Last Hike of the Winter

Atop Amos Mountain, looking down a the still-frozen-but-melting Five Kezar Ponds (click to enlarge)

The last week of winter saw record-breaking temperatures soar into the 80s.  What little snow was on the ground was quickly melting away.  Ice fisherman raced to the many lakes and ponds in our area to take their ice shacks off the pond before they’d sink into the depths.  It had been such a warm winter that there were only about 4 or 5 days when snowmobiling was possible; usually the season lasts 2 or 3 months.

We put clear plastic panels on our screen porch in the Fall, and through passive solar, the interior is heated nicely, usually to 40 – 60 degrees on a sunny winter day, even when temperatures outside are well below freezing.  But the week of unprecedented warmth made the inside temperatures of the porch soar to over 100 degrees!

Our porch, with plastic panels inserted. Due to passive solar, the interior is warmed on a sunny winter day making it usable most of the year. . .

Due to a lack of rain and so little snow, there wasn’t even much of a mud season this year.  What a perfect day for a  hike!  We decided to explore some of the trails maintained by the Greater Lovell Land Trust.  This non-profit conservation group buys up large tracts of land in our area to prevent subdivision and development, in order to keep the woods in its pristine state.  Author and local summer resident Stephen King is one of its major supporters.  They do allow public access to this land via a network of trails they’ve created so people can enjoy the many quiet and beautiful sights in the woods, via hiking, bird-and animal-watching, etc.  In addition to their trail maintenance and newsletter, they also offer guided hikes and nature talks.  Everything is done by volunteers.

We were dog-sitting for 10 days for some friends of ours from Portland ME.  Fortunately their dog, Feivel, a lab mix adopted from a shelter, got along great with our dog Spencer, so we took them both on our walk in the woods.

Feivel is very happy to go in the car if it means an opportunity to sniff around in the woods and chase some squirrels

This sign announces the beginning of a GLLT trail

Our first walk took us to the base of Amos Mountain, along Kezar Ridge Rd on the border of the towns of Waterford-Stoneham.  Since the day was so clear, there was promise of great views of the surrounding and distant mountains from the top.  In fact, we saw all the way to Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the northeast’s tallest mountain (which is most often immersed in clouds).

Amos Mountain can be seen in the background, through the trees

One of the first things we noticed is that there was really no “cut” trail.  But the trail markers were outstanding, the best we’ve seen, and it was impossible to get lost with the frequent blue blazes and arrows pointing the way to the top.  Since our area is one of the least-traveled areas of the White Mountains, in many cases trail markers are few and far between and poorly maintained, either due to lack of volunteers or funding from the Forest Service. We’ve gotten lost more times than I care to count due to poorly marked trails in the White Mountains.  So it was a real pleasure to see that the GLLT takes trail maintenance very seriously.

Which way? It wasn't obvious without the trail markers

a blue blaze shows the way

Midway up the mountain, Spencer gazes at the view below of the still-frozen Kezar Ponds. The blue blaze trail marker is on the tree to the right.

The view at the top was worth the effort.

Mt. Washington, as seen through my telephoto lens

Feivel takes in the view of Five Kezar Ponds, still frozen

Woodpeckers really went to work on this tree!

After we completed this hike, we still had a few hours of daylight left.  So we went to another GLLT trailhead by Slab City Road that walks alongside Heald Pond.  The stream was flowing fast and hard due to snowmelt.

By now we were sore and tired so we called it a day.  There is a saying, “a happy dog is a tired dog,” but really it should read, “a tired dog is a happy owner.”  We loaded the dogs in the car and we all slept soundly that night!

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Wendy Miller on March 27, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I am so glad I had the chance to see and talk with you today.
    It’s been way too long! I will keep in touch.


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