A decade of good times

While the rest of the nation is occupied with the presidential election, I’m celebrating a modest milestone: I started this blog ten years ago this month.

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Second Street bridge, near east end of Piscataquog Rail Trail, Manchester NH. All photos by Ellen Kolb.

 

 

It’s still a fun project for me. It reaches only a handful of people, including a few very faithful readers to whom I send my grateful greetings. Granite State Walker is mainly my online journal and album, a repository for my memories and a resource for trips yet to come.

Most of the posts in this anniversary month will be looks back at some of my favorite destinations. Many of those destinations are close to New Hampshire’s largest cities, easily accessible, and good for kids as well as adults. Maybe one of them will become a favorite of yours.

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Woodmont Orchard near Silver Lake State Park, Hollis NH.

I love my southern New Hampshire trails more than ever. I appreciate trail maintainers more than I used to. I understand more than I did a decade ago about the long administrative slog that goes into authorizing a new recreational trail even before the first weed is whacked.

I’m grateful to many people I’ll never meet, whose work has left us with parks and trails to which I return again and again. The blogging shall continue as long as I have “wows” to express. No end in sight, at this point.

 
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Getting here

Walking for pure joy sort of snuck up on me. When I needed to lose weight, I developed the habit of heading outside after dinner to go around the block a few times. Much later, it dawned on me that there were a whole lot of more interesting places I could explore — maybe not after dinner, but on weekends & days off.

I found state parks. I discovered rail trails. I walked through neighborhoods that I had only before seen from a car window.

I can hear a few “DUH!”s out there. But that’s just because you figured all this out before I did.

In the greater scheme of things, I’m a New Hampshire newcomer, having been here “only” 24 years. I moved up from Florida with my husband and baby, hardly expecting this whole Northern thing to work out as well as it has. It took me awhile to realize just how much of Florida’s beauty I had taken for granted the whole time I was growing up — the beauty most of the tourists miss. I didn’t want to make the same mistake here. Having five kids, and making them my occupational priority (why don’t I just say “full-time stay-at-home mom”?), I have learned little by little over the years about appreciating things close to home. As my family’s gotten older, I’ve had time for trips a bit farther afield, but most of my recreational time is still spent in NH.

I enjoy entering local road races as a walker, but that has its place. Sometimes, the timed workout energizes me. I certainly don’t do it for world recognition, since I am not particularly fast. I wouldn’t want to give up either my races or my hikes. My long-suffering husband has been very encouraging to me, which is no small effort on his part. He is much faster than I am, and we hike together seldom because I really get concerned about how far behind him I always am. Even when we visited Yosemite, some of our hikes were separate — I did Panorama Trail by myself, and he hiked Half Dome without me. And that was fine with me.

So, here I am, southern NH-based and fascinated by the NH outdoors. I am a complete amateur at what I do, in the sense that I do my walking because I love it. As for my outdoors skills, let’s just say that without help from my son, the onetime Scout, I couldn’t so much as pitch a tent. I aim to improve on that, since so many of the places I visit rate more than a 6-hour daytrip.

I plan to write about some of my favorite spots (not all of them!) and post some photos if I manage to take any worth posting. I’m an amateur at that, too.