He escaped the cacophony by strapping on snowshoes and slipping into the Great North Woods


By Miles Howard,

Miles Howard for The Washington Post

A pair of modern snowshoes, made of metal and plastic, at the Falls in the River Trail in New Hampshire.

The old dam on New Hampshire’s Second Connecticut Lake is caked with brittle crusty ice when I arrive, and the surrounding hills shrouded in fresh snow. But a torrent of steel-gray water spills through the concrete sluice, forming the beginnings of the Connecticut River. Up here, at the tiptop of the Granite State — 80 miles north of the White Mountains, where tourists scream down powdery slopes on skis each year — an older, slower winter wonderland awaits travelers. 

A windswept realm of lakes, highlands and boreal forest — the domain of old fishermen during the summer and fall months — this overlooked corner of New Hampshire is known as the Great North Woods, and there are two ways to experience the winter wilderness up here. You can blast through the forest on a snowmobile, like Wile E. Coyote strapped to a rocket. Or you can strap on snowshoes and disappear into the silence of the frozen white woods, floating atop the powder.

This is what I’ve rented a cabin and driven up from Massachusetts to do. Because of the pandemic, I’ve been tucked away indoors for too long, every muscle in my body is too tight, and, with hospitals overwhelmed with covid patients, I don’t feel like taking the physical risks of skiing or of scaling mountains with crampons.

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