Category Archives: nature

Boston Harbor Islands

Stopped by the Harbor Islands the other day and took about 100 photos. Hopefully I will win a contest that is being run 🙂

This is the best photo I took that day.

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Hawaii…

Not being a beach girl, I didn’t think that I would enjoy Hawaii as much as other people.  What I didn’t realize is that Hawaii is awesome.

From the multiple black sand beaches to others with hot as lava when you walk across it sand to the one just steps outside of our hotel room, they were all awesome.  We saw fish, all kinds of weird birds, and multiple green sea turtles.

Of course, I did get a humongous burn the very first full day we were there. Oops…but my husband got it worse with blisters forming on his. 

Everything else on HI was awesome. It is a strange state…saw a feral donkey and goat hanging out together, chickens were everywhere in Kauai, signs for watching for cracks in the road. Just awesome.

 

Photos under the cut.

10599644_858448191193_8375187323635004720_n Continue reading Hawaii…

Spectacle Island

Many of my adventures have taken me onto boats for this summer…and my trip to Spectacle Island was no different.

Spectacle Island is a 15-20 minute ferry ride out of Long Wharf in Boston and is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Today’s island has been reshaped over the years with dumping, erosion, and the fill from the Big Dig to become one of the highest points in Boston Harbor.

The National Park has a green visitor center that has CLIVUS toilets, expansive views of the city, and covered picnic area.

There are a number of trails to walk along and view the city or the lighthouse.  One of these trails takes people along the shore that is scattered with rocks and the occasional dead fish:

The other main feature of the island is the trash that is coming out of the ground and washing up on the shore…seaglass and pottery shards. As an archaeologist, I am always looking down on the sand at the beach for seaglass and random things. At Spectacle, you don’t even have to search…it is all there, but not for the taking.

The ferry to the islands is almost done, just about another month. I hope to get back out to George’s sometime before then to find the dark space again!

Saugus Iron Works

Another National Park here in Massachusetts is Saugus Iron Works. Located in Saugus, MA it encompasses one of the first Iron works in the colonies and created some of the best iron outside of Spain.

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There is a collection of buildings that can be visited including a nail forge as demonstrated by Ranger Brandon here:

One of my favorite pieces of this park was the small map of the original site. Reminded me of a similar map I saw in Munich…

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There is also a project to get the river cleaned up by taking out the phragmites that are choking the river. By taking them out, the river will flow quicker and take out the sediment that has settled on the bottom. It will make the river healthier and bring back even more animals. When I was there, they had orioles, frogs, eels, little fishes, and signs of groundhogs. So well on their way.

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Saugus Iron Works is open until the end of the month and is free.

A Scottish Tramp

John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt

Perhaps the most significant event in the history of the National Park Service was the early friendship and influence of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt.  It is because of him that we have Yellowstone National Park, as well as Rocky Mountain and other areas preserved by people influenced by him.

I think, though, that the best thing about John Muir was his writing. It is very accessible and entertaining; he was not writing to impress people with his knowledge…he was writing to impress people about the importance of nature.  Some of my favorite quotes follow:

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” — from Our National Parks (1901)

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” — from Our National Parks (1901)

“As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.” — from The Journals of John Muir

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

Mountain Week, The Mountain

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Mount Washington stands at 6,288 feet (1,917 m) and is the highest point of both the White Mountain’s 4000-footers and of New Hampshire. It is known for having incredibly wild weather and holding the record for the highest wind gust measured at the Earth’s surface, 231 mph on April 12, 1934. Before Europeans arrived, it was known as Agiocochook.

First seen in 1524 by Giovanni da Verrazzano, it was first ascended in 1642 by Darby Field (for whom Mt. Field is named for). The Crawford Path was laid out in 1819, providing access to the summit. In 1861, a stagecoach road was placed for the summit (which was turned into the Mount Washington Auto Road) and in 1869 the Cog Railway was created.

One of the silliest things I’ve done in my life is to pick up a book entitled “Not Without Peril”; I did this on the first night of a 20 mile hike through the White Mountains and was fascinated by the ways that people have died on Mt. Washington. Some were quite simple, people wandering off trail or trying to summit in storms…other people have died in very unique ways, the ones who died by drowning caught my attention. Apparently, someone has also been murdered on the mountain in 2001.

I would strongly suggest not picking the book up before going on a hike through the Whites, but it is a good read overall.

Mountain Week, The Cog Railway

In honor of my hike this weekend, I thought I would do a post a day about Mt. Washington. Today’s post: The Cog Railway.

A cog railway has a toothed rack rail and is named a cog because it has one or more cog wheels that mesh with the rack rail. Because of this, it is able to operate on steep gradients.

The first cog was in England in 1812 and the first in America was the Mount Washington Cog Railway in 1868.
IMG_0071While this train has been a source of endless joy and excitement for passengers, for hikers it is a totally different story.  The train’s whistle is a constant companion as you hike up the mountain and plumes of smoke can be seen as you go up certain trails.  The worst part, however, is when you get to the top and are all tired and excited to be on top of the summit and have to wait for people who took the train to take their pictures on top of the marker to take your own.

There is something satisfying about moving around these people with your stinky and large backpack and get stared at by people. Last Wed, we were hiking up Cannon and someone was saying on the trail “You wouldn’t want to hike all the way down there!” just as I was coming onto the trail. Several looks were given to us as we slogged on to the tower…I’m sure we’ll get some more this weekend, especially if it is raining.

Cannons away!

Finally can cross off a new summit from my 4,000 footer list! Thank god. Actually, there were many representatives for God on the mountain today as we were climbing with about 80 seminarians from around the world. It was slightly weird, but they were all very polite and eager to get up the mountain. Thankfully, though, they took the tram down or continued along the trail.

Its good, because then they (and no one else) got to see the Boy scrapped his knee and my pathetic attempts to apply first aid. AND they did not get to see my feet slide out from under me as I went ass first into a nice solid (and do I mean solid!) specimen of New England rock. I think I will have quite an interesting bruise and no running for the next few days.

The Obligatory Summit picture, taken on the observation tower with annoying tourists around us complaining about the cold and the walk over to said tower.
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I’ve been taking better self portraits lately, this is my favorite from the set:
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And finally, we found a really cool rock:DSCF0048