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August 2, 2012
The local wild blueberry crop is always an up and down affair. For many years it seemed as if we had a ton everywhere we looked. Then starting in about 2008 we had several years of almost nothing. Last year there were some, but not a whole lot, even in places like the top of Whitehorse, where once there were as many as you could possibly gobble at the end of the long climb up the slabs. This year things started out great. I could walk in the open areas just behind my house here by Cathedral Ledge and eat my fill almost any time. Low bush, high bush - both were plentiful. Then, in just a matter of days, the crop completely disappeared. Not just here behind the house, but pretty much everywhere.
I was up on top of Whitehorse, on my bike, the other day and there were darn near no blueberries to be found. Someone told me that it's the animals that are eating them all up. It's hard to imagine that they would eat them all, but it does make some sense. There are lots of bears and deer in the woods right now and I'm sure that they are hungry. I've seen lots of bear and deer prints around the blueberry patches, even right by our yard, so they must be into them.
I'm starting to see a lot of wild black and red berries out there now, especially up in the high areas. Shoot, if you ride up or down the Red Tail (bike) Trail over off Hurricane Mountain Road you'll surely get your share of scratches from the ones growing rampant alongside the trail. There also are tons along the logging road behind Cedar Creek and Birch Hill and along the power lines near Puddin' Pond. I'm eyeing them every time I'm out on the bike, waiting for them to ripen a bit. I figure if I don't time it right, the animals will get their fill, but I'll be left out! [wry grin]
I just have to put in another plug in for the local riding. If you ride in the woods at all, you really MUST get out on the trails while you're up here in the Valley. There is amazing riding to be had almost everywhere you turn. And now with the new trail signs put up by the White Mountain chapter of NEMBA, you really can't go wrong. Couple these great signs with one of the area guides, like the map by Peter Minich or Marty Basch's guidebook, and you can pretty much find your way around anywhere. I try to get out at least a couple of times during the week and I can always find something fun to do. Of course there is a lot of technical stuff that New England and the Valley is known for, but there's plenty for beginners and intermediates too. My favorites include almost anything over around Puddin' Pond, but most especially the ridge between the Redstone Quarry and Sticks & Stones, the Red Tail Trail near Hurricane Mountain Road and the Mineral Site and Tent Boulder loops up near the Moats. Any and all of it is Highly Recommended.
Periodically someone will ask me for the name of a good place to eat. Depending on how much they want to spend, I'll usually recommend the Valley standards - the Red Parka Pub, Delaney's Hole In The Wall, Mae Kelly's, the Moat, the Bangkok, or Cafe Noche. They're all good and all have a good selection of beverages. Fairly recently a new Mexican restaurant opened in the old Wendy's, located on the South end of the "strip" near the entrance to Settler's Green. I've noticed that there always seems to be a lot of cars in the parking lot, even at lunch, and I've been wanting to check it out, so the wife and I headed over there last night around 6PM. Once again there were a lot of cars and we actually had to wait a few minutes to get a table. There were lots of families plus a few locals that we recognized, always generally a good sign.
As soon as we sat down a wait person came over with a large basket of fresh warm chips, a carafe of salsa and took our drink menu. I didn't get a beer, opting instead for a huge glass of iced tea, but the beer menu looked OK. The menu itself is quite extensive, with just about everything you could ask for. The wife got the carne aside plate, a thin sliced steak which is cooked with onions, and a variety of sides including refried beans, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream and some flour tortillas. I got something called the Guadalajara platter. It had a bit of everything that they offer including pork, chicken and beef, kind of smothered in lettuce, guacamole and sour cream. In both cases it was a LOT of food. We could easily have ordered and appetizer, one entrée, and drinks and been quite happy. I couldn't (and definitely shouldn't have) finish my dinner even tho it was great and the wife was in the same position.
It's a good thing I've been doing a lot of cycling to help me keep the weight off! I'd say that after a full day of climbing or any other outdoor activities, this would be a good choice to hit. You certainly will get good value for your $$. The service was excellent and all in all it was a great dinner - we'll certainly return.
We're into pretty typical bug season now. In many places you won't notice them at all, like Wednesday morning at Humphrey's, but in others you will get eaten up, like by the Cathedral Ledge kiosk at 7PM Monday evening! Needless to say YMMV, so I'm leaving the BugCON rating at a seasonal and fairly reasonable 3.
All the various seasonal climbing closures implemented for the 2012 peregrine falcon breeding season in New Hampshire have now been removed. You may climb anywhere you like.
Up on one of the Mount Washington Valley's finest crags and want to know what that climb you're looking at is? Or maybe you're on your way up from Boston and want to check out the Ice Report for your upcoming weekend plans. Or more likely, you're at work just want to daydream about your next adventure. Well if you have a smart phone handy, you can get to NEClimbs from anywhere you have cell service. While it doesn't offer every single feature of the site and it's not an "app", in mobile form, it does do a whole lot and is very useful. Here is the live link to the mobile version of NEClimbs:
Check it out and if you have issues on your specific phone, please feel free to let me know.
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Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
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