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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Neighborhood Expedition

Today I packed lunch and took my soul on a 10-mile neighborhood expedition from my house to Cedar Tree Neck and back via Lambert’s Cove Beach. What a gorgeous sunny day to be in nature. Winter is a local’s dream on Martha’s Vineyard; it’s when private beaches open up and tourists are long gone. Wildlife watching, exercise, beach combing and quality time with myself reflecting on 2020 was great for the soul. A warm meal and full moon views are in my near future. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Middle Carter

Today, I woke up in the Pinkham Notch visitor center parking lot. The temps dropped down to the 20s, but I stayed warm. After drinking some hot tea, and making breakfast (a banana), I headed for the trailhead to Imp Trail. I didn’t see anyone on trail today. It’s surprising to see no snow on the ground yet - only pockets of ice in high elevation. I hung out on top for a bit to feed the gray jays and take in the midday sun before heading down. 


Tuesday, December 1, 2020


Today, I woke up in the parking lot for Piper Trail trailhead. After hiking Willard yesterday, I went south to Concord so I could take a free and much needed shower at the YMCA, then went grocery shopping. When I arrived here last night, it was gushing rain - I knew it would be a mild but soggy slog today, and it was. I’ve hiked all the 48 four-thousand footers in NH and I can confidently say that Chocorua is one of the best all around hikes. So if you’d like the views, changing forests, varying terrain, waterfalls and rivers, and whatever else a hardy NH hike brings- hike this mountain! Not to mention, it has some of the best old growth spruce-balsam fir forest I’ve seen anywhere. Today was the day my body and mind fully adjusted to being on vacation, and it feels good after a busy fall. It always takes a few days. So much to be thankful for this year. Great hike!

Monday, November 30, 2020

Mount Willard

 Another night camping in the white mountains. Today, I beat the midday rain by climbing Willard for a short 3-mile hike that packs a great view. I think it’s time I get some new boots. Today, I reflected on a busy fall of work. These hikes are a chance for “me” time- a chance for me to reflect, raise my heart rate, breath in nature, and recenter. Follow the process; careful wins.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Galehead Mountain

 Today, I woke up at 4am in the parking lot of a trailhead. I made a short drive to Glen River trailhead, and hiked up to Galehead today. It always takes a couple of hikes for my body to cleanse itself (which often results in a headache), and for my mind to disconnect. Today, a pair of gray jays by Galehead Hut reminded me to stick with the plan and store some away for later. I couldn’t have asked for better weather. 


The busy fall field season has ended, and the northern hardwoods have reclaimed me for the week. Lincoln NH is quiet. I write from Pemigewasset parking area. It’s 4am, and I’m gearing up for Galehead today - a hike with a nice wilderness view. Yesterday, nimbus clouds kept me lower in elevation. I did Mount Pemigewasset and it didn’t disappoint. Soggy, foggy and drizzly - moody weather always recharges me. 

The Tao Te Ching says to be like water; water knows how to benefit all things without striving with them. So - be like water, they say. In the valley, an emerald green stream nourishes plants and animals while rushing to find sea level; drizzle accumulates as a steady trickle from tree branches, as fog lifts from the earth to insulate the air. Trees transpire, and puddles slowly leach. My perspiration cleanses my body as I slip and slide on the first ice of the season - time for a water break. From summit, a gentle flurry reminds me to be graceful. Water is graceful, dynamic, and independent. It’s a magical substance which adapts to its environment well. But water can never be a mountain, or a bush.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

November Paddle to Nomans Island

 10-mile paddle to Nomans Island and back. Nomans Island is 4-miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. It’s owned by the fish & wildlife service, and has historically been used for target practice by the US Air Force. What a beautiful fall day filled with feeding gannets, beached whales, seals and more! The bottom picture is from Squibnocket where we put in. It’s illegal to land on Nomans land and for good reason. It’s filled with dangerous unexploded ordinance, and pristine wildlife habitat. It may be the most wild stretch of land on the northeastern seaboard. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

