After a month of warm temperatures – often above Freezing at night, and into the 40s, 50s, during the day – and the nearby forest floor had melted nearly clear of snow, I was glad to see winter conditions finally return. We had 6″ of fresh powder snow on Thursday. Sure, it was topped by an hour or two of sleet, but the woods felt properly wintry this morning as I climbed my usual route to the hilltop, stopping only briefly to explore the fresh tracks left by the hillside residents, leaving my own track to mark the day.
At the top of the hill the morning quiet was punctuated by a busy woodpecker, hopping from tree to tree to seek his breakfast.
For various reasons, I have not had a chance to hike any Big mountains for many months, but was eagerly looking for a day when the weather, my schedule, and my friends would all converge. Today was that day – beautiful blue skies, crisp temperatures, and decent trail conditions. We followed the Glencliff Trail – which is part of the Appalachian Trail – up Mount Moosilauke. This is my favorite winter approach; despite it having the greatest elevation gain of any approach to the summit, it is the shortest approach in winter and allows one to traverse the beautiful ridgeline between south and north peak.
When we noticed in one car a cloth that had been chewed into fuzz – and in another car some snacks that had been nibbled – we realized the smallest residents of our garage were brazenly exploring the interior of our cars and decided something needed to be done. So we borrowed a small plastic trap, loaded it with cheese, placed it near the woodpile, and… bang! within a couple of hours we’d caught our first mouse.
I put the trap in the car, drove it down the road a few miles, and gently dropped the mouse off in a remote area. I returned and set the trap again.
The next morning, another mouse was shivering inside the trap. I dropped it off on the way to work.
The next morning, a third mouse, pictured above, was waiting in the trap. I dropped it off, close to the second – perhaps it will reunite with its family.
It’s not an easy time of year to relocate – being winter and all – but maybe this is better than sending our cat to spend a night in the garage!
Early this morning I headed out for my morning walk – which recently has included a steep hike up the hill behind our house, bushwhacking through the snowy forest. The sun was coming up, and as I walked across the street and entered the woods I noted a pinkish glow along the horizon to the west and north… although, with this hill to the east, the woods were still in the morning’s dim early light. I made it less than 50m into the woods, starting up the slope and thinking I might revisit the spot where I so often see fox tracks, when a barred owl swept silently past me, its talons clutching its breakfast catch. It landed on the branch of a nearby pine tree.
Darn! I had no camera with me today, although on my Tuesday outing I had carried a full complement of camera gear only to see nothing of interest. I hesitated, then ran back home to fetch my Canon R5 with its 100-500mm lens. Within five minutes I was back, and the friendly owl was still there, posing patiently. I experimented with different positions and different exposures – the light was still low – and the above photo was the result.
Noting that he was facing away from me, swiveling his head to look in my direction, I decided to walk around to the other side to perhaps capture a view from the front… but my efforts to crunch through the old snow in that direction apparently convinced him it was time to leave, and he flew off. I look forward to seeing him again someday!
Another snowstorm, on Sunday through Monday, left about 6-8″ of fresh, powdery snow across the fields and forests around us. On Monday morning I headed across the street and into the forest behind the house, as I have done so often over the years, bushwhacking up the steep hill through the woods. The forest is relatively young and open, having been logged periodically and well managed for a variety of species – pine, fir, hemlock, oak, maple, and more. I enjoy rambling through these woods, following the fading trails left by loggers, especially in winter – because the snow exposes stories of the wildlife that live here. It’s hard to see in the photo below, but the deer walked this path earlier than me, this morning.
On Friday we had a lovely snowstorm that brought us only a couple of inches of snow… but it was fairly wet snow. It stuck to every twig and leaf, and there has been absolutely no wind… so the forests are now a beautiful palette of white, brown, and green.
Another snowstorm is due tonight… I’m hoping we’ll get a substantial snowfall that will provide deep powder for snowshoeing and skiing!
Back here in New Hampshire, it has a been a gray and drizzly week. So it was with great pleasure that today dawned sunny and cold – well below freezing, as it should be for January. (We’re still facing crazy conditions, though, with nights below freezing and days above freezing, a major confusion for the maple trees who think spring has already come!)
The Connecticut River is wide open – it can’t freeze over in these conditions. The water lapping at the shore’s edge, though, can produce some entrancing patterns where water meets rock in freezing temperatures.
This photo spans only one or two feet across, and the water has receded somewhat… leaving ultra-thin sheet of ice high and dry. Beautiful!
I enjoyed photography in 2022 and decided to share my pick of favorites. It was not easy! 12 photos for 12 months – not one per month, but just the twelve that I felt were especially beautiful or interesting. See the full gallery – where I recommend clicking the “play” button to see them as a slideshow – and read on for some commentary about each one.
Several days without power, but with snowy beauty.
A large snowstorm passed through New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday. At our house, snow fell for about 26 hours. It was warm (33º), so the snow was wet and heavy, accumulating to a depth of 8″ … but I just know that higher elevations would have seen fluffier snow that got much deeper. Can’t wait for a chance to get out and hike some mountains!
Unfortunately, the weight of all this snow caused many trees and branches to fall, blocking roads and knocking out power and Internet across the region. We are fortunate to have battery backup – which lasted for about 17 hours, fed in part by our solar tracker soaking up the post-storm sunshine. In turn, the batteries can be refilled by a propane generator. (The relationship between the two is complicated and buggy, but that’s another story.)
I took the opportunity to ramble around the backyard – local authorities asked everyone to stay off the roads unless necessary – and try to improve my ability to find interesting compositions and to expose properly for snow. Check out the gallery; at the end is a bonus: bald eagles spotted high in the trees during my afternoon walk, including a short video of two eagles taking off to fly across the river and greet a third bald eagle in the trees over there. (Apologies for the low-res iPhone photo and video… it’s all I had with me.)
The Hanover Green is particularly beautiful in December, especially now with the renovated Dartmouth Hall and Baker Tower illuminated, along with the annual Christmas tree. The gallery includes more scenes with fresh snow.