Wanderlusting: Boulder Loop
“When you go to the mountains, you see them and you admire them. In a sense, they give you a challenge, and you try to express that challenge by climbing them.” ~ Edmund Hillary
Re-Discovering My Hometown
It is funny, because I feel like it has been a hot second since I did a Wanderlust post, but in actuality I did one not even a week ago. Being in lockdown, and then social distancing, there hasn’t been many places to travel too, in fact there hasn’t really been many or so I felt. While yes, I FINALLY got to go to the beaches in Maine in the middle of the summer, I haven’t travelled which I know sounds like a first world problem. I will happily do my part if it means protecting those I love, but I still miss traveling and exploring NEW places.
It is the discovering of new places that push my boundaries and further educate my mind. It is traveling that I feel the most growth. Also in many ways, the most fear. The unsteadiness of not knowing a place no matter how much I try to soak up every detail before I leave, and yet the excitement of learning and the adrenaline rush of the unknown, is WHY I love to travel so much. It is in my blood and having planned on having moved by now (thanks COVID) I can’t help, but feel a bit stagnate and in limbo.
All that said, I am the type to make lemonade out of raw lemons, and the reality is you can never TRULY know any one place. I lived in New York for seven years, and as a friend said, I lived it to the fullest. And while I did try to, there is STILL so much I haven’t done there and want to go back to do. Nd the same could be said for my hometown. Even before the pandemic hit, I had been attempting to not only rediscover but also explore new places in my hometown. Places I perhaps didn’t appreciate fully when I lived here. While these places may not be new to me, they are to many of you. Added to the fact that we are all looking for new ideas and things to do why not share some of the fun places I have come to appreciate.
When quarantine first hit, it was still quite cold out so water activities unfortunately were sadly out of the running which is why hiking was, and still is, such a popular activity to do. Despite my turbulent relationship with my hometown, (I am much more a beach/city girl) I truly do live in a gorgeous part of the country. An area that many others have come to realize, travel to, and share in the beauty. While we are a tourist town anyway, the spring and summer months have been insanely busy, because of the pandemic. Many felt that going to the mountains would be safer and inevitably it is, we have done a great job (so far) keeping our numbers low.
With the influx of people, especially newer visitors, people aren’t always experienced hikers, and don’t always realize how treacherous they can be, regardless of the elevation. During the spring months it can be an especially treacherous time to hike. Snow is melting from the larger mountains and avalanches are much more prevalent, which is why hiking smaller mountains is better and safer, especially if you are a beginner hiker.
Boulder Loop is a (in my opinion) pretty easy, roughly three mile (if you don’t explore which we did…oops) hike. The trailhead is located off of Passaconway right near the Albany Covered Bridge. The Bridge itself is worth a visit and a photoshoot or two. It is perfect for beginner hikers and kids alike and it DOES get quite busy. While the views aren’t spectacular, they are a great bang for your buck especially if you are just beginning your journey as a hiker. There are ledges on top that you can hang out on, read a book, or even drink a cold bevvy.
As it is a loop, you can take either trail. Many people recommend going counter-clockwise which, honestly I am not sure why, because ascending that way is actually fairly steep and rocky. It will get your heart pumping and can be more exhausting right off the gate. It also has more erosion and fire damage, so while you do have to pick your footing going down, it is less slippery with loose dirt and leaves. We went clockwise which made for a much more gradual climb on the way up, and a more steady climb down.
With the kids doing distance learning, my brother furloughed for a short time, and many of my campaigns on hiatus, we were able to do a lot of spring hiking with the kiddos. Alas so were a lot of people. To control overcrowding, and to slow the spread, the White Mountain National Forest closed many trails because they were insanely busy. Luckily for us we went when they had just reopened Boulder Loop, so it wasn’t to crowded and being socially distant was super easy, especially as we were the first at the trailhead the morning we went.
As I mentioned, Boulder Loop in my opinion, is pretty easy. While we did take our time, as we had three littles. Though at this point, they are pretty experienced hikers, even the littlest one who has since retired her carrier and can hike up ALL by herself. Even before they could walk, they were being carried up in backpacks up the mountains. Hiking, thanks to their Dad is in their blood. We didn’t break any records, it took us about three hours round trip, and we were bushwhacking, climbing boulders, running through streams, and going off trail to explore along the way.
Four years ago a small wildfire burned through the area, which is actually quite uncommon. I even remember hearing about it and I was living in New York at the time. One of our off trail excursions was exploring the damage that had been done, which we could still see. While it wasn’t a massive one, as we hiked the terrain you could see where it decimated the trees and undergrowth.
It was both sad, but also oddly, perhaps even insanely cool, to see how it had burned the brush and even some of the trail. Their was remnants of one tree that looked almost like a sculpture because the fire had burned it from the inside out, leaving it hallow. We could also see the trees, just saplings really that were slowly growing back. It was a reminder of how powerful but incredible Mother Nature is.
I always forget what hidden gems the “Popular” hikes can be and that the are popular for reason, because they really are gorgeous. I wasn’t feeling the best thanks to a cyst that had ruptured, but because it is a fairly easy hike, I was able to push through and keep up with the kiddos. I also even climbed a few boulders in the process!
Boulder Loop is a reminder that the best playgrounds are found in nature. You don’t always have to climb a four thousand plus mountain to feel accomplished, nor do you have to have fancy equipment to do so. Sometimes going off trail is just as fun as following the path, and sometimes, you can revisit a place to discover it anew.
Have you hiked Boulder Loop? Have you done any (re)Connecting with nature during quarantine?