February 17, 2016

Winter Magic Behind the Mountain

Since this month began, temperatures have bounced down and then up again by as much as 65º in New England, with a 64º temperature rise in just the last 34 hours! Crazy weather for February, but perfect conditions for hoar frost and panoramas of frost flowers across the surfaces of every flash-frozen pond, river, and stream throughout the region.

Frost flowers, like stars, on fresh black ice
If you're feeling the need of some seasonal grounding after this rollercoaster ride, enjoy the ephemeral winter beauty that John (my husband) and I discovered on a day's visit to southern VT yesterday.  All along our drive from Concord to the Vermont border, every dark waterway was spattered with white crystals, as if the stars had fallen from the sky.

Once in Brattleboro, we made our way to the dirt roads behind Wantastiquet Mountain, the 970 foot prominence that forms a dramatic backdrop for the town from across the Connecticut River in New Hampshire.  We were rewarded with ice flows and forms and luxuriant hoar frost that only this crazy two weeks of weather could have conjured...and just in time before an incoming snowfall and soaring temperatures changed the magic.

First stop, the stream and cascades along the Gulf Road (W. Chesterfield, NH).  All of these spectacles were discovered in one brief stop along the road...only 5º F. so we moved quickly.

Water flowing beneath the ice
Hoar frost decorates the frozen cascade

Crystal floor beneath the frozen cascade

Next, a pull off where the stream ran through a field edge (see first photo) and was covered with frost flowers.

A bit further down the road, we pulled into the Madame Sherri Forest parking area for a brief foray.  The trailhead starts at a footbridge over a stream and underfoot a cache of sparkling crystals!

Even the frozen puddles along the trail were blooming...

And then the remains of Madame Antoinette Sherri's "castle" come into view up the hill in the woods.

For more information and photos on her colorful life in NY theater and these ruins, see http://www.nephotographyguild.com/2014/03/mystery-madame-sherris-castle-2/

Finally, we took a short drive down the Mountain Road, which runs along the base of Wantastiquet's western slope, for a closer look at the frost flower appointments on the Connecticut River's fresh frozen expanse.

Following our inspirational morning amidst the frozen wonders in this storied landscape, we enjoyed lunch overlooking Wantastiquet from a Brattleboro cafe before meeting up with our daughter and Mama Fran for a brief visit.  Then home to Concord through snow that eventually changed to sleet and rain, washing away yesterday's facetted beauty.

My deepest gratitude to photographer Merritt ('Doc') Brown, of W. Chesterfield, NH,  for opening my eyes to the magic behind this mountain.  May he eternally follow the light and rest in peace (9.8.16).


  1. Cherrie - BEAUTIFUL - now I love ice even more than before! Wonderful photos! Thank you!

  2. Wow! Thanks for sharing. So pretty to see.