Not too long ago a friend commented that I was “living my best life”. I’ll certainly agree that I have a few preoccupations that keep me busy and entertained, and am always on the lookout for new and different experiences. This past week has been very full and very fun.
I’ll start this chronicle on Thursday of last week. Wife and I had tickets to see Maine comedian Bob Marley over in Lancaster, New Hampshire. That’s about an hour’s drive from where we live. There’s that town showing up again! The show was at The Rialto, an old movie hall that’s in pretty good shape. It has to be at least a century old, and while I don’t know its history, effort has been put into keeping it functional. Once inside my rough count pegged its capacity around 500 souls, and there was plenty of legroom.
We traveled over there in the late afternoon. Once there we walked about the downtown area for a bit, and then went over to Smokin T’s for dinner before the show. I’ve mentioned this bar and restaurant before- great food, atmosphere and service. I had wings and Wife had an incredible-looking chicken sandwich. There must have been half a pound of bacon on that bird.
After dinner we walked the short distance over to the theater. The show was a sell-out, and there was a line to enter, though it moved along very quickly. We were in our seats within minutes; more or less in the middle of the hall.
It was a very simple setup. Two speakers and a stool on stage. A little after 8PM the warm-up act came onstage, and he delivered an entertaining 15 minutes or so before the main act bounded in through the stage-left emergency exit door. Apparently the Rialto’s “green room” is the dirt parking lot next to the building.
Bob Marley is a New England icon, and I don’t think I need to say much more about him. His takes on growing up in an Irish-Catholic middle class family are priceless, and those of us of a certain age can readily identify with his stories. During the Crona Lockdown the daily vignettes he posted up helped keep us laughing when there wasn’t much to laugh about.
Bobby kept us laughing for almost an hour and a half. It was an excellent show. And when he was done- woosh! Right out the side door he went into the night. Show’s ovah, folks!
A couple of days later, Saturday, I met up with Youngest Son yet again for the continuance of this season’s hikes. The late October weather has been pretty fantastic, as sometimes it can be heading into winter. We decided to invest this sunny day climbing through the Welch- Dickey Loop Trail over in Thornton, New Hampshire.
This trail traverses an amazing landscape. Neither mountain is especially tall, but they are both rocky summits, and feature massive expanses of clear granite ridges. Very steep open inclines heading up Welch, and long, wide and clear expanses once heading down from the summit of Dickey. The loop above the local treeline is roughly in the shape of a horseshoe, with the opening of the shoe pointing to the southwest.
We arrived at the trailhead at 10:30AM. There is a large parking lot there, and it was pretty much full. I parked the Jeep up on an embankment next to the restrooms. No one seemed to mind.
Saddled up with our packs and hydrated, Son and I hit the trailhead, and began the counterclockwise journey over the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail. Initially a woods trail, it was very pleasant to walk, with the incline being marginal and the late fall colors superb. There were lots of downed leaves in our path, but overall conditions were near perfect. Sunny, dry and temps in the mid-60s.
Over the first mile and a quarter the incline never exceeded 20𝆩, and we gained perhaps 850 feet of elevation from the trailhead. Packed earth with the usual roots and rocks. Then we came upon some signage warning us to stay on the path as to not to disturb the flora, followed by guide rails out to the first lookout to the south.
Here are some nice photos taken by Son at that first overlook.
The slope then increased as we moved up to the summit of Welch Mountain. All rock face and bouldering, including having to navigate an interesting channel between some very large stones.
We reached the top after crossing some seriously steep granite. The incline approached 40𝆩 and required some effort, at least on my part. But when we reached the top of Welch, the reward was right there- vistas around the compass. Here are more photos from Son.
Then it was down through the boulders and into the woods along the col, perhaps a drop of 150 feet of elevation, and then back up the second summit of Dickey Mountain. Here we reached the highest point on the trail (2733 ft.). It was time for a break.
The beginning of the return was the best part of the walk, in my opinion. Incredibly vast fields of smooth granite lay upon the ridge for hundreds of yards, and we traversed the rock steadily downhill, all the while enjoying the views. Over our left shoulders we could see from whence we came- the trail was readily visible all the way around to Welch.
Once off the rock and into the woods again, the trail returned to the usual packed earth and rock path, and the angle of descent was again moderate. Son and I scooted along nicely, and exited the loop 3 ½ hours after starting. We traveled just under 5 miles and total elevation gain was 1788 feet. This was one of the more scenic trips of the season and we bagged two summits for the price of one outing.
The next day, Sunday, turned out to be an open day for me. Almost all of the work needed to prepare the house and grounds for winter had been completed. Lawn mowed for the last time this year, planters cleaned and put away and the garage re-staged to allow the cars to park inside, rather than it serving as my barn. I’d even found the time to repair the power washer (yet again) and give the house a bath.
Wife was heading down to visit Youngest Son in the Upper Valley, and as I had seen him only the day before I didn’t feel the urge to go along. Surprisingly, I opted for another hike instead!
About five years ago when we first arrived in this area I had climbed Jay Peak, a fairly tall hill over in Jay, Vermont. It’s home to a large-ish ski resort, and the Long Trail traverses the peak of the mountain. I didn’t remember much about the hike other than it wasn’t that long, so I drove over there late Sunday morning to give it another go.
It was another warm and sunny October day. I parked near the trailhead on VT Rt. 242, secured the Jeep and started up the trail.
Pretty quickly the memories flooded back. While a short trail to the top- 1.7 miles each way- it’s rugged and steep. And being The Long Trail, it goes straight up. I remembered the tree across the trail from the previous time, and noticed for the first time an interesting quartz outcropping off the side of the trail. It may have been obscured by foliage on my last visit.
About a mile up the trail you come to the first view of the hike. Off to the right there’s a spur trail that takes you under the snowmaking water supply pipes and out onto a ski slope. There’s a nice view.
The trail continues up from here, still straight and steeper still. Eventually it junctions with another ski trail, and there are stairs leading you up onto the grassy slope.
At that point you can cross the slope and continue to the summit across some more rock, or hump it up the steep slope to the tram terminal building where you’ll find the summit marker nearby. It doesn’t really matter the route- you will end up at 3862 feet above sea level either way. It was windy and somewhat hazy by the time I got up there. Here are a few photos of the views.
Being an out-and-back trail, the trip off Jay Peak was the reverse of coming up. It went fairly quickly, and soon I was back at the Jeep engulfed in a swarm of ladybugs, so many that I had to stop on the ride home a couple times to shoo them out of the car.
The climb and return took 2 ½ hours, and I gained 1627 feet of elevation over the 3.7 mile trip. I was back to the house and grilling Sunday dinner before Wife returned home.
I can see that while I’ve covered the major events of the past week, there was so much omitted. Nothing about the first lasagna of the fall, or the incredible output of brassica still being harvested from Garden 2022. When your blog post is closing in on 2000 words it’s time to shut it down.
So, I don’t know if I really am living my best life, but it ain’t bad. Sure, all of the doom, gloom and disasters upon our local, national and world stages are with us always, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put them aside for a while and still enjoy life, does it? I’ll leave you with this:
Thanks for dropping by and reading this one. More later!