Dan with Molly, Tip, and Max Hike to Sand Dune and Broken Arches in Arches National Park, Utah

Throughout the morning Owen (9) has given his all rock scrambling and climbing the sandstone monoliths on the eight mile trail to and from Double O Arch.  Four hours later he is whooped.  He chooses to hang back in the car with his Omi while we four (Max, Molly, Tip, and moi) hike the two final arches.

Molly’s family loves to capture “jump photos” whenever they travel. Here is Max at Broken Arch.

With this being our last day in Arches National Park, we find a parking spot across the road from the trailhead, which leads first to the nearby Sand Dune Arch and then out across the prairie to the Broken Arch.   

Mid-day at 6000’ in mid-April 2022, I join the other three on the side trail up a slot canyon (a narrow gorge amid sandstone walls) to the sandy beach of a trail to the Sand Dune Arch. 

George Mason U Molly at the slot canyon to the Sand Dune Arch

Wading through luxurious sand, we very quickly find ourselves in front of the aptly named Sand Dune Arch.

With Molly under the Sand Dune Arch, the guys always appreciate her enthusiasm
Molly and Tip at Sand Dune Arch mid-afternoon

On a day going to the mid-80s and with the condo association pool awaiting us 30 minutes away in Moab, we four have a winding one mile trail across a prairie of greening tumbleweed to the Broken Arch.

The prairie trail to the Broken Arch

The Broken Arch isn’t really broken, but a large crack at its top gives it that name.  We add this final arch jewel to our charm bracelet of rusty red stone landscapes.

The Broken Arch is so named for the crack at the top center of the arch
The crack that gives the Broken Arch its name.

By 2PM we are whooped.  Even so, we make one last stop at the Balancing Rock.

Balancing Rock

Returning to our sweet VRBO for a late lunch, we have a chill afternoon ahead.  For my part, I enter first drafts of each of today’s two hikes into my laptop, edit the pictures from my iPhone 12, and then surrender to a quiet bedroom in our now quiet condo.

The others have the Rim Village pool to cool their jets on a mid-80s afternoon.  The warm pool and then the even warmer hot tub are therapeutic for what ails Owen and a joy for Max. 

A travel tip if you are looking for wine in Moab.  There is one small liquor store with hours Monday through Saturday from noon to 6 PM.  Snaring a fine Black Box, I was 12th in line at the one cash register open.  When I finish on this mid-afternoon Monday, there were 16 others behind me. 

With our “grapes,” the adults toast another day in paradise.

Dan and Hannah Hike to Landscape Arch and Double O Arches in Arches National Park, Utah

Our VRBO condo in south Moab, Utah is just fifteen minutes from the entrance to Arches National Park.  With a timed reservation (we must enter between 7-8A), we have an uncrowded park morning ahead of us in mid-April 2022 in search of more magnificent arches of eastern Utah.

Arches NP in east central Utah

Driving to the end of the park at the Devil’s Garden Trailhead, Hannah and I with our daughter Molly’s family of Tip, Owen, and Max will soon have an Avenue of Arches for our viewing pleasure. 

Hannah and I first came here in 1992 with our three kids (Molly [then 12}, Robyn [10], and Will [8] on the first of our four consecutive family cross-country trips (1992-1995).  She and I have returned again and again as we love the outdoor vibe of Moab, the warmer weather, and the being-away-ness of the place.  The at-home “to do” lists just dissolve. Today we get to share our love of this uber-popular national park with Molly’s family (she is now 42) that includes hubby Tip, and our grandsons Owen (nearly 10) and Max (nearly 8). 

All the sandstone climbing you could want. Max with his Omi.
Owen, the rock scrambler.

As we set out at 8A, we six have a mission to hike the two mile winding, slightly ascending trail to Double O Arches.  Along the way, we’ll have side trails to multiple other arches, including the Granddaddy of them all – Landscape Arch. Though temperatures will go to the 80s this mid-April afternoon, this morning we all start out in long sleeve tee-shirts or sweatshirts.

