Blueberry Picking

Fresh New England Blueberries are one of the most delicious treats of August. There are low bush blueberries all around the White Mountains. It’s not uncommon to see a car pulled off to the side of the road and a person just up a hill gathering this dainty fleeting delicacy.  You can also find them on a nice walk or a hike. If you don’t make it out to pick your own luckily just down the road from the Hostel there is a wonderful little Farm Stand called Weston’s. They have this delicious wild growing berry for sale and I bought a lot! The tiny wild low bush berries are much smaller than the high bush blueberry and, they are quintessential  New England at its best.

Now it’s mid August, the temperature has been rising and the humidity is thick in the air…I should be swimming in the river but instead I’m turning the Hostel oven on to 425 degrees and making a pie.  It might sound crazy to some, but because these berries are the best fresh for baking and not frozen it’s worth turning a hot day even hotter for that runny, juicy slice of blueberry pie fresh out of the oven dolloped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream…and not just any ice cream…I found it at Weston’s Farm Stand along with the blueberries.  The Ice Cream is  from Sandwich Creamery, they make their own cheese and ice cream, it’s extremely decadent and delicious.   We love buying local goods and produce and supporting small businesses all around the valley.  So when you come stay at the White Mountains Hostel get out for some berry picking or just pop up the road to the farm stand and get your fill of fresh produce.

Bird Watching in The White Mountains

The whole White Mountains area is an awe-inspiring location to go bird watching (or practice Ornithology if you’re an avid birder!)

You will see many birds by just going outside but it does help the experience to have a pair of binoculars and a good bird book in hand so you can be sure to add to your Life Bird List, that I’m sure many of you have!  Also if you’re new at this and want some expert pointers please refer to this link on the New Hampshire Audubon website for a great page on Bird Watching Basics.

Even in the backyard of White Mountains Hostel you can sit in one of our adirondack chairs and watch many different bird species fly by, land in our trees, make a nest in one if Tim’s homemade bird houses, or find food on our lawn.  We have Pileated Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Chickadees, many Robins, Finches and some Cardinals that frequent the White Mountains Hostel backyard.  If you’re looking to head out beyond the hostel, the whole White Mountains National Forest area has many bird sighting experiences to be had!   When you head up Crawford or Pinkham Notch you might spot peregrine falcons and bald eagles soaring above.  When you head to the ponds and lakes all around our area you might hear and see Loons popping their heads out of the water from fishing and making their unique unmistakable loon call.

Mark your calendars for the Bicknell’s Thrush Tour up the Mt Washington Auto Road!  Click on the link to find out the dates and prices for this tour.  The Bicknell’s Thrush is a rare bird that breeds and nests around 3000ft above sea level.  The guided tour will enhance your chances of seeing and/or hearing this extremely rare bird and also see some great views up Mt Washington!

Which ever way you decide to go birding it’s always fun to see new birds and other wildlife here in the White Mountains.  So book your spring stay at the hostel and check out our website for our White Mountains Hostel Special Spring Rates!

Ice Climbing

It is exciting to think about all the winter adventures available here in the White Mountains Region. There are many options to chose from, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, x-cross, ice climbing, and winter hiking. Let WMH be a warm and friendly base camp for all your winter activities. In this post we are highlighting the ice climbing options. Here are couple guides that we recommend. These are excellent guides and you will be happy you used any of them. Also check out a book called “An Ice Climber’s Guide to Northern New England”. IME climbing school, Adventure Spirit Guides, Cathedral Mountain Guides

This week weather in White Mountains was perfect for hiking and enjoying the last days of Summer.
If you are looking for picturesque views and steady, enjoyable trail, Mount Willard is a perfect choice!

With elevation at 2840 ft (866 m) and 180 degree stunning view of Crawford Notch, Mt. Willard is a must for all hikers who want to discover Indian Summer views of White Mountains. It takes about 2h. The trail is pretty busy but once you reach the summit, the view is unforgettable.

Please share your experiences and pictures from the trail with us!

Settlers Green Outlet

November is Shopping Month

Settlers Green Outlet

Get a start on the holiday shopping while the sales are running at the Settlers Green Outlets.  There are events at Settlers Green all month long in November!  Friday, November 6 – Sunday, November 8, 2015 isThe Original Bring A Friend Shopping Weekend.  Friday, November 13 – Sunday, November 15, 2015 is Bring A Friend Shopping Weekend, Too!  Thursday, November 26, 2015 Thanksgiving Night Shopping Event 5:00pm – 10:00pm.  Friday, November 27 – Sunday, November 29, 2015 Black Friday Weekend.  Be sure to visit the other shops in town that offer great sales and discounts.  LL Bean OutletEMS and Joe Jones have great deals on outdoor adventure gear.  IME (International Mountain Equipment) and Ragged Mountain Equipment both offer a huge selection of outdoor gear on consignment as well as new climbing equipment and ski gear.  Also Ragged Mountain makes amazing rugged clothing that lasts for decades, I have clothes they made that are withstanding the test of time!   So come, bring the family!  Bring your friends!  Go for a hike in the beautiful fall White Mountains…then…Shop till you drop and come back to the hostel for some tea and listen to our great record collection!!

