Monday, July 21, 2014

Lake of the Clouds

The weather for Mt. Washington was forecast to be perfect - highs in the 50s, few clouds and little to no wind! Little to no wind is almost unheard of on top of Mt. Washington! A rare day!

It took about an hour and half to drive from the campground to the summit. It was sunny the whole way up, but when we got to the summit there was a big cloud and it was cold! We couldn't decide what to wear - we'd both brought all types of warm clothes, but the sun was strong and hot, if the sun was out we'd need to be dressed for summer, but if the clouds were blocking it, it was chilly! Hard to dress appropriately!

We headed out, going the correct way on the AT this time! The AT is hard to follow through the Whites because it goes in all directions in order to go over all the peaks and through all the notches, it's easy to get turned around and be going the wrong direction!

We had to go down to get to the hut and the trail was all rocks! Mostly small-ish racks you could step over and on. No climbing or rock scrambling. Many of the rocks moved however and just when I'd get a good pace going I'd hit one that moved and almost lose my balance. It was 1.5 miles and a 1000ft of elevation loss to the hut. Because of the rocks and going slow it took us over an hour to get there!

The hut was very nice, all enclosed, unlike Lonesome Lake which was separate buildings. Lake of the Clouds is the highest hut in the whole hut system so that's probably why it's all enclosed, it gets super cold up there!

We went back out to eat lunch on the rocks overlooking the lake! The sun was shinning and it was a very nice place to eat! Both Dad and I had full signal on our cell phones! This meant that I received a school email beside Lake of the Clouds! Just because it comes doesn't mean I have to read it! LOL!

We'd studied the map and found that we could do a loop to get back to the summit so we headed up a different trail than the AT. At first the trail seemed super easy - it was up, but it was more gentle, there were rocks, but they seemed smaller, more secure, and there was more grass. The views were different too! The mountains in the distance were blue, just like the ones at home, only much bigger!

Just when I was really enjoying the stroll through the rocks, the trail started to descend. Wait. What? Downhill? The summit was up. Why were we going down? We went down a ways and then came to the mouth of Tuckerman Ravine - this is one way up from the bottom of Mt. Washington. It's 4 miles with 4,000+ feet of elevation gain! Dad wanted to walk up it, which would have been great, except that once you walk up, you gotta walk down! And down is way harder than up!

We took in the view of the ravine and chatted with folks who were coming up - they looked very tired! The last part of our hike was the top 0.6 of a mile of the Tuckerman Ravine trail. This was also where we would gain 900 of feet of elevation. This is why the first part of the trip back was so easy. The trail was a rock field. Big rocks, little rocks, climbable rocks, step over rocks, rocks of all types! The big ones you had to climb up were actually easier! Overall it was actually a really fun trip up! I know I've said it before and I'll prob say it again, but I love my new Oboz shoes! They are so light and they grip so well! I felt almost like it was levitating up the rocks!

Soon we were back at the summit and headed down the mountain back toward North Conway. Yesterday when we were shopping we found an ice cream place - 18Degrees C - they advertised that they used only NH dairy, no corn syrup, no junk! We had to try it! We wanted to sample it last night, but they were closed. This afternoon was our chance.

It was a small shop and all the flavors seemed weird. They also had other ice cream treats - frappes, sundaes, Popsicles etc... We started by asking some questionsabd chatting with the owner. One of the ice creams was made with mushrooms. He told us not to turn up our nose until we tried it. We didn't try it. He had a pineapple pink peppercorn that was weird - he gave us both a taste and when we didn't like it, the guy seemed to start teasing us. When we finally ordered - me getting a chocolate and Dad getting coffee the guy started teasing us saying we were boring and that our order was so boring he almost fell asleep while he was preparing it. He was trying to be funny, but I found it rather annoying. The ice cream had good flavor - both the chocolate and the coffee tasted great, however the texture was funny, it was very grainy. It was not going to be our favorite ice cream.

