Firsties

A week ago, I joined friends Marita and Marguerite Wiser for a hike up Albany Mountain from Crocker Pond Road. At the summit, we searched for a loop leading off from the left that I’d been told about, but couldn’t find it. There were cairns leading to the right, but we didn’t see any to the left.

a1-trail sign

And so today, my guy and I headed back up the mountain with a quest in mind–to find the loop. For you see, this week when I again questioned the friend who’d told me about the summit loop, I was assured it was there and we just needed to follow the cairns to the left.

a2-ice on beaver pond

Not far along the trail, we reached the old beaver pond, which was open water last weekend, but coated in a thin layer of ice today. A first for us this season.

a3-dam crossing

We crossed the old beaver dam, made a wee bit easier because of the freeze.

a4-3 in 1 trees

And then we began climbing. Suddenly, I spied a red pine. A lone red pine. A red pine worth inspecting, for I suspected this was bear territory and thought perhaps the tree would show evidence of a past climb since it was the only red pine in the immediate area–bears like something different like a lone red pine. There were no signs of claw marks, but we did wonder about the resources shared by the pine, red maple and beech–a trinity of brethren in these mixed woods.

a5-ice

Moving upward, like all streams this month, water flowed with passion and because of the sudden drop in temperature this past week, ice formed upon obstacles. We slipped off the trail to admire its every rendition.

a6-more ice

Each coated twig offered its own fluid art.

a8-ice spirit

But my favorite of all was the ice spirit who watched over all as his beard grew long.

a9-ice needles

Back on the trail, conditions changed as well and ice needles crackled under our feet, adding to the crunch of dried beech and maple leaves.

am1

We weren’t far along, when we spied snow–another sight that made my heart sing on this brisk November day.

a10-SNOW

For us, it was the first snow of the season and we hope it bespoke the future.

a11-snow on the leaves

The higher we climbed, the more snow we saw, though really, it was only a dusting. But still–we rejoiced.

a12-new steps

Eventually we came upon some new trail work. Actually, last weekend, we’d chatted with the creator of such steps; and on our trip down, I’d asked him about the summit loop because we hadn’t found it. He said there was no such thing. But my friend insisted on such when I told her this info.

a13-climbing higher

On we climbed, reaching bald granite where sometimes conditions were slick. I’d brought my microspikes, but the trail wasn’t difficult and I never did pull them out of the pack. Still–better to be safe than sorry.

a14-Summit sign

At 1.5 miles, we reached the junction. And headed upward to the summit.

a19-ledge 1 view

About one tenth of a mile along, we turned right and followed a spur trail out to a ledge where the view west offered a backdrop featuring the White Mountains.

a16-first ledge and my guy

We suspected the summit loop may have taken off from this point, so my guy went on a reconnaissance mission to the left–to no avail.

a20-Mt Washington

But we did enjoy the view–including the summit of Mount Washington.

am3

Then we went in search of the mountain sage. Given the condition of its glasses, however, we suspected it was feeling a bit bedraggled from the recent wind. Or maybe it had tried to find the loop as well and was just plain tired from coming up short.

a21-lunch rock view

On to Albany Mountain summit we marched. And then we sat on a clear spot upon the granite to dine on . . . none other than the famous PB&J sandwiches (mine with butter, of course). Our view was framed by red pines and spruces.

a23-red pine needles

As it should, the red pines exhibited the look of chimney sweep brushes.

a22-red pine

One bent over, its leader long influenced by the northerly winds.

a23-spruce

Even a spruce known for its spire-like stance had performed the wind dance.

am4

After lunch, we poked around to the left, in search of cairns for the said loop . . . and found none.

am5

There were cairns to the right, however, which the Wisers and I had followed for a short distance last weekend. Today, we decided to see where they led. Cairns gave way to flagging.

am6

And flagging gave way to more cairns.

a24--views of balds from other trail

Meanwhile, the trail gave way to more views–of the Baldfaces.

a25-crossing the ledges

The trail seemed to circle around to the left, but then it turned right. Eventually, we met two young men and asked them if we were on the loop. We learned they’d spent the day exploring the top and knew of no loop, but informed us that we were on a spur. Funny thing is, they were from Texas and Wisconsin.

a26-view toward Pleasant Mtn

And they were right. About a half mile later, we reached the end of the cairns and the end of the spur and another panoramic view–with Keewaydin Lake in the foreground and our beloved Pleasant Mountain in the back.

am7

Again Mount Kearsarge greeted us with its pyramid formation and we stood for a while watching a bald eagle circle below us.

