So we retraced our steps on the spur path, then turned right to resume our trek along Blueberry Mountain Trail. The trail ducked into the woods and then came to a nice ledge where we decided to enjoy lunch.
Next the trail alternated between short spurts through conifers and wonderful open granite slabs with views to the west and north. The first peak you'll probably notice to the north (to the right of the trail as you first start to descend) is Sugarloaf Mtn. (2609'). To the right, and a bit farther out from that are Black Mtn. (2830') and Howe Hill (2681'). All three have partially rocky slopes. Closer in is the forest-cloaked Jeffers Mtn. (2994).
Farther down along the descent, the views out across the Connecticut River Valley and into Vermont are more distant but still breathtakingly beautiful.
We passed over a thick band of white quartz running across the trail. Red pines grow on these slabs too although not as numerously as on the other side of the mountain. The berry bushes were also present, along with "islands" of lichen and mosses. And there were abundant, dense mats of black crowberry ( Empetrum nigrum). Crowberry, although ground-hugging, is actually considered to be a shrub and is part of the heath family. Its leaves are evergreen and tiny (less than 1/4 of an inch long) and crowd around the stems, forming lovely carpets of shining green.
Speaking of carpets, all of these ground-hugging plants, lichens, and mosses are very sensitive and should not be walked upon or sat upon. Stick to the trail or the bare rock whenever possible.
Some of the bushes and plant leaves were starting to turn Autumn-red. We passed by some maroon colored sphagnum moss interspersed with the dense green leaves of wintergreen, providing a pleasing contrast.
After dropping down below the ledges and passing through a section of evergreen trees, the trail then reenters hardwood growth and the slope eases, making for smooth walking instead of the few rock scrambles and moderately pitched slabs up above.
The route crossed several low-water streams, sometimes on rocking or wet, mossy stones so watch your step. After one of the early stream crossings was a short muddy section with moose prints. The breeze provided a pleasant, light, rustling as it made its way through the leaves in the treetops. We passed by a large grove of tall birch trees. The trail was refreshingly soft and grassy in stretches.
White wood aster ( Aster divaricatus) was in bloom with its thin, white, sort of scraggly-looking petals (actually bracts). We also passed by some shining clubmoss and some running cedar with its pitchfork-shaped fertile shoots rising above the ground-hugging portion of the plant. Clubmosses despite their name and tiny, evergreen leaves, are more closely related to ferns and horsetails than they are mosses.
We came upon Indian cucumber root ( Medeola virginiana) boasting a very dark berry. Also in fruit was some false Solomon's seal ( Smilacina racemosa) which grows upwards a bit then bends almost horizontally with the fruit protruding off the end of the stem in a clump. At this point the fruit was sort of whitish-transparent with red speckles.
Halfway down the mountain, we entered an area that long ago was a farming region. There were stone walls along the trail evidencing this as well as some "pasture-grown" trees: trees that branch out fairly close to the ground and have wide-spreading crowns. When a tree stands alone, as in a field, it has ample sun and can afford to spread itself out; whereas while growing within the woods, trees tend to shoot straight up and have narrow crowns. (To learn more about interpreting the history of the forest, check out the excellent and beautiful book,
Reading the Forested Landscape, by Tom Wessels.) We walked past a magnificent old branching maple. Beech, maple, and oak were plentiful in this section and acorns littered the trail. Reportedly, there are old cellar holes in this vicinity.
In one of the grassy-trail sections farther down, an old logging road joins the trail from the right; just continue straight ahead here. Below this was a small woods opening providing a blue-sky background for a tall, majestic-looking white pine.
Next we encountered a surprise plant: closed gentian (also known as bottle gentian). Closed gentian ( Gentiana andrewsii) has a stunning purple flower that looks more like an elongated bud than a flower; it never opens, hence its name of "closed". This plant grows within New England in Massachusetts and Vermont, but not normally in New Hampshire; but then again we weren't really that far from the Vermont line. Gentian likes moist meadows and woodland openings and with the many stream crossings, and a brook running alongside the latter part of the trail, the plant was in an ideal habitat.
And shortly after this we could see a gate ahead, as a logging road joined in from the right, marking the end of the trail. Here we used the car that we spotted earlier to drive back to the eastern trailhead where the rest of our vehicles were parked. We all agreed it was a wonderful hike.