Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mount Cardigan State Park

Well today was another beautiful New Hampshire day filled with fun and adventure. I rose out of bed this morning to the now familiar sight of fog blanketing the upper valley. Therefore I was in no particular rush while getting a brew started in the french press, as I do pretty much every morning. Once coffee is ready then comes my daily check of the morning news, which is usually depressing. Then I check the weather. Today was forecast to be seventy-four and sunny! My mom had asked me to try and get her some good shots of the fall foliage. So as I started planning my day I wanted to obviously incorporate a bike ride somewhere scenic and with a view of fall foliage.

A few days ago I had googled the best hikes with a view in New Hampshire. Turns out one of the top-rated hikes is right down the road from us. Initially the thought was possibly drive up to the Mount Cardigan State Forest and hike to the top to take some photos, then come home and go for a bike ride. But while googling directions to the trailhead it showed up as being in Canaan. "Well hell, Cannan is on the Northern Rail Trail and the state forest is not far from where the rail trail passes through Canaan." I thought to myself.

And with this "plan" my body was put into perpetual motion for the entirety of the day. First comes the clothes, then the water bottles, camera, and then a packed lunch. Once all the boxes are checked we're ready for takeoff. The Trek 520 (Tank) and I were off under clearing skies and bombing the rail trail in no time flat. As the skies cleared the temperature started to warm up nicely, but not really too warm. Sure I was sweating at times, but when I got rolling down a hill in the shade it was definitely cool. Perfect cycling weather, really. As Tank and I glided down the trail I would stop periodically to take some photos trying to get the hang of my camera. Most of the shots were kind of ho-hum, or just plain terrible. But some were kind of cool, and I think I will eventually get much better.

The fall foliage is in full effect all around here too. So much so that I found myself occasionally getting a little closer to the edge of the trail than I usually prefer. The last couple of days have been kind of grey and cooler. Today was probably the last little taste of summer we are going to have around these parts. I'm told the Mascoma River is really low this year, but it still is pretty, I can't wait to see how pretty it is when its full.

Once again the trail was mostly quiet. There was the occasional fellow cyclist or dog walkers, but sometimes there would be no one for a few miles straight. Honestly, I prefer it that way as opposed to weekends and holidays. I do, however, wish my girlfriend would have been with me today. Unfortunately she has a real, grown-up kind of job. So today it was just trusty Tank and the bright foliage to keep me company.

Eventually I rolled through Canaan and hopped off the trail and onto the roads toward Mount Cardigan (it was easy, just followed the signs) I knew it would be a brutal climb to reach the summit, but challenges are good so the pedals kept turning. And then, there it was, it was off in the distance, but it stood there dominating the skyline  and daring me to take it on.

But take it on I did. I rode twenty miles to the state park. Well actually there was some pushing of the bike at the very end. But after riding a bicycle there, I then proceeded to show this bald mountain who was boss and hiked to the summit. The hike was no less challenging than the bike ride to the parking lot. It was a real smoker, but making it to the top was very rewarding. My photos do it absolutely no justice at all. Believe me when I say it, it was beautiful up there on the peak of Mount Cardigan soaking up all the fall colors.

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