a27-foundation at trailhead

Our trip down the mountain passed quickly for it was my guy that I followed and within 45 minutes we were at the trailhead. Run much? While he went to the kiosk to double-check the map, I spied a foundation I’d previously missed. Who lived here? Was it the Crockers for whom the road was named?

a30a-Crocker Pond

Back in the truck, and because I was driving, we drove to the end of the road and I hopped out to look at Crocker Pond, which was partially coated in ice.

a28-Crocker Pond--backwards C

But it was a backwards reflection that really gave me pause for the birch trees seemed to spell the pond’s initials–backwards and upside down of course. CP. Humor me here. 😉

a35-Patte Marsh

And then I drove down another forest road to Patte Marsh, which was almost completely covered in ice.

a32-dam at Patte Marsh

Its formations were varied below the dam.

a31-sky reflection and ice

But my favorite of all was upon the pond, where the sky was reflected on a wee bit of open water and ice that reminded me of the eagle in flight.

We didn’t find what we’d gone in search of and may just have to try again (oh darn), but it was a day of firsties for us–first ice-covered ponds, first snow, first time on the second spur trail. Definitely a first rate day for a hike.

P.S. Thanks for continuing to stick with me. Please feel free to tell your family and friends about wondermyway. And encourage them to click the “follow” button. I’d appreciate it if you’d help me increase my readership. You never know what you’ll read here because I never know what I’ll write. Even when I think I know, I don’t. The end result is always a wander and definitely a wonder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Day Mondate

We knew when we couldn’t find the trail we were looking for yesterday that we’d return today. What we didn’t know was how brisk it would be, but thankfully we were prepared. We both packed extra layers and I was thankful for a winter hat and gloves. Mid-May in Maine.

a-horses

We also didn’t expect to park across from a horse farm.

a-tree down

But wind gusts reaching 30 mph had toppled a tree, preventing us from driving to the trailhead. I questioned our intelligence as we approached the tree and downed wires. My guy was certain we’d be fine. I let him go first. No fireworks. So I followed and looked back to take a photo. Generators hummed in several yards. Apparently, this is normal procedure.

a-albany sign

Two weeks ago, we’d climbed Albany Mountain from Crocker Pond Road. Yesterday, we tried to climb from Birch Avenue in Stoneham, but found ourselves wandering and wondering along a snowmobile trail–we caught glimpses of the mountain, but it alluded us. So today, determination set in. We were going to conquer the mountain again.

a-crossing brook.jpg

Back across the brook we trudged. Actually, this was one of about five brook crossings. There’s something to be said for the snowmobile trail–usually there were bridges. Not to be this time around.

a-veery

We had company at the beginning of our journey. A veery kept pace with us and peered about as it foraged for food.

a-lunch rock

Within about ten minutes of finally getting onto the actual trail, we found lunch rock–as if on cue, for it was noon.

a-lunch rock 2

PB&J always tastes better in beautiful surroundings.

a-trill 1

The soil was rich and moist–we can attest to that as we slogged through mud following moose tracks much of the way. Trilliums thrive in such conditions and painted trilliums showed their bright faces. Three leaves, three leaf-like bracts and three petals–one triangle layered upon the next in elegant symmetry.

a-trill 6ph

Meanwhile, the regal bloom of a red trillium shared the continuation of the series of three–trilliums have a pistil with three parts surrounded by six stamens. My guy asked if I have a trillion pictures of trilliums. Maybe–but certainly not enough.

a-burl, ph

We paused to admire  a large burl.

a-beaver, ph

And passed through an old beaver bog into a hemlock grove.

a-mystery 1

Though it was much too cold for butterflies, I found one in the form of a plant. Actually, it rather reminded me of a luna moth.

a-striped maple

As we began to climb, we were in the land of the striped maple and hobblebush. I promised myself I wouldn’t photograph the hobblebush flowers. But this striped maple–ahhhhh.

a-snail, ph

My guy is fast, even after going for a run this morning. I, however, was happy to discover that I wasn’t the only one moving at a snail’s pace.

a-5 petals1

Continuing up, cherry and

a-shadbush, ph

shadbush displayed their dainty faces.

a-near summit

Up and down through the notch we continued until at last we approached the summit.

a-mtn view1, ph

Yesterday, we marched to the beat of a different drummer. Today, we took in the scene toward Kearsarge and the Baldface Mountains. Rock, lichens, mosses, shrubs, trees, mountains, valleys, lakes, clouds–all verged on the horizon. We knew we were blessed.

Thanks for wondering my way on another day and a Mondate to boot.