Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hiking the Nanamocomuck and FR 209

We spent the weekend at a friend's rustic cabin off Bear Notch Road. Once the wood stove gets cranking in the cabin kitchen the place (at least that room) warms up nicely. A good thing, since at 5:00 am Saturday the outdoor thermometer read -20F. On Sunday, the 5 am temperature was +20F, a nice wide swing in the right direction. But this is March, it has got to start warming up sometime.

On this winter excursion we took a different approach to hiking. Rather than climb a peak or two, we opted for low elevation and relatively flat ground. The White Mountain National Forest has a forestry operation underway (known as the Northeast Swift Integrated Resource Management Project) along FR 209, which extends easterly about 2 miles from Bear Notch Road. The plowed forest road was gated and on the weekend the loggers were not working, so we had the road and surroundings to ourselves along with our dogs Kodi and Henna.
On Saturday we hiked FR209 to the very end where a large landing was piled high with logs.
Since the loggers were home resting for the weekend, we got to explore their operations: we looked in awe at the large bulky, rugged equipment; studied the piles of logs sorted by tree species, and appreciated the hard work of getting wood from snowbound woods, to log landing, to truck, to a mill.
The wide, quiet road was lined and crisscrossed with dozens of animal tracks--snowshoe hare, fisher, weasel, mice, coyote, and a big bird.....This is the best snow print of a bird and its tracks in snow that I've ever seen. Maybe a raven?
The Nanamocomuck Trail meanders for miles along the north side of the Swift River (and the Kancamagus Highway). We hiked a few stretches of this trail, which is accessible from The Kanc and Bear Notch Road. The snow was well-packed so we bare-booted our way along this scenic trail.
Taking the road less traveled on this weekend was perfect, allowing the dogs to run free and far and within sight and the space and time for us to stop to observe wildlife tracks and wander among an active forestry operation. We almost didn't notice that March arrived, as it still felt like deep winter.

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