Category Archives: Hiking

First Summer Saturday: With a Moose, A Mountain and More  – June 30, 2002

Last Saturday was the first one of Summer 2022. I did not have a whole lot planned, as Wife was out of town and the garden and grounds had been addressed during the week. The weather was supposed to be good, but warmer than it usually is here in late June. The only activity scheduled was hiking up Black Mountain in NH with my son.

So it was an early start, as I planned to meet the son in Woodsville, NH at 9:15AM Saturday, not far from the Black Mountain trailhead. Since that’s better than an hour’s drive from home, 6AM found me building a couple Awesome Trail Sandwiches for the hike.

I will brag a bit about these sandwiches. They are robust, modeled after the Italian submarine sandwiches of my youth found in the Boston suburbs. Mortadella, hot capicola, hard salami and mozzarella cheese, topped with freshly sliced tomatoes, peppers and onions. All of this stuffed into a suitable bread vehicle with a smear of pepper sauce, salt, black pepper and a touch of olive oil. The sandwiches are the payoff for the hump up the hill.

So I was in the kitchen building these monsters, when I glanced out the door across the pond. There’s a brown spot near the far shore that is usually not there, and I had an idea of what it might be. I stepped out to the patio, and then down to the yard to get a better view, but it was all still indeterminate. Then a light bulb went off in my head and I retraced my steps, picking up the binoculars we keep handy in the kitchen for just these predicaments.

I focused in upon the brown splotch, and sure enough it was a moose! This is the first moose I’ve seen on the pond, or in Vermont for that matter. I’ve seen dozens in Maine. I grabbed the phone- this is the best photo I could get:

Long distance moose

I returned to the house, and while finishing the sandwiches and other preparations prior to leaving I kept an eye on the moose. He seemed happy over there eating the swamp grass and I was hoping he’d still be there when I headed south, as my route would bring me right past him. 

The Jeep was loaded and ready to go just before 8AM, and off I went. Sure enough, the young bull moose was still happily feeding, so I stopped to take some photos. Here’s a good one:

Closer moose

I also shot a few frames with the Nikon, but haven’t gotten around to looking at them. If there are any noteworthy shots, I’ll post them up later.

As I continued heading south through the Northeast Kingdom, not long after visiting the moose, I almost hit a gangly-legged young deer standing about in the road. They do that- just noodle around on the pavement, sometimes in groups of two or three. For some reason these young deer remind me of teenagers. This one just stood there as I veered to the left to go around him. Later, as I closed on St. Johnsbury, the “low fuel” came on, requiring the most dreaded stop- the gas station. But fill the tank I did, and the Jeep’s 25 gallon tank added a deeper meaning to the experience.

Son was there waiting when I arrived at the Walmart in Woodsville. He tossed his pack into the back and off to Black Mountain we went. A quick trip of about 20 minutes, ending on a short dirt two-track leading to the parking lot. As we started down that track, we came upon a girl in a Subaru backing out. So we backed out too, although I’m pretty sure she could have made it to the parking lot. On the fly I jacked up the Jeep 3 inches as we backed out in tandem. You show off where you can.

Jacked up Jeep

Once clear of the Subaru, we went down the short track to the parking lot, locked up the Jeep and hit the trail at about 10AM

I found this trail earlier in the week when looking for something located between where I live, and my son’s home. Also, being tired of hikes up hills that offer only views of more trees when you reach the summit, having a nice view at the top was a requirement. I found a list called “52 with a View”, and Black Mountain seemed a good choice.

Were I to guess, Black Mountain Trail evolved from a fire trail. Starting as a former logging road, it transitions into a well-used packed-dirt trail that goes pretty much straight up; there’s not much in the way of switchbacks. Although it’s pretty steep for a long run, I thought it an easier trail as there wasn’t much of the “rocks & roots” common to the trails up here. This one transitioned from road to dirt to rock. Here are some photos of the trip upwards:

Once you get to the junction of the Chippewa Trail, you’re pretty much at the top. The rockface beckons via a quick scramble to the south, where vistas await. 

Lunch also awaited us at the summit. It was pretty warm out there in the sun, but there was a good breeze. We found a spot to sit and enjoy the Awesome Trail Sandwiches. Son found a friend and shared his.

After eating, I wandered about the granite ledges and found a lot of old embedded iron, now unused. Building upon my fire trail theory, I’m thinking there used to be a tower on this mountain.

Soon it was time to begin the trek back down the trail. We were looking forward to getting back into the cool of the forest and out of the direct sun. The temperature now was easily in the high 80s. We stopped to hydrate a couple of times during the walk down and back to the Jeep, at which we arrived around 12:30. The round trip was roughly 4 ½ miles, with the up & down about 1200 feet. Here’s a link to more information regarding Black Mountain Trail. It was a good walk.

Heading back to the Walmart parking lot we saw an eagle sitting in its nest atop a power line transmission tower as we traveled along Rt. 10. After dropping Son off at his car, I returned to Rt. 10, reversing course and headed towards Littleton, NH. There was still half a Saturday left, and I planned to take the scenic route back to the NEK through New Hampshire, stopping here and there as the spirit moved me.

Littleton was twenty miles up the road, and once there I made the usual stops at Lowe’s and Home Depot. I’d been on the lookout for a replacement planter for the philodendron parked on the window sill of our dining room for a while. I still did not find a ceramic pot that I liked, so I decided to go with a simple terracotta half-pot and saucer, which I’ll paint. We’ll see how that works out.

Continuing on from Littleton, the route heads along Rt. 116 towards Whitefield, where you pick up US Rt. 3 northbound. I think this is one of the better scenic drives in the North Country, as it treats you to some remarkable views while transiting interesting towns. It’s rarely as crowded as many other roads get here during the good weather.

Thanks, Google

Lancaster is one of those interesting towns. I’ve not spent too much time there, but have been through it often enough to like what I see. It’s on the list to visit for a day, perhaps this fall. I’d like to wander around the downtown area and check out the efforts to keep this good-sized town going.

One place I had been to before, and stopped at again last Saturday is Smokin T’s. This is a restaurant and bar located on Rt. 3 as you enter downtown Lancaster. They have fantastic smoked BBQ. I picked up an order of smoked chicken wings for dinner when I reached home.

The remainder of the trip home was scenic and unhurried as I cruised north on Rt. 3 until heading west on VT 105. Saw a few more critters along the way, including a turkey with a couple of turkettes and more deer. 

I arrived Pondside around 5PM, and after unloading the Jeep ensconced upon the patio to enjoy a couple (few?) cold beers and the smoked chicken wings. It was a great close to the first Saturday of summer; completely satisfying once the memory of spending $120 to fill up the Jeep faded away.

Thanks for stopping by!