By Peter Hope
We had excellent snowshoe hikes this winter, even though several were cancelled due to weather or snow conditions. We now have a stalwart cadre of leaders for winter as well as for summer trips! Even though it is snowing hard as I write this, we are very much anticipating spring and summer with all the outdoor experiences so readily available in the Upper Valley and beyond.
Once again the Wednesday woodland walks will be scheduled from early May through early October. Destinations will include old favorites and new trails alike. Our walks are graded easy to moderate except for the monthly mini-hikes. The group meets at 8:30 a.m. at the Alpine Vista parking area above the dam in Eastman to carpool to the trailhead. No transportation fee is charged.
The more strenuous Eastman mountain hikes (to Northern New England peaks with great views) will be scheduled Saturdays from July 2 to Columbus Day weekend. Starting times for these hikes vary. These groups also carpool from the Alpine Vista parking area. These trips are for experienced hikers with appropriate gear. Degree of difficulty varies from moderate to very strenuous. A transportation fee is charged for trips outside our local area.
Schedules for the Wednesday walks and the Saturday hikes will be available at Eastman Recreation and on-line. Also, for up-to-date information, contact me at (603)863-6456 or at phope at worldpath.net.
Remember that spring trails, especially those at higher elevations, are fragile and easily damaged. A good rule of thumb is stay below 2000’ until May 1, below 3000’ until May 15, and below 4000’ until Memorial Day. Use common sense when choosing any hike during the thaw!
Hiking requires much preparation and planning. You need to give careful attention to clothing (take extra layers with you) as well as gear, a map and compass, guidebook, head lamp, survival items, and plenty of food and water. Wear good boots and take along extra socks. Trekking poles can help, especially for descents and stream crossings. Please let someone know where you are going, what route you will be taking and when you plan to return. A cell phone may be helpful, but service is spotty, and it is no substitute for careful planning. In addition, do not ever call for a rescue unless it is a matter of life and death! You may be charged the cost (sometimes in the thousands of dollars) if you are deemed to have been negligent. Moreover, a rescue seriously inconveniences and may endanger volunteer and professional rescue personnel.
HERE ARE MY SUMMER PICKS -
- Ballard Trail, Norwich(VT). You will need two cars for this hike. From I-91 North at Exit 13 turn left on US-5. Continue straight on Main Street where US-5 turns right. Pass the Norwich Inn on your left and turn left on Beaver Meadow Road. The (unmarked) dirt road to the Norwich swimming area is on your left just before a small bridge over Charles Brown Brook. Spot a car in the parking area. Then return to Beaver Meadow Road, turn left, left again, and continue uphill to a widened parking area on the left of the road at 3.9 miles from Main Street. The trail starts a short distance beyond this point on the left (sign). You will shortly pass an old foundation on your right, then cross a footbridge, and climb briefly. From here the route is almost entirely a gentle descent. The route is above and beside an attractive brook. You will see below you on your left the Grand Canyon of Norwich. In May, small brooks are crossed, most on wooden bridges, one on large, flat stepping-stones (a nice place to rest). The trail comes to a picnic bench, also a great spot for a break. Soon after you’ll pass the old dam once used by the Norwich Fire Department. Thereafter you will reach the swimming hole, and beyond that the lower parking area. Total distance 3 miles, mostly downhill! Easy.
- Mt. Cube(2909’), Orford(NH). Just south of Orford, turn east from NH-10 onto NH-25A through Orfordville and then uphill to a junction on your right with Baker (or Schoolhouse) Road, 7.1 miles from NH-10. Drive 0.9 miles to a small parking area on your left. A few feet beyond this, you’ll see a trail kiosk on the left, the start of your hike. The route follows the old Appalachian Trail (AT ), but has been rebuilt and rerouted, with a number of switchbacks to minimize erosion. At 1.2 and 1.5 miles, you’ll come to wonderful viewpoints overlooking the Connecticut River Valley to your west. Eventually the trail rejoins the old AT and climbs to the South Summit to a junction with the new AT at 2.1 miles. Here you will encounter great views. If you’d like, proceed north on the AT a short distance, turn left on the North Summit Spur (also a part of the former AT . From this point, it is .4 miles of level walking to the North Summit, this time with views to the north and east. Total distance is 2.5 miles one way, elevation gain 1500’. Moderate.
HAVE FUN AND STAY ALERT!