Recovery: I couldn’t have done it alone

After tripping on a parking-lot pothole and falling hard on my knee last February, I thought I’d lose a year of hikes. February’s a depressing month anyway and such dreary thoughts fit right in.

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Flat trails have been blessings to me this year.

I was wrong. This has been a wonderful year, and I’m grateful for every mile on every hike. This has not been a year for many hilltops, but after using a cane for awhile during rehab, I developed a new appreciation for New Hampshire’s rail trails.

My resources for medical care were not unlimited (can you say “high deductible”?), so I had to be stingy about medical consultations. The ones I had were worth it. I’m grateful to the orthopedist who quickly ruled out a fracture & then encouraged me to keep my spirits up. I owe a lot to the physical therapist who helped me regain strength and balance. Along with the massage therapist who has worked with me for years and the pros at my local community acupuncture clinic, the doc & the PT got me back on the trails.

Hobbling up Pack Monadnock and partway up Kearsarge and Mt. Prospect left me feeling like I’d conquered the world. The Forest Society Challenge inspired me to find new places for walks, making boredom impossible. I managed about 300 miles of recreational walking and hiking this year, which is about 290 miles more than I thought possible right after my accident.

(Watch out for potholes. Seriously. And don’t run in the dark. Voice of experience here.)

This has been a year filled with blessings. May we all enjoy the same in 2017. See you on the Granite State’s trails.

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Follow-up: two remarkable walkers finish their trip through the Granite State

A few weeks back, I told you about a pair of Granite State walkers who put me to shame with their border-to-border walk through New Hampshire. Wendy, half of the awesome pair, has written up the whole trip in a series of posts on her blog Lessons Learned from the Flock. Quickly now: click away from my site (and I don’t say that often!) and check out Wendy’s account of their journey.

I had the privilege of joining them in Nashua for their last couple of miles, and I got to see them greeting family members awaiting them at the Massachusetts border.

Now that I’ve read the day-by-day account of what it took for Wendy and her son Griffin to get to that state line marker, I’m more pleased for them than ever. They’ve given me some ideas, too.

As I read Wendy’s posts, I saw some things through her eyes that I had never noticed before, even on parts of her route that are familiar to me. I love living in a state that after more than thirty years can still surprise me with the beauty of its land and its people.

Wendy has reminded me to keep walking, keep watching, keep learning – and keep writing.

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…

 

Visits to Nashua River Rail Trail

Look back over this blog’s decade of posts and one place gets mentioned in all seasons: the Nashua River Rail Trail. It extends 12 miles between Nashua, New Hampshire and Ayer, Massachusetts.

I’ve biked it and walked it, and if I were so inclined I could skate on it or ride a horse. (Neither is likely.) I love marking the seasons. I like the sound of the skydiving plane overhead and the sight of the colorful chutes as the skydivers make their jumps. I like seeing what’s being planted at the farm in Dunstable. I am enchanted anew each time I see the soda machine that a trail-abutting family has set up. I LOVE the ice cream stand by the trail in East Pepperell.

There are no bad seasons here.

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A City Day

This is a trip-to-the-city day for me. No time for a walk at home, so I must do what I can in Boston.

Such a great day! I planned weeks ago to come here for a meeting and then head to Cambridge for some research. It’s my luck that the weather’s nice. So where to start walking?
South Station, of course, where the bus from home deposits me. My meeting’s on Tremont Street. Join the crowd crossing Atlantic Ave., and then keep going down Summer Street, which becomes Winter Street (really!). Bob and weave through the crowd. Suddenly there’s the Common and Tremont Street, after five or so minutes of almost-aerobic exercise. My meeting site is another three minutes down Tremont.

A short walk, but it’s sometimes subway material. If I were still limping from last February’s knee injury, I’d take the subway and be grateful. Not today, though.

Meeting’s over. The Common is in full sunshine, autumn leaves still looking pleasant: that’s my lunch stop. Then I break down and take the Red Line to Cambridge, only because I haven’t the time to walk the three miles. From the subway stop, my destination is five brisk minutes away. Everyone in Cambridge walks briskly, so there’s less need than in Boston to weave through the crowd.

Round trip, that’ll give me maybe twenty-five minutes of walking for the day. Nothing dramatic. I’m pleased, though. Spending those 25 minutes in a subway car on a day like this would no fun at all.

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