Holts Ledge on a frigid day

Sometimes the best views are the smallest.

Today woke with frigid temperatures: -10ºF (-23ºC), which was certainly not inspiring me to get outdoors. But it was a beautifully clear and sunny day, and by mid-afternoon the temperature had risen twenty degrees. So a friend and I climbed nearby Holts Ledge – a hill in Lyme on which the Dartmouth Skiway is located. The snow squeaked under our feet and the stream crossings were smooth and icy. We had a fine view from the top, yes, but my favorite view was a close-up look at the frost feathers atop a puddle of ice.

View from Holts Ledge.
Frost feathers on an ice puddle, Appalachian Trail, Holts Ledge.

Roof snow sliders

So cool.

Last winter I posted a couple of times about a cool phenomenon, when snow settles onto our metal roof and slides, very slow, over days, toward the edge. In the right conditions, the snow bonds together into a sheet and, despite sliding over the edge of the roof, stays connected as a sheet. Yesterday I awoke to see these impressive sheets hanging outside my bedroom window, each at least two feet long.

I opened a window, and reached out to touch them. They were soft, fragile, and slightly wet, despite the 20ºF morning temperature. It had been warm (above freezing) the afternoon before, allowing them to slide slowly off the roof, but the falling evening temperatures trapped them in this frozen form.

Some time later that morning they fell off, as the temperatures warmed and a windy cold front arrived. This morning I see their impressions in the snow where it thinly covers the deck below.

Blueberry Mountain

It snowed yesterday – just a couple of inches – and today broke sunny and clear. So I met a few friends for a climb of Blueberry Mountain, a small peak just to the west of Mount Moosilauke. It’s not tall, or with a grand summit, nor does it have expansive views, but it’s a fine place to be on a sunny winter’s day.

The sun bursts through the snowy forest.
Ken, David, Kathy, and Dave on summit of Blueberry Mountain.

This is the same trail, the same peak, we visited on New Year’s Day 2021.

Kathy, David, and Ken descending Blueberry Mountain.

There were only a few inches of snow atop the rocky trail, but some fine views to the west as we descended toward the sunset.

Snow crystals on a puddle of ice.

Zurich departure

Scenes from the past week.

After 10 days in Switzerland it is sad to leave, hard to part with the opportunity to explore both new and unexplored areas of the city and the country. It was a pleasure to be back, to revisit old colleagues, to return to my favorite shops and viewpoints and morning walks. I certainly hope I can return again soon! Today’s gallery includes snapshots from various days and scenes in Zürich, including several from the Christmas markets and from the illuminated evenings.

St.Peter’s church seen from across the Limmat river, Zurich.

Foggy morning

No distant views … leads one to focus closer in.

It was a densely foggy morning, as I climbed to my usual outlook above the streets of Zürich. I was in the fog almost as soon as I left my hotel, at river level, and climbed 212m up through the fog to the Zürichberg viewpoint. Not surprisingly, there was nothing to see today but for the sign illustrating what distant mountains could be seen on a better day (like yesterday).

Foggy morning at Zurichberg viewpoint.

More of the snow and ice had melted from the pathways, so I took a different route down – through the forest and back to the roadway, at the spot known as Rigiblick.  There, I encountered a smiling set of sentries guarding the house beside the path.

Last week’s snow persists high on Zurichberg, where one home assembled a friendly family of snow soldiers.

Directly across the street is the top station for a funicular tram – a pair of trams on a track, attached to a cable, one descending while the other ascends. The sign advertised a departure in 2 minutes, so I hopped aboard and rode in comfort down the steep slope, approximately halfway to my starting point. Below, I look back up the track from the bottom.

Rigiblick funicular railway tracks.

This path home is always risky, passing as it does by a Migros grocery store and two wonderful bakeries. I broke down and popped into a bakery for a gipfel (like a croissant) and headed on home, a fine way to spend the morning.

Hiking in snow

A lovely outing in late-fall conditions.

Today I went out with a friend for a short hike in the hills on the eastern side of Hanover. It was a warm afternoon, but we were surprised to see an inch of fresh snow on the leaf-covered forest floor, with melting snow dripping from the fir trees overhead. It rained hard here last night – down along the Connecticut River – but only a few hundred feet higher it had apparently snowed.

First snow along the trails of the Shumway Forest in eastern Hanover, with views to Moose, Smarts, and Moosilauke.

It was nonetheless a lovely hike through the forest along a set of trails managed by the Hanover Conservancy, culminating in a series of rocky overlooks on the ledges of the ridge that extends south from Moose Mountain.

First snow along the trails of the Shumway Forest in eastern Hanover, with views to Moose, Smarts, and Moosilauke.

We wore bright-orange vests, because this weekend is the first big weekend of deer season, and we could frequently hear the report of rifle shots in the valley to the east. The sight of snow – as much as an inch of heavy, wet snow in some areas – reminds me of how quickly winter is coming.

Hike stats:
Distance: 3.94km
Time: 1h12m
Map: see red route below. (The green route refers to my prior visit)

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?

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.
Continue reading “Welch & Dickey”

Avalanche

It was just a matter of time before it struck.

An avalanche just struck the house, in a massive rumble that shook the foundation. Ok, that’s a bit melodramatic, but it’s true! I opened the front door to see what was the matter and found a foot-high wall of snow had pressed up against the door:

Front door blocked by an avalanche off the garage roof.

This morning’s warm weather (35ºF and rainy) finally convinced the snowpack on the garage roof, which had accumulated over months and had slowly melted down to 6″ of thick heavy wet stuff, that it was time to go. Fortunately I could sneak out the side door to get a more complete picture.

The garage is to the right, that front door is to the left.

The good news: the snow came off in one quick motion, overshooting much of the walkway, meaning there is less of it we need to shovel away. The bad news? Forecast is for temps to drop to 3ºF tonight, so this stuff will freeze up like concrete unless we move it today. Gotta go get the shovel…