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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!

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