.

The month of October had five weekends and I visited a different set of cascades each weekend. Here are my favorite images from each; follow the link for a gallery of more photos.

Georgiana Falls (October 2)

Georgiana Falls, Franconia Notch, NH

Beaver Brook Cascades (October 10)

Beaver Brook Cascades, Appalachian Trail, Mount Moosilauke, NH.

Grant Brook Cascades (October 17)

Cascades and waterfalls along Grant Brook in Lyme, NH.

White Rocks (Bully Brook) (October 23)

Cascades on Bully Brook – White Rocks National Recreation Area – Vermont.

Dummerston Falls (October 31)

Dummerston Falls, Vermont

Bully Brook Cascades

Incredible foliage and a beautiful cascade – on the same hike!

This week it was time to follow the foliage south, as the season progresses. Lelia and I headed for White Rocks National Recreation Area, a USFS area in southern Vermont. I’d heard it was an impressive place; as we found, it is particularly beautiful in fall foliage. We walked through brilliantly yellow hardwood forests, and reached an overlook with a broad view across the many colors of the rolling hills in this area.

Fall foliage from the viewpoint in the White Rocks National Recreation Area – Vermont.

As the daylight faded and we neared the trailhead, the trail passed along Bully Brook… close to a series of impressive cascades. Here I was, the fourth weekend in a row, with an opportunity to capture waterfalls in foliage season!

Cascades on Bully Brook – White Rocks National Recreation Area – Vermont.

Check out the full gallery for more, full-res photos.

Hike stats:
Distance: 6.6km
Time: 3h12 (with many photo stops)
Gain: 372m

Beaver Brook cascades

An incredible photographic journey.

After my visit to Georgiana Falls last week, I realized the tremendous photographic potential of this season. I determined to visit another appealing waterfall this weekend, and selected Beaver Brook cascades. This impressively long sequence of cascades is visible for nearly a kilometer along the Appalachian Trail as it ascends the north side of Mount Moosilauke, the trail often hugging the cascades so closely that the trail is cut into the New Hampshire granite and studded with wooden blocks to enable footing along the water-slickened rock. Read on for a glimpse of one cascade, and visit the gallery for the complete set of full-res photos!

Steep and slippery along the Beaver Brook Trail, Mount Moosilauke, NH.
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Trail work

Community effort benefits community.

A longtime friend put out the call by email, earlier in the week. Saturday morning, bring your favorite hand tools, park in the big field behind the house. A dozen or more hardy souls turned up, wielding axes, loppers, pole saws, and more. The dogs played with a stick, chasing each other across the field and through the pond. The hardwoods were showing their true colors, on this warm but cloudy October morning.

We were here to brush a trail from the end of a gravel lane on the west side of Lyme, up through forests and former pastures and over century-old stone walls, to a pretty vista looking out into Vermont. This informal network of trails, criss-crossing low forest hills owned by a patchwork of landowners, is used by walkers, hikers, bikers, horse riders, hunters, skiers, and snowshoers – not to mention deer, coyote, and more. The trails are known only by word of mouth, a generous gift from the landowners to the community. Today, that grateful community turned out to return the favor.

After a round of introductions, with many explaining how their own land connects to this trail network, and how much they enjoy biking or skiing the trails year-round, we set off across the field and into the woods. It was mostly light work, clipping the saplings and brambles accumulated in recent years. The trail weaved its way up and down hillsides, in and out of hardwood and hemlock forests, as the conversation wove through stories of children growing up, grandchildren arriving, careers in transition, and news about neighbors in town. It was clear to me today as it was decades ago – the bonds made while doing physical labor alongside other people, building a community trail, build community bonds far beyond the trail itself.

Georgiana Falls

The place to be on a drizzly day.

Months ago I planned to do some hiking in Franconia Notch with an old friend. When the day arrived, however, it was gray and drizzly, with all the summits deeply ensconced in clouds. So we avoided the trails to the high peaks and chose instead to hike up to one of the area’s hidden gems, Georgiana Falls.

Georgiana Falls, Franconia Notch, NH

With the fall colors beginning to emerge, and the leaves damp from the rain, it was a great opportunity to experiment with waterfall photography. My favorites are in this gallery, full resolution.

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Moose Mountain

Revisiting old friends.

Lelia examines some stone steps on the north side of Moose Mountain, along the A.T. section we built freshman year.

It was another pleasant fall day, with moderate temperatures and intermittent sunshine. I took the opportunity to hike with an old friend, Lelia, and to visit another old friend – the Appalachian Trail on the north side of Moose Mountain.

I remember spending many chilly afternoons in the fall of 1982, scrambling through the Hanover forest with other eager first-year undergraduate students, clearing a new route for the Trail on the steep slopes of Moose Mountain. I learned to fell trees, build sidehill cribbing, and build rock steps from huge boulders using nothing but rock bars, strong arms, and the seemingly limitless enthusiasm of 18-year olds. We were pleased to those steps have held up after nearly 40 years and thousands of thru-hikers.

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Hedgehog mountain

A new location for me.

Today was a beautiful fall day, with blue skies and a hint of oranges and reds scattered through the hardwood forests on the slopes of the White Mountains. I had a slow start to my morning but wanted to visit a new place, so I selected Hedgehog Mountain from the list of “52 with a view”. I’m surprised I’d never heard of it before, though it is located in the center of the Whites and is a close neighbor of some of the better-known four-thousand footers.

David on the East Ledges of Hedgehog Mountain;
Mount Chocorua is the rocky knob to right of center.
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Mount Abraham and the Tunbridge Fair

Forest and Farm, in one day.

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!

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Ledges of Lyme

Great views, close to home.

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.

View from Lambert Ridge, Smarts Mountain.

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.

View from Holts Ledge.

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.