A snowstorm dumped a foot of snow all over New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts, cutting the power out of more than 500,000 homes. Traffic slowed to a trickle, and people were advised to remain indoors until the snow crews could get all the roads cleared. All this translated to me as TIME FOR A SNOW HIKE!
I dragged my friend J yet again to the White Mountain National Forest (about 2 hours north via I-93 from Boston), where we enjoyed an October winter wonderland. I had never seen anything like it, a foot of snow while trees still had green leaves. Fall was late getting up here to New England, and winter was impatient, apparently. We did see a number of trees with fall foliage, mainly yellows with the oaks, and a couple trees with no leaves, but for the most part, still a lot of green.
J and I drove through part of the Kancamagus Highway, a beautiful stretch of road
reminiscent to me of the Blue Ridge Parkway (though, not quite as beautiful). We stopped by a couple overlooks, I hit him with a snowball, and then we drove some more until I randomly decided to take a sharp left onto a small road. Before long, we hit a dead-end, however, with a sign telling us that the remainder of that road was not maintained during the winter. So we turned around, and that was when I saw signs for a trail we ended up hiking.
The name was Rob Brooks trail, by of course a little brook. I parked the car, and we headed down the trail. It was an easy hike, though we couldn’t finish it because a sign warned of bad foot bridges farther along the path. So we had gone two miles, partly along a brook, partly in the middle of the woods. No one had walked it when we got there, and it looked like no one ever did. The trail was on a small side road from the highway; We barely noticed it. Nothing marked the trail as particularly interesting, no scenic overlook, not definite ending, nothing but a small brook (which the White Mountains had by the hundreds).
This trail was perfect for me at that moment. No one was on it; heck, no one was near it. So few people were out at this time after the snowstorm; the road was a dead-end. Pretty much no one had a desire to be at this part of the national forest, and so I got to have the one thing I had been craving for most of my time up in Boston: silence.
Boston is a city filled with opportunities, events, excitement, anything except silence. Everywhere, always, you can see other people, hear other people, damn it, smell other people! People always honk at other cars, at cyclists, at pedestrians, probably at light poles in their way, but you always hear honking. We’re jam packed, and we hate it, lashing our frustrations out on one another all the time in our horns, our quick, aggressive gestures at each other. By the end of the day, I want to rip any breathing soul into shreds. I knew on Friday, I needed to get out or I’d lose it. I needed silence.
I finally got that on the Rob Brooks hike, a nondescript, little trail in the middle of nowhere with nothing but silence and the forest to offer its hikers. It gave me everything. Many times, I just stopped and stood, staring out into the forest or up at the cloudy sky and listened to the silence, momentarily broken by a breeze or a creaking fir or a single bird. I breathed in the silence with the cold air and smiled.
Every time I enter the forest, be it on the trail or on the river, I feel healed, slowly replenishing with the peace and happiness that enables me to handle the bustling, crammed confines of a city bursting with life. I love Boston with its opportunities and excitement. I also love that it’s teaching me how I love the mountains much, much more.