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Monday, December 31, 2012

Phoebes Nable Loop 12/29/12

"First Snow Shoe Hike of the Season" (pictures)

After a snow on Christmas followed by a Nor' Easter that dropped 13" of powdery snow in our area we were ready for some snow shoin'! We drove down to MMR and shoveled out the snow pushed in front of the parking lot's access road. The snow plow didn't even push the snow up far enough to even allow for cars to park. After shoveling it out we parked and got all our gear on. We trudged up Burrows Farm trail slowly, getting used to the snow shoes and cold but refreshing air.

After unlocking the new North gate for the snow mobile's we continued up to Burrows Field. The wind was strong across the field creating snow drifts. If not for the warm sun the cold, biting wind would have been unbearable! Crossing the field we made our way up to Phoebes Nable trail and made the climb to the summit. The view was great looking across the valley. The wind was strong up here so we didn't stay long.

We descended down the other side for our first snow shoe on this trail. It was great! Views on this side in the winter a wonderful across to Beauty Ledge and the small peaks that make up the Piper Mt. ridge. Some of the steeper sections required some sliding and balancing but the snow shoes pretty much held us firmly in the snow as we reached the parking area to finish our hike. Beautiful day!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

2013 NH Nature Calendar

Hi all! My 2013 NH Nature Calendar is now FOR SALE! Photography, design, printing and assembly all done by me! Several photo's are from Moose Mountains Reservation :) Your choice of "wall hanging" 8.5x11 or "desk top standing" 4x6. Pay NO SHIPPING now to November 15th! Makes great Christmas gifts! View photo's/examples and order HERE>

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Foliage Group Hike 10/20/12

"Soggy Start, Sunny Finish" (pictures)

The postponed group hike was once again threatened with rain. Heavy rain Friday evening and off-and-on throughout the night didn't look good. The morning didn't look promising either, overcast and wet. But it was on the warm side and according to weather forecasts the day was supposed to turn around quick. So the hike was still on and Scott and I met up with Art Slocum (Director at Moose Mountains Regional Greenways) at 10:30am at the Moose Mountains kiosk. There were 8 of us all together including Scott's mother who had been wanting to see the forest and trails that we have been stewards of the past year-and-a-half.

Art first gave a backdrop of the history of this area, it's farms and the difficulty of working this land. He also had some interesting facts about the towns that surround the area and the roads that joined them. Then we started our hike. Since it had been so wet out I decided not to take Bowser Pond trail because of the tricky crossing over the wobbly bridge planks or across the swollen river. We headed up Burrows Farm trail. We stopped at Hall Spring and talked about the different names that Phoebes Nable mountain had (such as Hall and Burrows) and where the current name might have come from.

We crossed the brook over the bridge, the river that was at a trickle all summer now a raging river of white as it rushed over the rocks. We took a right onto North trail stopping at the Piper Mt. trail junction to mention the sites (Bowser Pond and Piper Mt.) that can be obtained by following this trail. Then we climbed the hill to the Beauty Ledge trail head.

Now we began the slog up the small ridge that climbs to the foot of the ledges. The trail was a bit tough from the rain, the wet leaves difficult to walk over as they were slippery, as was the rocks and roots they hid beneath them. But we went slow and stopped often to catch our breathes and let others catch up. We all gathered at Snapping Turtle Rock. Everyone seemed to love this rock formation and indeed saw the profile.

We now "skirted" around the ledge along the rock shards that had fallen below it. The trail meanders away to a grassy area then cuts back to climb up and around. We passed other features of rock and lichen and came around to the back side of the ledge and knob. We climbed across the knob area and down carefully to Beauty Ledge. The sun was now trying hard to break through the cloud cover and temperatures were beginning to climb. It was even a bit humid.

As we gathered on the ledge you couldn't help to notice the commotion in the air around you. Hundreds of Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles were flying about and landing all over us. It was a wonderful touch to an already special spot. Being that it was already noon time we all decided to eat our lunch. We spent 15 minutes or so taking in the view, eating and talking...oh, and picking beetles off ourselves! Between Scott and I, Art and a couple of the guest hikers there was a plethora of knowledge of the area and of Conservation around the State.

Once we had our fill we hiked back to the junction below the knob where we took Beauty Knob trail down. Not only does this allow for a loop, it is an easier way to descend with better footing and gentler grades. We stopped at several locations on this trail pointing out some Downy Rattlesnake Plantain and a porcupine den. We popped out back on North Trail and walked the logging road with partial view spots along the way. Scott mentioned we always see a porcupine over in this area and sure-enough he spotted one at the junction of North and Piper Mt. trails!

