Early 2008
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Beaver Brook - February 3, 2008
Activity, photos, and report by Ken L.

Back to Beaver Brook...

...with me, myself, and I!  There was some interest by others, but in the end it was just yer ol' Get Outdoors New England Webmaster.

The weather was cloudy with a little sun here and there, temps in the upper 30s or maybe a little more, no wind to speak of.  Given the ice storm two days earlier, the ground was questionable, so Your Webmaster got out his crampons.  It turned out to be a good choice for the route chosen, although throughout the woods one could have gotten by with snowshoes or even x-c skis.  Heck, even just boots if you didn't mind slipping a little.  The main trails are fairly well packed down, but I tried to avoid those.  :-)

My trek took me way out to Rte. 130 where one normally crosses the road to get to Wildlife Pond.  Given that I didn't have snowshoes and the trail in that section had not been packed down, I decided to take a right onto 130 and head down to the other entrance to Beaver Brook.  It was a good thing I had my crampons, as the side of the road was ice, and I stuck to it like glue.

During my Beaver Brook outing I encountered several people, including someone with two Newfoundlands that liked to wade in the water.  I was so intrigued by the big dogs that I forgot to grab some photos!  They were very fuzzy and very friendly.

It was a nice walk, and I made it home in plenty of time for the big game...uhhh...unfortunately.  :-)


Next time...  

Turn THIS...

...into THIS!


Boxford State Forest - January 26, 2008
Activity, photos, and report by Ken L.
Additional photos by Dave J.

The weather was pretty good - sunny, no wind, and probably in the low 30s for temperature.  Your Webmaster pulled up to the Sharpner's Pond Road parking lot for the Boxford State Forest, and right after him was Dave J.

We opted to head out in our hiking boots.  One could have used snowshoes, as in many places there was a few inches of powder.  Cross-country skis could have been used in most places, but a lot of the roads and trails had rocks showing.  And in some places we had some ice, and crampons would have been nice every now and then, but it wasn't like we were crossing swamps or anything...or were we...?

The Boxford State Forest was a proposed NIKE (nuclear missile) site.  In fact, work began, but funding was cut.  Near the parking lot is the old missile silo, never completed.  It has filled with water, and we ran into two guys ice fishing.  They said that there's some bass in the old silo.

As we recall from earlier trips to Indian Ridge (Andover, MA) and the Middlesex Fells (Melrose, MA), Dave enjoys geocaching.  I thought it would be a splendid idea to try to find some of the caches in the Boxford State Forest---some of them are deep in the woods and are reachable only if you bushwhack, and that is not something you want to do in the warmer weather because of the insects.

It turns out that the caches Dave wanted to find were in my GPS receiver already, so off we went.

We wandered off one of the main trails to track down one of the bushwhack caches.  It led us down to a swamp.  It was at that point where Dave's GPS receiver and mine began disagree...wildly!  His pointed in one direction, mine the other.  We decided to follow my GPS receiver for the moment, and it was sending us across the swamp (of course).  Instead we decided to go around the edge.

















The beavers have been busy, and they have been flooding various areas in the forest.  You can see the old stone wall above heading into the water, and below you can see what used to be the road.



The beaver dam is on the left, and it has certainly grown over the years!


We bushwhacked around the swamp and back to the main road.  We then had to go back toward the swamp to fine one of the caches.  Success!

But...Dave's GPSr, which had pointed in a different direction earlier, was still pointing in a different direction!  Dave looked at his GPS and realized that we had our GPS receivers set to two different caches.  Well, now, that would certainly explain why his GPSr wanted to go one way and mine another!

But that means, of course, there's still another cache out there located deep in the woods far from any trail...

We wandered back to the main road where we met two other geocachers and chatted with them for a few minutes.  They were heading where we had just been, so we apologized for the footprints which are a dead giveaway in the snow.  :-)


I always stop at the old cemetery (click the thumbnail for a larger image).  The people who built the farmstead in the Boxford State Forest took part in the Revolutionary War.  When there I like to acknowledge the sacrifice of them and many others who bravely took up arms to set the Colonies free from British rule.

