Spring in Northern New England 2015: New Life Returns

03rd June 2015

Painted Trillium in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, White Mountains, NH

If you spend enough time outdoors you begin to feel and even live by the natural rhythm of the seasons. This past winter was one of the snowiest and coldest on record in New Hampshire. From late November until mid April, we had snow on the ground in lower half of the state, and the mountains even longer. This kind of winter felt as if everything was dead, buried, frozen, dark, and gone. And personally, as I was still suffering the effects of a long term back injury and effects of sciatica, it seemed that serious hiking and deep wilderness photography might be dead, buried, and gone too.

Two days before I left for the desert Southwest, it snowed two more inches at my house, even though it was mid April. My health improved but was unproved. Out West, I gained strong new hope that what was dead in me could be brought back to life.

I brought that hope back to New England, and it grew throughout May.

May 1 The following photos are from a section of the Wapack Trail, a 21.5 mile trail created in 1923 starting north of the Pack Monadnock Mountains in Southern NH and ending on Mt. Watatic in Massachusetts. Previously I have hiked the length of the whole trail. This day, I went over Barrett, New Ipswitch, and Stony Top Mountains to re-photograph it for my great trails project.

At the start of the month, the leaves were not even out or budded, even in the southern half of New Hampshire.

Everything still felt gray...

But there was life if you looked closely. The first hobblebush bud of the year...

Even seeing bugs again was encouraging...

And moving through a snow-free classic New Hampshire spruce forest built my hope

May 9 Loop over Mt. Cardigan (including Orange Mountain, South Peak, Rimrock, and Firescrew summits)

By the second week of May the leaves and wildflowers came all of a sudden to southern and central New Hampshire.

Trout Lily and Pollinator

Hiking through field so of trout lily on the Manning Trail

Red Trillium aka Wake Robbin

Walking on a bare granite peak without snow was another delightful sign of spring. Mt Cardigan from near the Firescrew Summit

Firetower on top of Mt. Cardigan from South Peak

The best part about the hike was being able to be healthy enough to hike at normal pace with a good friend who's been with me on many an adventure and misadventure

May 16 Hike via Lincoln Woods Trail, Franconia Falls, bushwhack, Black Pond Trails in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, White Mountain, NH

By this time signs of spring had made it to the lower elevations of the White Mountains, even though a deep snow pack still lingered above about 2700'.

Leaf out moving up the slopes of Mt. Hitchcock across from the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River

The backpacking season begins again

A slower exposure of the bridge 3 miles in on the Lincoln Woods Trail just before entering the Pemigewasset Wilderness boundary.

There were thousands of Painted Trillium in bloom along this hike

Clintonia aka Bead Lily just starting to grow buds

In the summer Franconia Falls is full of hiker and tourist looking to cool off (about a 7 mile round trip hike). On this gray, cool, sometimes drizzly day, I had it all to myself.

From here I got the bright idea to bushwhack to Black Pond and make a lolipop loop of the hike. On the map it looked easy, about .4 miles and a few hundred feet of gain. It started off well enough as I headed uphill. Soon I was in very thick spruce, prompted me to veer to far north. After correcting my bearing I got into thick spruce with 4 foot new trees growing on the forest floor. It was so thick I couldn't see my own feet and branches were quite scratchy. I was rewarded when I finally hit the pond and got this seldom seen view of Mt. Flume:

It was another benchmark in my recovery, bushwhacking to new sights and loving it!

Another view from the trailess side of Black Pond:

Getting to the trailed side of the pond wasn't as easy as you would imagine, more very thick spruce or bog, then crossing on a beaver dam across the outlet pond. I finally arrived at the trailed side and got this view to the Bonds:

On the way out I got this cool hobblebush in bloom growing up against a spruce tree, a great way to close out the hike before heading back the familiar Lincoln Woods Trail.

The final test this spring was a 2 day backpacking trip on the Long Trail in Vermont across the Breadloaf Wilderness. I was wondering if the extra pack weight from overnight gear would prove too much for my back situation, but it all went well! Regaining the ability to go on longer hikes deeper in the wilderness was something I thought I might never be able to do again. The backpack and photos from it will be a separate blog post.

This spring has certainly been a time where, like the season, I have felt new life and hope become a reality. I feel great joy and thankfulness to God for this new life where things were once dead.

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