|Changing color, these Lady ferns (Atherium filix-femina) at the edge of the trail head parking lot for the Mt. Wonalancet Range Trail, are a formal announcement fall has arrived.|
It was raining buckets Saturday morning so Sheldon and I, for our hike, decided to stay low and close to his abode in Tamworth, NH. We headed for Mt. Passaconway and decided to climb it by first ascending Mt. Wonalancet via the Wonalancet Range Trail, continue on to Mt. Hubbard, and, finally head up Passaconway via the Walden Trail. Even with the weather it was a beautiful day to be in the woods. The fine, gray-threaded rain and mist brought out the rich, evocative smells of approaching Fall. I love hiking in the rain as much as in any other weather just for the sensual spell it casts over the woods.
The photo above shows part of the Wonalancet Intervale that's part of Tamworth and where we started our hike. Each summer, as a scrawny kid, I spent a few weeks here with cousins when Wonalancet was idyllic in its secluded beauty and remoteness from the rest of the world, nestled at the foot of Mt. Whiteface and Mt. Passaconway. For years (prior to European contact) it was the site of the summer encampment of the Pennacook band of Abenaki-related people. The mountains is named for their famous chief, Passaconway, who was an extraordinary and brilliant man. His son's name was Wonalancet.
I used Sheldon here for scale in what resembles a rock "river" coming from the upper southeast flank of Mt. Wonalancet. It's a bit of a puzzle to figure out whether they're glacial erratics, blocks that have been quarried by frost action on cliffs higher up on the mountain, or some of both. Sheldon voted for erratics and I for frost quarried blocks (felsenmmer) but it could perfectly well be both.
These two boulders look like they have tumbled here from above.
|Comparing both photos shows that the two halves are congruent, but the fit is uneven. That's quiz #1. Why?|
|The Wonalancet Range Trail threads through the rocks and finds level terrain on a bench that runs parallel to the contour lines through the wet woods that were suffused with the bright green reflecting from the overhead beech leaves.|
|Sheldon on the steeps. It was much steeper than the photo actually shows.|
Steepest part of the headwall with an intriguing cave, or overhang, between two house-sized boulders.
At the top of the steep climbing we found this lovely path striking out in the rain along the nearly level ridge which it does for 2.2 miles until it's junction with the Walden Trail.
|The trail was enchanting particularly in the rain and mist. It beckeoned us along with its twists and turns. I'll spare you words for a moment so you can just look at the photos and imagine yourself relaxed and enjoying the trail.|
| A giant toad?|
Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis L.) A ginseng family member.
|This is looking southeast from Mt. Hubbard down towards the Intervale (far left) where we left the car. On a clear day the view would be smashing.|
Occasionally there were small descents when it was satisfying to run for a ways.
|A red spruce of grand proportions.|
Hobblebush (Vibernum alnifolia).
|Just below the Passaconway summit amid some older red spruce that have weathered many storms.|
|We bumped into these two friends of Sheldon's who were doing the loop clockwise.|
|A perfect place for a leisurely lunch next to Dicey Brook on our way back down. We sidestepped the very summit of Passaconway because we were wet and getting cold and because the summit was in the clouds.|
|At a lower elevation the woods were again suffused with this wonderful green light.|
|Quiz #2: what made these two perfectly parallel grooves in this large boulder?|
|The natural destroyers of wood in the forest, various kinds of fungi enjoying a meal|
|and with a lot of work to do.|
|There were many large boles growing like these over a wide area like these and the ones in the photo below.|