Summer on the trails

It’s time to dig out my blaze orange gear. My favorite hiking season is at hand. I have no complaints about the season just ended, though. It was a beautiful summer in New Hampshire and beyond, including out west for what I expect was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

North Country

Four days of car camping in August brought me to trails in Pittsburg and Jefferson and a few places in between. Ramblewood Campground in Pittsburg (a five-star establishment, in my book) and Percy Lodge and Campground in Stark served as homes-away-from-home.

Cherry Pond, NH

Cherry Pond, Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge, Jefferson NH

It’s tough to pick my favorite part of the Cohos Trail. On this trip, though, Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge in Jefferson staked a pretty strong claim. I circled the refuge one sunny afternoon, stringing together several trail and road segments to make an 8-mile loop. Once out of the woods, the view was all about the surrounding peaks: Mt. Martha to my south, the Presidentials to the east, and the Pliny Range to the north. That just might be the most rewarding flat hiking route I’ve found so far in New Hampshire.

I didn’t limit this trip to Cohos Trail segments. I discovered Second College Grant, a Dartmouth College property the size of a town, where I enjoyed a serene walk alongside the Dead Diamond River. Another day, perhaps I’ll return for a hike up Diamond Ridge.

From Stark, I took a quick drive to Milan Hill State Park to check out late-afternoon views from the fire tower. Not a hike, but still a treat.

Androscoggin River valley NH

Androscoggin River valley seen from Milan Hill, NH

For more destinations and photos, find the rest of the post at Granite State Walker.

Savoring

A friend and I recently drove upstate on business. We stretched the drive home into a winding trip through two notches (local parlance for a mountain pass) before finally settling down to I-93. After all, it was early autumn. Even if the leaves weren’t turning yet, the crisp air was worth taking time to enjoy.

There were things waiting to be done at home. My friend and I had every reason to scoot back at top speed once the business meeting was over. We decided instead to savor the mountains as best we could from the car. We are both of a political bent, and this is the high season for that. All the more a treat, then, to decide on the spur of the moment to put busy-ness and campaigns aside for a few hours.

At home later, I found these words from Pope St. John Paul II. They fit the day. John Paul understood savoring the right things.

Whoever really wants to find himself, must learn to savor nature whose charm is intimately linked with the silence of contemplation. The rhythms of creation are so many paths of extraordinary beauty along which the sensitive and believing heart easily catches the echo of the mysterious, loftier beauty that is God Himself, the Creator, the source and life of all reality.  

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