Sunday, July 30, 2023

Devil’s Hill Trail

Wednesday July 19,2023                                               Most Recent Posts
Moose River Campground site 20       Planning Around the Rain in Vermont
St Johnsbury, Vermont                      Lookin’ for Loons in All the Right Places

This was the view out my bedroom window at around 8am as I was leaving to hike up Devil’s Hill.  Since it was not “scheduled” to rain today I felt I could go out and the river would recede at least some while I was gone.



The road to the trail head for Devil’s Hill made me concerned about someone coming the other way but luckily no one did.  Not sure what I would have done if they had.  Someone would have had to back up a mighty long way.

Not a soul when I arrived at the parking area.  This bodes very well for a quiet climb to the view.  So let’s take a hike.

Trail starts out as probably what was a logging road.  Nice and wide.

It gets rougher and comes to signs indicating  a potential turn off to the left which I decide will be the way back on  the loop.  Main trail gets smaller and rougher but not as small as the return loop trail.


Mostly the trail up looked like this.

I can see that I have arrived.


I had this spot for perhaps 10 minutes alone and then a grandfather and teen age grandson joined me.   They had walked over from Martin’s Pond where the grandson lives.  He told me it was off to the left and not visible.   If he told me what the lake/pond was to the right, I don’t remember.



I zoomed in on the view above to try to get the ridges in the distance but they are barely visible.  Still smoke from Canada.

I took the loop back down and liked the back section much better so if I come again I’ll go up and down the back part of the loop.   I stopped along the way to do this 24 second video of the song of what I believe is a Wood Thrush.  It’s lovely. Take a listen.


This area is clearly more moist than the trail up where I saw no fungi.


Wonder who likes to munch on mushrooms?


Same unnamed body of water on the way down.  I looked on google maps.  They show it but they give it no name.


I love all the moss and green on this trail.


And the ferns.  They were closing in on me.


More of Mother Nature’s beautiful designs.

The narrowness here makes me think most folks go up and back on other part of the loop. 


This made me laugh out loud.  A stop sign head?

Closing with the most interesting mushrooms of the hike.  


Today was a wonderful hike so next outing will be a kayak and I’m trying Martin’s Pond that the young man recommended.  I prefer ponds without houses but he lives there year round and says it is very quiet and has LOONS!!  Sounds like my kind of place.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Planning Around the Rain in Vermont

Saturday July 15-Tuesday July 18, 2023                        Most Recent Posts                   Moose River Campground                Lookin’ For Loons in all the Right Places
St Johnsbury, Vermont                          A Stunning Hike in Franconia Notch

PXL_20230715_231902213.MPThe rain continues.  Not all day every single day but often at some point nearly every day.  The flood recovery continues in the southern and western sections of Vermont.  It’s been worse they say than Tropical Storm Irene in August of 2011.

Here in site 20 Winnona and I are fine and the beautiful river never really got threateningly close to us.  But all this has made me rather glad I am here for my first time ever anywhere 3 month stay.  There are so many days I can’t really go anywhere, it’s raining so no kayaking or hiking or it rained this morning so kayaking maybe but trails are too wet.  So I still have places I want to go even though I am  half way through my stay.   Hope the second half is dryer than the first.

PXL_20230715_231843310.MPThere are things that the weather doesn’t stop like the park’s wine and cheese party.  It rained but that didn’t matter. 

David and I seldom stayed in private parks unless we wanted to be in one place longer than two weeks and even then we were never around the park so we were seldom part of the activities.

But I find that alone I appreciate the company and the events that they schedule in this small park.  I don’t drink wine or much of anything alcoholic unless it is far too sweet for the normal person but I enjoyed the “cheese” which was really snacks for everyone.  I should have taken this picture from the other end of the table.

And there are things that the weather only modifies thankfully.

PXL_20230716_204635717.MPEver since I found out about it, I have been looking forward to the Albannach concert that was to be held at Dog Mountain. 

Albannach is a favorite band of David’s and mine.  They are Scottish highland drums and bagpipe.  They perform at Highland Games, Scottish Festivals, and Renaissance Faires as well as other venues. 

PXL_20230716_204555914.MPDog Mountain has musicians there every Sunday and people bring chairs, the dogs run around and I understand it is a wonderful time.  All free.  But nearly all the concerts have been rained out this summer.  Amazingly it wasn’t going to rain for the Sunday of the Albanach concert so I drove up early to get a good spot.  When I got to the turn off, two people were there giving out directions for the indoor venue it had been moved to.  Seems the ground was so soft and the crowd expected to be so huge that they were worried about damage to the Dog Mountain grounds.  So everyone who wanted to, and that was a lot of folks, drove to Lydon where it was held in the community ice hockey rink.  Gotta love Vermont.