Almost immediately, we have a side trail the Pine Tree Arch. 

Early morning Molly and Tip at the Pine Tree Arch

Taking the sandstone trail northward, Owen and Max get more Fitbit steps than Hannah and I do as they haven’t met a rock side or sandstone summit they couldn’t climb.

Owen, the sandstone scamperer

Our next focus is the classic Landscape Arch that stretches some 300’ from side to side though is only 11’ wide at its center.  All rock formations at Arches National Park are temporary as water shapes and transforms the sandstone.  They will eventually all crumble. In fact, in 1991, a 60 ton slab of stone fell from the center of the arch when visitors were allowed under the arch. As you might imagine, no one is allowed under this arch anymore. My pictures are taken behind a fence some 300′ from the arch itself.

Landscape Arch accentuated by the deep blue Utah sky
Brothers Forever, Max and Owen

We then find side trails to Navajo and Partition Arches.  Our what we thought we might be a simple four-mile roundtrip hike to Double O stalls as we celebrate two more arches.

Tucked away but oh so accessible Navajo Arch
Our traveling party of six at the Partition Arch (Owen, Max, Hannah, Tip, Molly, and the blogger)

After walking though the Partition Arch, we have ourselves a modest climb
Max and Owen tucked into the sandstone with their Omi

Our destination is the Double O top and bottom arches which we arrive at three hours later.  Peanut butter and jelly, salted almonds, granola bars and lots of water sustain as we quickly stow our long sleeves for summer’s short sleeves.

Within two months of our 50th Anniversary on July 1, 2022, Hannah and I celebrate at the Double O Arch
With the Double O Arch in the background, Dan, Hannah, Molly, Owen, Tip, and Max have reached their morning destination.
I told you Owen was quite the rock scrambler.

As we return to the trailhead, we hike all the sandstone fins back to the trailhead from the Double O Arch.

By 1230 PM, we are back at our rented Toyota Sienna mini-van for nourishment.  Our hiking day of nearly eight miles is not quite done.  With this being our last day in Arches National Park, we want one more fix of arches. We’ll hike first the Sand Dune Arch and then out into the fields to the Broken Arch.  That’s next week’s blog.

Dan and Hannah Hike the Windows and Double Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

After a morning hiking to the Delicate Arch (click here for that blog from last week), Hannah and I drive with Molly’s family to the parking lot that serves as the trailhead for both the Windows Arches and the Turret Arch as well as the Double Arch Trail in mid-April 2022.

We start off on what is called the primitive trail (by that I mean poorly marked).  It’s a longer route to the Windows and Turret Arch, but as you may know, Hannah and I rarely pass up a chance at more Fitbit steps.  Counseling has not helped our neurosis. By the way, arched windows have square bottoms and an arch or half-circle on top. 

From “You Are Here” we hiked the primitive trail to the South and North Windows, then to the Turret Arch, back to “You Are Here” to the Double Arch.

Predictably we lose our way on the primitive trail but are always within a few hundred feet of the backside of the window arches themselves. We never are lost lost.

Owen on the primitive trail
Owen again with the windows in the background from the back side

Eventually back on the Windows trail we climb to the rock beneath the arch for pictures.  Agile-lite at the age of 74, I remember days gone by when I, too, could scamper up and down the sandstone rock as Owen and Max do today.

The high desert of Arches National Park
Molly complements the natural beauty of the window arch
Turret Arch with its own turret to the left

Five hours into our day, we then hike the half mile to one more arch, the Double Arch.

One half of the Double Arch in the distance
Approaching Double Arch with Molly, Max, and Tip in the foreground
The bluest of blue skies accentuates that earth tone beauty of the Double Arch

Foolishly I follow the others 35′ up to the ledge beneath the Double Arch.  Definitely not my best choice.  And the thing is, I know it as I soon as I am mid-way up the rock wall that trouble awaits on my descent.   Yet I continue. Pride goeth before the fall.

Looking out from high above the desert floor from the base of the Broken Arch.

