Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Three Days in the Mountains

My nephew Reid visited us from Illinois for three great days of hiking in the mountains. We stayed at our friend's cabin off Bear Notch Road--a quiet, secluded spot in winter and ideal as a base camp for day hikes in the White Mountains. We stoked the wood stoves as temperatures dipped into the single digits by Sunday morning. Ice crystals formed on the window, Kodi rolled on the cold, crusty snow, and a gorgeous gray fox trotted by the window one morning.

On Saturday we hiked one of our favorite trails: the 4.8 mile UNH Trail Loop to Hedgehog Mountain. This trail winds through northern hardwood and spruce forests, passes alongside huge boulders, and offers great views of surrounding mountains. The well-packed trail made for easy walking although we wore microspikes, which helped in several icy spots. We applied Musher's wax to Kodi's paws, which worked marvelously all weekend.

 Kodi waited while Reid adjusted his microspikes
  A light snow fell as we climbed through northern hardwoods and then spruce forests
Pileated woodpeckers and loggers had been busy working the woods
This loop trail offers various views of Mt. Chocorua and the great Mt. Passaconaway. Although it was cloudy all day, we caught a brief glimpse of the sun as it lit up the top of Mt. Chocorua as viewed from the East Ledges.
The spruce trees were laden with cones--a food bonanza for red squirrels--and the dark green needles made for a rich contrast against the snow and gray clouds.
The southerly section of the trail between East Ledges and the mountain summit, passes by a huge rock wall and other giant boulders. And further along, the trail climbs toward the summit with Mt. Passaconaway rising up to the south.
Our final grand view was looking northeast toward The Moats with the sun catching the west-facing slopes. A logging operation, silent on Saturday, was visible in the foreground. And at our feet, in the ice cold snow tiny snow fleas (springtails) dotted the ground like specks of pepper. 
Tomorrow's post will re-count our hike up North Kearsarge on one of the coldest days of the year.


  1. What a terrific posting, Ellen! Loved the narrative and the photos!

    I've always thought that those dwellings at the south end of Bear Notch Road would make an ideal base for some terrific White Mountain hiking.


  2. Thanks for the note John. The cabin is in a lovely spot. With Bear Notch Road closed in winter it is so quiet and few of the neighboring cabins are occupied. And there are many nearby trails to explore. Ellen