The muddy  parking lot you can see above was filling up when I got there an hour early and folks were in line.

As at Dog Mountain, you bring your own chairs. People filled up the arena even though it was a last minute change of venue.  It was amazing that they got a volunteer venue and moved the outdoor stage and all the sound equipment  to it (10 miles away) all on such short notice.  The weather has been very uncooperative here in Vermont.

At was a great crowd.  The space in the very front is reserved for dancing and it was filled for most of the concert.


Because I got there early, I had a spot relatively near the front.


I struck up a conversation with the two women next to me, Darcie and Cheryl.  Darcie took this shot of me.


The music was fantastic though loud in doors.  It’s more suited for outside in the Highlands or Dog Mountain or the other spots where I’ve seen them before.   Apparently they like performing here since they make significantly less money. They almost never perform at the same space two years in a row.  They’ve been to Dog Mountain four years in a row and I’m very tempted to return to Moose River to see them next year outside hopefully.

My phone speakers couldn’t deal with the sound so I’m not posting the video I took.


On non rainy days I alternate between hiking and kayaking depending on how much non rain free morning time I have and thus how far away I can drive to do these things.  If it rained yesterday, kayaking is in order since the ground may be too muddy for hiking.

This Monday I went again to Job’s Pond which was close enough to return home  before the predicted rain.  I’ve posted about Job’s before so I’ll just show a few pictures here and of course the loons.

Joes has a nice launch site. 



Around the pond are various views of the mountains.  I wish I knew what type rock this was that make them look so rugged.



The loons are the biggest attraction for me.


I was lucky to catch this loon “running” across the water to get up speed to “take off”

And I got him just as he was pulling his last foot up.

But I couldn’t swivel around in the kayak enough to get him in the sky sadly.  Still I love these pictures.  The one below is just a closer look at his foot barely touching the water.   How DO they do that?

I doubt I will come back to Job’s again.  It is lovely but there are many other ponds in Vermont to check out.

If you’ve seen Albannach or Loons, where was it and when?

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Lookin’ for Loons in All the Right Places

July 6-14, 2023                                                    Most Recent                         
Moose River Campground                 A Stunning Hike in Franconia Notch
St Johnsbury, Vermont                       Writing in the Shadow of a Flood

Note:  There are several videos in this post and they are all very short.  Let me know if it is too many. :-)


On Friday no rain was predicted so I ventured out 34 miles south to kayak in Lower Symes Pond.  I was very low on gas in Ruby and it was 34 miles away but I was sure I could go there and back with no problem

Well there were problems.  I followed google maps but forgot to bring my Quiet Waters book which was where I’d found this pond.  Google maps sent me down a very rocky road to a private no trespassing community with no indication of where the boat dock really was.  Without unlimited gas to drive around looking, I was forced to abandon Symes and head for a gas station. 

I’ve said before that I am in the back of beyond here in the Northeast Kingdom and there was nothing resembling a gas station until I was almost back to St Johnsbury where I stopped at an Irving Station to use my discount card.  Nope – their pump wouldn’t recognize it and after 4 trips back and forth to the store counter doing all the things they told me to do, I gave up and filled up at $3.54 instead of $3.44.  Thank goodness I wasn’t filling up Winnona.


But it was a no rain day and I was determined to go kayaking.  So I went to the closest pond – Joe’s Pond which is actually two ponds connected by a narrow water strip and both are lined with vacation homes.  Not my usual choice for kayaking and thus I’d never been there before but I was on the water and there were loons.   By the time I got there it was nearly afternoon and the power boats and water skiers were out.  Though this was not a week-end day, it is summer.

Here are a few of the MANY cottages/homes/camps lining this pair of connected ponds.

I took a picture of this house only because of its name IWANNAPEEPEE – really?


This one had a good name too Paws-Relax but also demonstrates nearly the maximum number of toys.


This one seems to show some lack of planning for your ultimate lake view.


This was probably the smallest “camp”.  The largest was an entire point with a HUGE house on it and several outbuildings but I couldn’t get it all in one picture so it would lose its effect.


To add to the difficulty of this day, I had forgotten my Canon 35mm camera and was stuck with my phone which during the bright sunshine of the early afternoon was not providing good pictures.  Especially the loon pictures were disappointing.


But I was on the water with my face slathered in sunscreen and  there were loons and water lilies to see.  Poor me.



The later video of the loons was slightly better than the pictures though the best part is the two adults are calling to each other.  One is off screen.

I’m amazed that this loon family has chosen this very busy pond to nest on.  Really hope the huge number of people living and boating here are very careful.

Yes, that is a baby loon.  Bummer the pictures aren’t better.  I always have to take them at a good distance so as not to scare them off or upset them.  Still,  good enough for the memory.






