Muddy trails, four-footed friends

Boots, you fool. Boots. Two days in a row, I’ve gone out in running shoes when boots would have been a much better idea. It’s uncommonly warm for late December, and a recent gentle 24-hour rain left local paths muddy. I’ve been on flat trails close to home, nothing adventurous, but they’ve left me with very dirty shoes. No harm done.

(And what was I thinking when I bought white athletic shoes? Nothing meant to be worn outdoors should be white, except for reflective tape.)

Nashua River at Mine Falls Dam. Spring runoff can cover those rocks.

Nashua River at Mine Falls Dam. Spring runoff can cover those rocks.

I wondered if there’d been enough rain to make Mine Falls into a real falls. The Nashua River can be quite impressive at that spot during a good spring runoff. How about December? Average, I discovered, but still lovely.

I’ve shared the trails recently with a lot of dogs, leashed and unleashed. I don’t have any pets myself, but I have a soft spot for friendly and well-mannered dogs, like the majestic Newfoundland that accompanied its owners through Horse Hill yesterday when I was there. Just on the last couple of walks, I’ve seen a broader selection of canines than usual. To name a few: pit bulls, a Yorkie, standard poodles, a dachshund, a greyhound, and one exotic-looking creature that I had to resort to Wikipedia to identify, a Komondor. No wildlife. Perhaps the dogs saw to that.

The year will end with snow-free trails in my area, thanks to this warm spell. It won’t be the first time I’ll ring in the new year with spring-like conditions. I can always head a couple of hours north if the call of the snowshoes proves irresistible.

Walking into town

I walk about two and a half miles to get what I call “into town,” where the town offices and the library and the Congregational church and assorted places of commerce are located. Up until recently, this was my favorite destination in town, a blissful little spot that took the idea of a coffee shop and made it into my living-room-away-from-home. The shop recently closed down for good. I still walk into town for very practical reasons like going to the post office or paying my property taxes. I sure do miss my coffee stop, though.557779_4511162689538_737506073_n

A foot of powder? Yes, please!

Horse Hill Nature Preserve, Merrimack NH. Ellen Kolb photo.

Horse Hill Nature Preserve, Merrimack NH. Ellen Kolb photo.

We’ve had two snowfalls in my area in recent days, both nice fluffy powder. I was one of the first hikers since yesterday’s snowstorm to walk through the nature preserve nearby. It was a lunchtime trip and I had less than an hour, but with the preserve less than three miles away, I couldn’t pass it up.

I met only a couple of fellow hikers on the way.  Like me, they were wedging a walk into the workday. They looked as relaxed as I felt. Aside from our greetings to each other, things were pretty quiet. I would hear aircraft approaching the regional airport to the north and the community airport to the south and the corporate helipad nearby, and then all the flights would be over for a few minutes and I would hear nothing but the wind in the bare trees. Those are the bonus moments.

This made a good break in a day when too much was racing through my mind. Today is the web site launch for another project of mine, and I am at the mercy of my techie-pro colleagues. I’m baking for a holiday celebration. (Food is love where I come from.) Christmas is next week, and I feel the loss and separation from some of my loved ones more keenly now than at other times of the year. The car needs work. Real life is in high gear, in other words.

Hooray for high gear. It makes me appreciate low gear in snowshoes.

Busy beavers at Horse Hill

After a walk through Horse Hill in Merrimack last December, I posted this photo of a snow-covered beaver lodge. Nothing dramatic.

Stiff breezes will probably take some snow off this lodge tonight.

Stiff breezes will probably take some snow off this lodge tonight.

Today, I smiled at the sight of the same lodge, this time in spring sunshine.

In Horse Hill Nature Preserve, 3 May 2013

In Horse Hill Nature Preserve, 3 May 2013

A few moments later, as I looked across the pond, I caught sight of a MUCH bigger lodge, which I do not recall seeing before.

New & improved lodge

New & improved lodge

I think the older lodge must now be the servants’ quarters. Amazing what these creatures can build.

 

 

Packed Powder at Horse Hill

My timing couldn’t have been better. I drove into the Horse Hill Nature Preserve parking lot this afternoon just as a snowmobile emerged from the trail after grooming the snow. We’ve had about a foot over the past three days, topped with lovely powder, and I was eager to bring the snowshoes out from offseason storage. I usually don’t get out on trails after snowfalls until the snow’s been chewed up & packed by lots of other people. Today, I had two great hours on the main loop trail: no ice, no bare spots, no skiers. I love skiers – in fact, I’m married to one – but today, I didn’t have to worry about staying off to one side to make room for them. Today was for snowshoers.

There were ten cars in the lot when I arrived, but that didn’t presage a traffic jam on the trail. Horse Hill covers a lot of ground. I passed maybe a dozen people altogether, along with four friendly dogs. The presence of the dogs probably accounted for the absence of wildlife along my way.

To the folks whose photo I took, I am omitting the picture from this post since I neglected to get your names. My mistake! The four of you looked like you were having a great time. You can post the photo taken with your camera in the comments section, I think.

Just a little copper glow on the treetops as the sun goes down.

Just a little copper glow on the treetops as the sun goes down.

Freshly packed, ready for snowshoe tracks.

Freshly packed, ready for snowshoe tracks.

Even with ten cars in the parking lot, I found the trails uncrowded.

Even with ten cars in the parking lot, I found the trails uncrowded.

Stiff breezes will probably take some snow off this lodge tonight.

Stiff breezes will probably take some snow off this lodge tonight.