We came back to the campground for dinner. We made a yummy stir fry, but the rice didn't work and was kinda gross, so we decided we needed another ice cream stop! This time it was back to Lickety Split since both Dad and I had enjoyed that the last time. I got the lemon sorbet again and it was very good! I'm starting to OD on ice cream a bit! Every day for 2 solid weeks! I may have to take a break! Of course we are heading to Stowe, VT which is practically the Ben & Jerry's Headquarters!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lonesome Lake -Franconia Notch State Park

This morning was sunny very early and then the clouds rolled in. Then it started raining a little. Huh? The weather forecast had predicted sun? We were thinking we'd go back to Mt. Washington to hike, not a good day for that if it's raining.

With the rest of the days plans up in the air, we headed out to the North Conway Farmer's Market so see if they had anything we needed. We found a number of goodies and by the time we were done the rain was letting up. It was still cloudy though so we wandered the stores in downtown North Conway, since we'd been wanting to check them out!

Last year I had 5 Nepali children in my classroom - 2 who started the year with me and three more who joined as the year went on. It became a bit of a joke between me and the registar in our school that I wouldn't accept children who weren't from Nepal! We went into a mountaineering store and there was a trekking map of Nepal! Then we went into a fair trade clothing store and there were racks of skirts, scarfs, and bags all made in Nepal! I bought I skirt that was made in Nepal!

After we finished browsing we returned to the campground and had brunch with our farmers market finds - fresh eggs, an amazing sticky bun, and blueberry bread from the farm stand. Dad also fried up some old potatoes.

By now the rain had stopped and the clouds were kind of breaking up. We decided it was too late to head out to Mt. Washington so we headed back out the Kancamagus Highway to Franconia Notch State Park.

Franconia Notch is unique because the interstate runs right through it. It's a little like Glenwood Canyon in Colorado. The mountains in Franconia Notch are a lot more rugged - more jagged peaks and exposed rocks - than the mountains in the other notches.

We decided to hike up to Lonesome Lake. It was about a mile up there and there was an Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) hut at the lake. There are several AMC huts in the Whites - they are places you can hike into and you can pay to stay and get dinner and breakfast. Like a backcountry hotel!

The trail up was very nice! Lots of rocks, but no rock scrambling or hand over hand climbing! The woods were mostly pine forest with lots if moss! Lonesome Lake is ironically named - being as it's a short, easy-ish hike there was no shortage of people to share the experience with!

At the lake there was a trail that went to the hut, and then it turns out it went all the way around! We walked to the hut and there were lots of people enjoying the sunshine by the lake! We walked up to check out the actual buildings - all the rooms are shared bunk rooms! The room I stuck my head in had room for 7! One was a triple decker bunk bed. I can't imagine paying over a $100 a night to sleep with 6 strangers (I mean, new friends...) otherwise I think it would be fun to do a hut-to-hut hike in the Whites! I need find 6 other people who I could stand to share a bedroom with and who like hiking...

After the hike we drove back to North Conway via the Kancamagus. This time we learned that the best views are heading east! You are going downhill when you are driving east so you get to see more!

It was almost 6 by the time we got back to the campground so we got Mom and went into North Conway for dinner at Horsefeathers - it was yummy! And then, of course, ice cream. We went to the Trails End location in Intervale and the flavors we got tonight weren't as good as what dad and I had gotten the other day!


Farm Stands and The Kangcamagus Highway

With Dad's wrist needing time to heal we decided to take it easy today and do some car touring. We started by checking out several farm stands we'd seen yesterday! Our first stop we hit the mother load! They had plenty of fresh veggies that had been grown on their farm as well as baked goods, ice cream, jams and jellies and other fun stuff!

We kept driving out the West Side Road where we messed up yesterday and drove up Catherdal Ledges - a large rock outcropping that had a view at the top! After that we were back in North Conway and went to The Local Grocer -an organic/local grocery store. They had a cafe and it was lunch time so we got lunch! The menu featured local/clean meats as well as both vegetarian and vegan choices! I had a yummy salad with falafel, feta and marinated onions! Mom ordered BLT and it had extra crispy, almost burned bacon and vega-ayse - vegan, egg-free, mayo. Bacon, and vegan mayo? Kind of defeats the purpose! LOL!

After lunch we had to sample the ice cream selections at Lickety Split in North Conway. Quite tasty!

