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Posts Tagged ‘Hiking’

1-trail

Last Saturday an old friend who moved to California years ago came east for a visit, so I thought I’d take him up Hewe’s hill to see Tippin’ Rock. He’s a regular reader of this blog and has seen the behemoth in photos, but never in person. Luckily he’s always up for an uphill climb.

2-turkey-feather

Since we’re about the same age I don’t think he minded my stopping to take photos, like this one of a turkey feather. We don’t run up and down hills quite like we used to.

3-tippin-rock

But we were able to huff and puff our way to the top where the 40 ton glacial erratic sat waiting. We marveled at the size of the thing and thought about all the things that had to have happened millions of years ago for it to have ended up here. It doesn’t just sit on dirt; it’s on the only perfectly flat section of the granite bedrock that the hill is made from. And it isn’t just any old rock; its underside is like the hull of a ship, with a keel-like shape to it. It also comes with a very old legend that says if you “get your shoulder under” the right part of the stone and heave, it will move. That’s where the name “Tippin” Rock” comes from.

4-tipping-tippin-rock

Well, I’ve gotten my shoulder under every part of the thing and heaved until I was blue in the face, so I thought I’d let my friend Dave have a turn. Here he is going at it from the side, using his arms instead of his shoulder. The rock just sat there, so then he tried a different spot and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Wonder of wonders; 40 tons of granite rocked back and forth like a baby cradle.  “Well I’ll be,” I said and then I took a turn. Once again it moved back and forth like a pendulum. But it’s a slow, subtle movement and we discovered that if you’re looking directly at the stone you can’t really tell that it’s moving. You have to look at an edge to really see the slow rocking motion, and that’s what makes me think that every time I’ve heaved at the stone it was moving and I just couldn’t see it. We also noticed that we could hear it rocking by its crushing the dry forest debris that the wind has blown under it.

5-tipping-tippin-rock

We tried several different spots and the big stone rocked slowly back and forth nearly every time, so the legend of Tippin Rock has proven true, and I’m glad to be able to check another of nature’s mysteries off my long list. I told Dave I’d make him world famous; known from here to Timbuktu as the man who can move 40 tons of solid granite with nothing but his bare hands.

6-trail

We spent more than a few minutes marveling at our sudden onrush of super human strength but there were other things up here to see, so we headed off down the trail to where the views are found.

7-in-the-tree-tops

As I feared the sky was flat, dull, white, and uninteresting. It might seem ungrateful to complain about an entire summer of cloudless blue skies but I can say with surety that even the best things in life can become tiresome when you have too much of them. We did have a dark cloudy day with a little drizzle yesterday and it seemed like all of nature was rejoicing.

8-view-south

To the south there were miles of unbroken forest. I didn’t see much in the way of fall colors but some of the trees seem to be hinting at lighter shades.

9-view-west

To the west there was more unbroken forest and even a touch of blue in the sky. There is also a stronger hint of fall in this photo, I just noticed.

10-ledges

In places the bedrock forms ledges and in the ledges there are sometimes shallow caves, some big enough to sit in when it rains.  You have to choose your cave carefully though, because in many of them the stone on the ceiling is falling to the floor.

11-ledges

In places the bedrock forms sheer faces and rock climbers come here to hone their craft. Just to the left, out of sight in this photo, is a drop of (we guessed) about 60-80 feet. Vertigo comes easily here, at least for those who don’t do heights well, and it wouldn’t be a good idea to be wandering around at night.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I introduced Dave to my friends the toadskin lichens (Lasallia papulosa) and he was impressed by their tenacity. Even after a summer of little rain but here they sit, dry and brittle, patiently waiting for the fall rains that we are all hoping for. We just had a hurricane move up the coast that looked promising for a few tropical downpours but unfortunately it has missed us except for a tiny bit of drizzle.

13-lady-fern

Lady ferns (Athyrium filix-femina) reminded us that fall was right around the corner. According to the “Fern Bulletin,” which is a quarterly publication devoted to ferns, fern reproductive systems weren’t understood until the middle of the 16th century, when fern spores were finally studied. Before that time people thought that there were male and female ferns, and that’s how the lady fern came by her common name. There are other stories about the origin of the name but this one seems the most plausible. It is also called ghost fern for the way it turns white in the fall.

14-butterfly

You have to cross a meadow filled with red clover to get back to your parking spot and on this day every clover blossom seemed to have a yellow butterfly on it. I think they were all common sulfurs.

15-butterflies

It was nice of this one to fly into the frame as I snapped the shutter and show us the upper surface of its wings. The markings match the common Sulphur butterfly. There must have been a large hatching of them, or maybe they’re migrating through the area. Seeing so many at once was a beautiful sight.

16-smiley-face

Mister smiley face didn’t have to remind me that there was plenty to smile about, but it was good to see him just the same.

The best part of the journey is the surprise and wonder along the way. ~Ken Poirot

Thanks for coming by.

