Mount Abraham and the Tunbridge Fair

Forest and Farm, in one day.

For my hike this weekend I decided to return to a peak I had not visited since the early 1980s – Mount Abraham, which is one of the five 4000-foot peaks in Vermont and one of only three Vermont peaks with an alpine-zone summit. My notion was to scramble up there in the morning and to stop by the Tunbridge World’s Fair on the way back, which would give me ample opportunities for lunch of both the healthy and unhealthy kind. Read on!

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Mount Cushman

A short hike to a delightful remote peak, Mount Cushman, in central Vermont.

No, I’ve never heard of it either. This small peak in Central Vermont is not on anyone’s peak-bagger list, or on any long-distance trail. But when I was looking through the guidebook of dayhikes in Vermont, this one stuck out as an interesting new place to visit.

The trail along the ridgeline to Mount Cushman.
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Strawberry fields

An annual treat.

I’m delighted to be back in the Upper Valley region of NH & VT in time for strawberry season. We are fortunate to have an excellent organic farm nearby, Cedar Circle Farm, just up the river on the Vermont side. So yesterday morning you could find me out in their U-pick field before the sweltering summer weather arrived – quickly filling a six-quart tray with the best, ripest strawberries. I filled one tray with Jewel berries, suitable for freezing, and another quart with AC Valley Sunset berries, with plans to eat them within one or two days 🙂

The result was delish – strawberry shortcake for dinner dessert.

Return to Worcester

What a difference!

Rugged trail, straight up the fall line, on Worcester Mountain.

“It sure does look different in the winter”, said the hiker I met on this trail back in January. He had lost the trail just a couple hundred meters shy of the summit of Worcester Mountain, despite having climbed this trail “dozens” of times. After thanking him for his advice, I pressed on and experienced the most exhilarating hike of the season [read that story].

So today, a warm and muggy day in early June with the trees and shrubs almost fully leafed out for summer, and nary a snowflake left anywhere in New England, I decided to head back and see if Worcester Mountain really is “different in summer”. I got an early start, reaching the trailhead by 7:30am, but there were already three cars in the lot. Read on, to see what I found!

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Tesla… not

A month of body work awaits!

Sadly, I lost my brand-new Tesla one week ago.

damage to my Model Y after another driver rear-ended me.

Well, to be more precise, my Tesla is now in the shop, after a distracted driver rear-ended me last Thursday at a remote intersection in Vermont. (Nobody was hurt.) I’ve spent the last week on the phone with Tesla, two insurance companies, and a couple of body shops trying to make arrangements. Not easy!

As it turns out, there are no Tesla-approved body shops in either Vermont or New Hampshire, so the closest realistic option was to tow my car about 20 miles from the accident to a garage, and then 160 miles from that garage to the body shop near Boston. Tesla cars require special training and equipment to repair, because of the high-voltage electronics and because of the aluminum body components.

On the other hand, a major advantage of Tesla cars is that they have cameras all around, always recording;* I was able to pull the USB memory stick after the accident, giving me a several dramatic views of the incident. Check out the gallery for two photos and two brief videos.

Now I’m in this Toyota RAV4 SUV rental car. Very odd blue!

* If you’re really into this stuff, check out the YouTube Channel Wham Bam TeslaCam for dramatic video captures by Tesla cars around the world. Ironically, I was watching video from that channel before I went out last Thursday.

Pico peak

A glorious afternoon snowshoe up to Pico Peak.

I count myself lucky to spend a day snowshoeing through fantabulous deep powder snow in the Green Mountains of Vermont, as I did last Thursday on Worcester Mountain. But I count myself uncommonly lucky to spend another day snowshoeing through spectacular deeper powder snow, exactly one week later, as I did today on Pico Peak in Vermont. Read on, and don’t miss the photo gallery!

The trail up Pico Peak crosses an access road and dives back into the woods in deep snow. Photo by Ken Kaliski.
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Worcester Mountain

A snowshoe hike in to-die-for conditions.

Since the impressive snowfall we received in mid-December, I’ve been dreaming about another opportunity to snowshoe in deep powder through a forest of snow-covered trees. Today my dreams came true, in an absolutely incredible hike on a mountain I’ve never visited before. Read on… and be sure to check out the photo gallery!

On the summit of Worcester Mountain, Vermont.
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Ascutney

A fine hike in fine winter conditions.

The snowstorm five days ago brought us a sudden beginning for winter, laying down deep powder across the mountains and trails. I’ve been out every day to enjoy the snow, prime conditions for skiing and snowshoeing. With bad weather looming for tomorrow and the next day (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), Andy and I set out today to make the most of the snow before the rain spoils it.

Tracks in deep snow on Mount Ascutney’s Windsor Trail.

Although we were interested in a return to Moosilauke, the favorite, the forecast showed morning sun with increasing clouds and I feared we’d simply climb into the clouds. So I selected Ascutney; it has lower elevation but 360-degree long-distance views. And heck, it’s been more than four years since I was last there in winter.

The Windsor Trail is very popular, so it was not surprised to see it broken out. Indeed, it had clearly seen a lot of traffic… skiers, snowshoers, and bare-booters. Andy and I made good time in bare boots for the first half of the climb, passing only three other hikers, and then switched to snowshoes as the snow became deeper and softer.

Andy hiking up Mount Ascutney on a snowy winter day.

Soon we were at the summit, climbing the observation tower. There’s really no way to capture the scene with a mere smartphone camera, but the 360-degree views span nearly all of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Andy surveys the wintry view from Mount Ascutney.

Clouds were moving in, pulling us under an overcast sky… but to the northeast, the summits of Moosilauke, Franconias, and Presidentials were blindingly white in the afternoon sunshine. (No wonder the range is called the White Mountains.)

Our descent was speedy, boot-skiing down the trail, passing only two other hikers. A fine hike indeed. A few more photos in the gallery.

Hike stats: 5.6 miles (per the guidebook), elevation gain 2,800′ (per Apple Watch). 4 hours.

The Windsor Trail begins at Parking in the upper right and ends at the summit (the middle yellow peak).

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!