Tracking fox

Our wild neighbors.

Another snowstorm, on Sunday through Monday, left about 6-8″ of fresh, powdery snow across the fields and forests around us. On Monday morning I headed across the street and into the forest behind the house, as I have done so often over the years, bushwhacking up the steep hill through the woods. The forest is relatively young and open, having been logged periodically and well managed for a variety of species – pine, fir, hemlock, oak, maple, and more. I enjoy rambling through these woods, following the fading trails left by loggers, especially in winter – because the snow exposes stories of the wildlife that live here. It’s hard to see in the photo below, but the deer walked this path earlier than me, this morning.

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Sticky snow

Overnight transformation.

On Friday we had a lovely snowstorm that brought us only a couple of inches of snow… but it was fairly wet snow. It stuck to every twig and leaf, and there has been absolutely no wind… so the forests are now a beautiful palette of white, brown, and green.

Snow on the bushes and trees of Lyme Hill.
Snow on the pine trees of Lyme Hill; deer tracks show recent passage.

Another snowstorm is due tonight… I’m hoping we’ll get a substantial snowfall that will provide deep powder for snowshoeing and skiing!

Trail signs along the Appalachian Trail to Holts Ledge, passing Trapper John shelter.

Top 12 photos of 2022

It’s hard to pick just twelve.

I enjoyed photography in 2022 and decided to share my pick of favorites. It was not easy! 12 photos for 12 months – not one per month, but just the twelve that I felt were especially beautiful or interesting. See the full gallery – where I recommend clicking the “play” button to see them as a slideshow – and read on for some commentary about each one.

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Big Tree at Tradition Plateau

A walk through Pacific Northwest forest after a recent snowfall.

Today I had the opportunity to visit Jon, a friend and former student, after arriving in Seattle late last night. We drove east of the city to a natural area called Tradition Plateau (and also, it appears, Tiger Mountain). It snowed a little yesterday, so the trails and surroundings were covered with a thin layer of wet and crunchy snow. The verdant forest I so associate with the Pacific Northwest was still evident, as were the incredibly tall and thin cedars and firs of the sort we just don’t see out East.

Snow-covered forest around Tradition Lake, east of Seattle.
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First snowfall

The first snow of the season is always special.

I missed the first snowfall of the season. I left town on Tuesday night for a business trip to Chicago, and missed the 2″ snowfall that arrived on Wednesday morning. So today, back at home and waking to a brilliant blue-sky day, I was eager to get outdoors. Most of the snow had melted close to home, but we chose a short hike along the Appalachian Trail to the top of Holts Ledge – home of the Dartmouth Skiway. (Things looked very different when I visited seven weeks ago!) We didn’t have to climb far before reaching an elevation with consistent snowcover. It was shallow, and crunchy from several melt-freeze cycles, but it was a wonderful taste of the winter hikes to come!

Descending the Appalachian Trail on Holts Ledge. Lyme NH.

We paused at the top to enjoy the southward views across the Upper Valley and toward Mounts Cardigan and Ascutney. We then strolled over to view the activity at the top of the Dartmouth Skiway, chatting with two fellows who were tinkering with the snowmaking equipment. Only three weeks to opening day!

Snowmaking coats the trees at the top of Dartmouth Skiway. Holts Ledge.

Halfway down the Appalachian Trail we encountered one of those wondrous effects to be seen this time of year: needle ice, where some mud froze, causing the expanding ice to crystallize and push the mud upward into the air.

Crusty ice spires in the mud along the Appalachian Trail on Holts Ledge.

Up Beaver Brook, down Benton

A gorgeous late-autumn hike to my favorite mountain.

Beaver Brook cascades, on Mount Moosilauke.

There are days when it becomes essential to set aside the to-do list and head outside, and today was one of them: an unusually warm and sunny day for the end of October, an opportunity to climb (again) my favorite mountain, Mount Moosilauke, via an atypical route.

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Sunapee foliage

In living color.

This time of year, my head turns south… as the peak of fall foliage passes southward past our home, I look to the south for opportunities to hike. Today, I headed to Mount Sunapee state park. Although I’ve climbed Mount Sunapee before – sometimes in winter, when its summit is busy with skiers enjoying Sunapee ski area – today I decided to try a different trail, following the Sunapee Ragged Kearsarge Greenway trail from the western side. Although this route offers no views until the summit, the trail passes through hardwood forests that were at their absolute peak of color today. Enjoy the photo gallery! Here’s one teaser below – and a video that may give you a sense of what it was like.

Fall foliage on the Summit Trail, Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire.
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Slide Brook

Fall foliage at its peak.

Fall foliage has hit its peak color in many parts of the Upper Valley. I had limited time to get out into the woods this weekend, but had the opportunity to join some friends on a walk up the first mile of the Tunnel Brook Trail on the southwest side of Mount Moosilauke. Despite their hundreds of visits to Moosilauke over nearly four decades, they had never been on this trail – and I’d been here only once. Today, its trees were at the peak colors of leaf season… with beeches, birches, and maples reaching prime color and dusting the forest floor with colorful leaves. The trail follows Slide Brook as it cascades over the ancient, moss-covered rocks of Mount Moosilauke, so I stopped often to set up my tripod for long-exposure photographs. I’ve selected four for the gallery.

Autumn colors on Slide Brook, Mount Moosilauke.

I am pleased – but in retrospect, have ideas about how I could have done better with exposure, composition, and editing. I’ll just need to go back!

Holts Ledge – fall colors

Leaf season is here.

I’ve been meaning to get out hiking, in the high mountains to the north – knowing that the fall colors will arrive several weeks sooner there than here. But somehow the colors snuck up faster than I expected. I went today for one of my favorite nearby hikes – to the top of Holts Ledge, the cliff-faced ridgeline on which the Dartmouth Skiway sits. The Applachian Trail rambles over this hilltop, brushing the tops of the cliffs and providing fantastic views to the south and east.

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Forty years ago today

I became a member of the Dartmouth family.

Forty years ago today I started classes as a first-year undergraduate student at Dartmouth College. As I headed off to find my Physics, Math, and Geography classes, I surely did not anticipate that I would return, less than a decade later, to join the faculty … or how the years would turn into decades and I would take on increasing responsibilities. It has been truly an honor and a privilege to serve this institution on behalf of current and future students. Read on!

My 1982 Dartmouth ID, which received a new validation sticker each term.
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