More than ready to return to terra firma, I need all the support our son-in-law Tip can give me.  Facing the rock, knowing at any moment I can slide 35′ down the rock wall, I use Tip’s offered foot as a toehold. My whole body tightens as I somehow inch down the rock wall finding the smallest of “Free Solo” cracks in the stone.  I make multiple promises to the Universe that I will not be so foolish again. There is enough fear in my heart to make that a believable pledge.

At last, I’m off the ledge. I will live to hike another day.

After a day on the trail at 77F, Owen and Max head to the pool while Molly and Tip “chill” in the hot tub with Hannah.  Moi?  Oh, I’m back at the condo doing what I love – writing a first draft of each of our two hikes, editing my pictures for the blog, and, yes, napping.  Later I join them in the hot tub. I am no fool.

If I am to guess, I won’t be surprised it the pool and the hot tub will be the highlight of our time in Utah for Owen and Max.  It would be for me if I were eight or ten.

It’s a 77F afternoon in Moab, Utah on April 17, 2022 for Owen and his Omi.
The poolside hot tub for cooling our jets (Tip, Owen, Max, and Molly)

Dan and Hannah Hike the Delicate Arch Trail in Arches National Park, Utah

As Hannah and I wait with our daughter Molly’s family (Tip, Owen, and Max) at Logan Airport in Boston on this first Saturday morning of April school vacation week, it’s not a good sign when Delta announces that our jet won’t have enough fuel to make the non-stop flight to Salt Lake City.  We hear that we’ll have to refuel in Minneapolis.  WTF!  What do you mean that our schedule flight doesn’t have enough fuel when you knew it was going to Salt Lake City six months ago when we bought our tickets!

Delta wasn’t exactly ready when we were!

Using all my Zen Namaste Peace and Love-ness, I settle in and think of Doris Day (i.e. que sera sera).  We then get the explanation that it’s a fuel pump that is not working.  Then, twenty minutes later we learn that the ground crew has worked their magic and got it up and running.  Though two hours late, we are appreciatively in the air for our 5.5 hour flight to Utah.

Enterprise Car Rental comes through as they always have.  From the landing, taxiing to the terminal, and walking to the on-site Car Rental cluster, we are driving south on I-15 through Salt Lake City within 30 minutes.

Stocking up for seven days on the road at the Trader Joe’s in Orem, near Provo, we then choose wisely to feast on two large Mountain Mike’s pizzas in the car as Molly drives us 200+ miles over four hours to Moab for the night.

Our three bedroom VRBO condo at the Rim Village in Moab blows us away. It has a deluxe master bedroom for Hannah and me, another queen bedroom for Molly and Tip, and a third room with twin beds for Owen and Max. There is a pool and hot tub in the complex. We rest easy after sitting for ten hours in a plane and a car.

The Rim Village master bedroom with Owen between us.
Our three bedroom condo in Moab, Utah

Before the others awake on Easter Sunday morning, I walk the Rim Village neighborhood in the dark and find the moon setting over the mountains.

Full moon setting over Moab

Our first of five days hiking in the national parks of Utah begins at Arches National Park.  To deal with the overcrowding of the popular national parks, the park service requires that visitors from May through October at the Arches obtain a timed entry reservation to enter the park at all. Our reservation allows us to enter this morning between seven to eight AM. 

Dan, Owen, Max, Hannah, and Molly

We begin our hiking morning with the park’s signature trail to the Delicate Arch. Though there are many folks on the 1.5 mile trail with nearly 500′ of elevation gain over sandstone slick rock, there is a festive rather than overcrowded feel to our hike. 

Max nearly 8 and Owen nearly 10 keep up admirably as we climb to the arch that is on many Utah license plates.

The trail just before the Delicate Arch
Our first view of the Delicate Arch (Owen, Hannah, Dan, and Max)
You can walk to the base of the Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch gets its red color from iron oxide. Although there is a rumor that the names of Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch were inadvertently exchanged due to a signage mix-up by the National Park Service, this is false. (See at the end of the blog the Landscape Arch and you tell me if the names were misapplied!)

