"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn." ~ John Muir

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mount Kearsarge 6/6/15 - 5th NH Fire Tower Quest Visit!!!

We finally got to go hiking this year! Jill and I packed up the kids and headed to Mount Kearsarge over in Wilmot, NH. We chose Kearsarge so Lylah could visit her fifth active fire tower summit to earn her NH Fire Tower Quest patch! There are two state parks that have trails that lead to the summit of this mountain. Winslow State Park has a great loop trail that comes in from the north and Rollins State Park has a quick 0.6 mile trail that heads up from the south. (PDF Map)

Due to the fact that we have a four year old and a one year old, we opted for the shorter distance and hiked from Rollins State Park. Also, Jill and I hiked from Winslow State Park back in 2010 and we’re always looking to try new trails. There is a loop you can make to the summit of Kearsarge from the Rollins State Park side, but requires you to take a much less traveled trail called the Lincoln Trail. We kept this option open and decided to make the call when we got there.

 Parking area

Picnic Area

Rollins Trailhead

Frank West Rollins Memorial Rock

View from Picnic Area

Arriving at Rollins State Park, like most, there’s a ranger hut where we paid $4 per adult and our kids were young enough that they got in free. We then drove 3.5 miles on an auto road which takes you most of the way up the mountain. At the top of the auto road there is a pretty large parking lot and some nice views out to the south. There’s also a picnic area and restrooms there.

After we got our boots on and packed up my son in the backpack carrier, we headed up to the trailhead which is located at the north side of the parking lot. It quickly leads you to a large picnic area with some memorial rocks and benches. On the far side of the parking lot, there’s a foot path that leads to the Lincoln Trail. I took a quick look and it seemed pretty rough and grown up. Given my daughter needed to hike this one on her own, we opted to do an out and back via the Rollins Trail which was much more traveled and defined.

 Lower portion of the Rollins Trail

Hmmm...I've been watching Survivorman Bigfoot...Sasquatch Activity maybe!!!!

The trail was pretty rocky but had only a gentle incline. It climbed to the northeast for a bit and quickly opened up to some open ledges to the south. It was a great place to sit and take in the views. From that view point, you could see the parking area and gauge how much elevation you’ve gained. Just past the parking area, you could see what I think was Black Mountain in the distance.

 Parking area with Black Mountain in the background (I think)

 Another view, Black Mountain on the right

 View to the south, I think Little Mountain on the left

Support cable hold on the first view point ledge

The Rollins Trail continues to the northwest and had some restricted views to the south as you hiked. After a short distance, the Lincoln Trail enters from the left and it’s not clear to me if the rest of the trail to the summit is now considered the Lincoln Trail or the Rollins Trail.

 Blueberry flower I think

Vernal pool just past the viewpoint to the right of the trail


On a peak bagging mission

The last leg brings you over some steeper, bare ledges to the summit. The summit of Kearsarge is great. It’s bald, very large and usually pretty windy. It contains an active fire tower but does not have a platform for viewing. It also has a large radio tower and even some picnic tables. We took a few pictures at the top but because of the wind, headed below the summit to eat lunch. The hike down was pretty quick and as enjoyable as the hike up.

 Mount Cardigan to the north from the summit

Active Fire Tower on summit of Mount Kearsarge

 Radio Tower on summit of Mount Kearsarge

View to the northeast

View of the northwest

This was a really fun hike for a family outing. It was my son’s first hike and summit. It was my daughter’s fifth active fire tower visit which has earned her the NH Fire Tower Quest patch. Also, it was a test to see how my daughter would do hiking on her own without me being able to carry her (as I had her brother on my back). She did incredible! I was so impressed how well she did hiking since last year! I was very proud. I can’t wait to get the whole family back out on the trail again sometime soon!!!


Monday, June 1, 2015

Rare Spotted Turtle Sighting!!!

I got a rare treat this weekend. I saw a species of wildlife that I've never seen before. In my lifetime, I've seen many Painted Turtles in the wild, as well as a few Snapping Turtles. But on Friday, I saw a Spotted Turtle. These turtles are native to the southern NH, but their population has degraded severely over the past 25 years due to the destruction of their habitat. For that reason, they have been placed on the endangered species list. Also, this is one of the turtle species that drove the cool "Turtle Crossing" signs that the New Hampshire Fish and Game put up in my home town. Below are some pictures. Also, a snapped a picture of a Painted Turtle laying some eggs in my lawn...but obviously was s survivor of an attack or something. Enjoy the pics!

Spotted Turtle in my driveway

I saw this one later in the evening...I think it's the same one based on the spot locations...seems to be the same pattern.

This poor guy, looks like he had a rough life with his shell being cracked...but he's doing his part laying eggs in my lawn!


Friday, May 29, 2015

Turtle Highway - Back in Business 2015!!!

And they're back!!! It seems early this year, but I'm already dodging Painted Turtles with my lawn mower. I saw one making the trek across my lawn on Wednesday and two on Thursday. Lucky for me, I even got see one laying its eggs down by my mailbox. See the photos I took below. Note, they aren't that great because they were taken with my phone and I needed to zoom in so that I didn't scare them!

 Wednesday's Turtle!

 Turtle 1 from Thursday, laying eggs!

Turtle 2 from Thursday!


