When the temps hit 100…

My state is having its annual heat wave. My car’s thermometer registered 104° today. It’s hot enough to make me forget for a few days that icy driveways are only a few months away. It’s even hot enough to make an indoor treadmill look appealing. But I found a good place for a half-hour walk today: a rail trail under a nice shady canopy of trees.

Summer day Goffstown rail trail

The Goffstown rail trail was my destination today. You might have a shady refuge just like it near you. Packed sand underfoot, trees overhead, river nearby. Restful and cool, until the trail crossed a power line cut and the shade disappeared for a hundred yards or so.

From the trail’s bridge over the Piscataquog River, I could see a couple of kayakers who were no doubt in for a whopping case of sunburn. Still, the river was their refuge from the heat, so good for them.

Piscataquog from Singer bridge

As I turned around at the bridge to return to my car, a smiling bicyclist flew past me. She called back to me over her shoulder, “isn’t this a glorious day?”

Yes, it was.

More ideas: Five years ago, I made a list of five of my favorite southern New Hampshire hot-weather hikes

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Cool and Shady

Another northern foray, another walk on the Cohos Trail’s Falls in the River segment. No trip to Pittsburg, New Hampshire on a 90-degree day would be complete without this through-the-woods walk to the unnamed flume on the Connecticut River, a half-hour walk south of the Second Connecticut Lake Dam.

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Falls in the River, Pittsburg NH, June. Photos by Ellen Kolb.

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Cracks in the granite give some tiny blossoms a home.

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A peek at Second Connecticut Lake from the parking lot by the dam. 

Notes on this trip: no moose. I figured the hot weather would keep them from being out on the roadside at midday, but I thought for sure I’d see one in the woods. I saw only their prints in the mud.

Bring your bug repellent of choice. It’s mosquito season. Also, it seems to be a fine year for ticks, which is bad news for the moose.

I was determined to get ice cream at Moose Alley Cones, but alas! It’s closed on summer Mondays. The fudge at Treats and Treasures next door was ample compensation. So was T&T’s air conditioning.

 

 

 

Is that what I looked like?!

True confession: I just watched the four-part Gilmore Girls update on Netflix. What can I say? I got hooked when my daughter watched the originals all those years ago. A few scenes in the new show cracked me up in a way my daughter might not get.

In the program, the co-leading actress, supposedly in her late 40s, decides she needs to take a hike in the manner of Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Crest Trail. The character doesn’t know the first thing about hiking, or even about the outdoors for that matter. Hilarity ensues. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t get past the trailhead.

I saw her trying to cram all her stuff into her backpack, and it sent me right back to my 2009 Cohos Trail trek, my one and only backpacking trip so far. I wanted to mark my 50th birthday with a solo hike. I picked a good one. It was a formidable undertaking, though, and despite many months of preparation and training, I was a total amateur.

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How amateur? In all the months of training for longer and longer walks, I never carried any weight on my back. Never. Imagine how I felt when I slung my overladen backpack onto my shoulders the first day of my hike and struggled to walk up a not-very-steep hill. I thought I had eliminated all unnecessary pack weight. I hadn’t. To compound the mistake, I had misthreaded my pack straps. I figured that much out after the first mile.

The trip got much better in spite of all that.

I laughed – nay, I howled – at our Netflix heroine’s bulging, ill-balanced, enormous pack. I realized at that moment just how comical I must have looked to all the amazing, generous people in Pittsburg, New Hampshire who offered me hospitality along my way in 2009. They were very kind by not laughing in my face. I sure had it coming.

Once I was within walking distance of the Pittsburg post office, I mailed home equipment that I didn’t need. As a result, I practically sailed through 19 miles my last day on the Trail.

If you’ve never taken a long hike but you want to give it a try, go ahead – I heartily endorse the notion. Train with weight, though, and be really picky about what constitutes “necessary” equipment. Don’t look like something out of Netflix.

Waterfalls on the to-do list: Franconia Notch

My last visit to Franconia Notch State Park featured a visit to the ski museum there. The trip before that included a long walk on the bike trail. The one before that was a hike up Mt. Pemigewasset. But wait…there’s more.

I guess I’ll just have to go back there sometime.

Re-collection

I walk for fun, to explore, to more-or-less exercise. I also walk to keep my head on straight. I wouldn’t have gotten through today without a couple of miles outside.

I’m a political critter, you see. I’ve been a campaign staffer, an activist, a blogger from the State House, to name a few pastimes. Yesterday was election day after the nastiest campaign year I’ve ever experienced. This has been a backed-up-sewer of a season.

Nothing will flush it out except time on the trails.

All I had today was time for a couple of local miles. Manchester’s Piscataquog rail trail came through for me. There were enough leaves left on the trees to serve as a canopy. The overcast sky suited me; bright sunlight would have left me with a slashing headache.

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Piscataquog trail, in another season.

Forty good minutes: enough time to escape agitation. Time to block out the noise, turn away from the news feeds, take lots of deep breaths, recall what’s important.

A man biked past me. I recognized him as the unofficial adopter of the trail, picking up bags of trash, neatly hanging fresh plastic bags every hundred yards or so. Seeing him was oddly consoling and reassuring. He has a simple, selfless volunteer’s dedication to an unsung job that consists of keeping a public area pretty.

Beat that, candidates.

Decompression is going to take awhile. Today’s walk was a good start.

 

Union Leader on the Goffstown rail trail’s mysterious cemetery

I was surprised one day on the Goffstown rail trail to come across a little cemetery along the trail, behind the Hillsborough County government buildings. It was neatly kept, but clearly old, and the stones bore numbers instead of names. I wondered if it had been the county’s “potter’s field” at one point.

The New Hampshire Union Leader recently published an article that shed a little light on the situation. Thanks to reporter Jay Bouchard and trail walker Steve MacDonald, I now know a little more about this fascinating spot. Read “Town’s rail trail brings exposure to mysterious county cemetery.” 

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Cemetery beside the Goffstown Rail Trail. Photo by Ellen Kolb.