Some of the nicknames for this iconic arch include “Cowboy’s Chaps” and “Old Maid’s Bloomers.” The first time the arch was called “Delicate” was in a magazine article in 1934. The writer noted that the arch was “the most delicately chiseled arch in the entire area.” Summer temperatures here often exceed 100 degrees. Our temps were hiking-delightful in the low 60s on this mid-April morning.

On the return trip we six pair off, with Owen and me trailing behind eventually walking nearly a mile with Lakota and Elena from Nashville.  They are engaging folks and interested in us, too.  Elena walks a half mile chit chatting with Owen while I talk college football and traveling the country with Lakota. 

Elena, Lakota, and Owen

With our big morning hike in the books, we drive to the parking area for the Windows Trail and the Double Arch.  Our hiking day has just begun.

The much more delicate Landscape Arch

Dan Has A Dream – KGUA #75

Charlotte and Reese

For the January 24, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt: I HAD a Dream…

My dream is for our five grandchildren, Brooks, Charlotte, Max, Owen, and Reese.

I have a dream…

That they have an adventurous spirit and taste other parts of the United States beyond Maine and Massachusetts.  To support that dream, Hannah and I will give them the gift of experiences with us in national parks and on the coast of California.

Max

That they have good friends for the good times and the challenging ones. Friends who listen, not solve their problems. So often our answers come from within.

That they learn to play pickleball with their grandparents.

That even when they are too cool for words, they hang out with their grandparents.

That they invite their grandparents out to breakfast on a regular basis.

That they learn to say yes to life and no often enough to set boundaries and maintain their sense of self.

Brooks

That they watch La La Land and West Side Story (both the original and the Spielberg remake) with their grandfather.

That they have a sense of home wherever home may be.

That they have a sense of humor and not take themselves too seriously.

That they know that they are much more than their SAT scores and their athletic achievements.

That they do all they can to enroll at Arizona State University, the Geneseo of the West.

Owen

That they have big smiles.

That they have someone to walk the beach with.

That they, in the end, can say that they gave it their best shot.

And somewhere along the way, that they loved someone or somemany deeply.

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock with Their Grandson Owen (9) Part 3 of 3 – The President

After summiting Mount Monadnock, Owen, Molly, Tip, Hannah, and I approach the trailhead after a four mile rock climb in three and a half hours; we notice swarms of young woman and men just beginning their climb to the top. 

They look like first year students on a bonding climb as they begin university life.  Think back to starting out in college, if you were so fortunate. It can be a lonely and challenging transition from the cocoon of one’s hometown to the trials of dorm living and making friends.  Universities are now welcoming students into the college family by outdoor team building experiences.  

Could I ever have used such an experience back in the fall of 1966 when I entered the College of Wooster in Ohio!  Though I had core group of childhood friends growing up, the problem was I didn’t really know how to make friends.  My friends from Fair Lawn were just always around.  

Muddling through, I eventually made it through thanks to three relationships: the guys on the tennis team, my roommate Jim Francis, and the girl of my dreams, Hannah Kraai (pronounced CRY).

Looking to confirm my suspicion, I speak up to a gaggle of passing students, What kind of group is this?  They are students from Franklin Pierce University, not fifteen minutes away in nearby Rindge.  Upbeat and high-spirited, wave after wave of groups of ten to twenty happy kids chatter by.

As we get to the trailhead itself, we pass by the university vans that brought the students to this popular state park.  I then notice plastic-wrapped packages of 24 water bottles near a covered open air structure with four or five adults.  Buoyant from our successful climb to the top of the mountain, I shout out, Are you from Franklin Pierce?

When they reply in their affirmative, I add, looking to Owen, We have a member of the Class of 2031 for you!

Immediately, a welcoming man approaches and engages us in conversation. Guessing the man is from the campus Alumni Relations or some PR arm of the university, I nod yes when he says, Would you like to meet the president of the university?

And just like that President Kim Mooney comes over and greets Owen, Hannah, and me.