Back on Burrows Farm trail it was decided that Art would take those who were ready to head out back to the parking lot and Scott and I would lead the rest up to Burrows Farm and Phoebes Nable. Art took 2 with him and Scott, his mother and I, and 2 others (Wayne and Steve) continued on the hike. We took a short cut across the Burrows Plot and passed by the Stevens Cemetery and into the field.

Here we stopped at the Burrows farm site and Cemetery and took in the wonderful color that etched itself across the mountains and ridges. We also ran into land abuttors who were out for a walk on this fine day. They were pleased to see the view cut on Phoebes Nable and the recently mowed field. They had us laughing....they said as they stood on the summit along with a hiker who hadn't been there before, he said to them "what a great view". They said, "that's what's different up here! A view cut was done! You have a clear 180 degree view now!"

We now continued on up the steep trail to Phoebes Nable Mt. We stopped for another lunch break at the top and to take in the view and talked about the Forest Society's plan for this forest and land around it that may still be added to these 2300 acres. And talked about what we have done since we became stewards and the many obstacles this property faced, what we have accomplished and the goals for the next couple of years. Wayne and Steve were very interested in everything and we really enjoyed sharing this place with them and getting to know each other. We then made a slippery, steep hike down Phoebes Nable trail. Near the bottom of the trail Scott spotted a Northern Walkingstick. What an awesome find! We have only seen one of these one other time in the White Mountains! It was a great way to end the hike!

Our hike concluded exactly 2:30pm as scheduled! What timing! It turned out to be a fabulous day and we enjoyed sharing our love and knowledge for this very special place <3 Thank you to Art for asking us to come along and share our knowledge and accomplishments here. It certainly gives us the drive to schedule a couple group hikes in 2013 and hopefully get more people hiking here!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Phoebes Nable/Burrows Farm 10/6/12

"Leading a Post-poned Hike" (pictures)

The group hike planned for today was post-poned as there was rain in the forecast. We still showed up however in case anyone that wasn't aware still came. A lady from MMRG was there as was her family and friends. We all hiked up Phoebes Nable Mt. trail to the summit. They planned on spending some time up there talking and pick-nicking. So we heading down to the field and down Burrows Farm trail.

The new date for this hike is Oct. 20th at 10:30am.

Bowser Pond 10/5/12

"A Barred Owl and Foliage" (pictures)

I had arrived at the MMR parking area just to check on things and as I was standing at the kiosk a barred owl flew down and landed on a dead tree just down the Burrows Farm trail. I was able to sneak up to the gate and from 40 ft. away I began taking pictures! The owl had caught something and was tearing it apart and happily eating. He gave me an evil stare once-in-a-while but was too hungry to bother with me.

After about 10 minutes he finished and flew off. Now excited and energized by this "perfect timing" owl photo shoot, I decided to walk the Bowser Pond trail to the pond. Along the way I came across a garter snake in the trail and found a couple nice mushrooms.

The pond was beautiful, the trees showing some really nice color along the banks. A blue heron took flight circling the pond and then over the trees. I took a bunch of pictures and just sat there in the wonderful silence. Such a wonderful spot this is! As I headed back out the garter snake I had passed now had a male with it. They slithered into the brush as I passed.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Beauty Ledge 9/27/12

We did a hike up to Beauty Ledge before we headed out the next day for a Katahdin hike. We took the loop trail up Beauty Knob trail. There was one blow down near the ledge junction. The view from the ledge was beautiful as always. Fall foliage is beginning to show around Bowser Pond and the marshes. We descended down Beauty Ledge trail and down to Piper Mt. trail. At the large clearing we found a flowering "rubber" plant. We then cut through the woods along an old/grown in logging road along the river to bring us back out to the parking lot. PICTURES

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Trail Work Day 9/23/12

"Perfect Weather for Some Trail Work" (pictures)

Today we spent 4 hours doing some trail work. We got a new post up and "arrow" sign to guide hikers across the Burrows field from the junction sign to the woods road at the edge of the road where the trail continues. After this was done we went up Phoebes Nable Mt. trail from the parking lot to work on a section on the lower part of the trail where you climb a hill. It gets very wet here in the Spring and we had already laid stepping stones and steps this past Spring when we opened the woods road to hiking. Today we worked on building a stone water bar at the bottom of the hill to direct water off the trail so it doesn't puddle over the tread way. We also dug out a trough for water flow and added a couple stepping stones.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Upcoming Moose Mountains Trips!

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways will be hosting 2 trips coming up at Moose Mountains!