 

 

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1. Monadnock

When I’m out looking for plants I’ve never seen I often take photos of the places I visit, and most of those never appear here. I don’t consider myself a very good landscape photographer, but for a change of pace I thought I’d show some of the local scenery that I see in my travels. This photo is of Mount Monadnock from Perkins Pond in Troy, New Hampshire. I went there thinking I could get a good shot of a yellow water lily and found that there were so many of them that you couldn’t hardly see the water surface in places.

 2. Open Space

When you live in a 4.8 million acre forest big, open spaces are rare, so I always take a few shots of those that I find. I took this photo more for the clouds than anything else. They were so low that it felt as if I might touch them if I jumped high enough.

 3. Woodland Path

This is one of many woodland trails I visit. On most days I’m more likely to be found in a place like this than anywhere else. This particular piece of forest has soil that has been undisturbed for a very long time and plants like striped wintergreen (Chimaphila maculate) and downy rattlesnake plantain orchid (Goodyera pubescens) grow here.

4. Ashuelot Beach

Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows that I also spend time on the banks of the Ashuelot River, where I find a lot of different wildflowers. Last winter this entire area was completely covered by a thick sheet of ice and it amazes me how the plants that live here can survive it.

5. Pond View

This small pond is another spot that I visit often. It’s in a place called Robin Hood Park in Keene, which I keep telling myself I’m going to do a post about but never do. There is a path that goes around the entire pond and the huge old white pine and eastern hemlock trees keep it very shaded and moist, so many different mushrooms and slime molds grow here. When the warm muggies arrive in summer this is the first place I go to look for all of the things that grow in low light.

 6. Hunting Shack

I don’t usually take many photos of man-made objects but this old hunting shack had a for sale sign so I thought I’d stop and take a look. It needs a little work but it can probably be had for a song.

7. Old Wheel

This old wheel had been leaning against the wall of the shack for a while. It was a white rubber tire on a steel rim with wooden spokes. I’ve never seen one like it.

8. Stone Steps

One day I came upon these stone steps out in the middle of nowhere and walked up them, thinking I’d find an old cellar hole at the top, but there was nothing there. They were just stairs that led to nothing, not even a path.

9. Pond Relections

This photo is of reflections, because the water was as still as a sheet of glass.

 10. Roadside Meadow

One of the things I love about New Hampshire in the summertime is how quickly the road sides can become beautiful meadows. Sometimes you can drive along a road and not see any flowers and then just a day or two later they’re everywhere. It’s hard to have a pessimistic view of life while surrounded by beauty like this.

 11. Black Locust leaves

Looking up through the branches of a black locust tree. I’ve always liked the dappled sunlight that is found under locust trees.

12. Kayak

Here’s a shot of the kayak that I bought at a moving sale last fall. This shot was taken just before I took it out on our maiden voyage recently. It was and is a lot of fun, but I’ve got to get used to it. I bought it because there is a pond I know of where rose pogonia orchids, pitcher plants and sundews grow but the only way to see them is in a boat. That will happen next year, after I have my sea legs under me. Right now being alone in a kayak out on a pond that is miles from nowhere doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

13. Island

The kayak took me to this island in another local pond. Most of the bushes growing on its shores are high bush blueberries, but they weren’t ripe yet. This pond has people living all around it so if anyone has a boating accident help is within earshot.

 14. Swamp at Sunset

This is a local swamp I visit sometimes to watch the sun set. Sunsets can be really spectacular here but on this evening it was too cloudy.

15. Cloudscape

I thought I saw the head of a lion come roaring out of the leading edge of these clouds one evening.

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time. ~John Lubbock

Thanks for coming by.

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NOTE: After trying for several hours I am again able to upload photos to this blog, but now the text formatting changes to what WordPress wants it to be, so I’m afraid this will have to do for now.

History tells us that Mount Caesar in Swanzey, New Hampshire was named after Caesar Freeman, a freed black slave and one of the original settlers here.

According to The History of Swanzey, New Hampshire, written in 1862, land was granted to Caesar Freeman on July 2, 1753. I’m assuming that this mountain was part of that original grant. Some believe that Caesar is buried somewhere on it.
Personally, since it is only 962 feet high I would call it a hill, but there is no clear distinction between a mountain and a hill. It certainly felt more like a mountain the day I climbed it because the trail was quite steep. My goal was the ledge in the photo below.
1. Mt. Caesar Ledges from Below

History says that these ledges were once used as a lookout by Native Americans. This photo is deceiving; the ledges are quite high up on the side of the mountain.

2. Mt. Caesar Trail

The trail was a constant, steep, uphill climb with no level areas.

3. Number 3 Made From Lichens

I’m not sure what these lichens were trying to tell me, but they had grown into the shape of a 3. The trail was nowhere near 3 miles long so they must have had something else in mind. I can’t imagine how or why they grew like this.

4. Reindeer Lichen

15-20 foot wide reindeer lichen “gardens” extended for several yards on both sides of the trail for a while. The name “Reindeer lichen” (Cladina) is used for any of several species that are eaten by reindeer or caribou. The animals kick holes in the snow to find the lichens and will feed on them all winter.

