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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Curious beaver

I first spotted the beaver by his wake – gliding smoothly out from shore, just downstream of the dock. I placed my rowing shell gently into the water, keeping one eye on my busy downstream neighbor. He arched his back, slapped his tail loudly, and dove… only to emerge a few seconds later, a few meters away. I sat still, and watched. He looked at me. I looked at him. He paddled along, zig-zagging upstream ever closer to me, clearly curious to see who (or what) I was, and what I might be up to. My fingers itched for my smartphone – only 10 meters away, on shore where I’d left it – but to stand up and fetch it, I knew, would spoil the moment. The beaver swam ever closer, his eyes on me every moment.

Eventually – for the moment seemed to last, though it was surely only one or two minutes – he pulled alongside the dock, keeping a safe distance of five meters, watching me from the side as he paddled strongly upstream.

Then a sudden SLAP and he dove again. The moment was gone; I readied my shell to row, and he resumed his course across the river.

Beaver near his den, near our home (2017).

It’s moments like these when I wish I had a camera, or even a smartphone. No such luck today! The photo above is from a sequence I shot in 2017.

Today’s beaver may have been the same fellow whose photo I shared in April:

A beaver swims at the mouth of Grant Brook, Lyme NH

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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Moose Mountain

Spontaneous hiking at its best.

I set off for a quick afternoon hike, eager to get outdoors and stretch my legs, but with limited time available. I was driving the back roads through the forested lands on the east side of Hanover, NH, and was surprised to see a trailhead icon appearing on my car’s navigation map. I decided to change plans and investigate this trailhead – one that is relatively new, and certainly new to me. I learned, on arriving at the cheery trailhead kiosk, that it feeds two short trail loops on the western slopes of Moose Mountain – allowing one to enjoy the conservation lands of Mayor-Niles Forest and Britton Forest.

Steep slopes and boulders on the west slope of Moose Mountain
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Chugach State Park

Many thanks to Steve – a fellow Dartmouth alum and long-time Anchorage resident – who took me along for a hike in Chugach State Park, on the east side of Anchorage.  We climbed up the slopes of O’Malley Peak and into an alpine plain called the “ballfield”, to an overlook of the Williwaw valley.  It was a beautiful day with plentiful sunshine and some clouds passing through the peaks.  Great views, near and far.   More photos in the gallery!

David at the overlook into the Williwaw valley, Chugach State Park, outside Anchorage.
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Katmai finale

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

The full group of photographers on our Muench Katmai Bears expedition. L to R: Kevin, Pam, Jeff, Gene, Jerry, Caryn, Jeff, Allen, Dave, Jack; kneeling: John. Photo by Kevin Lisota.
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Katmai, days 6-7

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

Thursday (September 1) Geographic Harbor: We visited the beach (and bears) in the morning. It was a beautiful day, with the clouds passing over and through the hills surrounding the bay. Read on, though, for photos of the bears and other wildlife spotted this day!

Landscape (with bear), Geographic Harbor, Katmai.
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Katmai, days 4-5

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

Tuesday (August 30) Kuliak Bay, Hidden Harbor, Geographic Harbor: An early breakfast allowed us to reach the beach by 8am, where an immature bald eagle was perched on driftwood as if waiting for a dozen photographers to capture its portrait. My favorite photo from the sequence came moments after it launched from its beachfront perch. What else did we see in the next two days? read on.

Bald eagle (immature) on shore at the head of Kuliak Bay.
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Katmai, day 3

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

Monday (August 29) Kuliak Bay: Today we decided to move to another bay, also well known for bears: Kuliak Bay. So we spent a few hours motoring out from Geographic Harbor and Amalik Bay, then northeast through the Shelikof Strait along the Katmai coastline. It was a gorgeous day with calm seas and scattered clouds, with snow-capped peaks in the distance behind the coastal hills. Read on to see what we found in Kuliak Bay…

Panorama from offshore Katmai National Park – click to see fuller size.
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