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways Presents Moonlight Walk

On Friday, September 28, naturalist Sally Cornwell will lead families on a Moonlight Walk from 6:30 to 9 pm at the Moose Mountains Reservation in Brookfield.
The cost of the outing is $5/person or $10/family. Participants are asked to pre-register for the walk by calling (603) 978-7125 or emailing

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways & SPNHF Volunteer Land Stewards Hike

On, October 6, SPNHF vlounteer land stewards for Moose Mountains Reservation Jason & Scott will join Moose Mountains Regional Greenways in leading a hike on the Reservations new and improved trails! We will begin at 10:30am. The route is still being planned out but the intended trip will begin on Bowser Pond trail for a quick stop at the shoreline of Bowser Pond with views up to Beauty Ledge. Our hike will then continue up Piper and North trails to Beauty Knob trail to a beautiful ledge top with 180 degree views across Bowser Pond to the surrounding valleys and mountains. We will loop down Beauty Ledge trail back onto North trail and onto Burrows Farm trail bringing us to the history rich Burrows Farm site where 1800's cemetery's sit in an old field and farm site. We will then climb to Phoebes Nable (Hall) Mt. for lunch at about 12:30pm. We will then descend the newly opened South end of Phoebes Mt. trail ending at the parking lot.

The hike is moderate with some short, steep pitches. Total trip time should be about 31/2 hours including a 1/2 hour lunch.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bowser Pond Trail Work 9/14&16/12

"Finally Giving Bowser Some Love" (pictures)

The trail sign for the North end of Bowser Pond trail had been sitting around in my car and office since it was made in the 2011 sign work shop day. We had gotten so involved with the main trails and then the new trails we added on Phoebes Nable and Beauty Ledge that we left it on the back burner. Now we decided it was time to start working on the other trails. Bowser Pond trail starts on New Portsmouth road a few hundred feet from the kiosk/parking area. The trail crosses a rotting bridge and follows a logging road with one short moderate section. It ends at Piper Mt. trail.

Due to it's direct connection to Piper Mt. trail/road which connects to the town class 6 road, it tends to get unwelcome ATV and truck use. There has also been a substancial amount of littering and dumping in this area as well. We began our trail work Friday by building a rock wall/barrier where it junctions with Piper Mt. trail. Scott and I rolled 4 large boulders across the trail and filled it in with smaller rocks. This has been a pretty effective stratagy in other areas so we believe it will deter the wheeled vehicles, most if not all.

Sunday we spent time trimming tree branches for foot travel and blazed and signed the trail. I had spent the week making signs and after such time consuming, tedious work that is sign making, it was nice as always to get them up on the trees! The trail will need more work, particularly to the bridge which isn't the safest thing to cross at the moment. We also need to create a barrier on this side of the trail. Also stepping stones will need to placed in areas were we know mud up in the spring.

MMR Clean-up Day 9/6/12

"Diggin' fer treasure, cleanin' up a skervy trash pile!" (pictures)

This MMR work day was scheduled to clean out an old dump site that was in need of removal. One main reason was it's proximity to the river. Two of the NH Forests & Lands department who called for the clean up worked along side us two land stewards, three of SPNHF staff and 3 volunteers. It was a great day and we all made quick progress of the enormous pile of glass, rusty metal tires and aluminum. Read more about it and more pictures at the SPNHF Land Steward Blog.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Phoebes Nable view-cut 8/9/12

"SPNHF Interns Finish with a Bang!" (pictures)

We were able to get a second day of view-cutting on Moose Mountains Reservations Phoebes Nable Mt. on Thursday. The two interns Eric and Will returned on this humid day to widen the cut and give the peak a nice 180 degree view! If you have been up there in the past and didn't get much of a view you must see it now! A Phoebes Nable Mt. trail right from the parking lot makes for a direct hike to the summit and allows for a loop option decending the other side and down across onto Burrows Farm trail.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Beauty/Phoebes Nable Trail Work

Just an update...we hadn't been on our trails in a few so we spent a couple days this past week getting trails back in order. Their was a blowdown at the Beauty Ledge/Knob junction that took down smaller trees and blocked the intersection. We cleared that up as well as other areas cleaning up branches and cutting back trees that had grown in. Also did the same on the Phoebes Nable trails. Happy hiking :)

Phoebes Nable View-cut 7/18/12

"Come See the Re-stored View!" (pictures)

I accompanied the Forest Society's Interns Eric and Will on a Phoebes Nable Mt. view-cut. It was in dire need of some tree felling! While they cut away on the steep slope of the South side of the summit I worked on trimming the upper portions of the trail and placed a couple large stone steps. The view now opens up below with a barn visible that sits in front of a pond on New Portsmouth Rd. You can see part of the pond on Mountain Road and beyond to the South Road clearing and marshes and mountains beyond. Hoping later in the year or next year on getting more area cut and worked on :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bowser Pond 6/22/12

"A Quick, Humid Walk" (pictures)

I was a little bored on Friday and really didn't have much to do at my home office. It was pretty hot but a little less humid than prior days. So I thought I would take a drive and do a quick check of the parking area and then park at the Bowser Pond road and do a quick walk up to the pond. Crossing the bridge and rounding the corner I found a bunch of living room furniture discarded beside the woods road. A friend had told me of a dump site and I didn't realize she had meant this particular area. 3 TV's, 3 chairs, a box spring and some other miscelanious things. How aggravating! Moving on I made quick time to the pond.