5. Stone Wall on Mt. Caesar

Many of the hills in this area were once completely cleared and used as pasture or farmland by the early settlers. Mt. Caesar is no different, and the stone walls show evidence of its history. You have to wonder if Caesar Freeman himself built these walls in the 1700s.

6. Mt. Caesar Ledges

This is what you see at the top of the trail.

7. View from Mt. Caesar

And this is the view when you stand on the ledge-looking directly south, toward Massachusetts.

8. Mt. Monadnock From Mt. Caesar

This is what you see when you follow a small trail to the east from the summit. It is Mount Monadnock, which has appeared in this blog several times. The word Monadnock is a Native American term for an isolated hill or a lone mountain that has risen above the surrounding area. At 3, 165 feet Mount Monadnock is taller than any other feature in the region and is visible from several surrounding towns.

9. Shiny Clubmoss aka Lycopodium lucidulum

Shiny (or shining) clubmoss (Lycopodium lucidulum) is easy to identify because it grows straighter and taller than other clubmosses.

10. Log

I liked the look of this log. It might have been a standing tree in Caesar Freeman’s day.

11. Little Brown Mushrooms on Stump

Little brown mushrooms grew on a stump. Our nights have been below freezing but the days are still warm enough for mushrooms. They must last for one day and then freeze at night.

12. Reindeer Lichen

A closer look at Reindeer lichen.
According to the History of Swanzey, New Hampshire Native Americans “rendezvoused on Mt. Ceesar in 1755. From this mountain they would come down as near as they dared to the fort on Meeting-house hill and execute their war and scalp dances, and exhibit themselves in the most insulting attitudes to the people in the fort.” After many of their number were killed the settlers were forced to abandon the town, but returned several years later and built more forts.

The mountain and surrounding lands were extremely valuable to the Native Americans, called Squakheag, who lived here and they put up a mighty fight for them. In the end of course, they lost the fight. It was interesting, and a little sad, to contemplate these things as I climbed their mountain.
After Col. Henry Bouquet defeated the Ohio Indians at Bushy Run in 1763, he demanded the release of all white captives. Most of them, especially the children, had to be “bound hand and foot” and forcibly returned to white society ~James W. Loewen
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Recently I wrote about the Ashuelot River and how it played a part in shaping my boyhood, but the river wasn’t my only influence-other parts of nature tugged at me as well. One of those was our local mountain, Mount Monadnock.

I grew up in its shadow, but I don’t remember feeling the mountain’s pull until my teen years. That’s when I decided that I would be the first person to catalogue all of the wildflowers that grew on its flanks. In the process of discovering that no one had ever bothered to do such a thing I also discovered Henry David Thoreau, who had climbed the mountain several times and mentioned quite a few of its plants in his notebooks. I read everything by Thoreau that I could lay my hands on and credit him with teaching me the difference between seeing and observing. He was also instrumental in my becoming more interested in all of nature, rather than in just two or three specific areas.

It was only after I finally walked and climbed the mountain that I saw why no one had ever attempted to catalog all of its wildflowers; it is so big that it would take three lifetimes to do so. Someone who wasn’t working all day might do it in less time, but it would still be quite a job.

The word Monadnock comes from the native Abenaki language and means “mountain that stands alone.” It is said to be the second most climbed mountain in the world after Mount Fuji in Japan, because people from all over come to climb it year round. 

Local people love the view of Mount Monadnock, which can be seen from several towns and is why the area is called “The Monadnock Region.” People who want to see a view of the mountain like that above out of their own windows will pay a high price to do so; land with a mountain view is scarce and is bought up as soon as it becomes available.

Competition over who will have the best view of the mountain has gone on for centuries. Settlers in the nearby town of Marlborough chose the view below for the town meeting house in 1770.

 Though the meetinghouse no longer stands here the land is still owned by the town and is open to visitors. 

 This is one of the views of the mountain that folks here in Keene are used to, and is the one I grew up with. Monadnock can be seen from all over town but is several miles away. This view has appeared in many paintings by many different artists and curiously, to me this photo looks more like a painting than a photograph. I’m playing with a new (used) Canon point and shoot and I’m really not sure what I did to make it come out this way.

Poets, artists, writers, photographers-all have flocked to Monadnock. There are poems, prose, operas, symphonies, and dances written about it. Some say it is the most painted and written about Mountain in America. 

 

 The hike to the summit is from two to four miles depending on the trail chosen. Getting to the top takes an average of 2 hours but just like anywhere else kids run all the way and people of age sit and rest here and there. On a clear day you can see all the way to Boston, but beautiful scenery can be found at just about any time.

In 1987, Mount Monadnock was designated a National Natural Landmark. To learn more about the mountain, click here.

Photo of the view from the summit is by the Sierra Club.

This is the 100th post since I started this blog on March 20, 2011. Almost a year of blogging! Thank you all for taking the time to read it.

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