Sunday, May 10, 2020

closed due to coronavirus pandemic

this may sound like a complaint, because it is: closed is relative. 

cardigan mountain state park for example, advertises on its website as "always open for recreation unless closed or restricted by posting. During the off-season the park is typically not staffed and comfort stations are not available."

ok, but new hampshire divested upkeep of many of its state parks, into the hands of volunteer groups that keep up grounds, clean facilities, maintain trails, basically all upkeep. this didn't happen to all parks, but definitely the ones that would cost more to staff than you could earn back through fees. 

cardigan mountain state park, or as the sign has it, mount cardigan state forest, is in my neighborhood has been taken care of for years by the friends of mount cardigan. i have been helping for many of those, mowing, cleaning bathrooms, and for the last couple, maintaining the clivus composting toilet.

long story short, i decided that it would be prudent not to be 'raking' other people's waste given the pandemic which meant closing the bathrooms. so i got some tools together in a backpack and rode off to fix locks to the doors. a stop at the hardware to pick up hasps, locks, nuts and bolts went well. since i was there, i also got 10 pounds of seed potatoes and a pound of onion sets, but left the extra weight in the store to pick up on my way home.

pedaling up orange road/cardigan mountain road is no small task. it is 4 miles to the summer parking lot with a gain of 1000 feet in elevation. having been #30daysofbiking (see previous two goap! posts) i was ok with the effort. got up in good time and started attaching the hardware. that was when i discovered the 2" bolts i bought were too short. damn that would mean riding down to the hardware again and getting 2.5" ones.

i prepped everything i could, stuck the locks on so it would look like the doors were secured, packed up and set off downhill. that took a lot less time than going up, so i started thinking, maybe i'd call skip and see if he wanted to go up and help--he has a truck. with new bolts in hand i called and alas, he wasn't home. no big deal it could wait until the morning. then i spotted a 'friend of cardigan' who lived part way up the hill and thought, i have a mask and gloves, maybe they would give me, my bike, and supplies a ride--i had just picked up the potatoes and onions--at least part way there.

that worked out well, as i was riding up the park road much sooner than i would have been if i had to pedal the whole 4 miles. once up at the bathrooms it took some work to tighten down everything on the three doors, but they were now shut and locked. i repacked the potatoes, onions, and tools--so the cordless drill wouldn't be poking me in the back--and flew downhill. 

after a brief stop to talk to bob about what i had done, give him the state's park facilities cleaning guidance sheet, and let him know where the keys were, i was headed home. scooting along on the rail trail, i saw a huge bunch of skunk cabbage shining bright green in the evening sun and made one last stop for a picture.

a long day. but, it was good to get the job completely done so that going back up in the morning could be optional.

sure enough, friday was busy with all sorts of other 'volunteer' activities and i never got up to the park. but saturday morning, i woke to a few fresh inches of snow on the ground and knew the mtn would be covered. the polar vortex was pushing some fairly nasty weather, including ~50mph  winds. i immediately called skip to see if he wanted to go for a hike. he was still recovering from wrenching his back, so i went solo. 

even on my own it was great to get out in the weather. there were two other vehicles in the winter parking area and three sets of foot prints--with two dogs--going up. at the summer lot i split off and took the ski trail following a single set of tracks, no dogs. 

when i went by a lone skunk cabbage, i remembered bunches i passed thursday evening so i stopped to take a photo. spring weather can be wildly varied, but the skunk cabbage is well adapted to break ground early. pam and i saw our first one mid april.

i kept to the ski trail even after the other set of tracks left. on what we call the top or the 5th section, i snapped a picture of the infamous "skiing over a dog" slope before setting first tracks.

no dog was harmed in that incident, but when i topped over the high spot in the picture, said mutt jumped out of the woods directly under my skis. the snow was wicked deep and basically i just buried it for a second. it did give a yelp but popped right back up as i went by. it's a fairly fast section so i was at the bottom already when two guys came rushing up and asked if i had seen a dog? as i slid by them i shrugged and said, "i just heard one!"

when i got to turn-around rock, i put my jacket, hat, and gloves on, lowered my head and started dealing with the wind on the bare rock above treeline. at what i call the half-pipe, i was really struggling. it was a big relief to reach the tower at the summit and shelter behind a wall. it was about as windy as i had ever felt it, but i gave my anemometer to sawyer to measure the ocean 'breezes' down on the cape so i couldn't measure it. i took a movie panning from the east to south.

you can definitely hear the wind, but it's hard to see the incredible 'snow devils' blowing off the rock and rising out of the trees, spinning wildly for hundreds of yards.

