Readers, Welcome to my blog (formerly Birds, Blooms, Books, etc). I'm entering a new decade taking on the challenge of moving from Maryland after living there 46 years and learning about my new home here in New England in the Live Free or Die state - New Hampshire. Join me as a write this new chapter of my life.

Monday, June 6, 2022

First Walk in June

Friday, June 3rd we headed southeast towards Antrim, NH to find the starting point of this hike. 

I'd read about it in the Jan/Feb issue of NH Magazine and thankfully clipped the article which I found earlier last week tucked into the bookshelf. It seemed like the perfect destination - an hour away - and close to Hillsborough where we knew of a great place to lunch afterward - The Tooky Mill Pub.

The path didn't look to inviting as we set out.  This was once a road leading to a sawmill at the falls of North Branch. According to the article "the first mill .. was built in 1798 by one of the settlers from County Antrim (Ireland) and over the years, expanded for a saw and grist mill to making pails and barrels.

"In 1864 Josiah Loveren bought the mills and produced lumber, shingles and siding." 

Dan and I speculated that the lumber used for those products was likely the white cedar from the swamp we were headed to.

We took a side trail to see where the mill would have been.

Continuing on the road we came then to the start of the Nature Conservancy trail.

At the start was this sign - something we've never experienced before but we followed the directions 

and cleaned our shoes.

Lots of gigantic glacial erratic boulders; some we could see and others which we think we walked over since as you can see there's lots growing on them.

Spied these bunchberry wildflowers.  I haven't seen these since traveling in Northern Ontario at Kettle Lakes.

And then the Lady Slippers appeared too.  What a treat!

We came to the side trail leading into the Atlantic white cedar swamp expecting a boardwalk but it was a board walk (read walking on boards).

There was a caution sign that some were broken as we soon found out.

The white cedar looked red. 

The swamp is a "fragile habitat of sphagnum moss, Labrador tea, leather leaf, snowberry, tamarack and balsam fir." I wish there had been labels on those plants because other than the cedar I didn't know what I was looking at.

From the Nature Conservancy website: 
"Atlantic white cedar swamps are rare in New Hampshire, comprising only about one percent of the state’s wetlands. The swamps can seem mysterious when you encounter the tall cedars covered with a dark wet tangle of lichens, their tilted gray trunks and spidery roots reaching into a deep bed of sphagnum moss.

"At fifty acres in size, the Loverens Mills Cedar Swamp is the second largest and considered the highest quality boreal cedar swamp in New Hampshire. Pollen studies have revealed that Atlantic white cedar has been present for more than 4,000 years in this remarkable place. 
"A variety of boreal flora grow alongside the cedar trees, including black spruce, tamaracks, mountain holly, smooth winterberry , and beautiful rosebud azaleas.  Groundcover plants like sheep laurel, Canadian bunchberry, and yellow loosestrife add splashes of color when they bloom in late spring and early summer, and in fall smudges of rust and red creep in with the changing foliage of cinnamon fern, blueberry, huckleberry, and red maple.

"Situated at 1,040 feet in elevation, the cedar swamp is surrounded by high hills that funnel cold air down into the swamp, simulating a climate found further north and giving the swamp its boreal character.  Loverens Mill Preserve contains more than two miles of frontage along the rugged North Branch of the Contoocook River, along with other wetlands including beaver-influenced marshes and a red maple basin swamp.  Spruce-fir, hemlock and mixed hardwood forests provide excellent upland habitat for moose, bobcat, deer and bear."

I don't know how old white cedar trees grow, but only can imagine that some of the trees here were huge when the European settlers first spied them if this swamp has been here thousands of years.  The trees  were logged obviously so the ones here now are at most 100 years old.

We returned to the main trail the same way and decided to take the 3 mile loop through the woods.

Not sure what this mass was on the leaves.  Saw it several times on the mountain laurel.

We could hear lots of birds but the only mammal we encountered was this doe.

It threatened rain several times but never did.  Sun came in and out and though temperatures were in the 60s we worked up a sweat.

A late lunch at the Tooky Mill Pub was a perfect ending to the adventure.