Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mount Chocorua, 5-19-12

I had set aside yesterday to hike weeks ago and hoped the weather would be good... boy was it! After talking to a hiking buddy about a trip she did to Chocorua with another friend of ours last year, I decided I should check this mountain out. We've hiked some trails in this area before but never done Chocorua, and I figured it was time. I heard about waterfalls and chose to do the Champney Falls trail up and back. Looked like it would be a long-ish day - about 7.5 miles round trip, not too bad for me but long for some of the group, but everyone was game so we went for it.

The trail starts out right off the Kancamagus highway, and the first mile and a half is a very nice moderate hike through the woods to the falls, which took us less than an hour. There are several areas of falls, and we stopped to take pictures and have a snack. The bugs were awful and of course we all forgot bug spray, so sitting next to the falls with the breeze helped keep them away temporarily!

After the break at the falls we pressed on. The trail started to get steeper and more rocky as we went on, with switchbacks further up. The last half mile was mostly all rock climbing and scrambling, which I love even though not everyone else does! We finally reached the summit, laid out in the sun and had lunch. It was super warm and even though there was a breeze at the top, it didn't cool us off right away. The views from the top are absolutely amazing, especially on a beautiful day like yesterday.

We headed down figuring we'd probably make it down in less time than it took us to get up. We were mostly right, although unfortunately we had a minor injury when one friend fell on a rock and scraped the hell out of her leg. She'll be bruised and scraped for a little while but thankfully it wasn't as bad as it could have been - I was behind her and when I saw her fall, I was afraid she'd fallen right on her face. It hurt her the rest of the way down but she was fine overall. This goes to show the importance of having first aid supplies with you on hike.

After a stop for my friend to soak her leg in the ice-cold river, we got back to the car pretty quickly, grabbed snacks/drinks on the way out and headed home. Long day (and long drive) but awesome hike. I love this mountain and will have to go back! My husband wasn't feeling well yesterday morning and didn't come, so I'd love to go back so he can do the hike sometime. We're planning on hiking next Sunday but I'm not sure where yet. This was a great day and great hike!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The High Line, NYC, 4-21-12

This was not a traditional hike (more of a walk), but I had to write a post about it as it's so cool! The weekend of April 20th we visited a friend in Albany and trained into New York City for the day on Saturday. She'd been told about this trail in the city she figured we'd enjoy checking out, and we were of course game. The High Line is a linear park built on an old elevated rail line on the west side of Manhattan. It's owned by the city, and maintained by the city and a preservation group. I'd looked at a few photos before we went and was super excited to see this! I think it's great when space in urban areas like this is re-purposed as parks or recreation areas, it's a great way to encourage people to get outside and appreciate what they have around them.

There are several stairways into the park along its length and we started on 14th street, near one end. (above is a view across the river from where we started.) The entire length of the High Line is about 1.5 miles so we probably walked about 1.25 miles of it. I was so overwhelmed I started taking pictures immediately and pretty much didn't stop the whole walk! Since it was such a nice day there were lots of people walking, but luckily not so many that I couldn't stop for pictures. There is greenery everywhere and sections of track that were left and planted around, which is so cool.

Besides the green space that's been created (there were actually some flowers in bloom!), another really cool thing for me was seeing the city from this perspective. We were a story or two up most of the time, possibly higher depending on what areas the trail was going through, and it's very interesting walking through the city at that level! You walk by people's balconies and patios, above busy streets and intersections, right by what are probably people's home or office windows, and also by some abandoned or busted up buildings/neighborhoods, which I love seeing. Really a great way to see the city. We had views of the Empire State building in the distance from some parts of the trail too.

Oh! And there was this bank of bird houses, designed like a shiny metal linear sculpture. The pictures I took don't really give the right perspective on how it was set up  - it's positioned at maybe a 30-35 degree angle to the ground even though the picture below makes it look like it's standing straight up, but it was a really interesting design, and the birds were happily using it despite tons of people gawking at them.

We walked along the entire length to the opposite end at 30th street. At that end, you can see the next length of track they are working on to add to the trail. I don't know how far this particular rail keeps going but I hope they're able to convert the whole thing to add to this wonderful park. So much fun to walk it! We don't visit the city very often but I would absolutely come back here, maybe during the summer or fall when more of the flowers are blooming (there is also supposedly a water feature I don't think we saw, probably too early in the season for it). Here are a few more random pics from the walk.

