21 August 2005

New Hampshire

So New Hampshire is NOT like Vermont in so many ways. First, there is the state motto. Officially, it's "Live free or die." However with no motorcycle helmet or seat belt laws, it might as well be "Live free AND die." New Hampshire is much more libertarian than Vermont.

But it goes beyond politics or culture. Geologically and environmentally, New Hampshire is very different from Vermont. The mountains are different, the rocks are different, even the soil is different. It's kind of weird. Because everyone always likes to lump the two states together -- and they do fit together nicely in terms of shape. But ... I'm telling you, once you cross the Connecticut River, it's a whole different ball game.

It's as if the last Ice Age gave New Hampshire a different glacier or something. Or more reasonably what happened was that the glacier came through Vermont and the ocean came all the way through New Hampshire and what is now the Connecticut River Valley was the shore line.

When I was in 9th grade, we did a study of the direction the last glacier took when it came through Vermont. Our study is actually written up in the Vermont Geology books ... whatever they might be called. I helped the State of Vermont decide which direction the glacier took ... at the ripe old age of 14. That seems sort of funny. We did it by studying striations on pebbles ... and called it the Adamant Pebble Campaign. It seems to me that I should be able to tell you more about it now, but I can't. Perhaps because it happened 30 years ago and perhaps because I was more concerned with what Eddie Pierce thought of me than what my teacher thought or what I was learning. But, I remember enough to tell you something different happened in New Hampshire ... because the mountains are different. They are rougher and craggier, more like junior versions of the Rockies. Vermont's mountains are like Virginia's Blue Ridge ... and they are the northern end of that range (the Appalachians), round and welcoming, almost Rubenesque.

Even the soil is different. The soil in Vermont is black and loamy. The soil in New Hampshire is very sandy in nature. You almost feel as if you're at the beach. You can tell by the vegetation ... the trees that grow there are different too. There are lots of birches and aspens. In Vermont, there are lots of maples and pines.

I always get reminded of all of this when we drive through New Hampshire as we did the other day on our way to Maine. It cracks me up every time I tell someone I'm from Vermont and they say, "Oh, I was just up in New Hampshire ..." like they're the same place ... and ... well ... they're completely different. But I just smile and nod my head.


Blogger Maggie said...

Do I sense a Vermont/New Hampshire rivalry of sorts? Also, mountains? I think you mean hills.

8/22/2005 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger aBhantiarna Solas said...

Now ... look ... I am NOT going to get into that discussion. Even geologists call them mountains. They meet the criteria ... so just be quiet you western snobs you! ;-)

8/22/2005 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger ArborSam said...

I will second that...they are mountains...at least up in New Hampshire and down in North Carolina...When a land form exhibits a vertical mile in elevation change from base to top...it is a mountain. Climbing a mountain like that is no different whether you are in North Carolina, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, New York...you name it, same lung busting experience. I once met a couple western snob boys, who were actually ultra marathoners(guys who run 25,50 and 100 mile trail runs), they were halfway up Mt. Leconte in the Smokies, it was October, they decided they would head up to the top of the "hill" as it were...make quick work of it, hey its only just under 7000 feet that's not a mountain...they were whining asking us how much farther could it possibly be...they didn't have enough water or warm clothing...it was starting to snow on top..."this is the east what the hell man!" Pansies! Ok...go for a hike or climb in Colorado or Wyoming...yes the top is at 12000 feet but dude you started at 8500 on the valley floor. I will grant you that is a good climb but it's not nearly a vertical mile...

Ok, so this is a hot button issue for me...as you can see. I love the mountains out west, I have climbed to just under 19,000 feet in South America. Those mountains are magnificent...but the MOUNTAINS on the east coast are still mountains with rugged terrain and fine character, like a fine wine...you have to look deeper sometimes to appreciate the subtleties and rich, complex character. The rich forests on the east coast also boast a fantastic diversity of flora. There are five times the number of species of trees in the mountains of North Carolina compared to the mountains out west. One week in Wyoming and I pretty much knew all of the trees and shrubs...We seemed to find new forest types each week in North Carolina...Ok now I sound like a snob...I just think that the mountains on either coast are beautiful....they just have different character.

8/24/2005 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger Ross said...

Talk about a find (red) wine... that was an A++++ comment Sam :)

8/25/2005 08:45:00 PM  

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