Tag Archive 'White Mountains'

Aug 16 2020

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Backcountry Excursions Reprinted

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In 1990, I published a slender, olive green paperback called Tracks across the Forest Floor. It was my first attempt to write a nonfiction narrative about one of my ventures into the woods. Tracks went out of print a long time ago, but I included it in a set of six hiking narratives called Backcountry Excursions, released in 2005. That book has been nearly out of print for several years now. Well, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Tracks, I have reprinted Backcountry with a new cover and preface. And a few fixed typos to boot.

Three of the narratives in this collection appear in other collections of mine, namely Loon Wisdom and The Great Wild Silence. Tracks and the remaining two can be found nowhere else. Just as important as Tracks, I think, is the 25-page narrative about a trip into northern Maine that I took in ’96 with my buddy Charlie, following Thoreau to Mt. Katahdin by water and land. We used a two-man sea kayak instead of a bateau and ended up hiking a different path up the mountain, but it was great fun all the same. And it gave me a reason to recount one of Thoreau’s excursions into the Maine Woods.

The real reason for reprinting this book is simply to keep it in print. Backcountry Excursions is now available at Amazon.com as well as the Wood Thrush Books website. Most of my readers are already familiar with this book, but now it’s out there for everyone to see how I got started, and what kind of critter I really am.

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Jun 26 2019

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On the Cohos Trail

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Back home now after nine days on the Cohos Trail – a relatively new trail in northern New Hampshire that runs for 170 miles, from the heart of the White Mountains to the Canadian border. I tramped 62 miles of it, starting in Jefferson and finishing in the rather dramatic Dixville Notch. It was quite the undertaking for an old hiker like me.

“Old” is a relative term, of course. At 63, I’m a young old with plenty of hikes still ahead of me. But when I strap on a backpack, 40 pounds or more, then take on a rugged trail winding through mountainous country for days on end, I soon realize that I’m not the hiking machine I once was. The joints, for one thing, aren’t what they used to be.

The bugs were even more menacing than they usually are this time of year. A rainy spring created ideal conditions for them to multiply. I used a whole bottle of DEET. Black flies, mosquitoes, ticks and deer flies – yeah, I had plenty of company on this trip.

The Cohos Trail isn’t a well-beaten path like the Appalachian Trail. I was hoping to escape the crowd that swarms all over Presidential Range of the White Mountains just to the south. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I saw no one for 3 days while hiking through the Nash Stream Forest. Long stretches of deep woods solitude are just about guaranteed on the CT. I reveled in it, taking 2 days to just hang out at shelters and groove on the natural world.

Indeed, the CT cuts through some wild and beautiful country: over mountains, through northern hardwood and boreal forests, across streams, meadows and bogs, and around ponds. The trail itself is sometimes a woods road and other times a barely discernible path. I recommend it to anyone craving Northeast wildness. But keep your eye peeled for those yellow blazes and a map handy. This isn’t a trail for daydreamers.

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Oct 21 2014

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Scouting the Cohos Trail

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SouthPondTrailYesterday I drove to New Hampshire to scout the trailheads and exit points of the Cohos Trail in anticipation of hiking it next year. I took my dog Matika with me even though the trip was more about driving than hiking. She didn’t complain.

With temps in the 40s, snow in the higher elevations, and all the leaves on the ground, it felt more like November than October in the White Mountains.  No matter.  I was able to get a good feel for the landscape.  There is plenty of rugged, remote country north of the ever-popular Presidential Range. I look forward to immersing myself in it.

Halfway through my scouting trip, I grabbed my rucksack and headed south along a yellow-blazed trail hugging South Pond for a short while.  Both Matika and I needed to stretch our legs and South Pond seemed like a good place to do that. The recreation area where I parked the car was completely abandoned and the shoreline trail looked very inviting.  I’m sure South Pond will look completely different to me when I’m trekking through here with a full load on my back, finishing a leg of the CT next year. The terrain always looks different when I’m making tracks.

After finding the exit point at Dixville Notch, thus completing my scouting trip, I marveled at how new the Cohos Trail is.  Aside from the yellow blazes, one wouldn’t know that such a trail even exists.  It’s definitely a work in progress, and not for those who like to plod mindlessly along a well-beaten path. But northern New Hampshire seethes wildness, which is why I am drawn to it.  And soon enough I’ll be following those yellow blazes for days on end.

 

 

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