April Fools

And you thought it was spring.

Every year, as the snow melts, the birds return, and we get a few warm days, people who are new to New England think winter is over. As some old-timers recently told me, with a knowing look, don’t be fooled by mother nature. Spring may have decided to arrive, sure; but winter usually hasn’t quite yet agreed. April is a time of surprises – it can be 70º one day and then snow six inches the next. So it was no particular surprise to me that yesterday, April Fool’s day, it snowed several times. Just briefly. At the end of the day, though, as it became colder, a bit of snow decided to stick. Now, at 7am, it’s snowing hard!

Moosilauke

Spring conditions!

Although I’d already been up Moosilauke twice this winter, in late November and early January, I could not wait to get up there again before the season ends. I always enjoy visiting in late winter when the snowpack is incredibly deep, yet the valleys are starting to experience spring. So I’ve been watching the weather for the past two weeks and, finally, today offered me fantastic weather and an open calendar. I jumped at the chance. Read on, and check out the gallery.

David on the summit by 9:20am, in conditions warm enough for short sleeves.
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Snowflakes

Snowflake photography is hard.

It’s snowing lightly this morning, quite a change from the 50-degree sunny weather that has worn hard on the snowbanks this past week. It’s a welcome opportunity to pretty-up the view of the nearby hillsides and to coat the dirty old snow in a fresh coat of white.

I recently read a New York Times article about the amazing snowflake photographs produced as a hobby by Nathan Myhrvold, a retired Microsoft executive, like the one below.

Image copyright Nathan Myhrvold, from the New York Times.

I decided to dash outside and give it a quick try. Needless to say, my attempts – photographed in about five minutes using a handheld Nikon camera and a routine lens, of flakes freshly fallen onto a microfiber cloth – are not even worthwhile saving. Myhrvold’s work has taken years of experimentation, custom-designed equipment, travel to remote locations, and incredible persistence. It’s beautiful work, and I highly recommend a scroll through the photos in the article.

Who knew microfiber cloths have such texture?

Mount Roberts

What a difference a week makes!

It’s Thursday, and that means it is time for another outing. I was constrained today by a need to be home in time for a meeting at noon, so I selected one of the New Hampshire “52 with a view” peaks that is new to me and yet not too-far of a drive: Mount Roberts. It turns out to be a great destination… and the conditions were radically different than last week. Read on…

The summit of Mount Roberts includes grand views of the White Mountains, including Mount Washington in the center distance.
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Welch & Dickey

A perfect day for these two popular peaks.

One never hears of anyone climbing Mount Welch, or Dickey, or Dickey & Welch. It’s always Welch & Dickey. These twin mountains are a popular pair of small peaks in central New Hampshire, on the south edge of the White Mountains. Part of their popularity is the loop trail that goes over both peaks, making a far more interesting hike than the usual out-and-back route one might use to approach a single peak. Today, a brilliant late-winter day, Andy and I followed the classic route and enjoyed perfect trail conditions, blue skies, and crystal-clear views. Read on and check out the photo gallery!

Mount Dickey (left) and Mount Welch, White Mountains of NH.
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Mt. Pemigewasset

A gorgeous day for a hike.

Andy and I climbed little Mt. Pemigewasset this morning, striding up a well-beaten path to the granite outcrops that provide grand views to the south and some between-trees peeks at the high peaks of the Franconia Range. There was a fluffy inch of fresh powder on top of last week’s crust, and another foot or two of older powder below the crust. As long as we stayed on the beaten path, our footing was fine (with microspikes)… but whenever we stepped off the path, we broke through the crust and sank to our knees. And step off we did! because we passed hikers by the dozens (my guess is 80-100 people) on this popular two-mile trail. A Sunday with bright sunshine and warm temps (20ºF), on a short easy trail to a spot with grand views, is bound to draw the crowds. Indeed, we were lucky to even find a parking space at the base.

David and Andy on Mt. Pemigewasset, Franconia Notch, NH.

There are a few more photos in the gallery. Compare with my visit to Pemigewasset last August.

Distance: 4 miles
Time: 1h50
Gain: 2552′

Snow returns

A nor’easter brings winter conditions back home.

Although the mountains still hold fantastic winter conditions, as I found last Thursday on Worcester Mountain, the immediate Hanover-Lyme area has little snow left. Our yard was still covered in an inch or two of old hard snow, but the neighboring woods were becoming largely bare. All that changed today, as a powerful nor’easter swept up the coast. We accumulated 8.5 inches of fresh white stuff, far less than what some saw down east – the coastal regions received a foot or two – but eight or nine inches is quite nice indeed. It was a bit warm here – topping the freezing point for the afternoon – so the snow is a bit wet. At higher elevation I hope to find deeper, lighter powder. Read on and check out the gallery of photos.

The hill behind our home is blanketed in snow.
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Glacial erratic

Skiing the trails of northeastern Lyme.

One of the cool things about skiing through the remote areas of northeastern Lyme, as I was early this morning after last night dusted the area with an inch or two of fresh powder, is the striking appearance of huge boulders in the middle of an otherwise uneventful patch of lowland forest. These boulders are likely glacial erratics, brought here long ago astride one of the slow-moving glaciers that flowed over this terrain during the last ice age.

A glacial erratic sits beside the ski trails in northeast Lyme.

Or maybe not; some of my readers have a geology background. Correct me if I’m wrong!

A bit further long the trail this morning was a more contemporary form of wildlife: a domestic dog, complete with matching winter coat, quietly and alertly watching me approach while he waited for his pet human to catch up from around the bend.

A dog waits for me on the trails.

Four deer a-leaping

It was a fox.

I returned to the hillside behind our house for another stroll this afternoon. This time I encountered a group of four deer, leaping off through the forest before I had a chance to capture a photograph. I also passed through an area with extensive deer activity, including two deer beds – shallow impressions in the snow where a deer had clearly slept overnight, leaving an icy patch where the snow had melted under her.

a deer bed.

I also returned to the tracks I’d examined yesterday, now armed with the guidebook. It’s now pretty clear these are fox tracks, presumably red fox. Much harder to see in these photos than in the field, I’m afraid.

A fox track.
A fox track.