Above Tree Line: March

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We walked into another world today — the alpine zone on the Franconia Ridge.  Waking to a cloudy day that didn’t have a promising forecast, we kept moving with our plan to meet Ellen and hike today, knowing this was our last free day to get above tree line in March.  As we drove up 93 towards the mountains, we could see the white peaks of Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Liberty gleaming in spots of sunshine, clouds breaking open to blue sky above us.

The sun was shining through the freshly snow showered trees as we started out on the Falling Waters Trail.  But by the time we got to the falling water that gives the trail its name, the clouds had moved back in and soon after that it started snowing.  It snowed the rest of the hike.

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The trail was well packed under the few inches of new powder, so we had no trouble following the worn depression in the snow.  The only trouble was when we accidentally stepped even inches off the track — posthole, a leg lost up to the crotch in snow.

The Falling Waters Trail is a steep climb up the west side of the ridge, but it was stunningly beautiful.  Snow and ice on the river, snow on branches, snow on spruce, snow on our hats and our backs.  Snow so deep ten foot trees looked four feet tall, and a sign that in summer is at head height was at my knees.

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We kept trudging up and up and finally broke out into the alpine zone, above the trees, 3,000 feet above where we started.  The view was mostly snow and cloud, with one ridge rising out of the fogginess to our south.  Then we turned around and slid, slipped and glided down, another month’s above tree line intention done.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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