Misty Mountain Sundate

It was a dark and dreary day. The end. Or so it could have been. But we decided to hike anyway, our destination once again Jackson, New Hampshire.

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We thought we’d explore Boggy Brook Trail, but after a half mile reconnaissance mission, we changed our minds and headed over to the Black Mountain hike/backcountry ski trailhead.

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As we passed by the cabins at the base of the trail, our mountain view was obscured.  Despite the grayness of the day, the reds of tree buds and catkins brightened the view. And since the trail was well packed, I opted for spikes, while my guy wore only his hiking boots. That limited us, of course, since we’d have to stay on the trail, but it also brought our vision into focus.

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Hikers/skiers must cross about a half dozen streams, where cascading water splashed over rocks and presented the formation of frozen drips.

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We weren’t far along and near one of those stream crossings when an anomoly stood out on the trail. Because this trail leads to a rustic cabin built by the CCC in 1932, we surmised that the most recent renters found the bundle of wood too heavy to lug on sleds and so they left it behind.

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Further along, we realized it wasn’t just the tree buds that stood out on this colorless day. The pink and orange hues of paper birch were enhanced by the lack of sunshine.

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And where the birches stood tall, long, black mustaches draped over fallen branches.

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We think of paper birch as white birch, but really, its colors are many. Wounded bark formed an intended heart, highlighted by pinkish reds. (I did wonder if this was a display of love for the National Hockey League.)

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We found another curious sight on a tree as we climbed higher. It was the change in color and direction of the slash marks that caught our attention. We couldn’t say for sure and without snowshoes couldn’t check further (unless we wanted wet feet), but suspected a bear had stopped by and left its signature.

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Old yellow birches were also abundantly present, their bark turned silvery gray with age–rather like us.

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My favorite yellow birch had many stories written on its bark and within its limbs. I thought that it would take at least three of us to wrap our arms around its trunk. We were only two and I had a hunch that if I suggested we hug this one I’d get a funny look.

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The higher we hiked, the more lungwort, mosses and lichens we saw decorating the tree trunks.

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The forty shades of green that Ireland is known for seemed well represented–thanks to the mist.

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And if you know me like my friend Jinny Mae does, you know I can’t resist admiring the tan hobblebush leaf and flower buds. This one was for you, Jinny Mae.

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At long last, we spied the cabin up ahead and visions of lunch filled our minds.

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We couldn’t find a rock, but we did note that the wood shed was nearly empty and wondered if the renters had regretted their choice to leave the bundle of wood behind. Within the shed, we found a plank and borrowed it–lunch plank it would be. As we settled down, spitting rain coated us.

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With the view of Wildcat Ridge and Mount Washington enveloped in fog, we enjoyed our lunch spot just the same.

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The PB&J sandwiches were quickly consumed. And then . . . one of our favorite colors, dark chocolate, served as dessert. I first discovered McVitie’s Digestives in 1979, when I studied in York, England, and my guy knows the way to my heart so this package appeared in my Christmas stocking.

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After lunch, he put the plank back in the wood shed and I checked out the tracks left behind by the local residents–snowshoe hare and weasels, based on the patterns of their trails.

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We weren’t going to climb the final .4 to the summit because we knew the views would be obscured, but at the last minute we decided it was a short stretch and so we did. The snowshoe hare activity increased significantly and snow conditions demonstrated splayed toes.

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The higher we climbed, the eerier the woods seemed, with shades of gray being the most predominant. And the temperature dropped.

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From lichens to  . . .

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firs, everything was frosted.

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And that summit view, which should have been of Carter Dome and Carter Notch, was equally glazed.

We followed the same trail down. It was still a dark and dreary day–despite that, we enjoyed our opportunity on this Sunday to fully embrace the misty mountain together.