President Mooney, Dan, Hannah behind Owen

Whoa!  La presidenta.  It turns out Kim is the first female president of FPU and the first alum named president.  They navigated the Covid year successfully on campus and are here as part of 50-year tradition of FPU students climbing Mount Monadnock to start the school year.  And then we learn that upbeat man is her husband, Greg Walsh.

As we wrap up our conversation, Greg hands Owen a coin of friendship.  Walking to our picnic table for our lunch touched by their kindness, Owen poses with his first silver dollar.

Though Owen and his brother Max seem like future Sun Devils from Arizona State University – the Harvard of the West and my alma mater, who knows, maybe Owen will be a Raven from Franklin Pierce University!

PS I sent the blog to Kim this morning. She responded almost immediately.

Dear Dan,
On a morning when Greg and I have already shed tears thinking about the perfect fall weather morning  on 9/11 twenty years ago, your email filled our hearts. 
Our encounter with you, Hannah and Owen has stayed with us too. Thank you for memorializing it so vividly in your blog below. You captured the spirit of Franklin Pierce students so we’ll! 
Our best to you, Kim and Greg

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock with Their Grandson Owen (9) Part 2 of 3 – The Bend

Descending the White Cross Trail

As we continue our descent down the White Cross Trail from the Mount Monadnock peak, Molly, Tip, Owen, Hannah, and I come upon this branch, bent at childbirth as a sapling.

Owen carrying on the Rawding Tradition of Bent Tree Climbing

A young woman on the trail mentions that this branch was purposefully bent by Native Americans.  Intrigued, I did a little research.   By that I mean, I googled “bent trees as trail guides.”  I learned the following.

It seems Native American bent trees in the direction of a frequently visited destination such as a water source, campsite, or a safe river crossing. These were called Marker Trees.

Hardwoods, oaks, maples and elms were their trees of choice.  With the sapling staked down, the undamaged tree would continue to grow and new branches, not near the ground, would shoot upwards.  

In front of Owen from left to right are Molly, Hannah, Dan, and Tip on the last Sunday in August 2021

They go by other names: Trail Trees, Crooked Trees, Prayer Trees, Thong Trees. 

To be a trail tree, first of all, it must be old enough to have been alive when Native American tribes still lived in the area. The bend is about four or five feet off the ground. The bend is a sharp right angle. The tree then runs parallel the earth for a measure, and turns sharply up again, towards the sky.

Owen and his Pop

After the picture taking, we head to the trailhead after four miles of hiking/climbing over the past three and a half hours.

I use the Strava app to record my hiking, biking, and walking

And then we see masses of young’uns, late teens/early twenties, pass us by in gaggles of fifteen or twenty.

Heading to the summit

Part 3 concludes the Mount Monadnock blog with what we learned about these young folks and the impression a prospective future member of the Class of 2031 made.

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock with Their Grandson Owen (9) Part 1 of 3 – The Climb

When our grandson Owen was seven, he hiked Mount Major in central New Hampshire with us.  (Click here for that blog. You’ll love the last two pictures of Owen.)  Almost immediately thereafter, we made plans for us all to climb the monster, Mount Monadnock in southwestern New Hampshire near his ninth birthday. A steady two mile climb of rocks, Mount Monadnock at 3,165′ is nearly 1,000′ higher than any other peak within 30 miles.

Meeting Owen and his parents, our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip, at the Monadnock Country Café in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, we witness Owen chowing down with the meat eaters omelet and gigantic blueberry pancakes that he shares with his dad.

Ready to dig in!

Suitably fueled, at 820A we pull into the gate at the Monadnock State Park to hear the attendant ask if we have a reservation. What!  We have no idea we need a reservation.  We hiked here two years ago and didn’t need a reservation; we just had to arrive early enough to get a parking spot. Driving two hours, then breakfasting for an hour to be turned away at the last minute would be heartbreaking, cruel beyond belief.  Well, that might be a little hyperbole. We are told that so many people hike this mountain that hikers forge new paths into the woods to circumvent slower hikers. Fortunately, he said today there was room for hikers without reservations.  Phew.  Lesson learned! Check our hikes online first.

