Today we follow our usual route, starting with the hike into Round Pond. The first good swimming hole for the dogs. From there we hike along a wetland edge, where a few winters ago we spotted a bobcat hunting during the day. Today we watch several turkey vultures take flight from rocks and trees on the opposite shore. They join others soaring, a total of twelve circling overhead.
The trail leads through a boulder field; one of the largest aggregations of large boulders in the world. The boulders were plucked from the nearby mountains and dropped here by the last glacier. It is a hugely popular rock climbing spot, particularly for beginners.
The trail to North Mountain, our destination, starts its ascent just past the boulder field and climbs along the edge of a massive rock outcrop. A pair of ravens calls more raucously than usual; one adult is perched in a tree near the rock face. We spot the nest tucked into a rock ledge, by all the whitewash splattering the rock below. Four very large raven nestlings sit on a loosely formed stick nest, peer out from the crevice, and call to their parents. They look bigger than their parents and more than ready to take flight. The nest is seen in the middle of this photo.
As we continue to climb the narrow path up to North Ridge we pass blooming pink lady's slippers, rocks covered in polypody ferns (Polypodium vulgare) and rock tripe lichen (Umbilicaria mammulata), and wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). One particular plant was set against some mountaintop graffiti.
We reach the highest point in our county, at 1,101 feet atop North Mountain. The view gives one the sense of a vast region of undeveloped land below, when in fact, Rockingham County is one of the more densely populated regions of the state. We look across the ring-dike to North Ridge.
Our route continues along North Ridge before we descend and follow a long loop back to Round Pond. Along the way we take note of the rich diversity of plants and a few animals.
A "lawn" of Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica)
Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) drapped in flowers
An unusual clump of Solomon's seal (Polygonatum commutatum)
A pickerel frog (Rana palustris) far from water
Back at Round Pond the dogs slake their thirst.
We rest our feet.
Bella brings home some Ossipee mucky peat.