Dragon fly's were all over flying through the air and landing on the various plants on and in the ponds banks. I spent some time crouched down in various spots trying to get some close-up pics in but wasn't having any luck today. They were too active, the shore was too flooded to get to were the dragons were frequenting the most and the biting bugs were bothering me way too much. So I headed back up the trail and checked more sections of the woods roads through here that ATV's like to enroach upon as they leave a mess of tracks and garbage behind. It didn't look too bad, Nothing a garbage bag couldn't handle at some point when the weather cools down a bit. As of right now, the horse fly's were so awful I had to get back to the truck before they carried me away!

Monday, June 18, 2012

MMR Hike and Work 6/14&17/12

"Meet our Blades of Steel!" (pictures)

6/14: A quick hike Thursday afternoon to inspect the work we had done the previous weekend revealed a now easy to follow, mostly dried out trail! We made quick progress to the summit of Phoebes Nable then decided to head down the North end to Burrows Farm trail to check on the field. We had to stop at the point where the woods road enters the field where we had built a rock wall across to discourage ATV's from getting through and messing up the trail. Someone (whom had left tire marks in the grass) had removed half of the wall and threw the rocks into the woods and down the hill! Aggravated but determined as always to repair what was "damaged" we quickly and easily re-built it. With Scott throwing the stones up to the road and me throwing them back into a wall. Then, just for good measure, we added a few more larger rocks.

That done we were able to finish what was just supposed to be a quick hike! The Field had become even more overgrown with sumac from all the rain we had been having. I was sure to remind the SPNHF staff of the dire need to mow and they are working on getting it arranged. We also noted that the Burrows Cemetery would need cutting and mowing again so we planned on getting to that sometime soon. The field was also coming alive with it's summer array of wild strawberries, daisies, birds-foot trefoil, orange hawkweed and an array of clover and honeysuckle which a hummingbird moth was enjoying!

Back onto the Burrows Farm trail below the Moose Mountains trail junction a large garter snake crossed in front of me. I went after it with the camera and it went into attack mode rather quickly. Curled up and striking at me as I tried to shoot a picture of it. Scott had the idea to video tape it attacking. The rest of the trip down was quick. The road is growing in nicely on the sides with ferns, Beach Rose and other wild flowers like daisies. We also found a large Multi-flora Rose bush which was so pretty and fragrant. A friend brought to my attention however that it is an invasive, non-native plant so we may remove it at some point.

6/17: Saturday was spent doing yard work and by the end of the day we were pretty tired and did not have what we needed for a big hike in the White's Sunday. Weather was back-and-forth Saturday and Sunday looked to be a repeat. So we decided to spend another weekend at MMR getting work done for the summer hiking season. We began in the parking lot where we cut branches back from the parking area and also at the entrance. We went up the first section of Phoebes Nable trail and did some minor trimming here as well.

Back at the parking lot we chatted with a family that owns some of the property in the center of MMR and we were happy to hear how much they liked the loop trails we had been working on! After making a short trip home to take care of something we returned and headed up the road. I parked in the field and we began our work. At the top of the field from the sign post to the edge of the woods Scott began cutting the small trees along the trail section and I mowed a path with the lawn mower. It looked pretty cool and was now much easier to follow the trail. 

This done we set up shop at the cemetery and cut out all the sprouts coming out of what we cut last year. I mowed and then Scott did some raking. We carefully re-positioned some broken stones and it looked very nice when completed. I also used the sickle and whacked the weeds and trees from around the two apple trees here.

Now it was up the hill to the farm site where a boulder sit's that holds a plaque. The grass was very thick and tall here. I began mowing as Scott cut the sumac that was taking over the boulder. The final section done we walked back down to the truck. Scott then noticed a large vine taking over one of the apple trees we hadn't pruned yet. He mentioned we should cut the vine in hopes it would die and then we would tackle this massively overgrown tree when we had time.

I cut my way through the jungle of sumac to the tree and began cutting the tangled mess. The Grape Vine (as identified by some friends) was very large and had twined itself all over both sides of the tree. Having made my way around the tree cutting all the entangled mess we called it a day and headed home for some much needed rest.and to enjoy the last couple hours of the weekends sunlight!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

MMR Flower Search & Trail Work 6/8-10/12

"Searching for Pegonia and Phoebes Nable Mt. Trail Work" (pictures)

6/8: Friday I met an MMR regular (Marty) at 11am to search a spot that was recorded as containing a Federally Threatened plant the Small Whorled Pegonia (orchid). We set out up Phoebes Nable trail where we found a severely overgrown trail. Ferns for the most part had taken over! Scott and I figured there would be some overgrowth, but not this much this soon! Marty and I continued, taking a left onto South trail. From here we followed the old logging road until we were parallel with the spot I marked on my GPS. From here we entered the woods and began our search!

