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)

Balch Hill

My outing for today was to re-visit Balch Hill, a bald round-topped hill in the middle of Hanover. I’d been there only once before, when the kids and I followed the mysterious Valley Quest instructions to find a hidden quest box near the summit. Today, a blustery and gray November day, I was the only person on the hill, it seemed. The lone maple tree that proudly guards the hill-top meadow seemed silent in its leafless state, awaiting a proper blanket of snow. Although I ascended by the Maple Trail (1.0 mile from car to summit) I found a map and decided to loop down via the Hemlock Trail and some residential streets. The summit kiosk mentioned a huge old oak tree to be seen along that path, and how they’d left in place the massive branch that “lost its battle with gravity”.

A huge fallen oak branch forms an arch over the Hemlock Trail on Balch Hill.

Indeed, the trail now passes under the natural arch formed by this decaying branch, adding a little novelty to today’s walk in the woods.

Dartmouth’s tree

’tis the season.

I happened to be walking along the Green in Hanover at the moment when Dartmouth was raising its annual Christmas tree. This year’s tree was selected from a tree farm in Wallingford, VT. Soon it will be decorated with lights and adding cheer to this quiet campus!

raising the tree…
settling the tree into its underground base.

The event was also covered by the Valley News.