Holiday Hiking with Linda

by GSA Linda Duquette, Stark Brewing Class of 2017

November 8th, 2020
Hoping it would be a cold day in November, which it turned out to be very warm and humid. I will tell you, the road   up is a very windy narrow dirt road. I was just praying that I didn’t see a car coming down the road as I went up. There are several areas you can stop to start your hike, but no actual parking. You park on the side of the very narrow dirt road. We drove up to the last, there is a small parking lot there, it was tough to find a spot so that I could get my car out when ready to leave.

My friends and I started out climbing (hiking) Mt. Belknap. It was an easy hike with beautiful scenery. Off we went up and up… were tough, but for the most part it was a fairly easy to moderate climb. Lots of people at the top, I’m thinking due to the warm weather. Didn’t meet many people on the trails, but once at the top, it was a little crowded. My friends and I sat down and had lunch, there as a picnic table. We were lucky no one was sitting there. No wild life to be seen or heard. Hoping to see some bird life, but nothing. Climb the fire tower, that is where this picture was taken. Because of COVID, everyone was gracious enough to wait our turns. The steps to the tower are steep.

Rested, fed and thirst quenched it was time to head down the mountain. The trails are well marked with blazes, white being easy (the one we took) orange (intermediate) red or was it blue (tough). On the way down we came across this field of white flowers that looked like snow. It was a wonderful hike. (header photo: view from Mt Belknap)

November 27th, 2020
Day after Thanksgiving time to do a hardy walk to burn off Thanksgiving dinner. Met up with Sean and his family, we met downtown Broadway, RTE. 102…in front of Sabastino’s restaurant, started our walk from there, went 5 miles altogether, under RTE 93 in Windham, NH. Turned around and headed back to Derry, NH…..they had benches you could sit on and view some of the magnificent views of marsh land and forestry. The rail trail is very well maintained, there are some streets you have to cross, there are crosswalks, and some have lights you can press to stop the traffic. You do have to keep in mind, that you can walk your dog, but the dog has to be on a leash, and also there are folks who ride their bikes on the trail so you need to be aware of them. Some have bells on their bikes, but not all do. All and all it was a very flat even ground walk, great to get out and enjoy the fresh air.

December 29, 2020, Tuesday after Christmas
A beautiful brisk, windy crisp day. Met a meetup group, at the end of Hickory Hill Drive in Londonderry, NH…at the Musquash Conservation Area, (aka: Betty Mack Trail), Betty Mack Trail is named after the farmer’s wife, who owned the land and then donated it to the town. There is limited parking on Hickory Hill Drive…….there are many trails and they are very well marked. We followed the orange blaze. At the intersections, they are posted and there are signs explaining the trails and mile markers. We took the Betty Mack loop which is a five mile hike. There are several different trails, so you can choose one that suits you. It was hilly, but no hill was steep in that it took your breath away. Beautiful scenery, lots of marshes. I was somewhat disappointed that we saw no wild life and no sign of any birds. Perhaps it was too cold (31) and windy…but still, it was so refreshing. Great to be outdoors with this COVID and after the Christmas holiday. Because of the rain over the Christmas holiday, all snow was gone, there were a few areas that had ice, but, easy to get around. This would be a beautiful area to snowshoe or cross country. I don’t believe any snowmobiles or quads are allowed in the conservation area. People do ride mountain bikes…so be aware of that. Dogs are allowed but on a leash. It was a very beautiful hike…..well worth it.