The King of Maine

Today, while exploring old-growth forest in northern Maine, I noticed a large double-trunked eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) from a distance on different land. Its size was deceiving as part of its crown was stunted, but still tall enough to tower well above the surrounding forest as giant emergent trees in the tropics do. I was intrigued enough to hike to it and I’m glad I did (it was just off the road). I’ve visited some of the largest white pine stands in the country, but I’ve certainly never seen anything with such girth. Keep in mind, the photo that I’m posing in only shows half the trunk! I believe this tree very well could be the new Maine champion eastern white pine, which would make it the largest known eastern white pine in the country. A champion tree means that a tree is the largest specimen of its species in a given state. To be considered a state champion tree per the American Forests guidelines, the diameter at breast height, crown circumference, and overall height needs to be measured. I was only able to measure the circumference, which turned out to be 22 feet; that’s nearly 20” greater than the current state champion! What’s so special about this tree is that it’s found in natural habitat high up in north country unlike the current champion that grows near a house and road. This tree has endured extreme conditions and has grown very slow - it’s probably somewhere in the range of 350-400 years old! The next step is to have a professional measure the height and crown circumference. Regardless of whether this tree is in fact the new champion, it's certainly not a bad find in the so called “Pine State.” Stay tuned!


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Big Reed Forest Preserve

 This morning, I woke up at 7am in a Hannafords parking lot out in Bar Harbor, ME. A strong cup of coffee later, and I was en route to Big Reed Forest Reserve in northern Maine, which is the largest contiguous virgin forest in New England. In total, it took over 5 hours to get there - 2 of which were spent driving on 75 miles of dirt logging road. Although I visited last year, I hadn’t had a chance to explore as much as I wanted. Today, I saw the best example of true virgin forest of I’ve ever experienced, and that’s saying a lot. Giant sugar maple, red spruce, American beech, American ash, slippery elm, white pine, and yellow birch were large, spaced out and in some cases dying of old age. Because of the harsh northern conditions, old-growth trees here are often smaller than found in points south, though, every so often you’ll see a giant. The preserve holds the largest red spruce, hop hornbeam and slippery elm I’ve ever seen. In fact, some hop hornbeam here has been dated to 400 years old! When you enter the forest, you immediately see deep tip-up mounds from giant trees fallen over. You notice fungi everywhere, and large tall trees with gnarly wind-swept crowns and trunks straight as an arrow.  Despite the near dearth of people who visit or even know about this site, and it’s distance from any nearby town, American beech is nearly entirely gone from sudden beech bark disease, which humans introduced to America; and the increase in moose herbivory was all around due to human’s eliminating its main predators. Thus, this is one glaring example that humans don’t have to directly touch a site for these larger anthropogenic stressors to impact them. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Acadia in Autumn

“Down” in Desert Island, the ridgetops are covered in ericaceous shrubs like blueberry, huckleberry, and sheep’s laurel. Lichens cling to rocks and trees. The trees range from big balsam fir, scrub oak, gnarly pitch pine and northern cedar. Lookout out at the islands from Acadia mountain, I’m reminded of British Columbia- the spruce-for forests meet the light blue harsh ocean water. Pink granite on the summits gives clues to how this land was formed, and so too do the grooves in the outcrops which all face the same direction. Acadia is second to none in the fall.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Berkshires’ Mohawk Trail Primeval Forests

Today, I woke at 3:00am at a trailhead in Keene Valley, NY ready to explore old growth forest in the Berkshires. I headed for the historic Mohawk Trail and searched for coordinates of some of the only remaining primeval forest in Massachusetts. Giant beech, sugar maple, ash and black cherry few in patches along a steep northeast  slope. I saw striped maple, mountain maple, and hobblebush in the understory; and owl pellets and early American artifacts on the way out.