Category: Connecticut River Valley

Kilburn Loop Trail

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44℉ at 5:00, high of 57, windy

Monday, October 24, 2016

We walked the Kilburn Loop Trail in Pisgah State Park. It is a 6.2 mile hike through beautiful forests of Hemlocks and Beach trees. You pass Kilburn pond, which is very pretty. it took us about 3 1/2 hours with a stop for lunch. No bears, no moose, no ducks, no deer. The wind was blowing pretty hard, but we couldn’t feel it much on the forest floor. The trees, however, were talking, rubbing against each other as they moved with the wind. It’s pretty cool the different sounds they can make. It would be eerie if you were camping on Halloween night! 

We hadn’t hiked for two days, so it felt good to get out. By the end of the last uphill climb of .7mi, we were tired. We drove back down to the Connecticut River to investigate the bike trail along the river. We walked on a side trail that goes out through a marsh. It was lined with 10-foot bushes loaded with berries of several sorts. Tons of little birds were stocking up for the winter. A photographer passed us, complaining the little birds wouldn’t sit still long enough for him to get any pictures. They are no doubt tough to catch. The strategy might be just to sit down and wait for them to come to you. There were several beaver huts, but this beautiful area was strangely devoid of any ducks or geese. I haven’t seen a flight of geese or ducks at any time along the Connecticut. 

Back at Hinsdale Campground, Martha did the laundry while I cleaned out the cook box that had gotten wet with the snow and rain. It is a toolbox I set on its side for better access, but that means the lid doesn’t prevent water from getting in. The bikes and the cook box are covered with a tarp, but the heavy snow was too much for it. Sagging with the weight, it allowed water to get in along the sides. I had everything spread out all over the place when Dave (who works the camp) came by. He looked the place over strangely, and I wondered if I had violated some code. He asked if Martha was doing laundry and if I had my water connected. Then I asked him what was up. There was going to be a freeze tonight and he was going around cutting off the water so the pipes don’t freeze. The campground closes this weekend, and this seems to be the determining factor for closing – freezing pipes. I’m not sure how old Dave is, but we got to talking about the area and his growing up here, fishing the pond where we had hiked. It was hard to get all the facts right as he talked. I didn’t want to stop him because the stories were good. A very nice gentleman, and obviously smart, I wondered why he worked the campground as the manager came up. They went over to several campsites turning water off. When he came back, he continued. He works about half the time for pay and half as a volunteer. He said he would go crazy if he sat at home all the time. He and his wife had sold their house, bought a big camper and went on the road for 10 years, thus his great knowledge about campgrounds. “Oh, I’ve been to Virginia many times”. Nova Scotia was one of his favorites. He worked for the State, the Federal government and different companies that dealt with hazardous waste – mostly cell phones. When ownership of his plant changed hands, they always wrote in the contract that Dave had to stay. Government regulations hold people like Dave responsible forever if something goes wrong with the hazardous waste. He talked about being retired and on the road, when the company called him to help solve a problem, so he came back for a month to solve the issues. I was enjoying his great stories, but he had to go cut water off and I was getting the evil eye from the laundry lady. Dave was pleased when I gave him a coffee cup. I hope he is still here should we pass through again.

Connecticut River Valley

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We broke camp and headed out, stopping at the office to say goodbye to Jack. No one was there, so we wrote a note and left it on the door. Living Waters Campground is a nice one – not very large, reasonably large campsites, and any time you can camp next to a trout stream is good. It’s unusual to have a deli at a campground, so that is nice. There is much to explore in the White Mountains, and they are very pretty. Probably there are too many people here in the summer for me, but there are many hikes that would be fun. 

We followed the Ammonoosuc River on Rt. 302. This is a beautiful river that would be fun to float. It doesn’t look too complicated, but with just enough to make it interesting. A trout stream where we camped, there surely are smallmouth down lower. It was raining, but trees and mountains were coated with snow, fall colors still showing through. It is a sometimes rough road, but pretty. Quaint little New England towns with grassy malls broke up the farmland. After a while it turned into the Connecticut River. I was surprised by how pretty this river is. With a beautiful farm valley, the river is also beautiful and would be pretty to float. Scattered marshlands followed the river. Islands dotted the wandering river, and a rails-to-trails bikeway followed it forever. We passed a field with more turkeys than I have ever seen in one place. There were two groups of maybe 30 in each. With someone following closely behind, I couldn’t stop, but when I saw another group, I pulled over for a few pictures as traffic zoomed past. This is a scenic byway, but there are no pullovers or viewpoints. You just say, “Oooo, Ahhh” and have to keep driving. 

We crossed over the river at Lebanon, a pretty town, and stopped at a large boat launch place for lunch. The winds were howling, but it was 57 degrees. A guy was zooming around on his jet-ski. We drove down the Vermont side, with Pisgah State Park as a stopping point. We passed a number of campgrounds, but found Hinsdale Campground to be open. The owner, Dave, checked us in. There are few travelers staying here, but lots of full timers. It closes next weekend. The attraction seems to be ATV trails. He told us about a hike in Keene with spectacular views. With no more information than that, we drove 30 miles to Keene. It is a very interesting, large town with a pretty downtown area. We had no idea where to go. A quick Google search showed a ton of rails-to-trails, but no mountain or high hikes. I was tired now with all this wandering, so we headed back. We had seen a leather store on the way over, and Martha has been wanting a pair of furry moccasins to keep her warm on the cold morning floor. If you want leather anything, Howard’s Leather Store is a great place with reasonable prices. It is a family-run business for 50 years. Hats of all sorts, boots, vests, coats, wallets, pants and gloves. I could have bought five or six hats, but wasn’t in a buying mood. Fortunately Martha found a pair of moccasins she liked. We asked the ladies about Dave’s suggested hike, and they knew exactly what he was talking about. It was an obscure road that is now paved, but the views are great. I was shot now and ready for cocktail hour. 

On the way back, we stopped at a trailhead saying something about wildlife viewing area on the edge of Piscah State Park. A young man was coming off the trail so I asked him if he had seen any wildlife. No, he hadn’t seen anything significant, but raved about how pretty it was, showing us on the map where he went. There were lakes and small mountains and forests and plenty of places to explore. He had driven from Boston for the day to hike, an hour and a half drive. His enthusiasm was contagious. We’ll have to try it tomorrow.

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