I spent this foggy and snowless December day driving from the Merrimack River to the Connecticut River and back, stopping for walks now and then. Visibility was too limited to make a mountain hike worthwhile, but rail trails and roadside parks made for fine stops.
Rockwood Pond, Fitzwilliam NH
I chose a short segment between the nicely-restored depot in Troy and Rockwood Pond in Fitzwilliam – a round trip of just over four miles on a wide, straight trail. Conditions were fine. The only sounds were from birds and my own steps. No ice or snow, just a bit of mud on the southern half of the walk. I’m told that on a clear day there’s a splendid view of Mount Monadnock from the shore of Rockwood Pond. I thought this morning’s fog on the pond made for a pretty good view on its own.
No one else in sight, and hardly a sound besides birdsong.
Swanzey was next, and I managed to work a pair of the town’s famed covered bridges into my route. Pleasant as they were, the most exciting sight of the day was a bald eagle I spotted as I was driving. (No photo. Why couldn’t it have come into sight while I was walking?)
Thompson Bridge in Swanzey, complete with sidewalk.
In New Hampshire, where there’s a river, odds are there used to be mills.
Ashuelot River seen from Thompson Bridge. The Ashuelot rail trail is nearby.
The village of Ashuelot is in Winchester, my next stop. It has a covered bridge of its own. The rail trail goes by an abandoned RR depot that looks pretty sorry after the cheery little depot in Troy. The “no trespassing” signs all over the place don’t help.
Bridge in the village of Ashuelot, Winchester NH
After business in Brattleboro, Vermont – the main purpose of my trip – I took the more-or-less direct route back east, along New Hampshire routes 9 and 101. I stopped for a half hour at Chesterfield Gorge, a small roadside state park on route 9.
Enjoy Chesterfield Gorge with just a three-quarter-mile loop walk from the parking area.
Wilde Brook, which cuts Chesterfield Gorge.
The ride home took me past Monadnock, invisible in the persistent fog. It’s strange to look across Dublin Lake and know the mountain is right there yet out of sight.
As the photos show, this is a very mild late autumn. In a fit of irrational exuberance, I almost tossed sandals in the car before I left home. Good thing I refrained; there was just enough mud and chill to make me glad I wore sensible shoes.