A friend of mine who moved to California many years ago came back east for a visit recently and, since it was a beautiful summery day with low humidity we decided to climb Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard, New Hampshire. This mountain was named for the Pitcher family who settled here in the 1700s. The trail is actually a road so the fire wardens, technicians, and others can easily drive almost all the way to the top. Hiking it takes about 15 minutes with no stops.
Before long you reach the pasture where Scottish highland cattle are kept. They weren’t here this day, but there were plenty of wildflowers to admire.
Grasses were also flowering. They are beautiful when they bloom.
Nearer to the top the trail gets steeper and rockier.
Before you know it you’re at the old ranger station. There is a shed and an outhouse out in back.
It isn’t hard to imagine the mighty winds that must blow up here. The fire tower is tied down to solid granite in several places so it doesn’t blow off the mountain.
Ironically the original wooden fire tower built here in 1915 was destroyed by fire in April of 1940. 27,000 acres of forest burned, including the fire tower and all of the trees on the summit. It was the most destructive fire in the region’s history and burned the top of the mountain right down to bare granite. There are 16 active fire towers in the state, but this one is only manned when the fire danger is high. It has microwave transmitters and receivers on it, and I’m never really sure what to think about that.
Blueberry bushes have colonized the mountaintop and this is a favorite spot to come and pick them. Sometimes entire families will come and pick buckets full of berries. There are acres of them and there always seems to be enough for everybody.
Others come for the views, which on this day were quite good.
I always have to take a close look at the lichens when I come here, even though they never seem to change. Orangey-yellowish common gold speck lichen (Candelariella vitellina) and black and white tile lichen (Lecidea tessellata) appear here with small spots of pale yellow sulfur fire dot lichen (Caloplaca flavovirescens.)
I took this shot more for the clouds than anything else. I like the way that they float off into infinity. According to Henry David Thoreau mountain tops were sacred and mysterious places to Native Americans and they never visited them. “Only daring and insolent men go there” he said, but I didn’t feel particularly daring or insolent on this day.
Deep striations in the granite are a reminder that this entire region was once under ice. It’s hard to imagine ice thick enough to cover these mountains.
Even on mountain tops, trigonometry.
As you start back down the path on this, the second highest mountain in the region, you are greeted by a view of Mount Monadnock, which is the highest. The sun coming through the clouds was doing some strange things to the colors of the hills, making them look like a painting.
You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. ~Rene Daumal
Thanks for coming by. Happy first day of summer!