Snow-covered lawn and leaves on Tuesday. I thought about putting away the rake and getting out the snow shovel. Lawn furniture is undercover, but bikes and kayaks are still available, should the weather warm. It’s November, a month of transitions.

November is often called the “stick” season. When leaves are off the trees, that’s all you see — sticks! Thankfully, mountain views now are unobstructed. To me, it’s a gray-brown month, accented by snow-white dustings.

For others, November is “deer hunting” season. Archery season started Sept. 15 and goes through Dec. 15, but the majority of deer hunters will be in the woods in November. The muzzleloading season started Oct. 31 and goes to this Tuesday, Nov. 10. Regular firearms season starts Wednesday, Nov. 11, and goes through Dec. 6.

In Maine, hunting is also going on but is prohibited on Sundays — a good day to ride in Maine.

That’s why I always associate November with “hunter orange.” Anyone going into the woods this month better be prepared to run into hunters. Whether you’re a hiker, runner, biker or dog walker, everyone should be wearing hunter orange. Don’t be mistaken for hunters’ quarry.  

The White Mountain Chapter of NEMBA Facebook page had several posts recently, asking if there was hunting allowed in Marshall Property and Redstone. The answer is, “Yes.” If you go into the woods today, you may encounter hunters. Watch out — wear blazing orange — and make lots of noise.

November is also “ski swap” month. As people start transitioning to cold-weather activities, they do a gear and clothing inventory. Skiers examine their gear to see what they should sell or give way at a ski swap and what they might want to purchase at the same.

In Mount Washington Valley, we have two ski swaps in November.

Jackson Ski Touring Foundation’s Ski Swap is this Saturday, Nov. 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Eastern Slope Ski Club’s 50th Ski Swap is this coming Friday, Nov. 13, from 2-7 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 14, from 9 a.m. to noon.

JSTF’s swap is a good place to sell or buy cross-country skiing and snowshoe gear. ESSC’s focuses more on downhill ski and snowboard equipment.

Ski swaps are usually crowded. What COVID-19 restrictions are in place this year to protect everyone?

When I asked, Ellen Chandler, JSTF’s executive director, shared the following: “The sale will be conducted following retail guidelines.  Building capacity restrictions will be managed; face coverings (nose and mouth) are required, hand sanitizer will be available and touch surfaces will be cleaned regularly.  Social distancing will be enforced and indoor socializing is discouraged.”

JSTF will have other COVID precautions: “The point of sale will have plastic screens. Customers can try on clothes/boots. Volunteer sales staff will maintain distances. JSTF staff is putting a lot of the ski selection info online later this week, so buyers can educate themselves in advance.”

ESSC is also taking COVID precautions. According to its website, “Gear you’d like to sell should be dropped off at the North Conway Community Center on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 12, between 5-8 p.m. Each item requires a tag ($1 each). COVID protocol, all tags must be purchased in advance and filled out prior to dropping off to prevent crowding. If you need assistance pricing your items, feel free to leave the price line blank. Tags can be purchased at Bob and Terry’s in North Conway (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday/Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Ski Works in West Ossipee (Thursday-Monday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or Andes Ski Shop in Bartlett (Monday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).”

During the ESSC Ski Swap, the following COVID-19 health and safety measures will be in place: Masks are required at all times while inside the community center. Hand sanitizer will be available upon entry and throughout your shopping experience. Capacity restrictions will be in place to ensure a comfortable shopping experience. Social distancing will be enforced. High touchpoints will be frequently cleaned.

Grab your mask, hand sanitizer and wallet, and go look for gear deals at November’s ski swaps.

November is also “trail work” month. Ski touring centers like JSTF, Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring and Bear Notch Ski Touring are busy fixing up trails to get them ready for winter. Snowmobile clubs are doing the same.

The White Mountain Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association (WMNEMBA) is also working to complete some trail projects before winter. In a recent WMNEMBA newsletter, they announced that they had received a NEMBA trail improvement grant “to bridge and reroute a small section of the Muffler Trail at its southern end. Many riders avoid the trail in the spring due to some seasonal water problems.  The grant supplies funds for the materials needed to bridge one section. Chris Krug, of Eastside Bike Guides, is heading up the project and the KHS mountain bike club is slated to help out as well.”

WMNEMBA’s Advisory Board focused on this project in an effort to improve riding choices from the Hemlock end of the east side trails.

That news caught my attention. Though my husband, Peter Minnich, didn’t build it, he adopted and maintained the .6 mile Muffler Trail for years. When others wanted to close it down, he advocated for keeping it as an option to Pillar to Pond Trail. When the muffler it was named for disappeared, Peter found another in a burned-out Bronco abandoned on the power lines and hung it up in a tree on the trail. Hopefully, it’s still there.

Wednesday, I arranged to meet Chris Krug at Hemlock Lane. I wanted to see where the proposed 100-foot bridge would be. I was looking for the muffler, too. Crossing the railroad tracks, we took the trail over to the granite pilaster. Right before it, we turned onto the Muffler Trail.

Not very far in, I spotted orange survey tags on my right, marking where the bridge will be. Chris said once he gets the materials, the bridge would be built at his place, then transported in sections to the Hemlock parking lot. Kennett mountain team members, Chris, and other volunteers would then carry the sections to the site and assemble the bridge.

Right now, there’s a shortage of pressure-treated lumber. While Chris is waiting for materials, he has been improving the trail layout to make it more sustainable and interesting. He has designed the bridge to elevate riders over the spring wet sections, lessening trail damage. In drier seasons, the trail will also be wide enough to allow riders to bypass the bridge if they want.  As for me, I can’t wait to try it.

One more task to do — find the muffler. Leaving Chris at the bridge site, I rode up the trail, glancing into the trees, trying to spot the muffler, knowing it would be on my right. Around curves and up and over small rises I pedaled. On a quick uphill, I spotted a trail junction sign on my left and the muffler on my right. It was still hanging there.

November is a month of transitions. Warm weather activities may be disappearing, yet fun, wintry weather ones will replace them soon. Get ready!

Sally McMurdo is a bike safety instructor and cyclist who lives in Glen.

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