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jackson Wildquack Duck River Festival 2015

This Memorial Day, we headed up to Jackson for a couple nights along with a few of our friends and attended the Jackson Wildquack Duck Festival! It was a great time for the kids with a bouncy castle, slot car racing, fire truck tours and of course, a Wildquack Duck Race down the Wildcat River! I highly recommend checking it out if you have kids and even if you don't. We had four ducks race, but unfortunately...they didn't win. We had a great time anyway!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

First Time at Mount Agamenticus

In September of last year, Jill and I took a day off from work to go on a hike, just the two of us. It was some much needed time away from work and spending it on the trail seemed like the most logically way to unwind and relax. We were looking for something close to home to avoid a long drive but also wanted to try something new that we hadn't hiked or explored previously. For that reason, we chose Mount Agamenticus (Mount A) in York, Maine. It's very accessible from the seacoast region of NH and everyone I know that has hiked the Mount A trails has great things to say about it.

When doing my pre-hike research, I found they had a great website! They also had a PDF pamphlet that could be downloaded which contained an extremely clear and detailed map.

Kiosk at trailhead

Ring Trail


Detailed trail signage regarding wildlife

We decided to park at the first trailhead off from Mountain Road which Ring Trail (also part of "Turtle Loop") which loops around the base of the mountain. The trail was wide and had a lot of roots. We noticed right away that there were signs that displayed photos of the wildlife in the area with a detailed description. We came to a split in the trail pretty quickly and headed to the left.

Blueberry Bluff Trail

The trail then passed over the auto road, which ascends to the summit, and curved to the left. After passing the auto road, we soon came to a junction where the Blueberry Bluff Trail went up to the summit on the right. This trail was more like a hiking trails we are used to, ascending over ledge and slabs. It wasn't super steep, but we definitely gained some elevation pretty quickly. It wasn't long before the views opened up and we were on the top of the mountain.

Pawtuckaway Mountains to the west

Cell tower on summit

Welcome sign on summit

Learning Lodge on summit

Fire tower on summit

Mount A has large summit area. It has a Learning Lodge, barn, fire tower, multiple radio towers and observation deck and more. You could see 360 degrees off the mountain to the White Mountains and to the ocean. It was pretty impressive!

The observation deck was a very cool as it had you look toward the Whites. It had a really cool viewing chart of the skyline so that you could find notable mountains including Mount Chocorua and Mount Washington.

 Observation deck

 Skyline legend

 Mount Chocorua on the skyline

Mount Washington in the "hazy" distance!

Once Jill and I were done taking in the views and relaxing a bit, we headed down the northeast side of the mountain via the Witch Hazel Trail. One cool thing about this trail is that it was part of an old ski slope/return that was in service on Mount A in the 1960's and 1970's. We saw a lot of old equipment including a snow packer and many ski lift structures. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love seeing these historical structures preserved in the woods.

Old ski machinery and snow packer

Old ski lift equipment

 Ski machinery in a forest

 Ski machinery in a forest

Garter Snake on the trail

At the bottom of the Witch Hazel Trail, we took a right onto the Ring Trail. We continued on that and it brought us back to the original trailhead we started at. I believe in all, we only hiked 1.5 miles but it was a great time. From this point on, Mount A will be on the list of local mountains we'll visit often!

Us on Mount A!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NH Fire Tower Quest #4 - Pack Monadnock Mountain

Every year at my work, we do something called Wellness Week where we try to do activities each day to promote a healthy lifestyle for our employees. Each year, I'm given the privilege of planning out a hike for everyone to go on that takes a few hours in the middle of the day. In 2014, I chose Pack Monadnock Mountain as it's not far from Manchester, NH, it's a pretty gentle ascent, and I had never had the chance to hike it before.

On September 9th, 2014, a few of us from work, as well as some of our children, set out for Miller State Park which is located in Peterborough, NH. It's probably worth noting that like most state parks, there is a fee of $4 for adults and $2 for children (ages 6-11) that is collected upon entering the parking area. Our chosen route to summit was a counterclockwise loop, ascending the Wapack Trail and descending the Marion Davis Trail. The length of each trail is approximately 1.4 miles making the loop about 2.8 miles.

Lylah came with me so that we could check off fire tower number 4 for her NH Fire Tower Quest Patch. That being the case, most of the guys headed up in front of us and we took on the rear of the party as her legs were the shortest in the group. 

The Wapack Trail started off pretty rocky and steep and quickly opened up to some great views to the west, of the popular Mount Monadnock. The ledge and rock soon turned into forest and the ascent became more gentle. Throughout hiking, you could hear cars passing up and down the auto road which is just to the east of the Wapack Trail. With a lot of breaks and some carrying of my daughter, we did finally make it to the top of the mountain.

Kiosk at trailhead

Wapack Trail Sign

My buddy, Rob, on a scary rock overhanging a very high ledge!

First outlook to the west of Mount Monadnock

At the summit, there was a parking area for cars, the fire tower, a radio tower and some picnic tables. We ate lunch at the picnic tables and then headed up the fire tower for a 360 degree lookout containing Mount Monadnock, the Boston skyline and some other close by mountains.

 Mount Monadnock to the west.

 Close up of Mount Monadnock

 Boston Skyline

 North Pack Monadnock to the right, Crotched Mountain to the left, and Mount Kearsarge and Mount Cardigan beyond Crotched Mountain (harder to see).

USGS Bench Mark!

NH DOT Bench Mark

Fire Tower

Radio Tower

We descended the Marion Davis Trail, again trailing the pack of hikers. The descent was pretty gentle and did go by pretty fast. Once we got back to the parking area, we packed up and headed back to the office to try to get some productive work in before the end of the day. I would say it's probably the best way to spend a day in the office (but not really "in" the office).

After this mountain, we only need to hit one more active fire tower for Lylah to earn her Quest Patch. I'm pretty sure we're going to try Kearsarge (south) next, but I'll keep you posted!