Slowly but surely the snow has been melting away here at the Highland Center and its starting to feel like spring. The parking lot is finally free of the huge snow banks and the fifteen foot walls of snow that lined our front walk is finally gone. Linger patches cling to the ground in shady areas of the woods, and larger patches of ice and snow reside above 3,000 feet. Mount Washington has bare patches but snow will linger in the snowfields for a while yet. Gaiters have been a must the past few weeks, first to prevent the soft snow from going down into my boots, then later during the higher stream crossings. Now they’re more to keep the bottoms of my pants clean and do my best not to widen the trail by stepping through those muddy sections and keeping towards the center of the trail.
With all of the snow melt the waterfalls have been beautiful the past few weeks. Early spring can be a tough time with stream crossings because all of the snow melt funnels into the streams because it can’t penetrate the frozen ground.
The melting snow and patches of snow aren’t the only signs of spring. Throughout the Whites leaves are starting to pop. It will be another week or so before the trees are fully out. At lower elevations trillium are starting to flower and even more have buds. Yellow Violets are in bloom along the Ripley Falls Trail. Hobble Bush has buds around Ammonoosuc Lake and its starting to flower towards the beginning of the Arethusa Falls Trail.
Animal sightings have gone up. The moose are out along the trails and roads nibbling on buds. The beavers in Ammonoosuc Lake can be seen swimming back and forth around dinner time. The remains from their meals collect under the bridge and occasionally are left on shore. The woods are alive with various bird calls. On the trail into Arethusa Falls I heard Black Throated Green and Blue Warblers, Winter Wrens, Robins, Vireos and many others.
The woods are starting to liven up and are changing rapidly. It’s possible to do a hike today and see something totally different tomorrow. New surprises are opening up and occurring every day.