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 Enjoying The Cold Along The Coast 
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Hiking Forums Are My Crack
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Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:37 pm
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Location: Exeter, NH
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 Enjoying The Cold Along The Coast
Nothing big to share, but with all the snow we've piled up around my corner of the state I've been able to use the snowshoes close to home for a couple early winter outings. Just a couple short ones on some lowlands and flats, but they were interesting and enjoyable outings so I thought I'd share.

Odiorne State Park after the storm

After the blizzard blew through here things along the coast were supposed to be pretty wild. I couldn't make it down there during the day Friday but decided to head out for a little midnight stroll as the tide rolled back in and the frigid temps were supposed to arrive. I wanted to get out into the sub zero temps, which are rare down here, to see the stars on a crisp clear night. they always seem to shine the best when it's frigid out don't they? Anyhow I decided to snowshoe some of the trails down at Odiorne State Park in Rye to see things for myself. The roads were slick and 1A was washed over in a few spots but I arrived at the parking area just outside the park around 11 pm and headed off to see some sights.

Star trails over Odiorne

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Whaleback Lighthouse out in the mighty Atlantic

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I started off hugging the shore and crossing along the washed over top of the high tide line. It was a mix of deep snow drifts, lots of ice and some bare rocks. Glad I brought the crummy old snowshoes! When I got out to the point where the picnic area is I had some nice views of the waves crashing over things and the sea smoke rising in the harbor illuminated by Whaleback lighthouse.

Looking south from the park

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View north over the cobblestone beach

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From there I followed along the shoreline and took the trail out to the first NH settlers monument. The views from out there were pretty impressive as the waves crashed into the shore. Everything along the edge was covers in a sea salt rhime ice coating. It looked just like something you'd find in the Whites up high but didn't taste nearly as good! The stars however were shining bright and I spent about 45 minutes taking a few long exposures and watching the skies. I counted 4 shooting stars, all of which were brilliantly bright, but of course nothing but an airplane streaked across my cameras lens.

Whaleback light in the sea smoke, under the stars of course

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Monument marking the site of NH's first permnant settlers

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By 1:30 I was ready to call it a night and make the 10 minute snowshoe trip back to my car as the temp dropped to -2. I was hoping it would have gotten colder by that point but it was better than nothing. I took the old road/trail back closer to 1A and the main bike path back to the gate and a short trail from there back to the car. All in all it was only 1.2 miles of snowshoeing but it was an enjoyable night out to refresh my memory on what those conditions are like and remind me of everything that needs fixing and replacing with my winter gear, which includes a zipper that sticks on my shell, new mitts to replace the one I burned in the fire in Acadia and new glove liners since I lost one in the Blue Hills. :(


Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge - Ferry Way Trail

Then yesterday afternoon I unexpectedly found myself with a few more free hours and debated between a nap and going for a few more miles of snowshoeing in the fresh foot of powder we have locally. I decided there'd be another time to catch up on lost sleep so after trying without luck to find some snowshoes for my 5 year old at a local ski store I made the short trip up the road to the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

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The Ferry Way trail isn't new to me but I've yet to walk it in the winter. When I got there it was well broken out, with two tracks actually, one for skiers and one for snowshoeing. It was about a 2.5 mile lollipop through the woods along Great Bay in Newington. It didn't take long, before I even got to the trailhead parking lot actually, to see some of the wildlife. I was driving along and noticed tons of tracks in a clearing and then a few hundred feet off the road there were 8 deer munching the trees and jumping around. I watched them for about 5 minutes until they finally noticed me (probably heard my camera clicking away) and headed off over a rise into the woods.

What do you know?? Wildlife!!

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Why don't you two get a room!!

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Six of the eight deer that were there

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After throwing on my snowshoes I followed the tracks past the old weapons storage facility. There had been plenty of traffic earlier in the day and I was disappointed there was no trail breaking necessary. I stepped about 50 feet off the trail to make some yellow snow and while in the trees a woodpecker decided to stop by for a visit. At first it was probably 30 feet away but I just stood there and he eventually made his way closer, ending up maybe 10 feet from me before flying away. As I started off again a hawk soared overhead, but was obscured by the trees. The place was living up to it's name for sure.

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A woodpecker looking for lunch

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Heavily used and not particularly attractive trail

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Off trail there was stll a foot of pristine snow however

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I liked this trail in summer. It looped through lush green woods along the bay, past a little hidden cove and past some old overgrown farmlands and orchards. Flowers, birds and some attractive hickory, oak, birch and pine forests. I was thinking of a snow covered pine tree forest when I picked it out for the days trip. Unfortunately, the high winds had blown off most of the snow from the pines and the hardwoods seemed particularly stick like and unattractive to me. The spot on the bay had some ducks but nothing real exciting. Mini ice bergs flowed by with the incoming tide and I was hoping to catch sight of one of the bald eagles that spend winter right across the straight but didn't see any in the two minutes I watched and couldn't stick around any longer.

No eagles over the bay today
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Slightly more attractive trail along the bay
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The rest of the trail was uneventful. It passed the small hidden Welch's Cove and there were tons of deer tracks crisscrossing the woods and trail but I didn't see any more animals. I passed a couple cross country skiers as I made my way back to the parking lot and hopped in my car.

