Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Day on Bald Mountain

August 4, 2008
Unlike Modeste Mussorgsky’s rather demonic composition, “A Night on Bald Mountain”, our day on Bald Mountain in Antrim, New Hampshire was tranquil and peaceful, filled with beautiful images of nature rather than musical images of nasty witches, imps and demons. It was the nicest day of my whole week in New England weather-wise, only raining for about 20 minutes, so we took our time to explore nature along the way – no rush at all.

We started on the Tudor Trail, which follows along a simply gorgeous northern New England pond, Willard Pond.

There we saw a cute baby loon and his mom and dad, who serenaded us with their haunting but beautiful calls. I joked with Martha that they were singing “Happy Birthday” to her on her special day. If you have never heard the incredible cries of loons, then do yourself a favor and head to a remote northern lake someday. It is like nothing else I've ever heard, and I miss it all the time since leaving Maine more than 15 years ago.

Along the trail by the lake, there were many interesting mushrooms and trees. We saw red, orange, yellow, chocolate, and even lavendar mushrooms:

The trail was about a mile long, and reached a lovely point near the far end of the pond that was covered with large white pines. It had the feeling of a sacred cathedral, and we lingered there for a very long time. Across the pond, back the way we had come, was a view of our ultimate objective of the day looming 900 feet over the pond, Bald Mountain.

We reluctantly left the piney point and retraced our steps back to the junction with the Bald Mountain trail, along the way crossing a wide stream on a very difficult series of slippery rocks. It was on this return crossing that Martha slipped and fell into the stream, getting soaked from the waist down, including her boots and socks. Happy birthday, Martha! She is such a good sport, and complained not a bit.

The Bald Mountain trail is 0.8 miles long, and climbs steeply at times 900 feet to the top of the mountain. It goes through typical northern hardwoods and later through a zone of red spruce. Along the way, we saw this little fellow, a red-backed salamander.

He was the second salamander we saw on the hike, the other being a red eft. Since I posted a photo of a red eft under my description of my Riprap Hollow hike a month ago, I won’t repeat one here.

A couple of hundred feet from the top of the mountain, we came upon a perfect lunch and resting spot. It was a series of “eyebrow” cliffs overlooking the beautiful pond. We lingered here for a long time, looking at the views and eating ham and cheese sandwiches made on the spot. Here is a view of Willard Pond from these ledges. The pine-covered cathedral-like point sticks out into the top of the pond from this perspective:

As we walked along the ledge, with yours truly sliding on slippery reindeer moss on a steep section and landing on my butt before I could slide off the mountain, we saw this nice view of our hike of two days ago, Mount Monadnock:

Eventually it started to rain so we packed up, put the cameras away, and started to head up the remainder of the climb, hiking into the red spruce near the top of the mountain. At one point, Bald Mountain was treeless on top due to a forest fire, but apparently it has since joined the “Hair Club for Men”, because it was not bald at all but heavily timbered with no view on top. There was a small bald spot on the very top of flat granite, surrounded by spruce, but it was raining too hard to take a picture. We all joked that if Donald Trump were to develop the mountain into some type of nutty resort, he would put a "comb over" across the granite bald spot.

We continued down the Tamposi Trail on the other side of the mountain as the rain gradually slackened and then stopped. It was a pretty path down through the hardwoods, again with many colorful mushrooms. I think I saw more different mushrooms on this path than on any place since the Great Smokey Mountains National Park many years ago. We also found a neat little cave on the way down, which we explored a bit.

At the bottom we changed into our swim suits and took a nice refreshing dip in the pond. It was windy by then so getting out of the water all wet was a bit frigid, but the swim capped a another great day in the outdoors.

Here is Martha on her birthday with Nur:

1 comment:

  1. Poor Martha and on her birthday too.
    I didn't even know mushrooms came in so many different colors. I think they are kind of pretty.
    Looks and sounds like that was a great hike and you all enjoyed yourselves.