Spending four days in Vermont and New Hampshire was a great way to wind down my vacation. Thursday evening was spent at Dartmouth college in Hanover, NH watching the Reel Film Paddling Festival by Rapid Media and sponsored by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail .
However the next two days (Friday & Saturday) was nothing but rain with short breaks in between. Friday was a total wash and we had spent the day kayak shopping over in North Conway, NH. Saturday morning the rain had stopped for a while and I was able to knock out a quick 5 mile run. Showered now we were off to harass the local wildlife. Sitting at Reeds Marsh in Orford, NH a local had tipped us off to a pair of Merlins who had been in the area lately. Sure enough we found them! They were beautiful to watch as the male had went a caught either a Junco or Chickadee and brought it back for his girl.
Sunday morning was the gem with a beautiful sunrise, partly cloudy skies and a light breeze. Although it was rather chilly when we set out for French Pond in North Haverhill, NH. It was a great start to the day. Afterwards I would pack up and make the six hour drive home, briefly stopping in Bainbridge, NY to order my custom kayak paddle from Dale Fox of Foxworth Paddles. Once home and car unloaded I was off for a great tempo run as the weather was still perfect.
A cool breeze filled the room where I was sleeping in West Newbury Vermont, it was 4AM and you know what they say “The early bird gets the worm” or in this case “The Moose”. After throwing on some clothes I quietly went into the boys room, they were sound asleep. I woke them and asked them if they wanted to come with Ian and I to Long Pond in search of the elusive moose. They responded with a a groggy NO.
Downstairs Ian and I are prepping for our morning adventure. Coffee, breakfast and a ton of expensive camera gear. Canoes had been loaded onto his truck the evening before. It’s 5AM as we make the forty minute foggy trip through the Upper Valley to Long Pond in Benton New Hampshire. Long Pond is a remote 96 acre body of water in the White Mountains with an average depth of 4 feet and a max depth of 8 feet. Its so remote that you have to drive a 3 mile dirt road in order to launch your canoe or kayak. We arrived just before sunrise and the pond was extremely still, the only sounds were the erie call of the Loon. I took a real short video in order to capture their sound. In our canoes, we quietly paddle out into the pond. https://youtu.be/iN8NE9Zs_xI
Long Pond is abundant with wildlife. Otters, Beavers, Hawks, Osprey, the occasional Bald Eagle, Loons, Ducks, King Fishers, many species of birds and Moose make their residence here. I’ve been on the hunt to photograph the elusive moose in the wild for three years now with no luck what so ever. As Ian and I made our way around the pond we decided to split up in order to work several different coves. Paddling my way towards the south end I came across two adult Loons and their chick. I spent the better part of a half hour working with them before moving on.
I’m at the south end sitting in the shadows as the sun begins to highlight pockets of the pond. The water is like glass and I am just floating, thinking and taking in my surroundings. Actually I was really trying not to fall asleep. Then all of a sudden to my unbelieving eyes a young bull moose walks right out of the brush and into the shallows of the pond. I began to shake with excitement! I actually froze for a moment and then slowly reached for my camera. I was still shaking as I clicked off a few frames, my lenses imagine stabilization motor working making a humming noise as it works. The moose finally took notice of my presence and began to move around the shoreline. I clicked off a few more frames. The light was horrible but I didn’t care as this was my moment. This moose would stay in sight for about 10 minutes before disappearing back into the woods.
Putting my camera down, grabbing my paddle I raced back up the pond to find Ian with that triumphant feeling. A feeling of utter accomplishment that I have longed for. I found Ian sitting behind one of the many rock islands dotting the pond’s landscape in hopes of photographing the playful Otter’s. As I approached I was fist pumping and Ian knew right away what I had just photographed. We spent a few more hours on the pond pursuing the Loons, watching the Osprey fish and the King Fisher’s scramble like fighter planes on an aircraft carrier.
We would spend the next several mornings on Long Pond with the hopes of photographing another moose. Our hopes weren’t enough and we didn’t see another moose. However we the privilege of photographing more of the Loons in depth. I’ve been drawn to the Loon for quite sometime now as they are truly an interesting and beautiful animal.
At the end of this month Ian and I will embark on a trip through northern New Hampshire and Maine again in search of the moose.