After that we headed out the Kancamagus Highway. We didn't drive too far, but we made several stops. The first stop was at Rocky Gorge Scenic Area. Here there was a neat gorge with a bridge over it so you can see the whole thing! Also there was a one mile quickie walk around a small pond! It had a lot up and down and was in a pine forest with lots of roots! It was a nice walk!

After Rocky Gorge we headed down the Kancamagus to another campground where there was another shirt loop hike to a pond. We found the trailhead easily and headed out. Only we didn't get far. As soon as we got out of sight of the car there was a river that we had to cross. It wasn't deep, it would be easy crossing, however it def involved taking off your shoes and wading and neither of us wanted to do that, twice - once on the way there and once on the way back - for a 2 mile walk. We walked some rogue trails near the river to see if there was a better place to cross that didn't require getting your feet wet, but there wasn't so we decided to walk in the campground! There are hundreds of miles of trails in the White Mountains and we were walking a campground. Oh well!

We drove back to the campground via the Bear Notch Road. It had no traffic and several views! In a few places there were pull offs that could serve as overnight parking if you ever got up here and couldn't find a campsite. (In most places in North Conway they don't allow overnight parking, but over the weekend all the campgrounds are filled, if you came in without a reservation, if hoping to get a 1st come, 1st served, site in the National Forest you'd be screwed!)

When we got back to the campground it was early so we jade dinner and then headed out to the LLBean outlet. Dad was still short on his steps so he walked the 1.4 miles from the campground to LLBean. It was along he should of the highway, again, hundreds of miles of trails and he's hiking the highway!

We spent about 2 hours browsing the LLBean Outlet, Eastern Mountain Sports, and Orvis before heading back to the campground for fresh berries and cookies!


Frankenstein Cliffs & Arethusa Falls - Crawford Notch State Park

It's chilly, but quiet in the campground last night. It didn't get light until after 7! The tall trees block the sun and it has to get high in the sky before it penetrates the campground!

It didn't look like Mom and Dad were up yet so after I finished my breakfast and chores I went for a quick walk around the campground. The river is nice, very skinny and shallow and the beach is rocky, but a good place to wade and tube!

After I got back from my walk, I went over to Mom and Dad's and they were up! Dad and packed and got ready for a hike in Crawford Notch! We headed out about 9:30 and hit traffic in North Conway. We determined that it's the two stoplights at the north end of town that clog things up!

We headed up 302 to Crawford Notch State Park. State parks in NH are different from other states. They are paid for by donation, no taxpayer dollars are spent! As as result they seem more rustic and wild. Crawford Notch is basically just some land and some trails. The trails were well marked, but it's not the big deal that state parks are in other states.

We'd planned a 5 ish mile loop to see Frankenstin Cliff and Arethusa Falls, the highest falls in the state! We headed up the trail toward Frankenstein Cliffs. It was dumb luck that we decided to do the cliffs first and boy were we glad! The trail up was crazy steep! I'm not sure they have heard of switchbacks around here! I was really hoping the down part of our loop would be gentler! Finally though we reached a view!

After the first view we were expecting several more, but one was 0.7 of a mile down a spur trail, which would have added a mile and a half to our hike, so we didn't do that, and the other was marked as being right there, but wasn't obvious so we didn't attempt to bushwhack who knows how far to see it.

After going up for what felt like a very long time, we finally started down! It was much gentler than the way up! On the way down Dad kept trying to test his new shoes - he'd fine the steepest, slipperiest rock and walk on it just to see his shoes hold. One such rock was nearly vertical, wet, and had a shiny patch of wet, slimy leaves in the middle. I was surveying how I was getting across it and saw an easy way, then looked up and saw Dad traversing the steepest wettest part. Just as I looked up he hit the wet slimy leaves and went down! He kinda bounced back up and said he'd landed on his pack and wasn't hurt. I told him that's what he gets for showing off.

Soon we made it to the falls! They were very pretty! We stood at the base of the falls and you could look up and see the entire rock face with water cascading down it! We had a snack, sat for a little while, took some pictures and then headed out for the last mile of the hike!

