One of the most useful skills I learned while a student at Dartmouth had nothing to do with academics, or computer science. It was how to use a chainsaw (safely) to fell trees and turn them into firewood – or a water bar, a bridge, or a cabin. To this day, I still find it satisfying to pull out my aging Stihl for an afternoon of hard work. This weekend we removed a few small crabapple and black locust trees from our property, where they had outgrown their location, and turned them into firewood. Many kudos to Andy and Mara, now able to wield the saw themselves, and to Pam for the instigation and for a lot of the hard work to move all the debris. We’ll all be that much toastier when winter arrives.
When I visited the river this morning I found it littered with thousands of upon thousands of dead mayflies.
These insects live in the river, then moult and emerge as a winged insect in a massive rush to procreate in their 24-hour lifespan as an adult, laying the eggs that will lead to next year’s batch. Apparently, for our stretch of the river, the emergence happened over the last couple of nights, though in some years I’ve seen them emerge in late June.
“The lifespan of an adult mayfly is very short and varies depending on the species. The primary function of the adult is reproduction; the mouthparts are vestigial, and the digestive system is filled with air.
“It often happens that all the mayflies in a population mature at once (a hatch), and for a day or two in the spring or fall, mayflies will be everywhere, dancing around each other in large groups, or resting on every available surface. … Because of its short lifespan, the mayfly is called one-day or one-day fly in some languages…. “
A pair of loons have been living along the Connecticut River, near our home. We often hear their plaintive cry early in the morning. I’ve sometimes had time to grab my camera and head down to the river edge, to see whether I can capture the beauty of these creatures. They have a remarkable ability to swim underwater, and will often disappear for several minutes while they feed on the vegetation below. Once, when the two met in mid-river, they spent close to 20 minutes doing a sort of dance, each ducking its head underwater, and then diving under and past the other, almost like a do-si-do.
My photos are still a bit grainy… I need more light, or a longer lens, to capture crisp images. I’ll keep trying, and adding to the gallery.
A grueling hike up and down the slides of the Tripyramid range.
In search of new places to go, I find myself thinking back to hikes I completed more than a quarter-century ago; enough time has passed that they may as well be “new” again, for me. I’ve had my eye on the Tripyramids for several years now, because they make an intriguing triplet, easily recognizable on any horizon. Most notably, when I climbed them last in 1985, we approached from the north, from the Kancamagus Highway; now, it was time to try the western route, up the sheer North Slide and down the scree-filled South Slide. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.
One of my favorite hidden gems of Mount Moosilauke.
One of my fondest memories of hiking on Mount Moosilauke was a solo bushwhack in August 1984, when I decided to follow Gorge Brook to its source, and beyond. The Gorge Brook Trail follows the brook for a mile or so, then diverges east to attain the ridge and climb over East Peak to the summit. But the brook itself contains one of the hidden gems of Moosilauke: the Pleiades, a series of spectacular cascades that few ever have a chance to see. Although I mentioned this memorable bushwhack in a post from 2013, I had never returned to the Pleiades… until today. And what a day for it! Read on and be sure to check out the photo/video gallery.
After a busy and challenging work week, it was a pleasure today to return to one of my local peaks for a quick morning outing. I’ve already climbed Mount Cube a few times this year, in winter, spring, and summer, partly because it is close by (less than 30 minutes’ drive) and because it has a remarkably nice view for such a short climb (2 miles). The Rivendell Trail up Mount Cube is a favorite of many in the area, so I was surprised to see only one car at the trailhead when I arrived a bit before 9am.
A short hike to a delightful remote peak, Mount Cushman, in central Vermont.
No, I’ve never heard of it either. This small peak in Central Vermont is not on anyone’s peak-bagger list, or on any long-distance trail. But when I was looking through the guidebook of dayhikes in Vermont, this one stuck out as an interesting new place to visit.
On my drive home one evening this week, a chipmunk suddenly slid down the window of my car and clung on to the window seal for dear life. I slowed to a stop and pulled out my phone. He was scared and reluctant to leave…. see the video!
I was out for a paddle along the Connecticut River near home, this afternoon, and took a side trip among the reeds and brush that form the ‘delta’ at the mouth of Hewes Brook. This area is popular with ducks, herons, geese, kingfisher, beaver, and countless other residents. Today, a pair of American Bittern posed for me in the brush of a tiny islet while I came by. More photos.
Earlier this month I’ve seen white Egrets and Great Blue Herons feeding nearby, as well as Canada Geese, many varieties of ducks, and a pair of loons. Need to bring my camera more often!
It was a beautiful day for a hike, so I was pleased to have a chance to join friends for a climb of Mount Hale – one of the 4000-foot peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Much of the trail follows Hale Brook, including several pretty cascades.