The Wapack Trail: a series of dayhikes

From Ashburnham, Massachusetts to Greenfield, New Hampshire, the Wapack range extends over a series of peaks that can be seen clearly from the eastern slopes of Mount Monadnock. The 21-mile Wapack Trail spans the range, with segments that make for great dayhikes.

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My copy of the the Wapack Trail guide is well-thumbed, and the map that comes with it has held up pretty well for me through the years. Map and guidebook, along with recent trail notes, are available at the Friends of the Wapack web site.

Pack Monadnock is the most popular part of the trail, with Miller State Park and the summit’s fire tower apt to draw crowds. North Pack is close enough to add for an out-and-back hike.

Other segments I’ve enjoyed: I like the ridge of Temple Mountain in July, when I can make a lunch out of blueberries. Barrett Mountain is a winter destination for me when I go snowshoeing at Windblown in New Ipswich. Watatic, at the southern end of the trail, has a wonderful open summit. The variety of birds in the Binney Pond area make the mosquitoes worth tolerating.

Endurance racers have been known to run the entire trail in a day. To each her or his own. I take the Wapack in segments, at a gentle pace. Either way, the Wapack Range is memorable.

North Pack Monadnock – Pack Monadnock

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Temple Mountain – Barrett Mountain (Windblown Cross-Country Ski Area)

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Southern section of the trail

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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.

Look down

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Among the lessons I’ve learned along the trails: look down.

It’s not just that I need to watch the rocks and roots trying to trip me up. Sometimes, there are amazing surprises waiting for me when I shift my gaze.

I came across a certain waterfall on a hike a long time ago, and I started taking photos from this angle and that angle, determined to get The Ultimate Shot. Suddenly, something caught my eye, and I looked down. There, two feet away from me, I saw a butterfly.

Very still, very colorful, it had arranged itself on an equally colorful flower as if it were waiting for me. It’s the centerpiece of the day’s best photo. It’s actually one of my all-time favorites.

I would have missed it altogether if I hadn’t looked down.

Enjoy the unexpected, wherever you go.

 

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.

 

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.

 

NH projects on 2014’s National Trails Day, June 7

Sure to be seen on Trail Day: tiger swallowtails.

Sure to be seen on Trails Day: tiger swallowtails.

I was happy to find a link on my Facebook feed this morning, directing me to a list of Trails Day projects nearby this weekend. For my southern New Hampshire readers, take note of projects at Temple Mountain, Pisgah State Park (two projects there), and Bear Brook State Park.
Details here: http://www.nhstateparks.org/whats-happening/national-trails-day.aspx

A new trail up Temple, to form a loop with a segment of the Wapack Trail? Yes, please.

If I can’t get out there Saturday, I’ll find something closer to home. Mine Falls will have a cleanup day on the 14th. I owe the trails a little love. Which reminds me – the city of Nashua, probably with some volunteer help, is doing heavy-duty work in Mine Falls Park this week to clean up the canal, pulling out trees toppled in the October ’11 snowstorm. Great job!