The well-read hiker

As I write this, a brief but vicious cold snap is dominating the local weather. It’s an evening for reading amid quilts and hot drinks. I want to share a couple of gems that fellow walkers might enjoy.

If you’re not following the one-of-a-kind blog New Hampshire Garden Solutions, click over to it this minute (yes, this one). The photography alone will make your day, but the writing certainly holds its own. Don’t let the blog’s title fool you; I think the site might have grown away from its author’s original intent, as blogs are wont to do. These posts are the record of the ramblings of a southwestern New Hampshire hiker armed with a macro-lens camera, a keen eye for detail, and a love for botany. In almost every post, I learn the name of one or another plant I’ve seen but never been able to identify. On a day like this, when I’ve let the weather get the better of me, New Hampshire Garden Solutions helps me look forward to future Granite State hikes.

One of my goals for 2023 is to walk the full distance of the Ashuelot Rail Trail, which is right smack in the middle of that blog’s territory. I’ll probably use the blog to create a list of things to look out for along the way.

I sometimes think (wrongly) that I’ve read every book published in English about walking, trekking, and hiking. For walking – just plain walking – it’s tough to find anything fresh that’s longer than a magazine article. A casual visit to my local library’s New Books shelf turned up a pleasant surprise: 52 Ways to Walk by Annabel Streets. As the number in the title suggests, there’s an idea or recommendation for each week in the year. The subtitle is “the surprising science of walking for wellness and joy, one week at a time.” Ms. Streets does not believe in being held back by weather, even the kind that has me hunkered down at the moment with a mug of hot chocolate. I’m only a few “weeks” into the book, but I can already tell that I just might get carried away by the author’s enthusiasm….once the outside temp moves above zero once again.

Enjoy the reading, and stay safe as winter serves up its worst. The trails will still be there for us later.

Good news to follow

There are a couple of wonderful blogs I follow, written by people who love southern New Hampshire outdoors as much as I do. Keep these in mind if you’re looking for trip inspiration.

New Hampshire Garden Solutions: This one isn’t a gardening how-to, as the name might suggest, but a beautifully-illustrated guide to southwestern New Hampshire’s natural phenomena. The topics vary with the seasons, wherever the writer is wandering. A naturalist’s eye for detail, flowing language, and excellent photographs make this blog delightful.

This is a blogger after my own heart. From the About page: “I hope by visiting that you will see what amazing beauty nature holds and that you will become more interested in exploring your own area.” Perfect.

Miki’s Picks: Find in this blog simple and straightforward descriptions of easy hikes, most of them in southern New Hampshire. I like following this one to discover new hikes close to home, like Burns Hill in Milford.

I hope my readers will share their own favorites. I can understand if you don’t want to give away the location of your favorite trail. Your favorite blog, on the other hand, is meant to be shared.

Happy February!

Talk about trails

When 2020 kicked off, I had never heard of Zoom. Since March, thanks to COVID, I’ve had online meetings on the Zoom platform several times a week. (And still, I’m apt to forget to unmute myself when I’m called upon to speak.) When I’m lucky, as I’ve been this month, I get to Zoom about trails.

My thanks go out to the New Hampshire Rail Trails Coalition board members, who welcomed me to a recent online meeting to talk about our mutual interests. I learned more than I shared!

autumn leaves

I’m likewise grateful to Jeanine Notter, who welcomed me and former New Hampshire Rep. Lenette Peterson to her “Chattin’ With Jeanine” show on Merrimack Community TV for a half-hour conversation about our favorite places to hike in the Granite State. Even the TV show was a Zoom event, with everyone logging in from home while an MCTV tech whiz put it all together.

Ellen Kolb NH Granite State Walker
Screenshot courtesy Merrimack Community TV/Chattin’ With Jeanine

I love sharing trail stories with fellow Granite State walkers. We learn from each other. If you’re a program host and you’d like to shine a light on southern New Hampshire’s trails, please let me know if I can be part of your conversation.