Monday, July 11, 2016

Pine Island Park and Some History!

I’ve been on the hunt for short hikes near work that can consume my lunch time hour. I’ve driven by a sign on Brown Ave in Manchester that says “Pine Island Park” more times than I can count. But it didn’t really mean anything to me until I came across an article regarding some short hiking trails on the grounds. After doing some quick research, I was shocked to learn that it was actually the historical location of a pretty popular amusement park that has long since been removed.

The entrance to the park is located on Brown Ave. in Manchester and there are signs facing both directions of the road so you can’t miss it. There’s a small parking area in front of a pretty large children’s playground. Behind the playground is a small field area with benches and picnic tables. On the north end of the park, I noticed two kiosks right away that headed up two different trails.

The first kiosk had information for Moore Cemetery which was located at the end of the short Moore’s Cemetery Trail. I took a quick walk down there but since it was a bit spooky, I snapped a couple photos and quickly took another trail east which hooked into the trail network around the park.

This trail followed a small brook a ways and connected with the Lake Trail which is the main trail that hugs Pine Pond. It was clear that the forest portion of the park is a hangout for teens as it was littered with trash (lots of beer cans) and graffiti. In the woods, I found some wooden beams placed in a hill, setup like old bleachers. Also, parallel with some of the Lake Trail were wooden beams in place outlining an old walkway or sidewalk that was grown in. I love finding historical features in the woods!

The trail then ran parallel to the banks of Pine Pond. It looked like it was a great place to cast a rod. There was also a great rope swing stage setup, although I’m not sure how people retrieved the rope as it was high and hanging directly over the pond. Someone also got creative with a tree that had fallen over the banking into the water. It was carved out flat on the top like a homemade dock or plank to sit on.

Once the Lake Trail pulls away from the bank of the pond, it enters back into the rear of the park area, creating a quick 0.5 mile loop or so. Overall, this is a very nice park and has historical significance which I think is great. When you keep your eyes peeled through the woods, you can find some of the historical footprint that was once there. I was hoping to find old, grown-in roller coasters and merry-go-rounds, but I guess that has all been removed!

When looking up the history, I found some interesting information. Pine Pond was actually man made by flooding the area between the years of 1892 and 1902. The park was opened in 1902 and closed in 1963. They had roller coasters, dances, stunt acts, etc. One article I read that was interesting said it may be haunted or cursed due to the misfortunes through the years of injuries and deaths on the grounds. But many remember the park for its fun times. If you’d like to read more on the park, please check out the below links. It is certainly interesting

Historic photos below compliments of sites mentioned above!



Friday, July 8, 2016

Cave Mountain - July 4th, 2016

My wife says I’m the king of finding the path less traveled when it comes to hiking. I’m not sure why that is. Crowds certainly don’t bother me like they bother some other hikers. Some hikers will avoid great mountain tops and trails if they predict there will be a lot of traffic. Nope, that’s not me. So why do I go for trails that have very little traffic and not much published on them? I’m not 100% sure, but trail that isn’t well traveled does appeal to me. It was blazed for a reason, and sometimes, it was a reason other than giving a hiker the means to summit a mountain. Around the Whites, the reasons could have varied from mining, a nice vista, a lost ski area, logging, etc. By traveling on these lesser known trails, I can sort of be an explorer and observer of what makes that trail unique. Hopefully, I can observe and record (through pictures and a trip report) enough here to make it helpful for the next hiker. Who knows…what I publish may even make the trail popular again! I doubt it…but just maybe… back to my report.

This past weekend, my family stayed up in the Conway area and it was my job to map out a hike for Monday morning. Now, keep in mind, we had two small hikers with us. One was 2 years old and one was 5 years old. We were anticipating for both of them to hike with their own power, with an occasional carry from one of us. Cave Mountain seemed like a great choice as it was in neighboring Bartlett and was only 0.7 miles to the summit. And to my liking, there wasn’t much info out there on the trail (or mountain for that matter) which indicates a path less traveled.

We started at the Mount Langdon Trailhead. It was an open area trailhead that you could possibly fit one or two cars in, but there was also a small lot across the street. We opted for parking on the side of the road. The trail starts off wide, but pretty over grown with high grass. There’s a herd path inside the tall grass that was packed down, but your legs still had to brush the grass as you went down the path which increases the risk of ticks. I think the reason the trail was so wide was due to some logging a few years back. There was also evidence on the side of the trail of logging which drove me to that conclusion.