Deer tracks were everywhere. I was surprised I didn't see more actually.
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No far reaching views today, just had to enjoy the little things
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If I hadn't seen the wildlife I think I'd have felt this trail wasn't really worth the trip in winter. Less than average scenery, wide well traveled trails just 24 hours after the storm stopped and maybe a dozen other people on the 2.5 mile loop gave you no feeling of being in pristine, untouched woods like fresh snow often can. The one exception would be if you cross country ski I suppose, as it has a relatively nice two mile loop with only minor ups and downs and varied if not exciting scenery and the chance to see some wildlife too. I did enjoy it in the summer but will leave it for then in the future, as there's better stuff for my taste within the same 25 minute ride from my home.

If you're interested in more info on either of these two places including decent trail maps you can click the links below.

http://www.nhstateparks.org/explore/state-parks/odiorne-point-state-park.aspx

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Great_Bay/about.html

And lastly, if you want to see the place in summer there's a trip report from that one right here.

http://forum.hike-nh.com/viewtopic.php?t=5381


Last edited by Granite Guy on Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:12 am
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Very nice GG. Great wildlife photos....and the others.
All I ever see are squirrels and chipmunks.


Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:54 am
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Good thing about the cold: NO TICKS!!!!!! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


Sun Jan 05, 2014 5:25 pm
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I love the deer shot and in one of the pics the trees look almost tropical. Beautiful pics as always, sad its been ruined by the freezing rain, but at least you got out! The snow was like silk!!


Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:17 am
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Always nice to get out even if just for a bit. The wildlife and bitter cold were nice bonuses. And the last two big storms have had beautiful snow. 12 inches of nice, light fluffy stuff each, like they get out west. But yes, probably ruined now. It'll be frozen solid tomorrow like a glacier. So much for an enjoyable snowshoe trip through Pawtuckaway later this week. Might get by with just spikes unfortunately.


Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:08 pm
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Nice write ups as always. :D You sure do take some excellent pictures.

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Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:53 pm
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IQuest wrote:
Nice write ups as always. :D You sure do take some excellent pictures.


Thanks Ian. I'm trying to make lemonade from the lemons. I need to get out on a "real" hike soon. :(


Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:26 pm
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GG, I know you said you use a tripod a lot. I have a really light one. I throw it in my back pack sometimes when I'm going out to take wildlife photos. It goes down to about 2', and stretches up to about 6'.

Sunpak 59.4-Inch PlatinumPlus 5800D Digital Tripod with 2 Quick Release Plates and Case for Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony Digital Cameras

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Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:14 am
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I don't hike with one much anymore except at night or a sunrise hike. Image stabilizing lenses, the ability to just up the ISO at the touch of a button and retake pics if they're blurry kinda made carryng the added weight pointless. I just set it on a log, rock, pack or tree branch if I'm in a pinch for something longer than 1/20th of a second.

That does look like a nice light weight on though if someone wanted to bring one on a hike. I have a couple like it myself, but mine tend to wiggle in a stiff breeze and on a ten minute exposure I like the big clunky one to stand still and get a sharp shot.


Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:15 am
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Hey GG, if you put your camera on a tree or rock, you know that it's not always at the place you want it to be. I also have one of these. They wrap around a branch, or you can sit it on top of an uneven rock/boulder. Check em' out. They're really cheap, and weigh nothing. I keep mine in my pocket. It's really cool. EMS has em'. They go for about $20 there.

It's called, "Mini Tripod Small Gorilla Type Digital Camera Stand".
They're 6". You never have to worry about your camera falling off anything.

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Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:03 pm
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Keyz56 wrote:
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I have one of those Gorilla Pods for my camera. They make several sizes, including one sized for heavier cameras like DSLRs. Great for taking timed summit shots of your group when no one else is around ;)

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Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:03 pm
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I have seen those before but never tried them. do you think they hold up about a two pound camera? if so it certainly seems like something that would be worth picking up. sometimes rocks logs branches packs and whatever just arent in the right spot! :D


Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:20 pm
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Granite Guy wrote:
I have seen those before but never tried them. do you think they hold up about a two pound camera? if so it certainly seems like something that would be worth picking up. sometimes rocks logs branches packs and whatever just arent in the right spot! :D


The SLR version claims to do up to 6.5 pounds: http://www.rei.com/product/753300/joby-gorillapod-slr-zoom

The "hybrid" looks like it is more for the mirror-less cameras, but says up to 2.2 pounds: http://www.rei.com/product/831272/joby-gorillapod-hybrid-camera-tripod

That said, I have the "regular" one which is good for 11.5 ounces they say, but I wouldn't go too much heavier than my camera (which is probably 7 ounces) since I sometimes mount my camera sideways to the tripod.

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Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:36 pm
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Granite Guy wrote:
sometimes rocks logs branches packs and whatever just arent in the right spot! :D

That's why this is so cool GG. The arms move into any direction you want. So if there's only a slanted rock near the site you picked, you can adjust each arm to make your camera sit straight. Any branch or log or what have you will also work. I hike alone, and I like to get a shot of me on the summit I just kicked butt to get to...so all I need is to find something to lean, sit, or wrap this around.


Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:26 pm
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Oh man, GG, these pics are beautiful! Leave it to you to come back from a short walk near home with images like these.

Thanks for sharing. You've just put this on my list for a family trip within the next couple weeks.

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Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:33 am
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