Chilly November hike

The first day of winter?

Today is the first day of winter. Well, I suppose there are many ways to define “the first day of winter”: the first time snow falls, the first time snow falls and sticks, the first time you actually need to plow or shovel snow, or the astronomical date of the Winter Solstice. I’m going with a new definition: the first day the temperature never rises above freezing.

Although the higher NH mountains have already experienced some significant snowfall, and plenty of freezing temperatures, I’ve been staying close to home and enjoying the low-altitude hikes here in the Connecticut River valley – wearing lots of orange clothing, now that deer hunting season is fully underway.

Today I took advantage of a gap in my Zoom schedule to visit a trail network I’d never explored before – between the huge complex of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and the graduate-student housing over at Sachem Village. This big green spot fills the center of the triangle formed by the towns of Hanover, Lebanon, and West Lebanon. There’s an amazing variety of terrain, and a thorough network of trails used by walkers and mountain bikers.

For me it was a pleasant, if chilly, stroll through the quiet post-autumn forest, one that has laid down its blanket of leaves and is awaiting the big snows of winter. I enjoyed the opportunity to snap a few photos of the delightful details like the following. When mud freezes, the water expands and is pushed up through pores in the mud, leaving these fragile towers of crystalline ice. Check out the full-size photo, and three other scenes from the hike, in the photo gallery.

Extruded ice, which happens when mud freezes and the water in the mud expands.

Hike stats:
distance: 5km
time: 69 minutes
gain: 127m

A hike on the Indian Ridge trail, behind Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Winter hikes

I managed to get in one fantastic hike every month.

It was a great winter – once it got started, there was deep snow and many days with outstanding conditions.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to get out and enjoy it.  Still, I managed to get in one fantastic hike every month.

Dennis and Cory and Saiah enjoy the view of the Jobildunc headwall.
January: Bushwhacking a ravine on Mount Moosilauke

The summit of Moosilauke on a rather cloudy winter's day.
February: a blustery, cloudy day on Moosilauke [more photos
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March: a blue-sky day with deep snow on Moosilauke [more photos]
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April: fresh powder in the Franconia Range, on Mount Liberty [more photos]

I guess winter is over – sigh…

Alright, I finally need to admit it.  Winter is over.  Although many folks in the northeast are tired of winter and are glad to see signs of spring, I have been relishing every last opportunity to enjoy the incredible winter conditions Nature delivered to us this season. I’ve been out hiking the past three Sundays, and for a week prior I was out skiing nearly every day, soaking up the beautiful scenery, outstanding ski conditions, and incredible hiking.  I brought my camera along for many outings this winter. Here’s a quick recap.

2015-01-02-12729January 2: hiking Moosilauke with son Andy and with friends (Lelia, Jen, and Lars) in a snowstorm. Cold temps, fierce winds, and blowing snow led Andy to bundle up and exclaim “I feel invincible!” as we climbed the summit cone. [more photos]

 

 

2015-02-28-13174February 28: Mark and I skied up and down the Carriage Road on an intensely sunny day, catching the powder before it softened and with noontime views from the summit. [more photos]

 

 

 

March 14: hiking Moosilauke again with son Andy and his friend Sam, plus friends from Thetford. We made it to South Peak but were socked in by clouds. [more photos]

 

 

March 16: When I feared winter was almost over I spent a week skiing every morning in Lyme, often with impressive dawn views of Smarts Mountain.  The ski conditions were absolutely fantastic.

 

 

March 22: A bitterly cold morning on Cummings Pond, one of the last good mornings for skiing.  A day later I had the chance to ski at sunset, and completed my longest-ever loop on that trail network. [more photos]

 

April 5: Easter hike up Mount Moosilauke; a fresh early-morning snowfall was followed by a brilliantly sunny day.  The deep snowpack was decorated by a soft covering of fresh powder, and the summit lent me great views of the Franconia and Presidential ranges. [more photos]

 

April 12: a sunny jaunt up North Kinsman with close-up views of Franconia Range and awesome butt-sliding back down the Fishin’ Jimmy trail. [more photos]

 

 

2015-04-19-13879Finally, April 19, an awe-inspiring morning in the northern Presidentials, freshly dusted by snow and rime ice, capped by a deep blue sky and bathed in intense spring sunshine.  I was up Madison and Adams before noon.  Incredible day. [more photos]

 

It’s now time for the trails to rest.  Meanwhile the ice on the river is out and I’m looking forward to boating season!