Windblown in the off-season; and seven years (!) of hikes

“Walking for pure joy sort of snuck up on me.” Thus started my first post for Granite State Walker, seven years ago this week.  I’ve been feeling the joy ever since, and I don’t expect it’ll ever wear off.

From my Cohos Trail trip, 2009. (See cohostocanada.wordpress.com)

From my Cohos Trail trip, 2009. (See cohostocanada.wordpress.com)

My once-small son on Kidder Mountain in New Ipswich. Excellent effort-to-reward ratio.

My once-small son on Kidder Mountain in New Ipswich. Excellent effort-to-reward ratio.

I thought seven years ago (and still think) that the mighty White Mountains were getting plenty of coverage, while the recreational opportunities in other parts of the state were not much appreciated. I want people to know how much beauty is here. I’ll keep wearing out shoes on the rail trails and in the state parks and on the occasional peaks. Thanks for following me.  

Looking south to Temple Mountain from Windblown ski area. Photos by Ellen Kolb.

Looking south to Temple Mountain from Windblown ski area. Photos by Ellen Kolb.

I’ve written before about Windblown cross-country ski area in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, one of my favorite snowshoeing spots. Five years ago (already!) next month, it took a hard hit from an epic ice storm. Last weekend, owner Al Jenks teamed up with Ben Haubrick of the Harris Center for a guided hike along Windblown’s trails to show how the area has recovered. What seemed catastrophic back in ’08 has given way to a ski area that’s busier than ever amid a well-managed forest. Normally, with the exception of the portion of the Wapack Trail that runs through the property, hiking on Windblown’s trails in the off-season is a no-no. It was interesting to follow Al and Ben the other day on paths that I know better when they’re snow-covered. The texture of the bare ground – as bare as it could be, considering the fallen leaves – was lumpy and bumpy. Bits of ledge protruded here and there along with tree roots and little mounds of grass. Packed snow, when it’s there, hides all that texture. The whole area has taken on a different look since the storm, with the loss of many oaks and maples leading to more open views. Al pointed out a few of the 800 pines recently planted to serve eventually as windbreaks, now that a lot of large damaged trees have been cut down. He noted that after five years, cleanup from the storm is “almost over.” His forest-management decisions are once again focused on the future, which is the way he likes it after owning the land for 40 years.

Al Jenks and Ben Haubrick

Al Jenks and Ben Haubrick 

About twenty of us hiked up a trail on the slope of Barrett Mountain.
About twenty of us hiked up a trail on the slope of Barrett Mountain.

Midafternoon shadows on the Temple Mountain ridge.

Midafternoon shadows on the Temple Mountain ridge.

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