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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Tarleton Balds

I set out to do landscape photographs, but put it aside when I saw these two beauties.

Autumn is advancing quickly here in New Hampshire. Last weekend, I shared photos from a trail walk on the west side of Mount Moosilauke, where the fall foliage was accenting the beautiful cascades of Slide Brook. This weekend I had another occasion to head toward Moosilauke, so I brought my camera and stopped wherever the roadside foliage seemed photo-worthy. More trees were bare this week, but many colors were just as vibrant.

Fall colors along Route 10, Orford NH

I pulled into the boat ramp at Lake Tarleton, thinking I might catch some nice views across the lake to the colorful hillside on the opposite side. As I stood on shore and surveyed the scene, my eyes popped when I spotted this lovely pair of mature bald eagles perched high on a snag overlooking the entire lake.

I spent nearly an hour here, exploring the shoreline for a better angle. The eagles sat quietly – except for one or two brief calls.

I experimented with some landscape photographs, went back to the eagles… then some more landscape, and back to the eagles. They were content on their perch, and remained there after I left. Beautiful scene!

A pair of bald eagles, high on a snag above Lake Tarleton, NH

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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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)

Fall foliage

A chance encounter.

October has ended but the fall foliage is still brilliant – at least in certain pockets of our valley, and in valleys further to the south. On Sunday October 31, after photographing Dummerston Falls in southern Vermont, there were spectacular colors along the hillsides lining the interstate highway heading northward. So in Windsor I pulled off the highway to cross the Connecticut River on the iconic Cornish-Windsor covered bridge (the longest wooden covered bridge in North America, dating back to 1866), where I knew there was an opportunity for a view of the river, the bridge, and Mount Ascutney beyond.

Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, with Mount Ascutney at rear; NH-VT.

I was not disappointed; there is an informal pullout for parking nearby, and a quick dash across the road and a hop over the guardrail gives one access to this spectacular view. As I turned to head back to my car, I noticed a wooden post – rather new looking, with a square board screwed atop as if to form a seat. I looked up to see a man approaching, dressed for the weather, wearing a hunter-orange cap and carrying a camouflage bag. After a short greeting he sat on the wooden post, pulled a Canon camera out of his bag, and we began to chat as he began to photograph the same scene.

Dan lives and works nearby, and stops to sit on this post every day. He has captured a new photograph here pretty much every day for the past ten years, posting them to his blog The Shape of the Year. It’s quite interesting to see, for example, what this scene looked like on November 3, February 3, May 3, and August 3. It was fun to meet another photographer, and to exchange our calling cards. Here’s my shot of the similar scene, October 31.

See a gallery with a few more of my roadside fall-foliage photos from across the month and around the region.

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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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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