Lambert Ridge

A grey day but a nice outing.

For a few months I’ve been thinking of returning to Lambert Ridge, a ledgy section of the Appalachian Trail up Smarts Mountain, not far from here. The first section is steep, leading up to a series of granite ledges with broad views that belie the relatively low elevation at this point on the trail. The climb to these ledges is a worthwhile dayhike, and brings back memories. Read on!

A ledge outcrop near the trail up Lambert Ridge, Smarts Mountain, New Hampshire.
Continue reading “Lambert Ridge”

Moosilauke

A very blustery day!

After yesterday’s good news from Georgia and horrific news from Washington, I was grateful to spend a few hours in one place on earth that gives me great peace: Mount Moosilauke. As I drove east out of the Connecticut River valley and over the shoulder of Mount Cube, I could see that Moosilauke’s summits were clouded in – disappointing – but I also enjoyed a deep-red sunrise among the clouds near the eastern horizon. A bright spot in a gray day. Read on, and check out the photo gallery for videos and more pix!

Kathy pauses on the ridge as we approach the summit of Moosilauke.
Continue reading “Moosilauke”

Blueberry mountain

A hike on a blue-sky New Years’ day.

Tim, David, and Kathy, on a hike to Blueberry Mountain.

It has long been a tradition for my Dartmouth friends and me to hike a mountain on New Year’s Day. Today we were fortunate to have outstanding weather: a blue-sky day with moderate temperatures (20-30º), and a fresh (though thin) layer of powder snow at higher elevations. We had eyes for Moosilauke – our traditional destination for New Years – but with weather this nice, we anticipated huge crowds. Instead we headed for Blueberry Mountain, a pretty little (2,663′) bump to the southwest of Mount Moosilauke.

I’d been up here once before, but from the east, and today we came up from the west. The west is a longer approach, but a pretty trail nonetheless. We were the first to travel this trail since the snowfall a few days ago. To be more precise, we were the first humans on the trail since the snowfall – we were following a coyote’s tracks for most of the way up! Indeed, the coyote often provided clues about the route when the trailbed was not so clear.

The view from the summit is partly obscured by trees, but Moosilauke was visible and delightfully clear from this close. It must have been a grand day up there! In the photo below, the south peak is most visible.

On the summit of Blueberry Mountain: Kathy, Tim, David, David.

The sign at the trailhead advertised 2.2 miles, but my GPS track shows we walked 8.52km round-trip (5.3 miles, or 2.65 mi each way). Two smartwatches also indicated a distance closer to 2.7 miles for the ascent.

A fresh dusting of snow decorate the trail near the summit of Blueberry Mountain on New Years’ Day.

Hike stats:
distance 8.52km
gain: 423m
time: 3h15m

Blueberry is at left: blue trail is today’s route.
Moosilauke is at right: purple is the Glencliff trail in November; red is the Gorge Brook trail in July.

Mount Cube

Returning to an old favorite with old friends.

There’s something magical about gathering with old friends, even after a long absence. It reminds me of the experience of slipping on a well-traveled pair of hiking boots: they fit just right and enable you to walk for miles in comfort. So it was for us today, a group of friends who have been hiking together for more than three decades. We met at the base of the Rivendell Trail on Mt. Cube – a trail that is one of my local favorites, because it gives one a dose of the “White Mountains” without a long drive or a major hike. Standing apart, and forgoing the usual hugs, we donned a layer of warm clothes as the wind whipped through the trees overhead. Read on!

Continue reading “Mount Cube”

Trout Pond

A local favorite.

Lyme is home to many hidden natural treasures. Trout Pond is one: nestled in the hills on the north side of town, at the end of a dirt road followed by a forest road and reached by a footpath, this small pond offers quiet respite from the bustling world outside its little valley. It’s not a long hike, nor a difficult climb, barely clocking in at 2 miles round-trip along a fairly level route, but it’s interesting in every season.

Today, the woods were entirely snow-free after the Christmas rainstorm, but there was a fresh dusting of powder along the exposed rocks and coating the skim of ice across the pond. A canoe and paddles, apparently left for anyone who wishes, rest on the shore where trail meets pond.


As noted by the page on TrailFinder, “The land around Trout Pond has been a working forest for some two centuries, while stone walls, foundations, and barbed wire seemingly swallowed by trees indicate that the western part of the tract had an agricultural history. By 1855, several families homesteaded in the area near the present trailhead. The Piper brothers, who ran a steam-powered sawmill near the outlet of Trout Pond, bought the timber lot in 1891. Two other sawmills on the brook also processed lumber that was probably cut in the Trout Pond Forest. A stack of hemlock bark, found on a ridge south of the pond, suggests this material was gathered for the leather tanning trade. By 1870, the Pliny Allen place had found its future as a cellar hole, and by 1946 so too the Gilbert/Smith place.”