I will have a more complete flickr gallery of this trip up shortly - here's the link and I will be adding photos to this shortly to complete it. I would absolutely recommend checking out the High Line to anyone visiting NYC and looking for an interesting urban adventure, complete with green space!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monadnock, 4-14-12

Realized I'm a bit behind on stuff here so I better get cracking! We took our first "real" hike of the season two weeks ago with a group of our hiking buds. Mount Monadnock has been our hiking-season-opener for the last 5 springs. I've heard before it's the second most-hiked mountain in the world behind Mt. Fuji in Japan, though I don't know how true that is. :) I will say it is an extremely popular mountain. The mountain is in southern NH and is 3165' high - not a behemoth, but a great hike, an above-treeline summit and fabulous views from the top.

Last year we did some different trails, but this year I decided to do our old familiar White Dot trail. It's 2.2 miles up and lots of rock scrambling. I absolutely love it. I hadn't been working out very much leading up to this trip so wasn't sure how I'd do, but we all did great! The trails were in decent shape, not much water to speak of, and we had an absolutely gorgeous day for it. Last year it was cloudy, freezing, and spitting rain when we had lunch at the summit and we boogied out of there, but this year we ate a nice leisurely lunch and relaxed for a little while. One of our friends brought along a friend of hers from Ohio, who had never hiked a "real" mountain before to my knowledge, and even though she struggled a little, she was blown away by the views and was super proud of herself for making it up :) (she's the one above taking the picture - we stopped for breaks on the trail a lot and she had her camera out every time!)

We took our time and didn't rush anyone up or down, so it was a nice leisurely hike. Lots and lots of people were hiking, and we chatted with a few folks along the way. Felt really good to be out on a mountain again and I'm looking forward to our next group hike, which is supposed to be Chocorua (no date planned for it yet though). There was sadly some car drama at the end of the day - we had to have my car towed home from Jaffrey, but luckily it wasn't dead like I'd feared and is now back on the road! Happy to have hiking season rolling again for us :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Long Hill, Beverly MA

After wasting the gorgeous day that was last Wednesday sleeping, I decided I was getting out for a little while Friday afternoon! I rounded up the husband and a friend of ours and we met up at Long Hill in Beverly, less than 10 minutes from where we live. I'd been here as a kid but not in a long time, and figured checking out the house/gardens and the trails in the woods would be a nice way to spend Friday afternoon.

Long Hill is an old estate with beautiful gardens and trees surrounding it. Despite it still being the off season, the warm weather had some things blooming already, my favorite of which were the weeping cherry and dogwood trees. The weeping cherries are gorgeous and I spent a fair amount of time gawking at and shooting them. The dogwoods (I think they're dogwoods) were also in full bloom and were a gorgeous bright white against the blue sky and the other trees.

After walking around the gardens we hit the trail. There is a 1.2 mile loop trail through the property with several short accessory trails, but we just did the main trail. It was a perfect day to be in the woods - warm, about 70ish, and breezy so we had no bug problems! (yes there are bugs out already, unfortunately) It was a nice easy trail with lots of stone walls to see and some plank bridges over mucky areas. We stopped at a huge fallen tree and I climbed out on it a bit. There were frogs all over the place but I was only able to catch one that didn't see me and take a few pics!

We finished the trail up and had a drink with our friend at his place, which is very close by. By the end of the day my allergies were acting up, but that's to be expected with all the trees blooming so early. This was a great, close-to-home spot to spend a little time and I will definitely be coming back to see the gardens in full bloom!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Merrill Creek Reservoir, Washington NJ

This past weekend, we took our spring trip down to visit my husband's family in NJ. They live in the part of the state that gave it the name 'Garden state' - there's lots of farms and forests and open space where his family lives, and if you ignore the rednecks, it's a beautiful area! Usually when we're there we don't have time to do anything like hike, but this trip we had some time while the older nephews were still at school and went out with my sister-in-law, a cousin, and the youngest nephew.