The trail begins
A steady Freddy climb

On an overcast morning at 60F at the trailhead, we opt for the steeper White Dot Trail to the summit and will return via the longer but less precipitous White Cross Trail.  Immediately we are steadily climbing over the stone-filled trail with cross-wise logs and later granite blocks laid into the mountain-side that make for an easier assent.

Keeping up with the adults with his usual sunny disposition, Owen scampers over and around rocks; we all take the stone slopes switchback-style to take the steep out of our climb.  Alternatingly, we take off our long sleeve shirts, then add them back on when the clouds come in and the temperature drops.

It seems like a clear morning, but…

Within a 500 yards of the top, clouds envelop us such that we can’t see the peak.  The trail of white dots clearly painted on the stones makes us confident we are on the way to the summit.

Once atop Mount Monadnock with limited visibility and stronger winds, we huddle behind a rock wall for granola bars, salted almonds, raisins, and water.  Our time in the chilly, cloud-covered summit is short as Molly soon leads us down the less steep and more meandering White Cross Trail.

As we make our way to the trailhead, three college kids are passing us on their way to the summit.  Hopefully reading their buoyant nature correctly, with a wide smile I say, “Well somebody slept in this morning,” as they see us with Owen.   I ask you, what percentage of people would take my good-natured, light-hearted ribbing in the fun-loving spirit that it was intended and how many would react defensively and swat back with sarcasm, head-shaking or pissiness? 

Well, not these three guys!  They smiled and said you got us.  Funny, some 45 minutes later the same three guys, absolutely cruising, pass us after being to the summit.  Still smiling, they add to the positive vibe of the many other folks on the trail knowing how lucky we all are to be here today. 

And then we see the bend in the trail.  Part two describes this unusual bend. 

For more information on the trails of Mount Monadnock State Park, see the map below.

The White Dot Trail is to the right and the White Cross Trail to the left. I use the Strava app to document my hikes. (Thank you, Will Rothermel)

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Major with their Grandson, Max

Continuing a Rothermel Family Tradition of hiking Mount Major with our grandchildren when they turn seven, Hannah and I take Max with his nearly nine year old brother Owen and his parents, Molly and Tip, to the White Mountains of New Hampshire in mid-June 2021.  Click here for Owen’s hike at seven up Mount Major.

5A departure from home for Max and family

Meeting up with Molly’s family at the Liquor Store in Portsmouth, NH at 6A on Juneteenth 2021 of Father’s Day Weekend, we drive 35 minutes to the Farmer’s Kitchen in Farmington, NH on Route 11 for what can only be described as mouth-watering breakfast with huge portions and excellent service.

Arriving early at 640 AM
Huge portions and excellent service. Max orders the meat lovers omelet and Owen chocolate pancakes which he shares with me!

Fully fueled, we arrive at the trailhead by 8A for our roughly two plus mile climb to the top.  Taking the Blue Trail, we ascend on a rock-strewn path that soon turns into a Bill Bryson Walk in the Woods of level, tree-lined dirt.  Owen and Max come up with Hiking Game #1 where two people run ahead on the trail and hide behind trees and boulders.   We all take turns and make our hike kids-centered, when usually Hannah and I would just motor straight to the top.

Owen with his Omi hiking the Blue Trail
The rocks of the Blue

Within 0.7 of a mile, we turn left for the summit.  With protruding stones and rocks crossed by roots, the trail gives an opportunity for Max and Owen to come up with Hiking game #2.  Starting with the youngest, we each in turn name animals alphabetically.  Throughout the game, Owen lays back with me, and verbally checks in from time to time to see how I am doing.  If you know Owen, you are not surprised.

The rocky climb to the top

After an hour and a quarter we summit. 

