Sunday, April 3, 2016

A very long walk

100 years ago this part of New England was just recovering from almost total deforestation;  farmers had found new and more efficient ways to manage the land, sons and daughters were now working in towns,  and the once ubitquitous farm land was reverting back to fields, truck gardens, and forest.  In the late 1800s NH was 90% agricultural land,  by the end of this last century it had reversed itself, despite our sincere efforts to pave anything that didn't fight back.

Places like this took less of a direct hit because of the topography, and the trees crept back steadily as there was less and less need for grazing land and huge acreage for crops.  This particular bit of land was scraped down to bedrock by the glaciers, carving large tracks for the melt that followed.  I suspect that thousands of years ago there were serious rivers in each valley, all of them heading down to what would someday be towns, and lakes, and larger rivers.

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The biggest concern was the rain: would it?

It started to rain the minute people began arriving for the walk;  35, more or less, amazingly enthusiastic people.  It continued to rain while the two tree guys introduced themselves and we huddled like refugees waiting for the walk to begin.  It rained harder as we marched off into the woods. Some people actually brought umbrellas =)

we had originally suggested splitting the group into two separate parties, one to go west and one to go east but the organizers felt we needed to stay together.  

This is one of the stone walls that divide one pasture from another deep in the woods at the bottom of the valley.  to the right you can see how steep it is.  

this is basically the same area, only looking the other way, up the side of the other valley.  At the bottom, one of our tree experts is showing us about a basswood tree,  one of only a few that we have. They LOVE finding stuff like that. =)

We decided to take the easy route (most of the people on the walk were  over 50, some I suspect were even over 80), through the admittedly sloppy valley.  At some point one of the wood fellas hopped a wall and we found ourselves trekking upward toward the beech ridge.  It was a lot like that part in the Hobbit where the  hobbits are inexorably shunted downward, toward the Evil Tree, only in this case we were being somehow propelled up.  Since snags and downed trees blocked the way down, over and over,   up seemed the way to go.  Suddenly we all agreed that since we were here, yes, yes, the beech ridge would be lovely.

this is the end of the beech ridge path, leading to the neighbor's field and the really cool view.  He's very generous about sharing the view, and it never disappoints.

 And this is one corner of the pasture, (yes, it was still raining.  endlessly)

Below that  photo is the overlook, on a good day you can see the ocean, 40 miles away.  

We turned back, to come back to the main house, all along the beech ridge but going the other way.  Once there my husband said, hey, let's take the OTHER walk too and everyone said, oboy and off they went.  My jacket was thoroughly soaked, and I was starting to forget what toes feel like, so I came in, stoked up the fire, and had one of my power naps in the rocker.

An hour later they all trooped back, having taken not only the scenic route but the long loop,  a complete journey of nearly three miles.  yikes.

As they left, the rain stopped.  The sun came out almost immediately.  Of course.  And last night, just to make sure we didnt get too excited about spring, we were given two inches of snow. Nature's answer to "spring? Can't last,  don't get used to it..."


  1. I love to take walks but an upward trek into the woods on a cold rainy day would have had me giving up long before you.

  2. I love these people; they do this all the time; one man said he'll walk anywhere, in any woods, just point him in the right direction. Im guessing he was close to 80.

    There is a speed that these kinds of walks engenders--if you hit that stride, you can walk all day, uphill and down. It's very similar to the 'stroll" or "proceeding' that the police have on a beat. No hurry, but you get there eventually.

    And frankly I have never seen so many varieties of rain gear outside of a hiker's shop. I think that's what helped it work, they all came dressed for chilly, and for rain.

    Then again we all may be insane but no one is telling us.

    If you ever drop in, I'll take you on the easy walk, no steep parts. =)

  3. I like the sound of the fire, power nap and rocking chair. Are you all giving tours?

  4. I always like the sound of fires, and naps, and chairs. Goes with the age, i suspect.

    we don't put the tour on, but we do join it, as part of the MMRG package. They like to give tours to people a few times a year, so that they can see what MMRG is about (as a land conservation outfit) and how important conserved land can be. (speech over =) )