i put on a buff to help cover my face which would be getting a good bit of that wind on the way down. as soon as i stepped away from the tower i had to shoulder way into the wind to keep going in the direction i wanted rather than the wind was pushing me. i made it back past turn-around rock and unzipped some and took off the buff as i dropped below treeline. the clouds were rushing past so fast that when the sun did come out, it didn't stay long. but out of the wind it was quite pleasant. 

on the bottom or 1st section of the ski trail, i was bounding down a steep section and saw a movement just in front of my boot. it took me a few steps to slow and stop so i could go back to check it out. 

it was a young mouse caught out of its nest and struggling to get out of the boot track it had fallen into. after i kept going, i had a vision of an owl finding it later and taking it back to its young. the cycle goes on.

i got back to the truck soon after that and had another thought, that if the kids were still young i would have put in a pocket and taken the wee thing home for a viewing. both those thoughts made me smile. it was a fine, windy, 'mousy' day to go outside and play!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

#30daysofbiking -- part 2

off the top of my head, this year's weather was much more 'rideable'. there were some snow and rain days, but i didn't freeze or melt. another bonus, pam rode with me a couple of days and hiked while i biked a few other times! and dirk and i had a good, socially-distanced loop through the woods. here's part 2...

it was a thursday, and i rode into enfield to mail a 'toy box' to the christensen kids and do a pass through of the elementary school.

it was more than "kinda" weird weather, but i survived the ride and took an extra picture, a minute after the one to the right--the snow came fast and furious.

friday was different in that it wasn't snowing anymore--much. it was cold enough that a couple of passing cloud banks, did spit some flakes. i have never seen one, but i wondered if a rainbow was possible with sun shining through the snow?

i didn't ever punch in for work, but i stopped by both elementary schools--canaan and enfield--to check on the servers. that's how i got the two pictures.

saturday was so rainy, i never stopped to take a picture. with over an inch of rain, the rivers were really rushing. 

sunday dawned sunny with the promise of getting up toward 60°-- dirk and i had arranged to loop a route going up and down three different woods 'roads'. i use that term loosely as each would be easily classified as "unimproved". still there were some sweet sections to be had. 

the picture of him is on a natural berm at the bottom of our town hill--the same one pam and i hike a lot. the christensen's and i were sledding it this winter!

no pictures were to be had--or more accurately, i didn't stop to take any. monday's can be busy with the weekend for problems to brew. why are phones and wifi are so important--maybe it has something to do with remote learning...

another wet day tuesday, and commuting around didn't leave me much opportunity to document. but i went out with pam after we ate and she grabbed a couple of action shots with her phone. 

we maintain a trail looping around our field and through the woods. the section you see here is on the upper side and mostly dry! it is not all like that, but everything has some potential fun.

wednesday's commute was definitely drier than tuesday's though the cold and high winds have been brutal at times.

the hs-middle school is only three miles away, but when i have to go to the eles, milage can add up. canaan is 7~ish miles from the office and enfield 5~ish. i often ride on the rail trail to avoid traffic and hills. there is usually less wind as well.

no surprise, it was cool and windy, but the sun is getting higher angle and warming more and more on days when it's out--like thursday. i didn't even think about work and took a 25 mile loop with some long uphill.

everything that goes up gets to come down though. i stopped ad grabbed a picture at the four big-ger bodies of water. also got in my weekly sweep at drummond custom cycles when i went by there.

there was a heron hunting in george pond and i managed to get a picture of it by zooming in. and then snuck around and got it again as it flew up.

friday was mostly a garden day, but i did ride around the loop with pam.

saturday was another garden day, until pam hiked up over town hill and i pedaled after her. on the way back home, she got a short video of me doing a little rock hopping--off one of the many launches dotting the woods road.

that's the money shot in the tweet. as hannah noticed, my head looks rather vulnerable, but i try to keep upright as much as possible.

sunday was one of those threatening to rain-snow at any moment. by threatening, i sort of mean it started on and off throughout the day. 

i rode an interesting loop out into springfield and back, mostly to deliver a pack of pam's contact sheets to their data entry clerk, but also cause it has some good hills and pretty spots, like mcdaniel's marsh in the picture.

i made it home and only got a tiny bit damp!

monday morning brought a decent amount of snow and gave me an idea of the challenge included in this picture--ride around the garden without putting my feet down. 

going downhill was easy, but at the chair and mini-greenhouse when i tried to turn the corner, my front wheel just slid. that happened again at the next corner even though i was ready for it and just creeping along--even trying to hop it around some.

i won't even talk about spinning away trying to go uphill!

tuesday's commute was not exactly warm, but it was sunny with the promise of warming up close to 50° the snow on the ground would not be there when i came home. 

and sure enough, it was gone, except for under the eves where the roof dumped it yesterday.

wednesday was not as sunny, about the same temp, and much much windier! i ended up riding to every school, and the sau office. which was ok in one direction, but then i had to come back. 