Spring has sprung Waterfalls

Spring has truly sprung here in New England. There is talk of this “mud season” but I for one don’t see what all the fuss is about. The beginning of Spring here is one of the most exciting and beautiful times of the year. There is so much to do and see here. Hiking is one of the best things to do right now. The trees are starting to bud and flowers are starting to peak out of the ground. There is still some snow at the higher elevations but it is quickly melting with each sunny day. The best part is the magical trickling sound of the streams as you walk in the woods. Some are just a tiny rivulet of water and some are rushing off somewhere with white caps over rocks and fallen trees, taking with it leaves and debris from last Fall.The waterfalls are spectacular this time of year. They are rushing fast and magnificently. There are many waterfalls to choose from near the hostel. Crystal Cascade is located 3 miles from Pinkham Notch Camp of the AMC. It is 80 feet in hight and it’s water source comes from the Cutler River. Arethusa Falls and Bemis Brook Falls are located just south of the Willey House site off Rt 302 in Crawford Notch. The falls are 176 feet high and flow from Bemis Brook. They’re just down a 1 1/2 mile path. There is also a sweet little waterfall and easy walk right around the corner from the hostel off of West Side Road in North Conway called Diana’s Bath. It’s a great way to start or end a day in the White Mountains. The walk there is beautiful and peaceful and there are great spots on the rocks to just sit and watch the water flow on by from the Cutler River. These are just a few options out of an endless list of beautiful waterfall hikes around here. We really enjoy them and know you will too!
The gardens at the hostel are taking off and each day we go out to look at what has grown and which new flowers are really showing. I just planted a bunch of strawberries here and can’t wait to see how they do in Summer. Spring is a time of sweet anticipation of hot days and gardens in full bloom and lush green leaves on the trees, but to get there you need to see the beginning; the buds and the moist wet soil that has that oh so distinct “smell of Spring”. So don’t be fooled by the term “mud season.” Grab your pack, your gators and come play outdoors for Spring and stay at the Hostel. This time of year is fleeting in the White Mountains and not to be missed.

Fall Foliage Hiking

I just took a hike on the Boulder Loop trail right off of Passaconway Rd only 10 minutes from the White Mountains Hostel.  The weather is perfect for hiking, the air is crisp and the views are stunning with all the color sprinkled over the mountains as far as you can see.  I brought up a thermos of hot tea and enjoyed the view as I sipped and watched a hawk soar around the top of the ledges.   There is still so much foliage to see and take in here in The White Mountains.  The chipmunks and squirrels are all over the trails collecting their nuts for winter, I came around a corner and scared one and he stood right on his little log and scolded me, the little rascal! So book a room or a bunk at the White Mountains Hostel and come get out on our trails, you don’t want to miss this beautiful time of year!!

Maple Syrup

We tapped 5 maple trees at the hostel this weekend. I have a feeling this isn’t the first time sweet maple sap has been harvested from these old trees. We have a deep respect for this old farmhouse and acreage that was once worked on by many strong hands. Elizabeth Roper owned and worked this land for decades and even established 4H programs right here. I can only imagine the fresh hard-working energy that encompassed this place when dozens of 4H kids came to learn valuable farming skills from this wise woman. I know these old trees have seen all of this and have soaked up the nutrients from this soil. Now, years later this sacred space is a hostel and instead of generations of people living here working the land there are travelers from all over the country and world who pass through this space. They are here for a night or a few nights and maybe in and out hiking or climbing and then they are on their way, hopefully to someday return. But we are here to stay, to live here and to get this place back to its roots. It won’t be back to a full scale farm with livestock but it’s a great gift to work with what is already here.

So what we did, we researched small scale maple sugaring. The key is timing. The days have to be warmer, above freezing and preferably sunny and the nights need to drop back down below freezing for the sap to be running well. The books were already checked out of the library so I went to the trusty internet. There I found many sites and blogs excited to tell me all about how to tap our trees, what we needed and how to do it all safely. We went to our cute little local hardware store and found buckets, covers, taps, and hooks. We also got cheesecloth for the outdoor debris that falls into the sap and some bottles to store our precious resource! It was surprising to me how easy it really is. We just went out and drilled 2 inch holes into the trees and hammered in the tap, hooked on our buckets and covers, on some trees there was sap dripping out immediately, which, let me tell you, made me as excited as a little kid on Christmas morning! After one warm day of the sap running I collected well over a gallon of sap. Fair warning, we have read and have been told all around town it takes A LOT of sap to boil down much syrup, but we are determined and excited for any sweet return we do get, even if it’s only enough for one pancake!

Stay tuned to This Old Hostel next week when we boil down our first batch of the sweet Nectar of the Trees and find out just how much syrup we can get from our own backyard!

Spring Skiing

It’s that time of year when we here in the North East are starting to maybe not be excited about the cold winter temperatures. We are setting our sights on Spring as we watch the snow melt. When we still love to get outside there are fun options this time of year. Spring skiing is a cherished pastime for a lot of people. A man staying at the Hostel this week enthusiastically told me that Spring skiing is his favorite time to be on the slopes. Lately spring as been holding onto the dead of winter with temps staying in the teens and low 20’s! We got a taste of upper 30’s and mid 40’s weather last week but then it dropped back down. Once you smell spring and hear the little trickle of snow melting streams it’s hard to get back to winter mode.

This coming week the temperatures are headed back up and the sun is coming out. There is a different vibe around the slopes right now. Not the “gotta get out there for the first time and embrace the frigid air for the love of the powder” but more of a relaxed “let’s get in some sweet runs before it all melts away” kind of vibe. The change of all the seasons here in the the North East is one of bitter sweetness. I for one always start to miss the season we are in while at the same time fill with excitement and awe at what’s coming next. What is coming next is new growth on each limb of every tree, and the smell of ground thawing and the sound of birds chirping and the sight of tiny baby flowers peaking their bright green heads out of the moist soil. It’s a season of birth and newness and beautiful change. So before it totally takes over and the snow on the slopes melts into beautiful streams, come up to Conway and book your bunk at the Hostel, break out your rad shades and find your favorite T-shirt because that’s all you’ll need on the slopes for these last weeks of snow season!