February 22, 2010

A peaceful hike In the land of Bode Miller

I've been a slug this winter, and even though I drive by a gym every night, no, wait, I lied.....three gyms ( where I have memberships!), I still have not done anything physical. Then, my dear Wii Fit tells me that I have to lose 45 pounds, and it groans every time I step on the board to "make believe" that I am ski jumping. It all adds up to a sad realization that as I age, I am finding it more and more difficult to do anything that will require me to sweat ( or stretch, for that matter).

So I joined an outdoor hiking club. ( I know, I know, as if I have ALL of this spare time!); but the reality is that I will stay more committed. You see, if I have to sign up for a hike in January or February, it will be more difficult to back out which would be far too easy to do once I realize that it would be below zero, or snowing, and that I might be treking up a 3000 or 4000 foot trail with ice crampons, or spikes and snowshoes. Ugh, but then, I could not back out because if I did, there are those who are cued on the list who will gladly replace me. So, I joined since this intrigued me. I knew that I would keep me committed.

Don't get me wrong, I love hiking, I love the outdoors, and, in the winter, there are fewer snakes on the trails, so I was completely up for this venture. This weekend we hiked Mt. Potash in Lincoln, New Hampshire, near where US Olympic Skier Bode Miller grew up. Here, deep in the White Mountains National Forest, the views were so spectacular, the snow, not that deep for mid-February, and the temperatures, rather nice near freezing, since it reached almost 40 degrees F. in the valley on Saturday.

I was reminded of my winter sessions Dendrology class at Unity College in 1981, in Maine. I still can remember how fun it was ( fun for me) to identify all of the native trees in the boreal forests around the campus while winter camping and trekking. One notices things in the winter woods that one does not notice in the spring or summer when there are so many other plants capturing our attention. In the winter you can appreciate the bark on the Birches, the golden curly bark on Betula lutea, and remind yourself to snip off a twig at suck on the branchlet which tastes like Birch Beer ( wintergreenish). Mosses, granite, Viburnum buds, and all of the iconic northern forest evergreens like Tsuga canadensis ( Canadian Hemlock), White Spruce (Picea glauca) and Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir). With the snow, it all looks like a pretty Christmas card from L.L. Bean.

A frozen waterfall in a gorge was magical and captivating.
Winter hikes offer trails that are not crowded, and are surprisingly pleasant if the weather is nice. Next week, I am taking a longer one, but next winter, I think winter botanizing in the New England woods will be first on my list.


  1. Gorgeous day for a hike, and look at all that moss. I remember hikes in the Midwest. My favorite was getting out early after a fresh snowfall. I gives you the sense that you are discovering new territory. Matti

  2. What a great hike! Good luck to you - I think it's smart of you to put the tougher challenges first so you can get them out of the way.

  3. Congratualtions on your hike. I hike nearby Mt. Monadnock all year. You might be interested in my Feb 14 blog I did about my hike that day. I took an AMC winter hiking course last month. Hoping to get up to the Whites more often in the winter. I would be interested in hearing what your favorite alpine plant hikes are in NH.

  4. great pics... I love hiking too - but it usually consists of less hiking and more, "oohhhh, cool plant...let's stop and take twenty pictures!"

  5. Wow! I wish i could take a hike in a place like that. Beautiful. I also checked out flicker and you were so right about finding cool photos of everything.


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