Here is the link to the video.



On the week-ends I don’t tend to go hiking or kayaking because of the week-end warriors.  On this Saturday I thought I would check out the next closest labyrinth to walk which was in nearby Danbury at the American Society of Dowsers headquarters.  They were closed the Saturday I was there so I pulled into the parking lot and got out to look for the labyrinth.


Here is what I found.   It was so overgrown that it was hard to make it out and it was not large  even when it was being kept up.


Oh well, now I know the only labyrinth near by is in St. Johnsbury.  But while I’m here I stopped in to Bentley’s where I got a fantastic veggie panini which was so good I ate it without taking its picture.




Bentley’s is a bakery mainly and if you come too late in the day there will be nothing left at all in the pastries cases.


I also stopped by the St Johnsbury library and picked up all the Steven Huneck books they had for Pooh and I to read.  I’ve talked about Huneck and Dog Mountain before.  His books about his lab Sally are all done from woodcuts and are wonderful.


On Sunday I walked around St J as it is known here and of course walked the well maintained labyrinth.


I stopped back at my car to pick up my water bottle and an hour later when I returned, this is what I found.   Yes, I had left my keys in the car door for an hour or more on a main street in St Johnsbury and there they still were when I returned.  Nothing had been touched.  I love St Johnsbury.  I don’t think it is possible for this to happen in my hometown of Charlottesville.  The car would have been stolen.


AND when I got in to go home, I saw the town clean up volunteers getting their steps in.  Wonderful place.  No wonder about half the folks at the last library book discussion had moved to St J in the past 3 years.


I do lots of walks around the campground – 1/4 mile per loop – it takes a lot to get any real exercise.  I pass this Moose greeting me at the campground entrance.


I wish I had found these folks at home so I could have asked them how in the world they get those kayaks off the RV roof.  Do they take the RV to the boat launch???


There are several “seasonal” sites (May-October) and at least 3 of them have a lot of “decorations”.  I think they are tacky but each to his own.


There are Moose everywhere here, especially on the office porch walls.  No real moose sadly.   There are also lots of flowers in the park.  They and it are very well kept.



I set out on Tuesday for relatively nearby Keiser Pond.  More loons!   BUT, after getting within less than a mile, the road was closed so I decided to park and walk up the road and see what the trouble was.  

This was taken from the road beyond the barrier looking at the river rushing by.


No problem walking up the road until I got here.  A side of the road had just slid right down.  No way to walk beyond.



Everything looked like it was just growing in the road.  Anyone who wanted ferns or trees to plant could have taken them home.   But I wasn’t going kayaking here today obviously.


A few more days of rain intervened before I could go paddling again.  And when I did I went to Ewell Pond to give the clean up folks a chance.


Ewell is a sweet little pond that you can kayak around in an hour or less depending on how seriously you want to paddle.




I particularly like this rock and its reflection.

And here were the loons.  Better pictures than at Joe’s.  Better camera.

Gettin’ out a here.

I didn’t get a video of them flying off or even a good picture of them in the air but I did get this video of them swimming Ewell Pond.


Beautiful clear water covering rocks that most days would be on the surface.


Not sure if this little inlet is always there but it was today with the water up so I paddled in to check it out. 


And this is what I found.   I’m not  small enough to go there and the space isn’t big enough side to side to turn around so……. watch this very short video to see what I did.


In Vermont the mountains are almost always in the background.



I really was amazed given all the clean up that has to go on in Vermont from the flooding to find that 3 days after I saw the slide, the road was cleared and I went to the Keiser Pond boat launch on a foggy Friday morning.


The fog is evident in this shot of the great blue heron on the bank.


And on the pond as well.


The water and the loons look a bit foggy.

There were a trio of loons and I was able to get this pretty good video of them despite the fog.

Finally the fog lifted.



I was so happy to see and be able to photograph these other birds on Keiser Pond which has become my new favorite close by pond (30 min or less)

Am I right that this is an Eastern Kingbird?

Belted Kingfisher or fishers buzzed the pond all morning.  I’m always amazed that I can get a half way decent picture of them as they don’t land for long and about the time I get the camera up and focused it’s to find that they are gone already.


I “think” this is an Alder Flycatcher which I don’t think I’ve seen before.  Can someone confirm or correct?


Keiser Pond also had an inviting channel. How can I resist?   Had to back out of that one too.  Here’s a short video of my relaxing float out complete with bird sounds.


I came upon this mallard family with only mom’s head up.


Isn’t she beautiful.  What shading!


It was a great day for feathered friends and beautiful reflections.


Thought I’d throw this in for a laugh and for my Florida friends.  What’s it remind you of??   Should I paddle through there?

Keiser Pond – a place I will definitely return to.