"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, July 21, 2015

Mountain Biking on the Londonderry Rail Trails!

It should be clear to the followers of this blog that my number one outdoor passion is hiking. It doesn't get better than that when spending time in the great outdoors. However, since I started hiking many years ago, it has opened my interest to many other activities as well. One of those activities is mountain biking. Last year, a few colleagues from my work would go biking one day a week at lunch and it appealed to me. So, I went out and bought a pretty cheap, low end bike to give a it a trial run last summer. As I imagined I would, I loved it! 

This year, I sold the cheaper bike and purchased what I consider to be a beginner's intermediate bike at DG Cycle Sports in Epping, NH. It's a Giant Talon with 27.5 tires and features hydraulic disc brakes, a fork with hydraulic lockout and 24 speeds.  The color is pretty snazzy too, blue and orange. I chose this color scheme because my daughter informs me that they're my favorite colors on a regular basis...and I honestly have no idea why she thinks that...true story!

This summer, a few of the guys at work and I have decided to make our bike ride a weekly event. So far this year, we've been exploring the Londonderry Rail Trail. This trail has a few different terrains and can accommodate all skill level riders, walkers and runners. We typically try to park in a restaurant parking lot in Londonderry, on Auburn Road which is adjacent to Route 28. From that point, we can head southeast on trail that is a bit rough and gets rougher as you go which we like. If we want to take it easy, we head northwest toward the airport where it's completely paved.

I highly recommend checking it out if you have a chance to. The town has done a great job updating these trails for recreational use. You can visit the Londonderry Trailways page here.

 End of the pavement and start of the dirt.

 One part of the dirt rail trail. Pretty flat and easy to manuever.

Memorial bench on the trail

 Swampy area off to the side.

Old spike on the trail...history of what used to be here.

After you cross 28 at a point, the trail is rougher and more grown in.

Overpass on the trail. There's a lot of garbage here.

Steep hill looking down

Brook crossing the trail with a rope swing

 Pond that the brook flows in or out of. 

 One of my buddies heading into a drain pipe that goes under the road.

It doesn't look that bad until you get inside and then it gets dark quick.

 Packing up after a fun ride!


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!