You think it’s cold? March 24, 2013Posted by Jenny in hiking, White Mountains, winter hiking.
Tags: East Kennebago, Middle Carter, Mt. Adams, Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Lafayette, Mt. Madison, Mt. Moriah, Mt. Washington
I’m sure you feel the same way I do—you’re sick of winter. It’s March 24, I’m in North Carolina, and there’s snow in the forecast the next couple of days. Today a friend and I had planned to go up Bradley Fork looking for the F-15 jet engine. The prospect of a wet chilly day decided us against it. Well, I suppose we have nothing to complain about compared with the folks in the Midwest.
I thought I’d share some old photos of winter hikes. Perhaps by looking at them, you will feel warmer by comparison. All of them were taken in the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire.
Winter hiking can actually be fun. We had a nice sunny day for this climb of Mt. Washington. No wind, and temps were above zero—not something you take for granted there in winter.
Conditions on a climb we did of Adams were really cold and windy.
We had “snow goblins” along the trail on a climb of Mt. Eisenhower.
Sometimes the trip was long hard work.
Oh, I forgot. This last one isn’t in the Whites. This is East Kennebago in western Maine—a bushwhack peak. I’m holding a moose horn we found.
Stay warm, and maybe spring will arrive one of these days!
Birds, work, and Mt. Moriah July 12, 2009Posted by Jenny in hiking, nature, White Mountains.
Tags: Carter-Moriah trail, hermit thrush, Mt. Moriah, Mt. Surprise, trail maintenance, veery, White Mountains, white-throated sparrow
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It was time for another work trip up Mt. Moriah. Stopped at Camp Dodge to pick up a pair of loppers—a nice sharp pair—then on to Gorham and the Carter-Moriah trail. I feared man-eating vegetation after all the June rains. That fear proved to be well justified.
It took me six hours to lop my way to the top, an all-time record. (My usual work-trip time is between four and five.) Since the first 2.0 miles of the 4.5-mile, 3300-vertical total are someone else’s trail section, and I covered that in 50 minutes, that means it took me five hours to go 2.5 miles.
The stop at Mt. Surprise makes for a nice rest and a snack before getting down to work. This time of year, the sheep laurel is blooming on the open ledges. I love the combination of reindeer moss, lowbush blueberry, laurel, and red and black spruce.
Even after all that lopping, the trail needs more attention. It needs a lot of drainage work, the kind that has to be done by a crew. I apologize to everyone for the state of the bog bridge at 3300 feet. There is a very interesting section at the end of it that has turned into one of those lumberjack-style balancing contests where you try to stay upright on a floating log. I tell the AMC about this on every work report, but I think they are shorthanded. Overall, the trail is the muckiest I’ve seen it in about ten years. This is the kind of mud that makes an ominous sucking noise when your boot goes into it. It is getting almost as bad as Adirondack mud, which I believe, after extensive research, to be the worst mud in the world.
On this particular trip, the forests of Mt. Moriah lived and breathed with songbirds. The melodies of hermit thrushes wove a pattern among the hemlocks and maples of the lower altitudes, their songs looping from branch to branch. The Peterson’s bird guide describes their song as “clear, ethereal, flutelike,” resorting to more poetic wording than usual. The cousin of the hermit thrush, the veery, contributed a variation, playing notes on a similar mysterious woodland flute but in a
different pattern. Peterson: “Liquid, breezy, ethereal; wheeling downward.”
On the summit of Moriah, it was all white-throated sparrows singing and singing among the spruces and firs. Some people think they are saying, “Sam Peabody–Peabody–Peabody!” Peterson thinks they have “several clear pensive whistles, easily imitated.” The tune part of it might be imitated, but not the “clear pensive” part. They pass through my yard in the spring on their way up to northern New England. Peterson: “Patronizes feeders.” (“Why, you’re just a fine little feeder, aren’t you?”)
The sparrows were flitting among the spruces and balsams that upholster the upper parts of the Carter-Moriah ridge. It is a lovely world up there among the evergreens and the ledges, with views of three mountain systems fairly close (east of the Wild River valley, between Wild River and Peabody River, and west of the Peabody) and more unending mountains marching off to the horizons further away.
Work trip on Mt. Moriah December 20, 2008Posted by Jenny in hiking, nature, White Mountains.
Tags: AMC, Carter-Moriah trail, grub hoe, Mt. Moriah, trail maintenance, White Mountains
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Bob and I maintain the 2.4-mile section of the Carter-Moriah trail running from Mt. Surprise to the summit of Moriah. From notes jotted down the day after I went up:
September 22, 2008. Third and final trip of the year. Doing it solo on a weekday.
Bob and I did a lot of clipping on the first two trips. This one will be all drainage work. Stop at Camp Dodge, visit tool shed to pick up a grub hoe. Spend a few minutes picking up different hoes and trying the find the one that feels the lightest that is also in good condition. Pair of hand clippers—no loppers this time.
Arrive at trailhead in Gorham at 9:00. Do the 2 miles to Mt. Surprise in 50 minutes. Grub hoe always feels heavy. Alternate between resting it on shoulder and carrying it in my hand. Take my customary break at the ledges overlooking Pine Mountain, Madison, and the Presies. Good visibility under a high cloud deck. A wonderful place. The ingredients: lowbush blueberry, sheep laurel, reindeer moss, black spruce mixed in with the red spruce. Same stuff you see in the Mahoosucs.
Now the work begins. See traces of dried-up clippings from earlier trips. Reach first waterbar. Scrape out a lot of vegetation. Keep digging well down into the outflow ditch.
A few more waterbars before the serious ledges begin. This is the challenge: getting up the steep ledges holding a grub hoe. The stretch between 2500 and 3000 feet never seems easy. More waterbars. 25 of them in all. Take off daypack at the ones that require a lot of work. It’s all simple physical forces. Wearing daypack when doing heavy digging equals lower back distress.
One couple passes by, thank me for the work I’m doing. People usually do.
Bog bridge at 3100 feet is a hopeless mess. Have to balance on a loose log literally floating in a puddle. Always mention this in my work report, but nothing ever happens. AMC is shorthanded, I think.
Every time I go up this trail, it is visibly more eroded. High precipitation this year has accelerated the process. There is only so much you can do with waterbars when you have a lot of exposed ledge. Rainfall also meant a huge explosion of growth in young beeches, spruces, balsam firs. That’s why we did so much clipping.
Reach summit at 12:30. No one else there. Slurp down my sandwich from the Irving at Wakefield on Rt. 16. Fairly decent. Standard worktrip fare is: Irving sandwich, bag of almonds or cashews, large calorific package of Pepperidge Farm chunky-style cookies.
The clouds are breaking up, taking interesting shapes. In my day-after notes I see that I have written some writerly words: “Threadlike drifting linear script of clouds, as if writing a message. Shapes silently coalesce, break apart. Some sort of illustration of the passage of time.”
Back down in 2.5 hours. Always hard carrying grub hoe down the ledges. I know the ledges by heart. This is the “jumbled ledge,” this is the “ledge with one convenient foothold,” this is the “ledge where we got lost when we climbed Moriah in winter.” And below Mt. Surprise is “broken tooth ledge,” where Bob fell in a light drizzle and knocked some teeth out with his grub hoe.
We are very lucky to have this trail section.
For information about volunteering to do trail work in the AMC Adopt-a-Trail program: http://www.outdoors.org/conservation/trails/volunteer/adopt/index.cfm