Mount Major Spring Break Excursion

Over my spring break, I went (finally) on a spring hike up to a false summit of Mount Major in New Hampshire. Itching to get outside, I was able to convince a friend to join me on a quick three hour hike up and down the mountain. While the ice kept us from reaching the peak safely, we were able to enjoy some time in the woods, and all the while I talked his ear off about all that I’ve been learning in this class, (ie. what the type of tree we were looking at was, what trees do best going up the gradient, and we even spotted a woodpecker within feet of the trail, which I took a video of and have posted below). Additionally, we heard the calls of crows and chickadees near the base of the mountain.

Truthfully, I was unsure and unable to identify many of the species I spotted on this trip up the mountain. There were quite a few cedar and beech near the base of the mountain, though as we went up the incline, my ability to identify the plants and tree species dropped dramatically. I noticed some pine near the false summit, as well as some paper and yellow birch, but required some research to learn the rest. The alpine and sub-alpine species include mountain ash, cotton grass, sheep laurel, mountain sandwort, and the mountain cranberry. Lower elevations of Mount Major are covered in northern hardwood forest species, and the middle elevations show plenty of stands of red spruce.

As opposed to my sit-spot in Vermont, this was a drastically different environment. A mountain landscape yields far different ecosystems than a floodplain does. And I found it quite interesting to hike while paying attention not to my own exercise, but rather to the area around me, while taking mental notes of differences in this ecosystem than mine here. This area was dry, rocky, and with a far less intense and thick understory than the floodplain, and with a lot more that I couldn’t identify than a Vermont forest. Being only a state away, I assumed I would have little to no difficulty applying my knowledge to New Hampshire, but it amazed me and challenged me to realize how much I have yet to learn. Looking forward, it was a welcome eye-opener, and a clear sign that I just might have to take dendrology in the coming semesters.

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