Molly’s Family always up for a good time
Owen and his Omi hamming it up
High on Mountain Top in New Hampshire (sing to the tune of the Davy Crockett theme song)

After 30 minutes, we descend on the Orange Trail, lined with blueberry bushes with most every blueberry still quite green.  Still Max finds the occasional blue blueberry.  Saving two for his neighborhood friend Maelys, whose sixth birthday is today, he informs every, and I mean everyone we pass, that he found blueberries.  Not shy in the least, he surprises and pleases hikers who smile broadly as they pass by. 

Max with his Omi scouring for blue blueberries among the many green blueberries.

Molly comes up with Hiking Game #3 and that is to learn the NATO phonetic alphabet that begins with Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta… (see all 26 below).  Molly teaches us all one by one and within a thirty minute descent I learn all 26.  Test me the next time you see me!

Descending the steeper Orange Trail
Descending on the Orange Trail

After three hours, we arrive back at the trailhead having had a “peak” experience Saturday morning that Hannah and I plan to replicate in four years when our grandson Brooks (Will and Laurel’s oldest) turns seven and then two years later when his identical twin sisters, Reese and Charlotte, turn seven themselves. Traditions! Sing to the Fiddler on the Roof song of the same name.

Brooks freewheeling and hiking Mount Major in 2025!
Reese and Charlotte or Charlotte and Reese, ready to hike in 2027!

NATO phonetic alphabet by memory – Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliette, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-Ray, Yankee, Zulu.  This alphabet ensures that letters are clearly understood. 

Papa, Oscar, Papa, Papa, Alpha signing off. 

Bonus pictures from hiking Mount Major

With their usual positive energy, Molly and Tip begin hiking on the Blue Trail
They weren’t able to move the monstrous boulder…yet!
Molly and Tip atop Mount Major with Lake Winnipesaukee in the background
Atop Mount Major

Dan and Hannah Hike Locally at the Norton Preserve in Kittery, Maine

Given a hot tip for hiking in the nearby town of Kittery by our friend, George Derby, Hannah and I have a free Saturday afternoon to explore the trails of the Norton Preserve. You see, our grandson Max’s seventh birthday party has been postponed one day due to unusually cold early May weather.  Though the trailhead to the conservation land of the Kittery Land Trust is unmarked, George’s direction are as solid as a full house over a kangaroo straight.

Driving down Route One from York to Kittery, we, after the Pig’s Fly Bakery, turn left on Lewis Road.  After a mile or so, Lewis Road ends at Norton Road, which is where we turn left down the dead-end toward the trailhead.

Large yellow house (to the upper left) is where the grassy path (below) begins.

Well, mostly grassy!

Down this country/residential road, we park on the right side one hundred yards from the road’s end in one of the six parking places.  Walking up to a wide grassy path past a country estate with its own tennis court, we, in short order, reach the sign showing the four color-coded trails at our disposal.

Let the white trail begin!

Hiking left on the white trail through a forest of oaks, pines, and trees long since dead and spread around like pick-up sticks, we have regularly spaced white blazes on the trees to guide us.  I never knew the origin of the term “blaze,” the colored markers on trees to guide hikers, until Hannah pipes up that we are blazing a trail.  One good thinker.

Reaching the junction of the yellow trail, with the wetlands to our right we head north towards the Kittery/York line. Stepping around a small creek where logs have been placed for us to cross without sinking into the gooey ooze, we soon notice that the yellow blazes have ended.  Entering the unmarked trails (as of May 2021) of the York Land Trust, we easily hike our way to Bartlett Road in York.

Trail rerouting by the York Land Trust

Returning the way we came, we eventually take a left on the orange trail that weaves in and out on a path parallel to the yellow trail.  

After an hour, we return to the trailhead pleased that a ten-minute drive from our home has us hiking in the woods of southern Maine. 

The next day the sun shines for Max’s seventh birthday party with both sets of his grandparents and local cousins.  We do so appreciate celebrating outside together after a pandemic year.

Max with his Omi and Poppa

Dinosaur Crunch is Max’s favorite ice cream from the local Sully’s Ice Cream Stand. It’s on his Omi’s chocolate cupcake with M and M’s atop cream cheese icing.

Later in the week, we add our Peace flag to our front yard.