Savoring the Sanctity of the Mountains

“Savor the sanctity of the mountains in these incredibly discouraging times,” said a friend on Friday. And so we did.

MW morning

The mid-morning sun highlighted Mount Washington as we passed through Fryeburg Harbor–always a breath-taking view.

trail sign

Our destination: Speckled Mountain in Evans Notch–via Blueberry Mountain.

Bricket Place

Parking is at the Brickett Place, where the Brickett family farmed, logged and produced maple syrup in the mid-1800s. Their original home was log, but they later built this house with locally-fired bricks.

Bricket place signage

The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Y

Hop Hornbeam trees are abundant in a section of the lower trail. My guy saw slingshots in the unusual growth of these two, but I saw Ys. Why? Why? Paris? Syria? Around the globe?

B slides upper

About .7 of a mile from the trailhead, we paused at Bickford Slides–one of the many places for contemplation along the way.

B slides 2

While the upper slides are calm at the trail crossing, the brook funneled below us into a narrow chute, where the water’s fast movement has carved a channel in time.

granite, glacier

Later, on the Blueberry Ridge trail, I saw this pattern in the granite and thought of how the glaciers that covered our northern states scoured the land as they receded.    The land tells the story–I just need to learn how to read it.

climbng up Blueberry

We usually hike down the Blueberry Ridge Trail because it offers magnificent mountain views, but I was thankful that we switched things up today. A different perspective was welcome.

rime ice

I found myself paying attention to each step upward, mindful of leaves and rocks and water and ice. Because of this, I spent a lot of time staring at the ground. There’s plenty to appreciate at this level, like the crystals of needle ice that form within the earth.

ice 1

We left our crampons at home, but in the future, we need to add them to the pack.

ice 4

As dangerous as it is to walk on, I’m fascinated by the dramatic formations that change with the moment–forever fluid.

wintergreen

Other things worth noting–wintergreen leaves taking on their winter hue;

sheep laurel 1

Sheep laurel leaves protecting its spherical fruit;

reindeer lichen

and a variety of reindeer lichens awaiting a visit from the red-nosed, sled-pulling residents of the North Pole.

MW from Blueberry Ridge

After pausing on Blueberry Mountain, we continued up the ridge, remembering to turn back frequently and take in the view,

Shell Pond and PM

including Shell Pond below and Pleasant Mountain in the background. My guy pointed out that Shell Pond really does look like a conch shell from here.

Kezar Lake

Our view also included the islands on the northern end of Kezar Lake in Lovell.

lunch rock

We chose the largest rock we could find for today’s lunch spot. Lunch? The usual–PB&J, followed by brownies,

looking back

and topped off with another spectacular view.

squirrel lunch rock 2

We weren’t the only ones choosing a rock for lunch. This squirrel prefers the top rock on the cairn.

spruce scales

Red Spruce scales and cobs line much of the trail.

squirrel cache

And we found a few caches–a sign of things to come.

nd 4

The higher we hiked, the more natural devastation we encountered. Gazing upon it brought me back to today’s reality. Blow downs, galls, fungi, animal interactions with the landscape–it’s constantly in flux. Then there’s the human factor–we leave our imprint in ways we can’t even imagine. But . . . across our nation and around the globe?

ice on Speckled Trail

We encountered more ice on the climb to the summit of Speckled Mountain.

summit wind

The wind was blowing when we reached the summit, where a fire tower once stood.

summit view miles of mountains

The stanchions are all that remain of this former lookout site.

summit, MW in clouds

It was getting late, so we didn’t stay long,

summit, MW,

just long enough to notice that Mount Washington was disappearing into the clouds.

sphagnum and snow 2

We followed the old jeep trail that is the Bickford Brook Trail, on the way down. Rather than ice, we found snowflakes among the sphagnum moss.

hidden rocks

Once we got below the spruce-fir forest, the beech and oak leaves obscured the rocks, making it almost more difficult than the upward climb.

beech sign

I couldn’t spend as much time as I wanted scanning the beech trees for bear claw marks because I was paying attention to my foot placement, but I did pause by this tree that has served as a sign post for many years.

1976

1976–a very good year. I happen to be a member of the Bicentennial Class of North Branford Senior High School. Go Thunderbirds!

Eight plus miles and five and a half hours later, we’d completed the loop as the sun   lowered behind the mountains.

hobblebush, global prayer

My hope is that these hobblebush buds encircle the world in prayer so that all may savor the sanctity that we find in the mountains.