We sweeped our way through the thick woods eventually reaching the rock wall that marks the MMR boundary. Here we headed South and slightly back towards the road where we descended a hill  and soon began seeing signs of wildflowers. Starflower, Lady slippers and other plants were growing here. Perhaps we were in the right area. We continued to search the hill and descended to a small pond/marsh area. We made our way around the pond. I spotted a small blue egg on the ground that must have fallen from a nest (robin?). Then spotted two more! On the other side of the pond we found the outlet stream and in this area we spotted what might be the Pegonia we were looking for!

It was a tough thing to figure out. There were no flowers and the leaves were similar to that of the Starflower and Indian Cucumber-root. We searched the area and found the look-alike plants that had flowers that we could easily identify. We brought them back to compare the leaves and roots. After some discussion and pondering and bringing some pictures up on my phone, we were 99% sure these were Cucumber-root. Discouraged we called it a day and continuing our search on the way back yielded nothing more but an abundance of Pointed Blue-eyed grass and some wild raspberries and strawberries.

We did however find something exciting. Pipsissewa (Prince's Pine) which I have only seen once before in the White Mountains! This plant sports shiny/waxy leaves and has neat flower pods that look like something out of a  fiction movie! The buds had not yet opened so we planned on meeting again next week to explore some more and to see if the flowers had opened! (picture of Pipsissewa I found on Baldface Knob trail and that was published in Todd Boland's book "Trees & Shrubs of Newfoundland and Labrador HERE)

6/9: After showing Scott pictures of the overgrown Phoebes Nable trail we decided that we should get up there right away to get it cleaned up for the summer hiking season. We packed up the tools and our backpacks and began our work at 10am. We first set some large stepping stones on a wet section at the trail head. Then I worked the sickle to remove ferns, weeds and small trees from the trail tread-way as Scott cut back tree branches that hung into the trail.

We spent a good 2-3 hours on a wet hill were the trail meets South trail. Ferns had to be "whacked" away and we raked out this wet jungle area! Then I began rolling large stones out of the woods for us to place as steps. One large rock worked well to bridge a drainage ditch we had made to get water flowing out of the area. When finished with this area we took a break and admired how awesome this section came out!

Stones Placed

Next we headed up the long hill and continued our aforementioned duties. It was a long, tiresome job but was really opening up the tread-way nicely. Up on a level section I was whacking away when I heard a rustle of leaves directly in front of me. I looked ahead and right there was a little baby porcupine! I yelled for Scott to come quick! The little guy just sat there, quills out and when he determined we were not a threat he just sat there and looked up at us. So cute!

Nearly stopping at one point in exhaustion we decided to continue on until we reached the last junction at the top of this hill. We reached our goal and when we arrived back down to the parking lot we had put 5 hours into the trail! Surprisingly we had seen all but one tick all day! With more trail left to complete we decided to skip on heading up to the White's Sunday to return here and finish the rest.

6/10: And that we did, Sunday we returned at 11am. We hiked up the sections we had done yesterday and were happy with our work. Even the wet section were we placed the stepping stones was drying out nicely. This day went pretty much the same. A little warmer and a lot more ferns and small trees. But we trudged on! The only ticks we picked up were on a flat section below the summit where tall grass was growing.

I had several really bad blisters on my hands from using the sickle 5 hours the day before and 4 hours today. Our bodies were pretty sore all over and we were happy to finish and have a nice lunch at the summit of Phoebes Nable. Now we just need to get a day scheduled to have SPNHF staff come up and do a much needed view cut!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Phoebes Nable/Beauty Ledge 5/20/12

"Making our Rounds" (pictures)

After nearly a month of now hiking beyond the Burrows Field and nearly 2 months since we had been on Beauty Ledge, we really wanted to get back up to our new trails and see how they were wearing and what work they might need especially after all the rain we had been getting. It was going to be a very hot/humid day so we got an early start, but by half-way through the hike it was getting sticky out there!

We began our hike from the parking lot on Phoebes Nable Mt. trail. The first section was showing a nice tread-way. The arrow at the woods road pointing left had been twisted to point to the right. Not sure what smart-allec did this but it didn't impress us! Continuing on we noticed as you climb the hill to join the next road it was rather wet. This would certainly be an area needing some work. Other than that some minor clipping and raking is all that is needed. And will probably need to use a sickle to help keep a defined path along the woods roads. We took a small break at the summit. The Rock Harlequin had flowered early and the flowers were all but passed.

