Annette State Forest is 1500 acres on the corners of Rindge, Jaffrey and New Ipswich, NH. It holds Annette Wayside Park
and Hubbard Pond.
Early March is definitely still winter in all parts of NH, and my husband, youngest son and I geared up to explore some of Annette's trails. We parked in a cleared area off Cathedral Road in Rindge and began a trek on a wide snowmobile track.
It took ten minutes of easy walking to reach the water, beginning with a dam separating Hubbard Pond's watershed. The 'road', which is wide but not vehicle friendly, steers off to the left, tempting us to wander trails for hours, but we chose the ice-covered pond to explore.
We met a few snowmobilers on our hike, nice people who gave us plenty of room. It didn't take long to regain the silence of the forest and lake.
Years ago I recognized the power space had on children. We took the kids to Rye, NH- Jenness State Beach
, and watched the toddlers run fast and far across the sand, experiencing freedom in open spaces. Walking on a winter lake is extraordinary; wandering and spreading far away from each other and remembering that a few feet below us is a deep lake habitat.
We walked in mostly silence, but saw lots of signs of winter life. A beaver lodge was fun to explore up close, and Hubbard Pond has lots of small islands and swampy areas to visit.
As we walked, we saw a few tracks. Some easily recognizable, like this deer trail,
...and others that stumped us. Below are some tracks we'd like help with. NH Fish and Game has this card
which helps identify local animals. The prints of this animal are 1.5 inches long, and the tread is over a foot apart.
Our closest guess is a bobcat- can anybody confirm? Hubbard Pond is not residential at all, so a house cat is really not likely, plus the gait is really long for them. The only property along on Hubbard Pond is Wildwood, a Mass Audubon summer camp
. A few weeks ago I began my new position at their Administrative Coordinator, so this hike was serendipitous.
Aaron has been a camper at Wildwood for a few years, and remembered the places he boated on in the summer.
This winter has been long and cold, as usual. I think we all needed the reminder summer fun is just around the corner. Really, it's simply lying dormant, right under our feet.