my last trip was into canaan. going east was really fast with the wind pushing me along. after finishing things there, i pointed back west at home, head down, and pedaling hard.

the last day of april was wet all morning, but i decided to go up town hill and work on a little side trail i was hoping to develop.

the start had a fairly large oak blowdown that i had to open up. that took a while. it also gave me a calf muscle bruise that is still hobbling me--somewhat. biking still felt good and flying downhill was a trip.

for fun, and under sunny skies, i have kept riding into may! it's always good to go outside and play! even with a bit of a limp.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

#30daysofbiking -- part 1

last year i signed up to ride everyday in april and managed to keep a fairly good record on twitter @ #30daysofbiking. i assembled my tweets into two chapters for 2019's april 'go outside and play!' this year, i never saw an announcement for #30daysofbiking, but the weather was nice so i saddled up.

day one was actually march 31. sunny and warm~ish. as i went along, when i passed the second graveyard, i thought--there's a theme. i pedaled back and got a picture.

if there is such a thing, we live in a great spot to 'ride' out a pandemic. it's rural enough to have plenty of places to go out and play while maintaining a healthy social distance. 

hopefully, the day's graveyard theme has no connection to the pandemic reference.

pam and i were going up over town hill and i thought, why not ride it for day two? going uphill will be well worth the downhill run i'll get! 

at the snowy section i have been snapping pictures of pam on our hikes, she took a shot of me on the bike. for a lot of #30daysofbiking folks, snow on april fools' day is a joke. for me, that there is so little left, is the real farce.

day three was definitely freezing, not as cold as last year, but i grabbed the iconic thermometer picture for comparison and possibly start a tradition. 

i really didn't have to plant the shovels, they were out and had been in use for an 8~ish inch storm the week before. that day, i had to put the bike up and get the skis out, but it was worth it.

where the day before had been cold, day four was nothing but wet. when the drops slimmed down into mist, i finally set out.

i pointed the mtn bike toward a trail that a few of us had worked on last year to open back up. it followed a long abandoned road loggers had used years ago and left in a rutted mess. removing the encroaching pines was tedious, but much easier than filling in deep ruts. going up, i pulled more pines, going down, i flew!

after a wet day, a just cloudy one was welcome. so much so, pam joined for day five. her first day out stuck to her old favorite, goose pond road to the boat launch and back. i snapped a picture with the clouds reflected off the pond behind her. she took a similar one at the dam on her way home.

i went up--and i do mean up, about a mile of 'su-stantial'* hill-- and ran along under the ridge of moose mtn. oh, and while pam found some bunnies, i passed by another graveyard. (* the local new hampshire pronunciation.)

saturday, i decided to head out around the old neighborhood and 'visit'--at a social distance--friends. i had no idea who would be out, but i figured i might see at least two or three.

after i found three folks out and about, i climbed up to the pendletons who came out before i even got off my bike. it was nice to see everybody and catch up a little before i rode off.

the next day out, was wicked sunny and warm~ish. on day five, pam and i had heard a few wood frogs--'quackers'. up by my first stop, where our old neighbors were siding their dormers, i heard dozens in a sunny tiny pond across the street. today, day seven i heard hundreds in nearly every wet spot i rode by. i even saw one dessicated unit and stopped to grab a picture.

pam tells me it's a bit morbid to take a photo of a dead frog, but in my memory, that just might be the only dead wood frog i have ever seen. in retrospect, i probably should have gotten off the bike and gotten down for a close up.

monday got even warmer~ish and i road home from work without my jacket. before leaving i took a picture looking out over the staff parking lot toward the sports fields. 

normally, this is getting to the time where the baseball and softball teams are throwing and batting outside whenever they can, grounds keepers are starting to work on their fields, and the track team is staking out areas to do their various activities. a day this nice would have a lot of folks out enjoying it.

i usually try to avoid working too late in the day, but when i pedaled into the driveway, the light show that welcomed me home was so spectacular, that i forgot all about my 'heavy' commute.

pam and i walked down into the meadows just so we could be outside. it is a beautiful time of year, when the buds start to swell, before bugs are out.

well, most bugs. i think this was the second time i found a tick crawling on my neck when we came back in. it was one of the tiny deer ticks, the ones most likely to be carrying lyme disease.

the clouds coming in and helping to set up last night's light show, socked in completely and delivered nearly one and a half inches of rain throughout the next day. it seemed like there was a misty period at one point so i tried a ride.

going over the river, the waters were clearly rising. by the time i came back over, they were even higher. when i pedaled into the drive, i was fairly damp, but still smiling.

friday was still wet, only colder, so rain was now sleet. i headed out to connect three long wood roads. riding one and a half of them uphill, i could make a loop and get in two sweet downhill runs.