Heading back down we crossed the stepping stones we had set up over a wet area and onto the Burrows Field. The apple trees we had pruned were looking great! We replaced the old flag in the Burrows Cemetery then we continued down the road and up North trail. We stopped at a culvert to see if the frog eggs had hatched yet. Nope, still there. You could see the little tadpoles in the egg sacs, soon they will be swimming around and growing into little frogs :) Onward we arrived at Beauty Ledge trail where we cleaned out some ferns and what-not from the trail entrance. Then we began the steep hike! The trail was looking great! No wash out anywhere, and it was easy to walk on and follow.

Up near the boulder field below the ledges Scott went to pick up what he thought was a stick. Turned out to be a ring-neck snake! As if he isn't petrified of snakes as it is, LOL! I was pretty excited. I have never seen anything other than a garter snake and thought this was a black racer. I pulled him out of the leaves and barely got a pic of it before it slithered under the brush out of sight. At the ledgy area after the final steep climb and at the ledge more Rock Harlequin was flowering. These were in a little better shape and I was able to get some pictures in. I also noticed a spider web on some blades of grass where hundreds of tiny spiders had just hatched.

Up on the ledge we sat for a while and took in the view and the quietness of this wonderful spot! We headed back down via Beauty Knob trail where again the trail was looking excellent. We passed a porcupine over by the "sand" area. Also back on North trail we found another, larger porcupine. That was about it. Always a fun hike and there is so many plants and animals to see!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Moose Mountains Wild Apple Tree Pruning 4/7&8/12

"Apples instead of Eggs" (pictures)

Saturday Scott and I attended a Wild Apple Tree Releasing and Pruning course at the Harris Conservation Center in Hancock, NH. Having two dozen or more apple trees scattered across the Burrows Field at Moose Mountains Reservation we thought it would be a good thing to learn. Most of our trees looked in bad shape and needed a lot of work that we were not sure how to go about. We learned a great deal at the 3 hour class and rather quickly had the principals down on the proper way to release and prune apple trees. Carrie from the Forest Society who attended and helped lead the class sent us home with an "apple tree" ladder and saws.

And naturally the next day on Easter we were up at Moose Mountains again! We got to the parking lot at 11:30am. We first decided to rake out and blaze the trail head section of the new Phoebes Nable Mt. trail that leaves off of the parking lot. This done we drove up to the field and parked at the Burrows Cemetery. The weather wasn't all that great. Cloudy, cool, a slight wind and spits of snow. But once we got going it was rather comfortable.

We began with the pair of apple trees on the left side of the Cemetery. We cleared the sumac and other brush under the tree. We then began removing dead and diseased trunks and branches. The next step was to prune branches that we either water spouts, branches growing too close together or branches that were touching and being sure to leave a leader near the top. A slow, analytical task that requires concentration and patience and ultimately a lot of choices.

We finished these trees up in an hour. They were much smaller in size when we were done but looked so much more healthy and cleaner. They were just more pleasing to the eye and now actually looked like apple trees! We took a short lunch break but were soon back at it again!

The next clump of three on the right side of the cemetery were a bit more work. Lot's of brush underneath and the trees had a lot of dead and diseased trunks and branches. The same process ensued and another hour or so later these were done.

Again a far cry from what they were from a tangled, rotted mess to clean cut and healthy looking trees! While it was certainly a difficult and tiresome task, seeing the end result was just amazing! We actually can't wait to work on the rest of them!

But ready to call it a day we dragged our two piles of brush over to a ditch and piled it all up there to be burned later in the year to kill any of the diseased "Fire Blight" wood. No ticks bothered us all day, YAY! Happy Easter and here's hoping we see apples on these trees this fall!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Moose Mountains Reservation 3/22-24/12

"Our Hard Work Pays Off!" (pictures)

When we got the news that the SPNHF Land Steward Manager Carrie and Forester Wendy would be coming to check out our trail and other work we were so excited! We had worked very hard on Beauty Ledge trail and had already seen substantial traffic and many compliments. Now we would see if it would stand up to the experts! The date was set for Friday 3/23/12. We picked at the trail all  week in the small window of time between when Scott got home at 3pm and having to eat a quick dinner at 5:30/6pm and then both of us heading back out to work. We got blue paint blazes up and pink tape down on Tuesday prior to a group hike that was headed there for Wednesday headed by our MMR regulars Jill & Marty. We then worked on getting some spots cleaned up and built a culvert for a spring we found next to the trail.

