Leaving Sept. 22, I took my first road trip in two years to New Hampshire. It’s not very far, but I did get to see another world over there.
On the first day, on my way to Concord to visit a friend I had not seen in 15 (20?) years, I followed the valley of the White River from Rutland, Vt. Incredible! Damage from Irene for many, many miles. One bridge abutment had collected the remains of houses reduced to walking stick size. Front-end loaders, bulldozers, dump trucks, and many scores of workers were working full speed ahead with traffic having to stop at a dozen one-lane sections.
If I hadn’t believed in what warmer air carrying more water and more intense storms have in store for us before, I would now. How many 500-year storms does it take to convince a denier? Thousands of climatologists around the world, people who have spent their entire adult lives studying all the science it takes to begin to understand the climate world could be wrong, but I’ll bet on them rather than people off the street, or with ulterior motives for preaching anti-science.
Unfortunately, in the mad hurry to open roads in Vermont, New Hampshire and here, roads are being put back in the same places with sometimes straightened channels which will just speed up the flood water next time, maybe move it downstream before it does its damage. We do need to look ahead and not just put our heads in the cobbles.
As usual, I had a solo canoe on my car (for emergencies) so I was able to enjoy a foggy morning picking cranberries in the first friend's bog. The next stop was to see other friends an hour away. They happen to have a boggy pond on their property, too. (Some people have all the luck!)
Once again, for those underprivileged of you who have not stood on a quaking bog mat yet, bogs are basically peat moss with carnivorous plants, wild orchids, cranberries, flowering shrubs and NO INVASIVES. They are too wet, cold and acidic for anything but native bog plants. No knotweed!
But the real inspiration for this six-day trip was to meet with John Davis and a friend on top of Mount Washington. John is walking, biking and canoeing from Florida to the Gaspé in Quebec in search of possible wildlife corridors for animals to use when climate change forces species to move north, or disappear from North America. Visit twp.org/trekeast to learn more.
I stayed in an AMC lodge in Crawford Notch. They have a system of volunteers to lead hikes and overseas trips in exchange for free room and board. An older woman at the desk offered to lead me on a trip to the “red bench,” where on a good day there is a view (not this day), and we set off at a fast pace.
The conifer forest floor was covered with a velvety carpet of light green moss. When it morphed into our more common form, rounded “pincushions” in all different sizes, I stopped to admire it and pointed it out to my leader. She was amazed, had never seen it before despite walking the trail dozens of times. I also noted the white berries dotted around in the flat layer of creeping snowberry tightly covering the bank. Bazzania, a dense, dark green, upright liverwort common in our conifer forests was new to her too. She excitedly pointed these all out to an interested passerby. Hikers — slow down and look around! And wonder a little.
The next day I drove up the five-mile narrow, winding, guardrail-less dirt road to the top of Mt. Washington, over 6,000 feet high. After meeting the two trekkers on top — on their way over about nine of the highest mountains that day — I drove down, by accident, close to five o'clock so that I had the road to myself, often driving on the wrong side to get away from the precipice! I stopped along the way to try to figure out some of the rare and wonderful arctic-alpine plants. We have a hundred acres of them, but Mt. Washington alone has seven square miles.
I'm heading back next spring to see these tiny but incredibly hardy plants blooming!