Beautiful Maine Mondate

Some Monday’s we look for new places to explore or mountains to climb, but today found us visiting an old favorite that is gorgeous in any season.

s1-Stone House Road 1

Because it’s still winter (and she’s not letting go right away), we knew our hike would be extended by more than a mile on either end. We parked by the Leach Link Trail on Stone House Road and followed the telephone poles in.

s2-bear number

These are my favorite telephone poles in the world–well, for today that is, for they show the works of the clever bears that inhabit this place. The wood has been scratched and bitten, while the shiny pole number was mutilated. This was pole 5. I suppose it still is.

s3-bear hair

Hair sticks out from splinters. Bear hair.

s4-more bear hair

We found lots of it on several poles today. More than we’ve seen in the past.

s6-another pole

I’m thinking that the bears in the area have a fondness for 5. Or a dislike, for pole 15 also received rough treatment. There are more, but it was on 5 and 15 that we noticed the number destruction.

s8-bear dogs

Despite that, the bears in this area are most welcome. Because the signs are new, I asked my guy what he thought the bears will do when they emerge from their dens soon. In my mind, I saw a similar behavior to the other poles and imagined that when we return again we’ll see that the signs have also been destroyed because that’s what bears do. My guy’s response, “Clap.” Indeed, they should.


At last we reached the gate where we usually park to hike the Stone House property and Blueberry Mountain trails. The Stone House property encompasses about 890 acres surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest. In 2011, the owners, David Cromwell and Sharon Landry, established a conservation easement held by the Greater Lovell Land Trust. The easement allows for traditional uses including commercial agriculture and forestry, but prohibits development and subdivision in perpetuity. Thus we have both this couple and the GLLT to thank for today’s adventure.

s10-black cherry bark

When we finally reached the Shell Pond trailhead, a black cherry immediately jumped out at me. The property was last logged in 1977 and features a mix of hard and softwoods. My bark eyes love the diversity.

s11a-birch and red maple

And my bark mind appreciates the kindred spirit of the trees that manage to support each other despite their differences–in this case a beech and red maple.

s14-pileated works

I’m not the only one who likes bark–the work of pileated woodpeckers,



s16-beaver works


s13-yellow birch burl

and even insects was evident throughout our three-hour tour.

s17-Yale blue

As we hiked, my dad was also on my brain. I’d received a message this morning from his former boss at Yale University who fondly recalled Dad and his brother Bob. Though quiet men, he and his brother had a twinkle in their eyes, a love for music, especially opera, and always a good joke or prank up their sleeves.

When I saw this tree in the shape of a Y, I knew it was for Dad. Even the sky spoke of the university–though several shades lighter than Yale blue. And with that came the memory that any paint my father mixed had a touch of Yale blue in it–thus was his way. It was all meant to be for Mr. Cromwell, the property owner, is associated with Yale.

s18-my guy

I couldn’t help but think that Dad would have loved the idea of our Mondates. He also would have loved my guy, but sadly they never met. Dad died of a heart attack only days before he and Mom were to spend a weekend with me in Maine–thirty years ago.  But, my guy continues to wear a Yale sweatshirt when he runs, which he did this morning. In that way, he’s made his own connection. Yeah–that’s my guy!

s19-pond views

Now that I’m writing through tears, I’ll get back to the trail, which is delightful in winter because it offers more views of Shell Pond below.

s20-cliff views

And the icy ledges above. Later in our journey, I noted the trail to the ledges had been well used–probably by rock/ice climbers.

s22-water 1

Trail conditions were such that we walked on top of the hardened snow, though I did wear micro-spikes for the entire tour. Someone waited to put his on and did a little slipping and sliding along the way. Brook crossings required stepping low and high, so deep is the snow still.

s23-ice castle

While I marveled at a castle made of ice,

s24-Christmas tree

my guy spotted a Christmas tree.


We even found a few hints of green. These polypody ferns were opened, indicating warmer temps and today we certainly noted the difference compared to the brisk weekend.


Of course, on another rock, some were still curled in their cold formation. They were under a hemlock and more shaded.


Any bit of green is a welcome sight about now and I was surprised to see partridgeberry poking through the snow.

s28-lunch bench

At last we reached lunch bench, which my guy stood upon. Yup, that’s the granite bench under his feet.


