Radio Field Trips: Hike to the coolest rocks in NH with the father-daughter duo behind a new hiking guide

For the next Radio outputwe go on a hike with Uma and Dan Szczesny, the authors of a new book that is flying off the shelves of local bookstores.

NH rock this rockis a field guide to the 25 coolest rocks in the state, according to the Szczesnys. The father and daughter team take us to Sheep Rock, one of Uma’s favorite hikes in the book.

I met the two at the Head’s Pond Trail parking lot in Hooksett. It’s a cold, gray day, and seven-year-old Uma is bundled up in pink and purple diapers from head to toe. She took the afternoon of the first year to guide us on the hike.

Before we begin, Uma generously gives me one of her favorite stones from her collection, a fool’s gold coin. She has a large collection of rocks that she’s built up from hikes and trips to rock stores, about “five billion hundreds” of rocks, she tells me.

Head’s Pond Trail is a long straight rail trail. Although we’re not far from the busy road, it’s nice and quiet here, with trees lining the path.

When we visited, the trail is a slab of ice, so us adults were slow on microspikes. Uma is fearless and she runs ahead so she can slide on the ice.

Dan and Uma, whose trail names are Buffalo and Little Bean, started doing these hikes to interesting rocks a year ago as part of a pandemic project. Dan was homeschooling Uma for kindergarten, so they were looking for outdoor activities that weren’t too strenuous for a six-year-old.

They stumbled upon a hike in New Boston to Frog Rock, and the two enjoyed going in search of the glacial erratic.

Szczesny said Uma asked if there were any other rocks named after animals or things.

“So we went home and did some research,” he said, “and in New Hampshire there’s like a thousand rocks named after people and things.”

“Like five billion gazillion,” Uma added.

The two created a list of about 150 of their favorite rocks, then whittled it down to 25. They had three requirements: All rocks had to be on public land, they had to be anywhere in the state, and they had to be accessible. to anyone.

“The 4,000 footers just aren’t accessible to everyone. You know, 52 With a View is not accessible to everyone. And we wanted to make a list that it doesn’t matter how old you are or if you have different abilities,” Szczesny said.

In “NH Rocks That Rock”, Szczesny records his time with Uma on the hikes. For each rock he writes down a memory of the day they first went to the rock as well as a bit of history. Even if it’s unofficial.

“It’s folkloric. Some of which we have discovered and others which we have invented.

The guide has attracted a large following since its release last year. The book’s Facebook group is now a place where members can post their progress in getting to the rocks on the list, as well as other rocks people see while hiking.

Uma also designed a patch that hikers can receive when they reach at least 20 of the rocks on the list.

“We just want people to get out and be able to earn this patch and visit different parts of the state,” Szczesny added.

After nearly a mile of walking, we spot the bend and see Sheep Rock ahead of us. It’s a big rock in a field of rocks. Pine trees surround us and a large pond is a few meters away. The rock almost looks like a sheep, or a dog, lying with its head turned towards you.

Now it’s time for Uma’s favorite part: rock climbing. But she’s a bit tired and struggling to climb the slippery rock, so Szczesny pulls her to the top.

After completing the Sheep Rock quest, I feel inspired to keep looking for those cool rocks, and maybe even earn Uma’s badge.