Last Sunday, the day after the big mid-Atlantic blizzard had blown out to sea we had a beautiful sunny day, so I decided to climb the High Blue Trail in Walpole. I chose it because I hadn’t climbed since we had ice fall on top of the snow and I wasn’t sure how icy the trails would be. High Blue Trail is a very gentle climb and though the snow was very loud and crunchy it wasn’t at all slippery. Many had gone before me.
After four cloudy weekends in a row the sky seemed an incredibly beautiful shade of blue.
The sky wasn’t entirely cloudless though. I saw these 3 trying to sneak past out of the corner of my eye.
The sun was very bright and I was glad that I had brought sunglasses. Snow blindness is a very real thing and isn’t pleasant. It happened to me once when I was shoveling snow in bright sunshine and it wasn’t until the next day that my blurry vision finally got back to normal. It is basically sunburn on your eye and some say it is quite painful. I didn’t have any real pain but it certainly is annoying when you keep blinking and your vision doesn’t clear.
The blue shadows, green mosses and white blankets of snow softened the stone ledges. Some say winter is hard and sharp and it can be, but it isn’t always that way.
The wind made these two maples rub together and they rubbed enough to rub away their outer bark and become grafted together. Unless man interferes they will now stay that way for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately some fungus spores found the wound and grew, so there is a good chance that the lives of these trees will be cut short.
I’ve seen this little two foot tall spruce that grows beside the trail completely covered with snow a few times. I was very glad that it wasn’t this time. It’s nice to measure snowfalls in inches rather than feet for a change.
Some small creature scampered around this sapling and then went back from where it had started. Either that or a chipmunk had gotten new skis for Christmas and was trying them out on a downhill run.
There was a lot of coming and going around this hollow tree.
But in spite of all the footprints nobody was home. I suppose you couldn’t blame them for being out on such a beautiful day.
The clubmosses have released their spores. The orange yellow, club-like strobilus that bears the spores is smooth and closed before they are released, and open and bushy afterwards. These spores have been collected and dried for many years to make flash powder. They are high in fat content and when mixed with air become highly flammable. They’ve been used in fireworks and explosives for years, and also as camera flashes before flash bulbs were invented. These days they are still used in magic acts. If you ever see a big impressive flash of fire on a stage, thank a clubmoss.
As always I had to stop at the old stone foundation. Winters must have seemed very long and cold for those who once lived here and I always wonder how they managed.
I’ve been up here too many times to count but I’ve never seen the nail in this tree before. I wonder how long it’s been here.
The nail is on the backside of the tree that the sign is on, which makes it even more surprising that I’ve never seen it.
The stacked rocks are still here from last summer. I call them spoilers because for me they are needless distractions that spoil the experience.
As expected the view across the Connecticut River Valley to Vermont was very blue but strangely, the sky wasn’t. At least it wasn’t the deep sapphire blue that it had been in other spots along the trail.
I would imagine that they must be making snow every night on Stratton Mountain if the ski trails are any indication. The past week saw some cold nights and the temperature had only risen to 17 degrees when I left Keene to come here. A stiff and steady westerly breeze meant that it was fairly cool standing in this spot, so I didn’t stay long. Climbing really isn’t about the views for me anyway; it’s more about what I see along the way. Because there are so many interesting things to see along the way hazy or cloud blocked views never disappoint.
The old school of thought would have you believe that you’d be a fool to take on nature without arming yourself with every conceivable measure of safety and comfort under the sun. But that isn’t what being in nature is all about. Rather, it’s about feeling free, unbounded, shedding the distractions and barriers of our civilization—not bringing them with us. ~Ryel Kestenbaum
Thanks for coming by.