At 0.3 miles down the Mount Langdon Trail, there’s a homemade wooden sign that indicates the start of the Cave Mountain Trail on the left. The Cave Mountain Trail began to climb gently from the beginning and proceeded through some pine groves. Again, there was a lot of evidence of logging off to the left of the trail (while ascending). We continued on for another 0.3 miles or so and the trail became steeper and was covered with a lot of leaves which tells me it doesn’t get much traffic. The problem was the leaves, combined with the steepness, created a much dicier hike than I was anticipating for the kids.

We made it to some ledges and I assume the summit would have been just beyond this point. At the ledges, there were some great caves to explore. Unfortunately, due to the steepness, slippery leaves and remoteness of the hike, we weren’t willing to bring the kids any further. So, we reversed our direction and headed back to the trailhead. The summit will need to wait for another day when we’re without kids or when the kids are a bit older and more stable on the trail!

There was nothing about this trail that really jumped out at me as unique or memorable from a features standpoint. In fact, I had expected the first portion on the Mount Langdon Trail to be better maintained and easier to pass with the shelters being further north. Regardless, it was time in the woods and that’s always quality time, especially with the kids. Anything I can do to get my little ones to appreciate and cherish the woods and the mountains is worth it!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Old Man of the Mountain - Profile Plaza Memorial

Like many families do, we headed off for a mini vacation to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day. I can never think of a better destination than the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Before bringing the kids to Clark’s Trading Post for a day of childhood fun, I convinced the family to make a quick detour in the Franconia Notch to Profile Plaza to check out the Old Man of the Mountain memorial that was dedicated back in 2011.

The Profile Plaza Memorial design was created by Shelly Bradbury and Ron Magers and was funded by private donations. It’s my understanding that what is currently there is only Phase 1 of the project and when funds are raised to continue, Phase 2 and Phase 3 will follow.

The memorial is a short walk downhill from the parking area off from 93, exit 34B (tramway exit). It’s a paved path and follows a nice little brook with benches and information signage along the way. Once you get into the plaza memorial area, there’s a common where one of the giant steel tethers that once helped hold the Old Man up on Cannon is displayed. It really puts into perspective how large he was! All around, this common were signs about the Old Man’s history and one that caught my eye was of my favorite Old Man quote by Daniel Webster.

As you move into the next section, granite pavers engraved with people's names and messages who donated to the cause led the way. There are 7, large steel pillars off the banks of Profile Lake. Each one has a series of rock profiles that when viewed from the correct angle, make up the Old Man’s profile. Combine that with standing on footprint pavers for your height, and you can see what the Old Man looked like on Cannon’s cliffs. It’s pretty ingenious really and very cool to say the least. It works so well that it’s even easy to get a photograph of the profile against the mountain.

Even though the Old Man isn’t hanging up there, it was a very nice place. It was peaceful on Profile Lake even with the crowds of people there. We even got to watch some fisherman fly fish for some brookies for a while.

Back up at the parking area, we checked out the facilities. There was small room dedicated as a museum for the Old Man and a standard “White Mountains” gift shop…as well as some restrooms.

From what I read online, Phase 2 and Phase 3 will be comprised of larger rock carvings or sculptures that will show the actual size of the Old Man and give us a better understanding of how he was made up, up close.

Proposed Phase 2 (large monoliths), from Shelly Bradbury Studio's site

Proposed Phase 3 (entrance), from Shelly Bradbury Studio's site

The Old Man holds a special place in my heart. It’s representative of the mountains that I love so much and symbolizes the great State that my family calls home. I only remember seeing the Old Man overlooking the mountains once, from the window of a school bus while heading south on 93 coming home from a field trip we took to Heritage New Hampshire (now closed). I can honestly say I didn’t appreciate it then and wish I could turn back time to really admire it as it should have been. More so, I wish my kids could see how amazing it was. I would highly recommend stopping by Profile Plaza and checking out where the Old Man once hung and where he will always be remembered

I'll leave you with my favorite quote about the Old Man which I've posted a few times but is fitting, and was noted on a sign in the plaza: 
“Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.” ~ Daniel Webster