WMUR looks at southern NH rail trail route

It’s a good thing WMUR-TV in Manchester, NH maintains a Facebook page, or I would have missed Jamie Staton’s story “The Granite State Rail Trail: Southern Route.” It gave me an update on the status of the rail line between Manchester and Salem that has been chopped up through the years. I haven’t been on any part of it except the Windham stretch, which is in great shape.

I remember years ago when the then-manager of Manchester Airport (please, not “Manchester-Boston,” a ridiculous name that only a marketing consultant could have come up with) pretty much tore up the old rail line through airport property, to the dismay of people who had dreamed of restoring the line for recreational use. A runway has since been built across the old right-of-way. Staton reports that a trail may yet be restored anyway, working around the runway.

Many meetings have been held to get the trail through and around the airport. Involved in this project are the Airport Authority, Town of Londonderry, City of Manchester Public Works, Manchester Parks and Rec, and Manchester Moves. WMUR was told the city will apply for a grant to pay for the project in 2018, with hopes that construction will take place in 2020. Deputy Airport Director Tom Malafronte tells WMUR that an MOU (memorandum of understanding) is being drawn up with the city, and that the airport is very supportive of the project.

Check out the full post with its photos of the trail in various towns along the way. I’m pleased to read that some segments are much closer to being developed than I had realized.

Note: I’ve been to the Windham trail for a 5k race (a walk, in my case) along the smooth paved route. There’s another race next June, and I recommend it as a way to discover the trail as well as support the Windham Rail Trail Alliance which is responsible for so much of the trail’s development.

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Take Notes

When my husband and I went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks last year, I scribbled some notes at the end of each day. Too sketchy to amount to a journal, they nevertheless recorded some important details. Once we got home, I typed up the notes and emailed a copy of the resulting document to myself for safekeeping.

It was so safe that I forgot I had it, until this evening. I’m laid up at the moment with a cold or flu or whatever the microbe du jour might be, and to pass the time I’m clearing out things from my email inbox that I never properly archived. Lo and behold, there were my Yellowstone notes.

Reading them took me right back to the Old Faithful Inn and the Teton bike trail.

I neatened up the notes, imposing complete sentences on my fragmentary observations. Then I printed out the resulting text and tucked it in our photo album of the trip. Yes, an actual hold-it-in-your-hand photo album. Now, when we or our kids look at the pictures, we’ll have more context than simply “ooh! what a pretty meadow!”

Do yourself a favor and take notes on your next trip, especially if it’s to a place you’ll likely not visit again. No need for elegant writing; my own sketchy notes were hardly poetic. I wasn’t writing for publication. I wrote to capture impressions that I was afraid I’d lose once the vacation was over.

I should have printed out my notes right after the trip instead of relegating them to email limbo for more than a year. They’ve come back to life now.

Take notes. You won’t be sorry.

(I managed to wring a blog post out of the Yellowstone trip shortly after coming home. It’s mostly photos. I hope you enjoy it!) 

First Day Hikes for 2017 announced

The folks at New Hampshire State Parks have done their best to get me to break my long tradition of spending New Year’s Day at a 5k race in Temple, which I sometimes followed with a walk up Pack Monadnock. Last New Year’s Days have found me instead at a First Day Hike at Silver Lake State Park, organized by the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation. The program is coming back for another round on January 1, 2017.

Details have been posted  on the State Parks web site about First Day Hikes at the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion State Historic Site in Portsmouth, Silver Lake State Park in Hollis, Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey, Weeks State Park in Lancaster, and Wellington State Park in Bristol.

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Signing up for the First Day 2016 hike at Silver Lake State Park in Hollis. Photo by Ellen Kolb.

January doesn’t always make for the best daytrip weather, but it sure would be fun to head to Weeks for a walk up that amazing auto road leading to that amazing fire tower…or maybe to discover Wellington, which I’ve never visited…or I could just stay close to home and go to Hollis as I did last January 1. What a wonderful day that was.

Read the descriptions, pick a spot, and put it on your calendar. I’ll have to give it some thought. My customary 5k in Temple is always fun, but these options are mighty tempting. Come to think of it, Temple is on the way to Monadnock. Hmmm…

 

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.

When is it NOT “take a hike” day?

How did I not know this? Once again, Twitter expands my horizons.

National Hiking Day, indeed. Well, every day is a day to hike. I’ve done my best to prove that true.

Now to find a photo to tweet back at the station that posted this. Post one yourself, if you’re so inclined. Maybe we can give each other ideas for the next destination.

Horse Hill

Among the places to which I’ve returned again and again during this blog’s ten years is Horse Hill Nature Preserve, one of my favorite places in town.

dscf1098When I moved to this area thirty years ago, what is now the preserve was just a big undeveloped area with a sandpit in the middle. There was once talk of building a housing development in there. The development never materialized, and in 2002, the town purchased the property for conservation. As a community, we made a wise decision.

The area needed a lot of cleanup before it was ready for prime time, and we resorted to some creative maneuvers to get the job done. I remember going there with my son’s Scout troop on a hike. In the sandpit area was debris from the area’s days as an informal target range. Each Scout gleefully stuffed his pockets full of shell casings and carried them out. I can only imagine how many forgotten little brass pieces found their way into washing machines that weekend.

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My favorite season at Horse Hill.

Now, Horse Hill is a year-round spot for walkers, runners, and off-road bicyclists. Horseback riding is allowed, too, for equestrians who don’t mind taking their chances sharing a trail with bikes. As for being a nature preserve, Horse Hill’s wetlands and trees provide habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Horse Hill is popular enough that the town just tripled the size of the parking area, yet it never seems crowded once I’m more than five minutes from my car. Plenty of trails branch off from the main loop, so hikers aren’t concentrated in one area.

If you go, download a map first, and then have fun.

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Good snowshoeing here in winter.

 

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Horse Hill Nature Preserve