If the Danbury Country Store were a human being, it would be my new best friend. This and other treats awaited me as I set out on a long walk on the Northern Rail Trail.
Fifteen miles is a big stretch for me, especially after losing fitness and energy to post-Covid problems earlier this year. I had to crawl, figuratively, before I could walk far again. I’ve added a few more miles each week. This week, I decided to go big. I walked on the trail from Potter Place in Andover to the Danbury Country Store and back. I figured that was one way to evaluate how I’m doing.
I’m doing fine. Sore, yes, but fine.
I’d seen Potter Place before, but its charm catches me by surprise every time. The restored depot in Andover close to the US 4/NH 11 junction is a tribute to the people who care about the rail trail and the railroad’s history. The Northern Rail Trail is in fact well-loved and well-maintained throughout its fifty-plus miles. A big park-and-ride lot just down Depot Street from Potter Place is an ideal spot from which to launch a walk or ride along the trail.
Coming upon an old cemetery is no surprise on any of my walks. In Wilmot, I came upon one that looks beautifully tended. From a distance the markers looks unweathered. They’re all upright. The stone wall around the cemetery is a work of art, albeit with some interesting items (read: “trash”) tucked between some of the stones.
I even got a glimpse of Mt. Kearsarge. I took a photo that came out fuzzy, but even so one can barely discern the cell tower on the summit, with the fire tower just to its right.
Fall is my favorite time to take walks, and even the weeks before peak foliage can be splendid. I found plenty of leaves underfoot this week. Remaining foliage in the central New Hampshire area I visited is still a week or two away from full color. Icy blue asters, a last reminder of summer, persist all along the trail, contrasting nicely with the changing leaves.
My turnaround spot was the Danbury Country Store. It’s a must for anyone traveling along the NRT. I figured I’d sit on one of the porch seats there and nibble on a Clif bar from my pack. That was before the store’s deli crew set out two fresh hot pizzas. Game, set, match, and the Clif bar retreated to its pocket.
Also at the store: an air pump for cyclists, a huge assortment of beverages, the usual country-store inventory, and a deli where you can have any sandwich made to order. Enjoy. I sure did.
As I write this the day after my walk, I’m nursing a few aches, but they’re good aches. The kind that don’t herald injuries; the kind that whisper please don’t try this two days in a row. Best fifteen miles of the year, and that’s good to write three months after I needed my husband’s help to get around the block.
Fall isn’t winter’s knock on the door. Instead, winter is the price I pay for fall hiking. Fair exchange, in my view.