Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winding into Winter

Technically it's not winter ... but it's winter. Any more hiking this year will likely be a solo effort. But I wanted to catch up on the rest of fall, which unfortunately didn't have too many weekends in the woods but had some nice, reflective outdoorsy moments nonetheless.

Jordyn and I spent one particularly warmer-than-usual November Sunday afternoon at Purgatory Chasm again. Just can't get enough of that place. We didn't make it all the way to Little Purgatory, which was one of my goals, but we did take the high road back after heading out through the chasm. We also took a few turns heading down the mammoth slide rock that we somehow missed on our visit earlier this year. My little girl is couch-bound this weekend feeling feverish, so just thinking back to this and our other hikes this year puts a smile on my face.

In October I spent a "guys weekend" up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and had pretty much a perfect Saturday doing a grand loop of driving, sightseeing and hiking. The highlights (pictured below) were the mile hike that led out to Ripley Falls, and the drive up to the Cathedral Ledges for some amazing panoramas that got us incredibly close to being about one foot between safety and plunging down the ledge. Actually, at the base we were able to see some climbers who were making their way up the face of the ledge - something that is always incredible to witness in person, no matter how many times I've seen photos in magazines. I'll stick with keeping my feet to the ground.

Ripley Falls is about 100 feet of cascading waters, and well worth the outing if you're in the area. Hopefully next year Sara, Jordyn and I can go back up there as a family. I drove through a covered bridge, did another hike that straddled some cascading water, and even spent a few minutes gawking at Madison Boulder (the largest known "erratic" in New England). Yeah, it's a big rock, but it is one hell of an impressively big rock whose pictures don't do it justice.

The other quick mention is an otherwise unremarkable hike our family did on a Saturday morning off the parking lot at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough. However, I found this little jaunt on the Stirrup Brook Trail uplifting, because it was set up in the community as a story walk featuring Dr. Seuss' "Ten Apples Up on Top" - and gave confirmation of what a fantastic idea a story walk is to get kids excited about hiking. Jordyn's eyes lit up every time she came to one of the signs posted along the way, reading it to us and then quickly setting off to find the next one. With hiking being such a hit-or-miss suggestion no matter how many times we wind up going out and having a good time, I'll be sure to keep an eye out on the community calendars next year for more of these story walks. The Mass DCR page and Audubon Society pages are good resources. In the meantime, we'll have to start collecting our own ideas for weekends in the woods in 2013. (Arlen)

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