Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Basin

Before heading out of the White Mountains, I made sure to stop at The Basin. It's right off Highway 93, very accessible (a short flat path, paved part of the way), and worth a visit. Kermit, the silly dog, tried to jump in!

Monday, July 14, 2014

East Pond

The following day Kermit and I went up the East Pond Trail to East Pond. The trail is off Tripoli Rd, near the Sandwich Wilderness/Waterville Valley area of the Whites. As part of my undergrad research project with the Hubbard Brook REU, I sampled this pond back in June 2009. Steve Smith of the Mountain Wanderer, has a great blog post about the history of East Pond, which at one point was mined for diatomaceous earth.

The water was chilly and refreshing, perfect for swimming, despite the leeches

East Pond has a beautiful bluish-green tinge

We explored and relaxed by the shoreline for a few hours

The East Pond outlet stream

Kermit really enjoyed hanging out by the pond

One of the plants I've missed seeing, hobble bush!

I asked someone to take a photo of me, they only took one, and I blinked! Too bad, because otherwise it's a nice photo of us. 
Kermit waited very patiently as I photographed the East Pond outlet stream in different exposures.

Patiently waiting

Trees and moss growing over large glacial boulders is a common site in New England

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mount Lafayette

Kermit and I on the way up Mt. Lafayette

Kermit needed several breaks along the way! 

As part of my vacation, I headed to the White Mountain National Forest in NH, with Kermit for a few days. For Kermit's first real hike, we went up Mt. Lafayette (5,249 ft). Lafayette is the highest peak in the Whites outside of the presidential range. It was a good test for him, and for not having much hiking conditioning, he did a great job. Living in Illinois for a few years killed my hiking legs, so I think we were both a bit sore the next day.

Eagle Lake, along the side of Lafayatte

The Greenleaf AMC hut

It was a bit windy and chilly (as expected) in the krumholtz and alpine areas

I took this photo off Bear Notch Road, heading to the Kancamagus. Bear Notch Road cuts through Bartlett Experimental Forest, where I did a great deal of field while working at a lab as an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire. There are several of cutoffs along the road, with great vistas like this. Occasionally we would get to eat lunch at one, while en route to another study plot in the forest. 
When I stepped out onto the first ledge with a vista, I found the enormity of the view to be a little overwhelming. While living in Illinois for almost three years, I did not forget what the Whites looked like, but seeing them up close and personal is much different experience.

The view from the Greenleaf AMC Hut. You can see the summits of Lafayette, Lincoln, and Little Haystack.

One of the great views along the Bridle Path

Another vista off the Bridle Path

(looking south) The Old Bridle Path follows the ridge line up Mt. Lafayette. Interstate 93 is visible.
The Old Bridle Path, a very rocky and steep trail, typical of the White Mountains
One of the tough spots on the trail for Kermit, slippery and sharp rocks. He did great though!
Kermit was happy to rest on my lap for a few minutes on the way down
Dinner was cooked using my homemade cat food can stove.
It feels nice, albeit a bit odd to once again be driving on the curvy forested roads of New England, after a few years of driving on the straight roads in the wide-open landscape of Illinois. But I will miss the under-appreciated beauty of Illinois. One of my favorite things about Illinois is the large open sky, it's beautiful, and it can be quite incredible to witness thunderstorms in such a spacious landscape.

That night we car-camped off the Kancamagus, at the National Forest Hancock Campground. I opted not to back-pack this trip, since Kermit is still getting used to hiking mountains (but really...both of us need better conditioning!). We fell asleep to the pleasant rush of the Pemigewasset River.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Another hike through Sleeping Giant State Park w/Kermit

Kermit and I were back at Sleeping Giant the next day, and we went up the blue square trail, which is considered the most difficult trail in the park. The steep and rocky path reminded me of a typical trail in the white mountains. The views along this hike really surprised me, I did not realize how beautiful Connecticut is, apparently there is a fair amount of open space and conservation land in the state. 

This hike was a good test for Kermit before heading to the White Mountain National Forest.

More exposed rock along the trail. 
The trail follows the ridge line along the right. 

Giving Kermit a rest on the way up, and admiring the view. 

Kermit never experienced a slope like this in Illinois!

There are some nice vistas on the way up. 

Lots of exposed rock on the trail

This plaque is off the tower trail

The blue square trail 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sleeping Giant State Park

Our first weekend back in New England, I hiked in Sleeping Giant State Park, in CT. We took the tower trail for a little bit, but it felt like I was just walking up a gravel road, so I explored some side trails en route to the stone tower.  

Me and Kermit on one of the side trails (green?) heading to the tower

The sloped cavernous corridors leading to the top are interesting

The stone tower was built by the WPA in 1936

There are some beautiful views from the top