Holts Ledge

Hiking from fall to winter.

After yesterday’s brief snowfall the weather turned warm and sunny once again, allowing us a beautiful fall afternoon. This morning we woke to dense river-valley fog, so I headed across Lyme to the Dartmouth Skiway and the high point of Holts Ledge. There, well above the fog, I encountered brilliant foliage at the base and an impressive 2″ snowcover on the exposed slopes near the top. Here is one photo from the top, showing Holts Ledge at left and the peaks of Moosilauke, Cube, and Smarts left to right – but don’t miss the gallery for six other full-res photos in brilliant color.

View of Holts Ledge with (L to R) Moosilauke, Cube, and Smarts, with waves of fall foliage below.

Hike stats:
distance = 5.9km
gain = 353m
time = 1h 37m (including photo stops)

Woodland wanderings

Sunday morning in the woods.

Today I spent a good portion of the morning wandering the woodlands of Lyme. The sun was shining, the skies were blue, the trees were bursting with color, and I was scrambling over moss-covered stone walls in the midst of historic farm country. If there is a better way to spend a Sunday morning, I can’t think of one. Read on and check out the gallery.

The fall colors are bursting forth this week.
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Lyme wildlife

I meet a patient red fox in the Lyme graveyard.

I’ve not been blogging lately, but I have been getting out. Several sightings of a bald eagle soon after our return to Lyme (New Hampshire) had me excited to visit its favorite perches with my long lens, hoping for an opportunity for some great photos. Despite many evening walks and morning paddles, he was never home when I came knocking.

Nonetheless, in the two months we’ve been home I have seen an amazing variety of wildlife within two miles of our house – black bear, red fox, white-tailed deer, red-tailed hawk, bald eagle, blue heron, mallard duck, canada goose, kingfisher, hummingbird, beaver, osprey, loon, and my first ever sighting of a bobcat. I just never seem to have my camera handy when they come by. Until today! Read on.

A red fox in the Lyme graveyard.
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Moosilauke

Visiting an old friend.

It will come as no surprise to those of you who know me, that I was back out on the trail early on my second morning out of quarantine. Not long after sunrise, I drove north along the Connecticut River and then hanging a right through the morning fog toward Moosilauke, my spiritual home in the White Mountains. This route takes me from the town of Lyme north through Orford and northeast to Warren, past the barns and pastures of riverbottom farmland, past the B&B Inns and historic sites that normally draw tourists, past the auto-body shops and driveways filled with pickup trucks. Today it was also striking to drive left to right through the political spectrum, beginning with the Black Lives Matter signs in Lyme and transitioning to the Trump-Pence campaign signs in Orford and eventually to the Trump 2020: No more bullshit sign in Warren.

Moosilauke summit on a fine summer day.

I arrived early and parked at the satellite parking area – the road is gated because Moosilauke Ravine Lodge is closed due to the pandemic. Sigh; this adds a mile-and-a-half to the round-trip distance. Still, the sky was brilliant blue and the morning air was cool. I made quick time, up Snapper to Carriage Road, pausing to visit South Peak, and then on to the main summit. Only then did I see another person – after two hours and almost four miles of hiking. A light breeze blew across the summit, while the cool morning air forced clouds to form and then dissipate as the breeze passed over the higher peaks to the northeast. Four other hikers were already at the summit, sitting suitably far apart.

View from the Moosilauke summit on a fine summer day.

I didn’t stay long, and headed down the Gorge Brook Trail – thus completing the classic circuit in the opposite direction from my normal pattern. As expected, I encountered many more hikers on my way down. All were kind enough to step aside, or would thank me after I stepped aside; about a third would pop on a mask while passing by. (Personally, I don’t see a need for a mask while hiking outdoors, in a breeze, when the contact time is less than 10 seconds, and only make an effort to keep distance during passing.)

Moosilauke summit on a fine summer day.

The terrain here is so different than Switzerland, but so beautiful in its own way, and so full of memories. A wonderful day.

Quarantine

We’ve finally finished two weeks of self-quarantine.

We have finally completed our fourteen days of state-mandated at-home self-quarantine. (All visitors arriving from anywhere outside New England are required to self-quarantine for two weeks.) Although the policy is eminently reasonable, given the low prevalence of COVID-19 here relative to many other countries and regions of the US, it has certainly been a difficult adjustment for the three of us; we were quite used to hopping on a tram or train to visit a favorite restaurant or trail. It was especially tricky for us, because our daughter (and her friend) were already living in the house, so we’ve had to wear masks and maintain social distance while inside the home. (On the other hand, they were very helpful in keeping the house stocked with groceries!)

I miss my ‘morning walk’ up the steep streets of Zürichberg; now I’m faced with the flat and sparse terrain along River Road.

River Road, seen from our driveway entrance.

Actually, I can’t complain. It’s not all that bad. Read on!

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Snowy farm fields

Black & White photographs of a quiet, snowy morning in Lyme.

This morning I was skiing through a quiet morning snowfall across pristine farm fields in Lyme, New Hampshire, and came across this scene of an antique farm instrument under an apple tree.  Although I had only my iPhone, I thought it might look good in black & white.  I haven’t done black & white photography since my earliest camera – which could only take rolls of black & white film!  So I fiddled a little in Adobe Lightroom and think the result is not too shabby.

An old farm instrument on a farm in Lyme, on a snowy day.An old farm instrument on a farm in Lyme, on a snowy day.

Clyming Lyme from bottom to top

I’ve lived in Lyme, NH for almost 20 years, very close to its lowest point along the Connecticut River.  I first climbed to the summit of Smarts Mountain, Lyme’s highest point, 35 years ago this fall. Now, when I row my shell up the river and past the mouth of Grant Brook, I can see Smarts in the distance, looking regal in its oversight of this wonderful town we call home.  I knew that Grant Brook’s source lay high on the slopes of Smarts Mountain, so it occurred to me: could I travel from Lyme’s lowest point to its highest point, completely off-road?  Yes! Read on, and check out the photos.

The mouth of Grant Brook, with its source, Smarts Mountain in view at rear.
The mouth of Grant Brook, with its source, Smarts Mountain, in view at rear.

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