I know little about black & white photography but decided to process these snaps of the pond in black & white because, well, this presentation seemed to fit the monochrome pond, gray sky, and dark forest. In contrast, here’s a photo of the trail along the shoreline:

Snow rollers

An extremely rare treat.

Recent snow conditions appear to have been ideal for the creation of snow rollers, an extremely cool (but uncommon) phenomenon. I’ve only seen them once before. Yesterday, Andy and I drove past a roadside hill south of Windsor, VT that was decorated with literally hundreds of small snow rollers – a most impressive collection! Unfortunately, that stretch of VT Rt.44 has no safe place to stop, so we were unable to photograph any of those rollers.

Today, I was out for a walk on a neighborhood road along a steep hillside, and came across an old snow roller. In this photo I’ve increased the contrast and texture to help see it a bit better against the snowy background.

You can see the track it made as it rolled down the hill from left to right. This roller is not particularly impressive, about 8-10″ in diameter and somewhat melted from today’s warm temperatures. Below is a tight crop:


Read more about snow rollers.

Lyme skiing

Cross-country skiing on the downtown trails in Lyme.

On Saturday and Monday (today) we went cross-country skiing, right here in Lyme. One of the wonderful things about our little town is that there are miles of beautiful skiing trails available to the public, thanks to the generosity of the landowners and the hard work of volunteers who maintain the trails in summer and groom the tracks all winter. It really is an incredible resource, especially in the covid era when activities outdoors in the fresh air are more important than ever.

I’m especially grateful to Kevin and the crew who maintain the Stone House Farm trails in downtown Lyme (where I skied today), and to Bob and the extensive network out at the Greens (where Andy skied today).

Skiing the Stone House trails in Lyme.

We went from zero snow to a solid base, in this recent storm. The conditions softened today, with temps exceeding 32ºF (gasp!), but were still a joy to ski. Sadly, the rest of the week will bring more warm temperatures and rain on Christmas Day. Let’s hope for little rain and then a new snowstorm to bring back the skiing soon!

Home woods

One of my favorite places to go when I have little time or ambition is just across the street. Between River Road and Route 10, between Hewes Brook and Grant Brook, is a sizeable block of roadless forest, with rolling hills, steep ravines, and a variety of forest regions ranging from firs to pines to maples and oaks. Most of it is managed for timber, so there is ample room to meander under the mature trees and there are skidder trails here and there that provide walkable paths – some even skiable. The hill rises steeply across from our house, giving one an immediate workout, but once up on the ridge, or down in the valley on the other side, it’s a magical place.

A hardwood forest – seen in black & white.

I mostly visit here in winter, on snowshoes or skis, traversing above the litter of the forest floor and pondering the many tracks animals leave behind. Deer tracks are never out of sight; mouse and squirrel tracks are common; bear and fox are an occasional treat. There were plenty of deer tracks criss-crossing my path today, as my snowshoes waded through the fresh powder laid down by that storm two days ago. I happened to look up at the right moment to see a huge owl gliding through the treetops ahead of me, totally soundless in this quiet snowscape. Someday I hope to have a chance to photograph these elusive neighbors.

Snowshoeing through an area dominated by firs and pines.

When I head into these woods I rarely have a plan or a particular goal; I follow my whims, noting landmarks familiar from two decades of wandering or exploring new directions to see what I might discover. Today I went further north than ever before, eventually popping out on the Lyme Hill – Grant Brook trail, as expected, giving me an easy exit down to River Road for the walk back home.

Christmas trees

Fresh snow makes Christmas trees all the more beautiful.

This year, just as we do every year, we make the short pilgrimage to Nichols’ Christmas Tree Farm, just on the other side of the hill, to choose and cut our own tree. I returned today, with the snow still fresh and fluffy from the snowstorm two days ago, to explore this landscape under a blue sky and a white blanket. Magical!

Christmas tree farm, Lyme NH

Bobcat visit

A special treat.

We’ve lived in Lyme for over twenty years and I have spent time in the woods of New Hampshire for over thirty years. I’ve seen nearly every large mammal – deer, moose, bear, coyote, fox, and more – except a bobcat. So I was especially excited to spot a bobcat, at a distance and from behind, at the edge of a cornfield in September. Even then, because of the distance and the circumstance, I was unsure whether it was a bobcat until I’d returned home for close examination of the two photos I managed to snap before it disappeared.

Today, however, I had the good luck to look out the window, across the snowy lawn and the icy river to a dark figure moving along the Vermont shore. A bobcat was exploring the river’s edge, as if to test the ice and consider a move to New Hampshire. I grabbed my Nikon and the 200-500mm lens and collected a couple hundred shots in the two minutes it took him to walk out of sight. Even at 500mm it still takes a tight crop to get a good look, below. See the gallery for a few more, including a nice look at his face while he pauses to drink from the river’s surface.

A Vermont bobcat explores the river shore across from our house.

An uncropped example is below.

[uncropped] A Vermont bobcat explores the river shore across from our house.

Such a beautiful animal. I hope s/he visits again soon!