When I made the leap to move from sunny Phoenix AZ to New England last summer one of the things I was most excited about was hiking with real trees. Throughout the end of the summer and into autumn I haven’t been disappointed and the trails out here have stolen my heart. As the weather has gotten colder and snow has begun to fall I’ve been determined not to let winter keep me indoors. Snow and icy wind bring up some interesting opportunities for a photographer and plenty of challenges. My goals when I’m on a trail are two-fold. First, I’m there for the love of the hike and I need to be as prepared as any winter hiker would be. Second, I want to capture the experience. Before even reaching the trail head at Pillsbury State Park, there was a clear sense quite serenity.
Once we reached the trail we spent about 30 seconds slipping and sliding across the ice before the micro-spikes came out; something I hadn’t needed in the desert but was invaluable on this trail.
As we made our way down the trail the creaking of the trees followed close behind us and the trail was lined with fallen trees.
One of my hopes for the hike through Pillsbury was to capture a glimpse of one or two of its residents. Though we didn’t have any close encounters with a moose it was clear that we weren’t alone.
It was a strange sensation that as we climbed the two peaks the forest felt denser, as evergreens replaced leafless deciduous trees. Even the snow seemed to lighten and we found these baby trees popping up along the path.
At the top of the peak everything seemed to slow even more. As the light broke through the trees and caught floating snowflakes it seemed to freeze them in space as if we were inside a snow globe.
Descending the peaks and coming to the juncture with Bear Pond Trail it felt a little like coming back to reality with the return of sparse trees, thicker snow and scattered ice.
On this trail though, the trees seemed to be better rooted and I was struck by the network that crossed back an forth along the trail. It reminded me of neurons reaching out to each other.
Our timing seemed to be perfect; we reached the end of the trail just as the sun dipped below the horizon and threw these beautiful colors across the sky.