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)

First snowfall

Brief but beautiful.

It rained all day yesterday, and rained hard all night long. At first light today, I looked out the window to see blobs of snow falling amongst the raindrops. Although the air temperature was above freezing, it must have been cold higher up. The snow/rain mix continued for about an hour, with little of the snow sticking to the warm, wet ground. It’s a beautiful sight, and also a reminder that the warm side of fall weather may be with us only for a few more weeks.

Season’s first snowfall at home.
A few snowflakes cling to the fallen leaves.

Mt. Israel

A beautiful hike through fall foliage.

Today was another spectacular fall day in New Hampshire. I enjoyed a lovely early-morning drive across the rolling hills of center-western portion of the state, around Squam Lake, and past the trailhead for my prior Morgan-Percival hike, to the pretty village of Center Sandwich. My destination was Mt. Israel, seen in photo of fall colors above a roadside wetland. Read on and check out the gallery.

A pretty roadside view on Rt113 in NH. A shoulder of Mt. Israel peeks out at right.
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Morgan and Percival

A beautiful hike through fall foliage to summits that overlook Squam Lake.

The trail sign gave me two choices to reach the summit – via the caves or via the cliffs. Well, I picked the caves of course! Little did I know that the trail would in one place make me squeeze through a passage so narrow I’d need to remove my pack, and that in another place the trail would actually cross over itself like a corkscrew. Read on and check out the gallery for more photos of Mount Morgan and Mount Percival, during fall-foliage season!

View from Mt. Percival, with Mt. Morgan at right and Squam Lake below..
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Rowing disappointment

The beauty of sculling on the river.

Last summer when I moved to Switzerland I was, despite the excitement of the new adventures I’d encounter there, sad to be leaving New Hampshire during the prime season for rowing (sculling) on the river. So I was, this summer, looking forward to returning to the river to resume rowing in late July. The first few weeks were wonderful, as I slowly built up my strength and re-tuned my skills for rowing on the Connecticut River where it flows beside our home. It was not to last.

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Mount Washington Hotel

A beautiful day for a drive.

It’s been over six years since I was last at the Mount Washington Hotel, one of my favorite places in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Today was a beautiful day, in fall foliage season, so Pam and I decided to drive up there for lunch and a chance to enjoy the views along the way.

Northern New England has been suffering through an extended drought, ending yesterday with a very welcome and drenching rainfall. I’d guess we were two weeks too late for the peak colors at this latitude and elevation, the peak coming about 3-5 weeks ahead of schedule due to the drought. Although the colors were a bit muted today, it was still a beautiful drive.

The Mount Washington Hotel is one of the last great Grand Hotels from the early 20th century, and still carries much of its grandeur despite a thorough renovation and several recent expansions. We found a table on the patio looking out at Mount Washington and the Presidential Range, its granite ridgeline gray above the rust-colored fall foliage on the valley slopes below.

There were quite a few other people there, although it was mid-week, enjoying the clear mountain air and the warm days of early fall weather.

Fortunately, last weekend I explored the back roads of Lyme during what may have been its peak-colors day, and took many photos. I hope to post them soon.

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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Mt. Pemigewasset

A morning hike on a sunny day.

New Hampshire has been an extremely popular destination for hikers during the pandemic, attracting in-staters as well as many from Massachussetts and other parts of southern New England. As a result, my aim is to hike lesser-known trails, to hike on weekdays, and to hike early in the morning. Today I headed up to Franconia Notch (often an extremely crowded destination) and was almost the first car to arrive at the trailhead. I was soon on the trail to Mt. Pemigewasset, a tiny bump between the deep valley of Franconia Notch and the 4000-foot peaks to its west. I’d never been here before, dismissing this little destination as unworthy. But it has a wonderful view, and it makes for a pleasant 3.6-mile round-trip morning walk.

David on the summit of Mount Pemigewasset, NH.

In the photo above you can see Mount Moosilauke – my hike from two weeks ago – in the distance to the left above my head. I had passed a father-daughter pair coming down just before I arrived at the summit – darn, I’d intended to be here an hour earlier – but otherwise saw no other hikers on the way up.

View of Moosilauke (distant right) from the summit of Mount Pemigewasset, NH.

In the south-looking photo above you can again see Moosilauke in the distance. On the way down, however, there were several large parties coming up, mostly family groups, several with children or dogs.

View of South Kinsman from the summit of Mount Pemigewasset, NH.

In the photo above you see the Kinsman ridge, which John and I traversed a few years ago. I was back at the car by 9:30am and home by 11am, ready to get back to work. Nice way to start the 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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End of summer

Summer is winding down here in New Hampshire, with a spell of beautiful weather and fantastic river conditions.  The swimming is better than I can ever remember, and the morning mists make my morning row a luscious and mysterious experience.  I haven’t has as much time for hiking this summer as I’d hoped, because we are moving to Switzerland for the coming year.  Pam and Andy moved there two weeks ago, and I depart tomorrow!   I look forward to blogging about our experiences and travels in that beautiful country.

I’ve posted a small gallery of selected photos from the summer, plus a gallery highlighting the many bald eagles I’ve had the joy to see in the area (one highlight below).  And, a gallery of raptors from a brief visit to the nearby Vermont Institute of Natural Science during their “falconry” demonstration.

Bald eagle on the Connecticut River, NH.