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.

Presidential Sunset

Sunset views of the Presidential Range from Mount Martha, in New Hampshire.

On the night before the spring equinox I hiked with a dear friend to the top of Mount Martha in the northern White Mountains of New Hampshire.  We aimed for sunset, knowing that Martha has a spectacular view of the Presidential Range to the east.

The snow conditions were excellent, after a week of warm weather had consolidated the snow and a day’s cold weather had firmed the packed trail into a solid base that was perfect for micro spikes.  I pushed up the trail hard and fast, carrying a heavy pack with photography equipment, spare clothing, and a warm dinner, with a wary eye to the sun setting behind me as I neared the ridgeline.  I arrived at the summit 15 minutes before sunset and was pleased to see the Presies still fully illuminated, with the nearly-full moon rising above them.  The wind was dead calm, and the temperature a moderate 15 degrees.  As the sun’s orange globe glowed orange through the trees behind me, I quickly set up my tripod and started snapping photos of the Presies.

2019-03-19-65317We reveled in the beauty of the moment, as the sun set in the west while the white-capped Presidential peaks turned pink and the sky above blended into a gradient from purple to blue.  After about forty minutes we reluctantly turned and headed back down the trail, with the rising full moon so brightly illuminating the forest floor that we never needed headlamps.  A magical evening in an amazing place!  I’ve posted my favorite photos in this gallery.

Snowy farm fields

Black & White photographs of a quiet, snowy morning in Lyme.

This morning I was skiing through a quiet morning snowfall across pristine farm fields in Lyme, New Hampshire, and came across this scene of an antique farm instrument under an apple tree.  Although I had only my iPhone, I thought it might look good in black & white.  I haven’t done black & white photography since my earliest camera – which could only take rolls of black & white film!  So I fiddled a little in Adobe Lightroom and think the result is not too shabby.

An old farm instrument on a farm in Lyme, on a snowy day.An old farm instrument on a farm in Lyme, on a snowy day.

River trip – to Massachusetts!

We have completed the entire journey of the river through New Hampshire and Vermont!

Pam and Mara on our annual canoe trip.For the past six years we have been canoeing sections of the Connecticut River from its source at the New Hampshire-Canada border toward its mouth on Long Island Sound.  Each year we pick up where we left off the previously – so this year we launched our canoes just below Bellows Falls, and paddled three days to the first take-out inside Massachusetts. As a result, we have completed the entire journey of the river through New Hampshire and Vermont!  We’ve been fortunate to follow the string of campsites organized by the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail and their excellent map.  This year we paddled through a beautiful section of river, with good weather, albeit with some strong headwinds. We passed the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant (now being decommissioned), and the city of Brattleboro, and portaged around Vernon Dam.  Continue reading “River trip – to Massachusetts!”

Clyming Lyme from bottom to top

I’ve lived in Lyme, NH for almost 20 years, very close to its lowest point along the Connecticut River.  I first climbed to the summit of Smarts Mountain, Lyme’s highest point, 35 years ago this fall. Now, when I row my shell up the river and past the mouth of Grant Brook, I can see Smarts in the distance, looking regal in its oversight of this wonderful town we call home.  I knew that Grant Brook’s source lay high on the slopes of Smarts Mountain, so it occurred to me: could I travel from Lyme’s lowest point to its highest point, completely off-road?  Yes! Read on, and check out the photos.

The mouth of Grant Brook, with its source, Smarts Mountain in view at rear.
The mouth of Grant Brook, with its source, Smarts Mountain, in view at rear.

Continue reading “Clyming Lyme from bottom to top”

Fall colors, fall hikes

This month is shaping up to be a beautiful example of Fall in New England. This weekend I managed to spend time out in the woods on both Saturday and Sunday.

Fall colors around a meadow in Lyme.
Fall colors around a meadow in Lyme.

On Saturday I bushwhacked around the property boundary of  a conservation easement in Lyme Center, on behalf of the Upper Valley Land Trust.  This beautiful patch of forest and meadows, a mix of hardwoods with some pine and fir stands, weaves up and down over the rolling terrain between the Connecticut River valley and the steep hills of east Lyme and the Skiway.  The colors of Fall were just beginning to peak in a few species, and the woods were peaceful with the sleepy conditions common to late summer and early fall.  The deep farming history of this region was clear as I scrambled over old stone walls, past barbed wire long absorbed into the border trees, and old blinds used by generations of Lyme hunters. The bluebirds flitted between sugar maples and apple trees on the edges of the meadows overlooking the Grant Brook valley. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

Fall colors from summit of Cardigan.
Fall colors from summit of Cardigan.

On Sunday I led a small group up the western slopes of Mount Cardigan, a bit further south in Canaan.  The colors here were further along, as we climbed toward the bare summit of this popular peak.  Although the sky was cloudy and the wind brisk, the group’s spirits were high as we enjoyed the 360-degree view of multicolored hills rolling off into Vermont, New Hampshire, and beyond.

More photos on SmugMug – watch this gallery for more as the Fall progresses!

Wildcat-Carter range

An example of the rugged trail along Wildcat ridge, and the impressive rockwork needed to support hikers.  It's even steeper than this photo makes it look!
An example of the rugged trail along Wildcat ridge, and the impressive rockwork needed to support hikers. It’s even steeper than this photo makes it look!

I had the honor of accompanying my dear friend Lelia on a two-day backpacking trip across the Wildcat and Carter range, in the eastern part of the White Mountain National Forest, to complete her list of 48 four-thousand-foot peaks. We managed a late start on Friday afternoon, heading steeply out of Pinkham Notch from Glen Ellis Falls to scramble up the Wildcat Ridge. This route fortunately provides some nice views of the Notch, and eventually of the Presidential Range, though it spends most of its length deep in the scrubby trees of a New Hampshire ridgeline.  The ridge is rough, with many ups and downs and scrambles around boulders. We enjoyed the late-afternoon sunshine, and reached the rocky outcrop known as Wildcat D as the light began to fade.  I paused here for a moment to reflect on my own journey to the 48 peaks, which I had completed here – on this very spot – 20 years earlier.

A morning view into Carter Notch, with the hut and ponds visible at bottom, and Wildcat ridge behind, from an outlook on the climb up to Carter Dome.
A morning view into Carter Notch, with the hut and ponds visible at bottom, and Wildcat ridge behind, from an outlook on the climb up to Carter Dome.

We could just barely see our destination down into Carter Notch, in the dim light, and began to scramble down the steep and jumbled blocks of the trail into the notch. I finally gave in to the need for headlamps, and we pushed past the creaky door of Carter Notch hut, well after dark, to the warm and relieved smiles of Lelia’s husband and son.

Celebrating Lelia's 48th NH 4000-footer on Middle Carter mountain with the Presidential Range beind; with David, Lelia, Will, Lars, and Bill.
Celebrating Lelia’s 48th NH 4000-footer on Middle Carter mountain with the Presidential Range behind; with David, Lelia, Will, Lars, and Bill.

 

The next morning broke a bit cloudy.  Concerned about spending a day hiking through drizzle, we clambered up the steep slope of Carter Dome.  Right on schedule, we met another friend – a veteran 4000-footer himself – and continued along the ridge.  On Middle Carter we cheered Lelia’s 48th peak with cheese and crackers and celebratory beverages. Her thirty years of determination and perseverance paid off!  The weather had held out nicely, and we had fine views of the Presidentials to the west and the Maine peaks to the east.  We scampered down the Imp trail into the Notch, enjoying the bright colors of fall, and capped off a fine weekend with a hearty dinner at Pinkham Notch camp.