Friday arrived and we met Carrie and her dog at the parking lot for 9am. Wendy was running late and said she would meet us on Phoebes Nable Mt. So we headed up the logging roads that will be the new Phoebes Nable Mt. trail, Carrie mapping the trail on her GPS to update the map. The day was already turning out to be beautiful! Cool temperatures, warm sun and a slight breeze! We arrived at the summit and had a snack. We also searched for a geo-cache that was hidden near the summit. I found it and we checked out it's contents before returning it. Soon Wendy arrived, also with her dog and unusually worn out as she was fresh off recovery from a torn ACL. We chatted about the view cut that needs to be done here and let Wendy catch her breath.

We all now headed down the Phoebes Nable Mt. trail towards the Burrows Farm. At the field we noted a flooded area needing some work and checked out a gate. We also viewed some of the apple trees that we will be pruning soon after our class on April 7. Wendy, ever so observant spotted some new apple tree sprouts coming from a dead tree which was exciting! She also spotted pussy willow near the home site boulder. Carrie explained some of the pruning techniques we would be learning.

We then headed down Burrows Farm trail for the parking lot. At the North trail junction we ran into Jill and Marty. Always nice to see them enjoying the Reservation and always so friendly. We introduced them to Carrie and Wendy and we chatted a bit. They headed for the Moose Pond trail and we headed back to the parking lot. We had a snack and talked about other things needing to be done here this summer. We now drove up to the Beauty Ledge trail.

We began up the trail and soon Wendy and Carrie were giving pointers. We arrived at Snapping Turtle Rock and Wendy had us climb it for pictures. We continued on passing in front of the ledge and switch-backing through the pine grove past the small spring we had worked on that Carrie dubbed "the dog bowl". So far everything was going well and we were getting plenty of positive and helpful feed-back on the trail!

We arrived at the ledge climb. I asked if they liked my stone stairs. They said they looked good as Wendy joked with me by rocking on a loose rock, LOL! After the ledge climb we arrived at a beautiful rock slab covered in lichen. We explained that the trail originally climbed this, but once the snow melted completely we noticed the delicate beauty of this spot and thus reverted the trail around it. They were impressed by this!

We soon arrived at the knob and circled around and down to the ledge. Both were impressed with the view and we spent a good 20 minutes here relaxing and chatting in the sun. They both admitted they were nervous as to what the trail would look like and said it was well thought out and well built! Yay, we completed our first trail and our hard work paid off! Before leaving this area we brought them to another knob and ledge we found and would like to make a trail to and then headed down Beauty Knob trail.

Beauty Knob trail was a booby-trapped trail of ankle twisting pungy sticks! We had marked it out when the ground was visible, but cut it after the 10" leap day snow fell. So we had cut stumps sticking up everywhere! Otherwise they were happy with the trail route and approved it to be cleaned and blazed! We completed the loop heading down North trail and picked up trash along the way. Back at the trucks Wendy gave us a couple tools that would help with our trail building. Back at the parking lot Wendy cut up some brush that was sticking out into the lot entrance a little and we talked about the Phoebes Nable trail head. We agreed to scrap the muddy skid road and use a more grown in road further down.

This concluded the day. We got to discuss our plans, their plans and got to spend some quality time with two great people! The weather was fabulous, ticks were few in number and we all enjoyed our day! We had so much energy and enthusiasm that instead of taking a much needed break from our work up here, we headed back for more on Saturday! We began at the flooded area where Burrows Farm trail leaves the field and enters the woods. Scott dug a trench out and we both worked on digging and moving rocks to get the water to drain. We built up a rock retaining wall and placed stepping stones. The wall also acted as an obstruction to discourage ATV's from entering the woods road. We erected and old sign post and posted orange signs. By the time we were done 2/3 of the water had drained :) We also installed a couple new signs.

Then we headed up to Beauty Knob trail. We ate our bagged lunch then began our work at the trail head. We started out by putting up the trail sign and then began the cutting, raking and stump/rock removal. We got a third of the trail done before getting tired out and having to call it a day. A couple more days and this trail will be completed and we can then move on to Phoebes Nable Mt. trail! Oh, the excitement and joy! It's just now starting to really sink in that we actually built a hiking trail! It's such an awesome accomplishment for us! Plenty more to come!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Beauty Ledge Trail Work 3/17&18/12

"A Little Bit of Everything" (pictures)

A beautiful weekend on the way and the news that Carrie and Wendy from the Forest Society would be paying us a visit on the coming Friday, we were all geared up to get Beauty Ledge trail completed. We had been working on signs for a couple weeks and they were finally done and ready to hang. Sunday morning rolled around and the weather was anything but beautiful. It was cool, damp and windy. So we worked on new signs together to pass some time, breaking yet another piece of equipment in the name of volunteerism...the sander. So Scott went out and bought a new one, it was time for a new one anyway.