After our pause at the cemetery for a sit and a few snacks, Dave and I wandered the main road back out to the cars to end the day.

The Boxford State Forest doesn't offer too much in the way of scenery per se, but it an enjoyable, quiet place to walk, you can get a few miles in, you can pick up a few geocaches, and you can search out the old Russell-Hooper farmstead.


Mt. Tom Hike - January 20, 2008
Activity, photos, and photo captions by Barbara D.
Barbara & Co. intended to do Mt. Moosilauke, but the weather for that mid January weekend was to prove daunting - cold temps and high winds.  The group opted for the more tame Mt. Tom instead, and they were certainly not disappointed.

Although the morning started out very cold, the sky was an amazing blue.

In fact, the original image, if enlarged, shows white specks:

Are these stars visible in the daylight?  Or is this simply snow whipped up by the wind or dust on the camera lens?

Fresh snow on the Mt. Tom summit area before the group broke trail to the southwest
view to the Pemigewasset Wilderness

Expansive view northeast to the Presidential Range
...and one very chilly gray jay  :-)

Mt. Kinsman Hike - January 12, 2008
Activity, photos, and photo captions by Barbara D.
Barbara does some amazing hikes and sends in some spectacular pictures.

On the 12th Barbara and Michael hit the trail to Mt. Kinsman.  There was no soft powder that day, just hard packed snow on the trails and beautiful ice-coated branches along the Kinsman Ridge Trail.

  Thanks to no wind, Barbara and Michael were able to relax with their lunch on North Kinsman, enjoying the view across the notch to Franconia Ridge.

  The summit cairn on South Kinsman.

(Click the thumbnails for larger photos.)

X-C Ski at Windblown - January 6, 2008
Activity and trip report by Ken L.

Yep, it was time for Your Webmaster to get back on his cross-country skis and check out the Windblown X-C Ski Center in New Ipswich, New Hampshire.

Your Webmaster and Susan out on the trail

Although several people showed interest, one person decided to shovel off a roof instead, someone else overslept (!!??), and unfortunately someone else had car trouble.  Ugh. 

Well, I'll try not to rub it in, but, yes, it was a nice day for Susan and me.  I picked Susan up from a nearby commuter rail station, and off we went to New Ipswich.  Susan rented some gear, and we got on the trail around 10:30.  The day started out rather cloudy, but later on the sun came out.  The temperatures were fine all day, and there was no wind.  Conditions overall were pretty good, and since Susan hadn't done much x-c skiing (ever) and I've been way out of practice, it was nice having the trails in our favor.

Windblown is not a huge cross-country ski center when compared to, say, Jackson or Bretton Woods, but it has a nice lodge where you can rent equipment for the day if you need to, get a bit of chow if you get hungry, and warm up by the fireplace.  They're also not a very far jaunt for those of us in southern New England, which is probably why the ski center is often crowded, according to my co-worker Melanie (who noted that the parking lot sometimes overflows to the street).  I'd say that it was "busy" on the day we were there, and there were many people in and around the lodge, and we did see several people on the trail.  But it didn't feel overcrowded.

Windblown greets you with about 25 miles of wooded trails (according to their site), roughly 1/3 green (easy), 1/2 blue (moderate), and the remainder black (difficult).  Generally the trails are all groomed the same---it's the size and steepness of the hills along the way that make for the difference in difficulty.  They have snowshoe trails as well as the X-C ski trails, and the Wapack Trail with its yellow triangle blazes snakes through the ski area.

The snow conditions for the day were good with just a little melting, and the trail grooming was quite nice and held up great all day.  Toward the end of the day, however, the trails started icing up, making for some interesting downhills.

Susan and I were treated to a nice sunset late in the day as whatever clouds were around broke up even further and the sun began to slip behind the hills.

By the time late afternoon rolled around...

...Susan and I reviewed the map and realized we had covered most if not all of the moderate trails and many of the easy ones.  The black ones?  Well, OK, we'll leave those for another time.

With Susan well ahead of me and safely out of the way, Your Webmaster negotiated the last icy downhill before the lodge, and that was it for the day.