The view from the top of Little Deer Hill, looking west to the Baldfaces in Evans Notch (click to enlarge)
Isn’t it funny how memories and precise details from one’s childhood stay with you? And then, when you’re an adult, you return to that place where you grew up, and suddenly your home, your bedroom, the living room, the backyard, and the streets all seem so much smaller than you remember, even though you were so sure you recalled everything from your childhood home exactly as it used to be?
Well, I guess a sure sign I am getting older is that I’m regressing. Because today I went on a hike in Evans Notch to Little Deer Hill and Big Deer Hill. I had done this hike many years ago, and I thought, “Well, that’s a relatively easy hike, perfect for a day like today.” The hike was not long, but it was not what I remembered in terms of being “easy.” I was huffing and puffing up Little Deer Hill to the top, then down the other side, then huffing and puffing up to the top of Big Deer Hill, and then the entire process repeated itself in reverse. Either I’m just older and tired and in much worse shape than I used to be, or I remembered the steepness of the climb with nostalgia rather than any sense of accuracy!
It wasn’t long – – it took me just over an hour each way. I had gotten a late start, and temperatures are getting much colder these days by the afternoon, so I didn’t want to go too far. I was deciding between this hike and a hike to nearby Emerald Pool and Chandler Gorge, but in the end the Deer Hills won out because it was such a beautiful day, I decided I preferred a hike with an awesome view to a hike under the cover of trees that led to serious of heavily shaded natural pools and a waterfall. (When one considers those choices, I really couldn’t have gone wrong either way! I never take for granted that I have so many hiking trails and natural wonders right at my doorstep – – and that I have the health and ability to enjoy them.)
My hike began at the Baldface Circle Trail parking lot on Rte. 113 in Chatham. After walking on a wooded trail next to a brook, one passes the Applachian Mountain Club’s Cold River facility, which is off a little side trail. But I forged ahead, crossing the Cold River and beginning the short but steep ascent.
Spencer crosses the bridge/dam over Cold River
By the dam over Cold River. The beautiful reflections had a painterly effect.
Spencer disturbs the calm of Cold River and its clear reflection when he stops for a drink.
On the other side of the dam on Cold River. The water happened to be low on this day.
Shortly after the Cold River crossing, you will pass a Forest Service marker on a post, delineating the Maine-New Hampshire border.
About 2/3 of the way up, there is an open ledge that gives a hint of the beautiful views to come.
The view from a ledge on Little Deer Hill, looking toward the Baldfaces
There were many areas where quartz and mica were prominent on the ledges.
The white stuff is quartz.
Up, up, up to the top of Little Deer Hill. The view (scroll up to see the very first picture) faces Evans Notch and the Baldface Mountains in New Hampshire, and looks down to Rte 113 where there is an architecturally-interesting luxury home that is built in the round.
Spencer at the summit of Little Deer Hill. I think he looks pretty good for age 11, don’t you?
From the top of Little Deer Hill I descended to the bottom on the other side, and then began yet another steep but short climb to Big Deer Hill. All along the way, heavy deposits of mica and quartz glistened in the sunlight. Deer Hill used to the be site of a mineral mine where according to the US Forest Service website, “large quantities of amethyst (purple quartz) along with many other minerals, including feldspars of many varieties, beryl, garnet, columbite, pyrite, and muscovite.” It is still possible for rockhounds to try their luck there. A permit is required but there is no fee.
The view from the top of Big Deer Hill looks southeast. You can see Deer Hill Bog in the foreground below. That is the site of a huge blow-down during severe weather that occurred in the 1980s, which dramatically altered the wooded landscape. The beavers moved in and it’s been a bog ever since. There is a blind there where one can observe wildlife unobtrusively. We saw a total of two moose at Deer Hill bog on two different days in early summer this year. Both cow and bull were grazing on the far shore.
Panorama view from the top of Big Deer HIll, looking into western Maine. To the far right in the distant background is Pleasant Mountain (click to enlarge).
Deer Hill Bog is the sliver in the middle of the photo. It’s located only 4 miles from my home.
In the farthest background is Pleasant Mountain, located at the base of Moose Pond in Bridgton Maine. In summer this is a pleasant hike; in winter it serves as a very reasonably priced ski resort for locals.
Pleasant Mountain, this time in the far background on the left.
Now try to imagine these same views two weeks from now, at the height of Fall colors!
As we approach Rosh HaShana (the New Year according to the Jewish calendar), many Jews try to prepare spiritually in advance of that important day. It may be unconventional as compared to what Jews in cities do, but I cannot imagine a better way to prepare then going for a hike in the White Mountains, where I gaze upon the glorious world G-d has made for us to enjoy and sustain; to acknowledge His kingship and rule over the entire world; to be humbled as I appear but a dot on this grand horizon; and to express gratitude that I am alive to experience and be part of it – – and hopefully will be for many years to come.