The weather finally improved mid-afternoon and we headed up to Beauty Ledge Trail with our new signs. We hung the trail head sign o the birch tree and it looked oh-so-good with the white lettering playing against the white birch! On up the trail we stopped regularly to cut exposed stumps we missed and to do some spot raking.

After the steep climb up a ledge section we came to a large rock slab that the trail was originally slated to climb. Looking now with the snow gone off this area, it was apparent the trail had to be reverted. The rock was covered with pretty, delicate lichen that I didn't want to see trampled. So we flagged out a new trail that swung to the right around the rock and climbing up on the back side to the top of it and rejoining the trail.

We now arrived at the Beauty Knob junction and hung the two signs for this section. One tree gave us some difficulty, breaking two lag screws. We won the battle in the end and this beautiful sign now points the way to the knob and ledge! We climbed up to the knob finding a fresh, large blow-down right across the trail...go-figure! Luckily it was dead and hollow so easy to move with the two of us given the size of this obstruction!

Up on the knob we placed the summit sign and a "to ledge" sign. We then walked down to the ledge to check out the view of the now thawed landscape. Except for Bowser Pond which was still 3/4 frozen. Scott spotted, as he always seems to do, a porcupine in a tree next to the ledge. We walked over and checked it out. These guys are so cute sitting high up in the trees!

The sun beginning to fall behind the Moose Mountain range, I stopped back at the knob to get some pictures in of the lichen and the setting sun shining off the pine trees. and then headed down doing some spot cleaning as we went. We ended the day at the kiosk walking up the woods road that will be an extension of Phoebes Nable Mt. trail. A truck had apparently done some mudding up the road. What aggravated me most was he ran over a stick with pink tape on it that was marking the site of an orchid that I found last summer. Back on the road we stopped at a woods road that is at the point just before the tar changes to dirt. This connects to Phoebes Nable Mt. trail and will be called South trail. No sign of truck activity here or up on the landing, so we were happy with that.

Sunday brought a mild morning and thoughts of finishing the trail cleaning. A face book friend mentioned she and her friends would be climbing the trail today, so that was exciting to hear and I hoped to see them up there and hear what they thought of the trail! The day started as it ended Saturday. Us checking out the truck trail and we wondered if it got past a blown down tree we left mostly intact to discourage truck use. Sure enough he didn't get past this and had turned around. This satisfied us and back at the parking lot we blocked this road with some rocks and logs and placed a "no motorized vehicles" sign on a nearby tree in hopes of discouraging trucks and ATV's.

This task done we also stopped at Piper Mt. trail where most of the ATV traffic is coming from and put up "no motorized vehicle" signs here too. It would be nice to gate some of these access points but is proving difficult with them being town roads and class six roads that can't be legally gated. It's rather frustrating to see the roads getting torn and mucked up and trash being discarded from the ATV users and not really being able to do much about it! Now it was off to what we came here for. We headed up Beauty Ledge trail with our loppers, shovel, hoe, metal rake, work gloves and our packs with our lunch in them! It was already getting warm and we were in T-shirts in no time! We dropped our bags at the split rock above the steep/ledgy section and began our work on the new by-pass trail around the lichen-rock area trying to avoid the fresh moose poop that was along many parts of the trail.

After marking, cutting and raking this area we worked our way down to the steep section. Scott continued cutting and raking as I attended to making some steps on a loose, steep section of dirt. After rolling 2 large rocks over and messing with them for a good 10 minutes I added a third to the mix and another 10 minutes later got them aligned just right to create good steps that didn't move under the weight of hikers.

Needing a break at this point we headed up to the ledge with our drinks and an energy bar to relax a bit and re-nourish ourselves. After returning to our bags we grabbed our equipment and headed back up to the knob to work on the upper section. As we got back into the woods a prop plane went over head at tree level and right over the ledge! Too bad we weren't still out there! We continued raking and cutting and then headed back to our bags. Back at our base camp four ladies came up the trail led by the lady that follows the MMR face book group page. We chatted briefly and they all had great things to say about the trail, yay! They headed up to the ledge and we plopped down for lunch!

Our lunch consumed we headed down the trail to work on the area below the steep/ledgy section. Scott continued cutting and raking as I worked on leveling out the ledgy area. Rocks needed to be moved around and others rolled over to make more of a terraced ascent. After all the work we both did in what was turning out to be a hot day in the sun, we called it a day. We touched up a few spots in the two pine areas on the way down. As we got back onto North trail an ATV was just coming up Piper Mt. trail as we passed, guess they couldn't read the bright orange sign! We were happy to get back to the truck and on the road with a breeze blowing in to cool us down!

Total of 7 hours over the weekend! It's well worth the time and energy...and sore bodies! We just have a little more raking and stump removal and then the blazing and the trail will be completed! Got to see a nice sunset over Sunrise Lake on our way home Saturday :)