We sat on it to eat our PB&J (with butter for me, of course) sandwiches. And tried to keep from sliding right down to the pond.

s30-Shell Pond

Lunch view included Shell Pond and the Baldfaces in the background. All along, we’d noted mice, squirrel, mink, fisher, coyote, bobcat, ruffed grouse, turkey and moose tracks. But as we ate we listened to the whales groan–so moaned the ice in the afternoon sun.


A short time later we reached Rattlesnake Brook and the orchard, where the natural community transitioned and appeared almost bucolic.

s32-ostrich fern

One of my favorite finds along this section is the ostrich fern. The structure of its fertile frond makes me smile.


From the orchard we moved on to the old airfield and wondered if the family ever flies to their summer home. Though I don’t think it’s used these days, the airstrip was apparently built in the 1940s by the military for practice landings and takeoffs during World War II.

Again, the views were breathtaking.

s34-stone house and Blueberry Mtn

As hikers, we’re reminded by signs to stay on the marked trails, thus protecting the land and giving the family some space. I’m in awe of their home. The Stone House was built in the early 1850s by Abel Andrews. He quarried the large, hand-hewn granite slabs from Rattlesnake Mountain and built the 40-foot by 25-foot house for his wife and thirteen children.

s35-another wetland

I did stay on the trail most of the time, but occasionally I heard the landscape calling my name and had to investigate. Fortunately, my guy stayed on the trail all the time and kept us honest.

s36-Beautiful Maine

We walked back out to the truck and then decided to take a quick detour before driving home. Being on Stone House Road, we were only a mile from the winter closure point for Route 113 in the White Mountain National Forest. The road forms the state line between Maine and New Hampshire for several miles. And then it passes into Maine at the gate by the Cold River Campground and The Basin. And it’s there that you’ll find this iconic sign.

Welcome to Beautiful Maine and another scenic Mondate.





12 thoughts on “Beautiful Maine Mondate

  1. Leigh, I love these ‘visits’ with you. I, too, notice the tiniest details on my walks but unlike you, I usually can’t identify what I see – so I say something that sounds reasonable and my friends ask how I know (😉) these things. I tell them it’s genetic- my mother taught me! For some reason she did understand a lot about nature. But you are extraordinary. I hope/want to accompany you sometime. Was thinking of Uncle Bill just prior to your mentioning him. I miss those twinkles in their eyes!
    Lots of love, Laurel


    1. Oh Laurel, I love that you shared this. And that you have that mischievous Macmillen trait of saying something that sounds reasonable. They knew nature and music–the music gene skipped me so I’m thankful I got a double dose of nature. I’d love to walk with you some time. Here. There. Or somewhere between. Those twinkling eyes–I see it in you as well. Thanks for taking the time to read what I write and comment. It always gives me a boost. Love you back, Leigh


  2. Stone House Trail is one of our favorite hiking trails too. We have been there in spring, summer and fall, but never in the winter, so it is a special treat for us to see it this way. Thank you for sharing. Ursula and Wolfgang >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed the winter tour, Ursula and Wolfgang. In no time, the spring ephemerals will make themselves known and it’s such a beautiful spot for them as well. Stay safe this week.


    1. I was rendered speechless by the lack of hobblebush photos.
      But, speaking of polypody spores, I waded through thigh-deep snow yesterday to check out the spores on my polypody. See, I can’t resist either!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not a hobble in sight, which is strange given the habitat. Methinks our polys are about to get buried and it will soon be waist-deep snow we’ll be wading through. 😉


  4. A little late in responding as I was reading through tears. Your pictures are a meditation in themselves. It’s funny as I had been recently thinking of Dad & Mom and how proud they would be of your writing and photography skills. Mom might even have followed you on your blog! Who knows? Dad would have loved it!! And taken notes to ask you about later. Love You Sweet Sister and So Proud of You. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah Sweet Sister, I love it when they visit us in our daydreams and night dreams. Mom may have followed my blog–once she developed an understanding of a computer. And you’re right, Dad would have had a list of questions–he always kept me on my toes. You too! And I am equally proud of you! Love you back. xo


  6. Here I am in balmy (not) CT. I’m vicariously hiking and observing with you. I’m pretty far behind working everyday through tax season and still driving a school bus in the early mornings. I wish I were there.


    1. It’s great to hear from you, Carol, and I’m glad you can hike vicariously with me when you have a chance. Only 21.5 inches of new snow yesterday. Spring isn’t far away–Maine style 😉 Nor is your summer vaca. Hang in there until then.


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