Manchester program invites exploration

It’s been a fine spring here in southern New Hampshire, even with the usual allergies kicked up by all the pollen in the air. I’ve been visiting familiar trails, a couple of new ones, and one that I haven’t visited in a long time. I’ll post some photos and comments in due course. But in last weekend’s Sunday News, I came across something I want to share right away. It just might be something that lets a city-bound Manchester reader discover new places.

Check out Transit to Trails, a project of Manchester Transit in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy and several other organizations. On the first Saturday of each month from June to October, buses will run between 775 Elm Street in Manchester (Veteran’s Park) and an outdoor destination within a half-hour’s ride away. The program is free to riders, and it even includes admission to the state parks that are part of the program. This is a first-come-first-serve program. Find details at

On June 3 and October 7, the destination will be Pawtuckaway State Park, with its fire tower, lake, and miles of trails. July 1 will be dedicated to Manchester parks and a farmer’s market. The August 5 trip will be to Bear Brook State Park, which like Pawtuckaway offers a variety of activities and plenty of trails. On September 2, the destination will be the New Hampshire Audubon Massabesic Center on the south side of Lake Massabesic.

I don’t know of any other way to find car-free and cost-free access to Pawtuckaway, Bear Brook, and the Massabesic Center. This sounds like an amazing program for Manchester residents.

glacial erratic boulder in Pawtuckaway State Park, New Hampshire
Glacial erratics are found throughout Pawtuckaway State Park. Backpack placed at base for scale. Ellen Kolb photo.

#ReadOnCamera to boost a library (and a trail)

I’m about to join a cheerful crowd of Granite Staters in a 24-hour fundraising event to benefit the Manchester City Library Foundation. Around the clock on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, we’ll take turns reading aloud, with a different theme each hour. The event kicks off at midnight with an hour devoted to Nature. At about 12:20 a.m., I’ll read a short selection from The Cohos Trail guidebook. Author Kim Nilsen included some New Hampshire natural history in that wonderful guide, and that’s what I’ll share.

Not a night owl? Go online to the project anytime on April 7. Different readers, different books.

What you need to know about this #ReadOnCamera event: watch online at Follow the Foundation’s posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to learn more about the featured readers.

New Hampshire author Dan Szczesny will be the featured reader during that midnight hour. Readers of this blog, take note: Dan’s currently working on a book about New Hampshire’s fire towers. I’m looking forward to some serious hiking inspiration when that’s published.

Image by Manchester City Library Foundation
Blogger Ellen Kolb reading Cohos Trail guidebook
The Granite State Walker getting ready to #ReadOnCamera

In praise of short walks

My polling place is at a nearby school, adjacent to the Grater Woods conservation area. I was scheduled to work on Election Day as a ballot inspector (a fancy name for people who hand out ballots). I had a long wait to vote, then a short time before my shift began; what to do?

Go to the Grater Woods trails, of course.

Grater Woods, Merrimack NH.

The trails were nearly deserted. The day was chilly, breezy, and sunny. I lingered for a few minutes at a little pond that’s usually a busy spot. This day, it was all mine.

I was ten minutes away from a polling station where the line of voters wrapped around the building, and I felt like I was in another world. A mental reset: that’s the power of a short walk in the woods, even on Election Day.

Reblogged: Another N.H. Border-to-Border Walk

Wendy Thomas and son Griffin have made their second New Hampshire border-to-border walk, this time on a west-to-east route. (I wrote briefly last year about their first trip.) In this post from her own blog, Wendy offers advice for people contemplating their own adventures.

Griffin and I are back from our 2017 Border-to-border New Hampshire walk. As always we returned with lots of lessons learned. I’ll be writing up our adventures (just like I did from last year’s), but for now here are some tips for anyone who might be planning day-long walks. Water – make sure you […]

via Lesson 1549: 2017 NH Border-to-border walk — Lessons Learned from the Flock

Follow-up: two remarkable walkers finish their trip through the Granite State

A few weeks back, I told you about a pair of Granite State walkers who put me to shame with their border-to-border walk through New Hampshire. Wendy, half of the awesome pair, has written up the whole trip in a series of posts on her blog Lessons Learned from the Flock. Quickly now: click away from my site (and I don’t say that often!) and check out Wendy’s account of their journey.

I had the privilege of joining them in Nashua for their last couple of miles, and I got to see them greeting family members awaiting them at the Massachusetts border.

Now that I’ve read the day-by-day account of what it took for Wendy and her son Griffin to get to that state line marker, I’m more pleased for them than ever. They’ve given me some ideas, too.

As I read Wendy’s posts, I saw some things through her eyes that I had never noticed before, even on parts of her route that are familiar to me. I love living in a state that after more than thirty years can still surprise me with the beauty of its land and its people.

Wendy has reminded me to keep walking, keep watching, keep learning – and keep writing.