Bald eagle

Our new neighbor.

As I was rowing on the river this morning, I scanned the tall riverside trees to see whether I might see anything interesting, as is my habit. Unlike other days, today I spotted the telltale white head of a bald eagle, high in the branches of a distant dead snag. I turned around, headed home, grabbed my camera, and drove up the road to that location. This was a great opportunity to test my new 800mm lens!

Canon R5 with 800mm f/11 at 1/400, ISO 500, cropped

It appears to be a somewhat immature bald eagle – not fully developed with the all-white head of an adult. It stuck around as long as I would, and beyond. I hope to see it again sometime soon.

Moosilauke

I can’t seem to get enough of this place – my third overnight visit in two months. The weather was hot – with a high in the 80s at the lodge and in the 70s on the summit – so the conditions weren’t great for hiking. But my group took our time climbing and descending, enjoying the summit breeze and the mix of clouds and sun (and a brief sprinkle) the weather delivered us today. It was my great pleasure to introduce the mountain, and the lodge, to a new group of people.

View of the ridge and South Peak, as we descend north peak of Mount Moosilauke.
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Ammonoosuc River falls

A natural waterpark.

On the final day of my vacation we took a late-morning walk along the Ammonoosuc River, upstream from the Mount Washington Hotel. This is a beautiful mountain stream formed upslope in the Ammonoosuc Ravine on the slopes of Mount Washington. Along this section, it passes through several narrow cracks in the granite, forming cascades, waterfalls, and deep pools of cold, clear water. Beautiful, yes … but also a great playground on a hot summer’s day. Check out the gallery.

People swimming at the Upper Falls of the Ammonoosuc River, White Mountains.

Hike stats:
Distance: 6.27km
Time: 2h19 with many stops
Gain: 54m

Mount Willard

A favorite morning jaunt.

Today broke clear and cool. I wanted to get out for one more hike, before we had to head home. From the Mount Washington Hotel I have found many lovely, short hikes, doable before breakfast. I selected the most convenient, the short jaunt up Mount Willard. It’s one I’ve visited many times. It includes a nice waterfall and a grand view south along Crawford Notch.

Early morning view from Mount Willard, looking south through Crawford Notch.
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This Tesla climbed Mount Washington

Never used the brakes!

In my forty years of visiting and living in New Hampshire, I’d never driven up the Auto Road to the top of Mount Washington – though the “This Car Climbed Mount Washington” bumper stickers are ubiquitous. Today was a beautiful day, though, and Pam indicated she’d never been to the top of Mount Washington… so we went. As we passed through the toll gate we noted the Tesla Model Y battery was at 50%. We wound our way up the mountain, on extremely narrow roads with no guardrails and steep drop-offs on one side or another. The views were stupendous, but allowable only to the passenger! We reached the summit parking area with battery at 35%; it thus takes 15% of the battery to climb the mountain. But we earned most of it back! read on.

Summit of Mount Washington, after a drive up the Autoroad.
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Mount Pierce and Mitzpah Hut

View of the Presidential Range from near the summit of Mt. Pierce, White Mountains.

Back in New Hampshire, I spent the weekend at the Mount Washington Hotel in the White Mountains – with perfect weather and a grand view of the Presidential Range. Pam joined me for the two-night stay. On Saturday morning the day broke cool and clear so I headed a few miles down the road to Crawford Notch and headed up the Crawford Path. This path is the oldest continuously used mountain trail in the United States, dating to 1819. There were few people on the trail this early in the morning (7am), but that would soon change. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.

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Black bear burgles birdseed

I should know better.

It was 4:00am and, it being a lovely summer’s night, the bedroom windows were wide open. In a few minutes, as the dusk softened, the birds would start to chatter and sing, waking me for a new day. Instead, I awoke to hear a clattering out on the deck, like the sound of a hanger being tossed around on a clothes rack. I knew what was happening even before I got up to investigate.

We are fortunate to live in a rural area with nearly every sort of wildlife – bear, moose, deer, fox, coyote, bobcat, fisher, mink, groundhog, beaver, not to mention birds and countless small critters. I’ve had even greater good fortune to see each of those, and to photograph a few. We know bears are hungry in the spring, and it is well known that bears will seek out birdfeeders, as birdseed is rich in fat and nutrients. I failed to bring the birdfeeders inside last night, as our black-bear neighbor discovered on his morning rounds.

A black bear tears down our birdfeeder for breakfast.

It was still rather dark, and although I could see well, the iPhone XR doesn’t quite have sufficient dynamic range. After the bear polished off one birdfeeder, and headed for the second, I turned on the outdoor lights. That didn’t faze the bear at all, but allowed me to capture the final four minutes of his visit on video. At the end, you can see our cat, watching intently, growling softly.

This behavior is not good for the bear, or for us. Or for the birdfeeders 😉. It’s my responsibility to remember to bring in those birdfeeders every night… or to delay using birdfeeders until later in the summer.

Summer solstice

Longest day of the year?

PhotoPills screenshot showing time/date for equinoxes and solstices.

Today is the summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere). More precisely, the solstice occurred at 5:15am here in the Eastern timezone. The summer solstice is the moment at which the sun has ‘traveled’ to its northernmost latitude, in its annual cycle of apparent movement to the north in summer and to the south in winter. (It’s a great day for those of us with solar panels, because it means we’re getting hours of sunlight!) Read on.

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Commencement

A 252-year tradition.

I had the honor of leading the academic procession – and acting as master of ceremonies – at the Commencement ceremony at Dartmouth College this weekend.

Dartmouth photo by Rob Strong

See the official photo gallery, the YouTube playlist with three speaker videos, and video of the full ceremony.

Congratulations to the graduates!