Pawtuckaway

Joe has been going on and on for months now about how great Pawtuckaway State Park in New Hampshire is. Sunday we went up to check it out ourselves, and found that he’s absolutely right. We only tackled a very small piece of it (he tells me it’s better by the lake, where there’s an interesting island), so there’s a lot left to explore. But we were so happy with this trail, which felt like three distinct walks in one five-mile trek. Definitely worth the 80-minute drive.

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In order to get to the North Mountain Trail (which was our choice for the day), we had to drive all the way around to the west side of the park, and then in on dirt roads. I wish I’d taken a photo of the hand-painted sign as you cross over from pavement to dirt. Something like, “If you’ve made it this far, your GPS sucks.”

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Not pictured between these photos: the very short, steep part of the trail. This is a good trail for people who want a bit of a view, but don’t want to scramble up for very long. I think the total elevation gain was something like 600 feet.

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Lots of trees obscuring the view, but it was such a beautiful day. Not too hot, not too humid. It sprinkled for just a bit while we sat down to eat our banh mi, but it wasn’t even enough to make the rocks damp.

“Banh mi?” you ask. Delicious sandwiches. Whenever we head north for a hike, we stop off at a little shop in Lowell to pick some up for later. They are most delicious after they’ve been sitting in your backpack for a little while, soaking all the flavors together.

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Check out this rare photo of Yen! He’s out from behind the camera!

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Once you climb down from the summit, you’re surrounded by crazy boulders for much of the rest of the trail. You’ve gone from a mini summit trail with alpine plants to feeling like a little ant.

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We always like to find the USGS survey markers to mark our journey to the top.

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This particular point had three of them.

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Well, I’m not sure what this thing is. We agreed it looked like a billboard. The guide that originally sent us to this trail suggested that it’s some kind of communications repeater. I have no idea, but it was a strange thing to come across out here.

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We headed down then. The other side of the mountain is a completely different landscape. Bigger, more open and older.

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I probably should have crawled over to demonstrate the scale of the rock that’s balanced up there. It was enormous.

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From the huge to the small, we noticed these sweet little guys hiding out under some bark. My meaty finger is in there for scale.

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We had a choice to make at the very bottom: follow the edge of a pond and suffer mosquitoes, or turn and spend some time walking along an old logging road. We checked out the pond briefly and then headed back among the boulders.

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These guys were – yep – bouldering.

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Nearing the end, we stopped for some portrait work.

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Back at the car, Yen noticed a big foundation near the parking area. No clue what it was for.

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