on my way i passed a large graveyard and remembered that someone mentioned a tiny family plot hidden in the woods on the first hill. i found 'john scofield 1715-1784' tucked way away on a side trail. 

at the top, i rode over to the x-c trail and shot down. through the woods took me to town hill and up and down took me home--in a crazy blowing snow!

saturday was cold~ish so i opted for a long steady climb to warm up at the start and then finish coming down. it worked, mostly. i was never too cold except for riding directly into a really stiff wind in the first 5 miles. 

once i got onto the back roads and out of the wind, it almost got comfortable. as i climbed out of enfield and into hanover, i caught site of a white capped cardigan mtn way off in the distance. it was a pretty site and made me just a little wistful to be up in the whites getting one last ski in. but with social distancing, a lot of terrain was closed--including tuckerman ravine.

easter sunday was still windy and cool but sunny~ish. pam said she would give it a go--only later after a couple three things she had to do, people she had to talk with, and lunch she had to eat. i was ready to get out so i rode up toward our old house to get a mile long hill in. i ended up going down the other side and coming back up, again.

when i got home, pam rode down to the rail trail with me and we turned toward mascoma lake. it wasn't crowded, but there were definitely more folks out now than i had passed earlier. granted there was no 'whopper' of a hill, let alone two. it was really cool to pose in front of the rushing water at the old baltic mill.

monday i was back commuting to work, which in another heavy day long rain, meant waiting for it to let up a bit and race down to school. i was thinking of trying to find the same 'window' to zip home. but, everytime i looked outside it seemed to be coming down harder. 

finally, i just decided to go for it. over the years of getting drenched a good number of times, i'd never melted yet. plus from the high school it was only three miles by road--only uphill. 

i figured it would be prudent to leave my laptop and a couple of books in the office so they wouldn't drown in my backpack. it wasn't all that bad, though i got a little heated on the last hill as i left my hat on so the rain wouldn't splash on my bald head.

tuesday dawned clear~ish. i rode in under the moon and some red tinged clouds. the old saying "red in the morning sailors take warning" had me a bit worried, but it wasn't supposed to precipitate until later in the week.

i got most everything done i needed to at work, and thought, it's not raining, i'm going to ride home the long way. ok, long is relative but an extra ten miles felt pretty good.

i didn't have too much to do at work so i was home early~ish and took the mtn bike up town hill for a bit of rock hoppin. 

if you have seen 'ghost in the shell' you might recognize that i am wearing one of those see through suits that major wore in each of the versions. while she does it to fight crime, i do it to confuse hunters.

and speaking of which, the ruts in the road are new. somebody cut out the blow downs below that i had deliberately left to keep vehicles out.

oh well. it still was fun. in fact i think every one of the rides this year has put a smile on my face, even when it was wet. go outside and play!--it will make you happy.

(ps--stay tuned for the rest of april in part 2...)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

a virtual polar dip!

april fools!!

you may recall seeing a few MOC polar dip goap! posts in the past--you may not. with the schools on remote learning with plenty of social distance between students, this year's plunge is a virtual one. more accurately, a replay, but that sounds sorta lame.

speaking of lame, if i had started this a week ago, i could have had a lot more pics scanned in. sorry--i will add some later. for now, i have two years 2016 and 2018--first back to april 1st, 2016 and a no-ice was a run-in. my favorite series was of olivia, the last one in, and the first one out!

not bad for her first april above the mason dixon line. the group that year was small but brave hearted--it is a lot harder to run in than jump through a hole in the ice.

two years later, march 31, 2018, we had plenty of ice. a small crew gathered to cut the hole, drilling and sawing through about 2 feet! it's always a little dicy removing the huge blocks, hooking on with a strap and pulling for all you are worth. from the looks of his left pant leg, eben must have taken an early dip.

i do have a series from 2015 of an attempt to haul out a rather large 'berg'. there is some muscle there but since it doesn't seem to come all the way out, i am assuming i had to stow the camera and help.

back to 2018, the 1st of april was another blue bird day, but really windy (stay tuned for some after dip fun.) our camera person--thanks ethan (i think because there are no pictures of him dipping)--caught some sweet series, this time. olivia, now after her third winter, was back and raring to go.

doesn't it look a lot easier than running in? we also had a kearsarge, ski buddy come over for a dip.

the next batch comes in twos, both first time 'jumpers'--well, kerrigan jumped, dirk's vert was only about a half an inch.

another april fools, another hearty and brave crew.

oh, and after folks got some dry clothes on, john and justin attached skis to their boots and did a little leijahiihto, as i once heard it called in finnish.

it was an excellent day for a dip, and plenty windy for kite skiing too! all in all, what's not to love about going outside and playing! and though there is no tell tale splash in this particular picture, i actually did get a little wet. april fools!!