Merrill Creek Reservoir is a really nice area about a 20 minute drive from where my sister-in-law lives. It's a 650 acre reservoir surrounded by about 2000 acres of woods. There are miles of trails around the water, but we did maybe a mile total since we had a 4-year-old with us (he did a great job though!) We saw some deer running away from us in the woods, ruins of some old farm houses, and sat at the water for a little while. It was beautiful and maybe 70-75 degrees out, perfect day for a hike!
My sister-in-law was saying how she wants to start taking her kids (4 boys in total) to do more hikes since she loves it so much. We always want to take the kids out when we're visiting, but don't usually end up having the time. I'd like to try to make time for it going forward though... at the very least I want to take her oldest (12) on some hikes since he's a scout and loves hiking too. Hoping to explore more trails in NJ after doing this!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Shooting the moon

I got a telephoto lens for Christmas! It's awesome and I'm so excited about it, but really haven't had much of a chance to take it anywhere yet. About a week ago I was inside, feeling kind of bored (and unwell, or I would've taken a walk) and noticed the moon rising in my skylight. It was dusk so the sky was still pretty light, and the moon was big (close to full). I figured why not play around a bit - so I busted out the telephoto and tripod and did some experimenting.

It took me a few tries to get the settings right, but I ended up with some surprisingly good photos, especially for being taken through the skylight! I was going to go outside last week for the full moon and try again but it was cloudy. This shot is the clearest. It isn't altered at all, just cropped so the moon is in the center of the photo. I'll post more as they come!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Beverly Commons walk

Yesterday was a rare (although not so much this winter...) beautiful 50 degree February day and I decided to take advantage of it! There are a few spots I've been meaning to check out and I either haven't had the time or have wimped out because of the cold, and yesterday I had no excuses.

I've decided I want to start checking out the trails and open spaces in my city (here is the Open Space & Recreation Committee website); for a relatively urban area overall, there is a lot of open space to explore! A coworker recommended Beverly Commons to me a while back so I decided to go there yesterday. It's funny, because there are three 'Beverly Commons' that I know of in the city - an apartment complex (where we actually lived for a few years), the actual city common downtown, and this property. This property, about 160 acres, was used as common area for sheep to graze in during colonial times. Later on granite was quarried in the area and there were homes put up for the workers, of which remnants still exist. It's back to forest now, with some swampy areas and a nice carriage road and lots of trails.

We had about an hour to explore, so we looked at the map quickly & set out. The sun was starting to go down as it was about 3pm, but we still had plenty of light. Pretty close to the entrance we started at was the foundation of the foreman's house (above) from the quarrying days, and we set off into the woods from there. It's pretty hilly and even rocky in some areas - there were lots of side trails so we went all over the place: one trail led out to what looked like someone's driveway (oops), one led up a hill to a little rocky area where there was a fire ring (would be a nice place to bring lunch sometime), and another led to the carriage road (below), which leads to another entrance to the property I think.

It looks like the property is fenced off along some sides to mark off where it becomes private, but there isn't clear signage and some sections of fence are broken and missing, so it's hard to tell. We wandered up a trail to one area where there was a big gap in an old rusty fence, and there was a gully with lots of old crap dumped down in it like tires, old parts from cars and just lots of junk. At first we thought it was still public property but we realized after noticing the fence down that it probably was not. There were a few other areas like this where there were piles of junk or debris and we weren't sure if we were still on public property or not. All the dumped junk and piles we saw looked pretty old except for the tires, which didn't look very weathered, so I don't know what's going on there. (this one below looks like a fallen down shed maybe? I have no idea. I like taking pictures of crap in the woods, lol.)

We made our way around to what we thought was the trail we'd started on (it was) and headed back to the car. Probably spent around an hour exactly wandering and it was just what I needed! Walking in the woods seems to be a cure-all sometimes :) A few more cool photos - a downed tree that looked like a pinwheel, some pretty icicles I found on a little cliff, and an old rusty fire hydrant off one of the trails that made for a really cool pic!

Definitely looking forward to coming back here and bringing some other friends along sometime. Biking these trails would be fun too. And, can't beat the 10 minute drive!

One last picture - I caught a great sunrise yesterday morning! Got up to feed the cat at about 6:30am and noticed the brightest pink in the sky, so I grabbed my stuff & power-walked down to the beach. I missed the bright pink but still got some pretty good shots.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Look of Winter - OBN photo prompt

I was hoping I'd have a photo from this winter to use for this photo prompt from OBN, but sadly the only snow we've gotten was a) in October, or b) a few slushy inches that disappeared right away. Sigh. At this point since it's February, I'd gladly welcome spring, but I won't be disappointed if we get at least one storm. For now, I present a pic from last winter.

Last year we had plenty of snow, more than enough for me! I took a bunch of photos from our deck during some of the big storms. I like this one because it shows just how much snow tree branches can hold. Pretty amazing and really cool looking too! I do hope there is some snow this year so I can take a walk & get some nice pictures, for now I'll have to live vicariously through what I took last year. :D