After the hike we scouted another hike we'd found on the map, stopped for ice cream at Trails End Ice Cream in Barttlet, and found, but messed up, a wish around the traffic in North Conway.

When we got back to the campground we got Mom and headed out to run some errands. The first stop was Camping World to get some parts pfor Mom and Dad's hot water heater that isn't working properly. It was at Camping World that Dad wrist starting hurting. We figured he'd caught himself on it when he fell, even though he doesn't remember it. All thought dinner and the rest of the errands his wrist was hurting more and more. We decided that it needed to get checked out so Dad handed me the keys to the car and off we went to the ER.

Since we had just gotten groceries I dropped Mom and Dad off at the hospital and took the food back to the campground, changed into my yoga pants, gathered some stuff we thought we'd need and headed back. The hospital was on the other side of the two stoplights in North Conway so I got extra "sit in traffic" time!

By the time I made it back to the hospital Dad was getting X-rays. I barely had time to catch up on my blogging before the Dr came back and said that his wrist was not broken, likely sprained or bruised. It could also be that he pulled a tendon or something when he hit his elbow. They gave him a splint and some heavy duty pain pills and sent us on our way!

We weren't able to fill the prescription - the two pharmacies close at 9 and it was 9:20! So hopefully Tylenol and ice will control the pain this evening! Hopefully it heals quickly!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Art & Charlotte

It was finally sunny and today we were heading out to North Conway to our new campground and to spend the day with some of Mom and Dad's friends from FL who have a cabin on Lake Ossippee.

I had plenty of chorese to do before we left Timberland in Gorham - clean the excessive amount if bird poop off the windshield, dump the tanks, unplug, take the trash. Mom was busy making a pecan pie for Art! As soon as our chores were done we headed down the road!

It was only about 50 miles to North Conway, but the road went through Pinkham Notch and past Mt. Washington so it was a nice drive!

As soon as I got into North Conway I noticed that it was very touristy! Much more so than Gorham! And with touristy stuff comes tourists! There was a ton of traffic heading out of town, I figured that was a daily thing. Ugh. They do have a bunch of cute stores and an LLBean Outlet to check out!

We got checked into our site at The Beach Area Camping Area. It seems like a nice place, however all the sites are packed dirt so it's not very attractive. As soon as we got parked sand hooked up we changed into our nice clothes and headed out to Art & Charlotte's lake house.

Art & Charlotte have a lovely house right on the lake! They have done a lot of work to fix it up and make it just right! We had an awesome lunch of lobster rolls (Charlotte naked a mean lobster roll, she treated us to them two years ago when we saw them when we passed through Yarmouth), fresh cucumber, fresh blubeerries and other yummy things! After lunch was of course my Mom's yummy pecan pie!

We spent the afternoon enjoying the view, the lake breeze and chatting! Even though they are Mom and Dad's friends from Floridia I enjoyed being with them and chatting! Soon, it was time for dinner! Charlotte had made a reservation at Krista's in Cornish, ME which was only about 30 minutes away. Krista's is a neat place, it's in an old house and it has a neat porch with about 4 tables on it! Our reservation was for the porch and it was neat to sit out there and enjoy the stream (even though it was extra noisy because of the recent heavy rains) while we ate! The food was very good! They had a lot of fish and fresh veggies and other yummy stuff!

After dinner it was back to the lake house for more pecan pie, sunset viewing, and chatting. Soon the sun was gone and it was time for us to head back to the campground!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rainy Day

When I woke up this morning it was rainy and yucky. I decided to take advantage of the yucky day and do laundry and post blogs. I figured that doing laundry on a rainy day wasn't an original idea so After breakfast I gathered my laundry and headed over to the laundry room. Turns out I was the only one doing laundry! Other folks were there using the internet, but I was the only one doing laundry. I was able to get all my blogs posted and catch up on some other internet stuff.

After my laundry was done I wrestled the sheets back on the bed! Trying not to get dirt in the bed is next to impossible, I get dirt on my shoes and then it gets tracked in and gets on my feet! As soon as my fresh clean sheets were on the bed, there was already big pieces of dirt in my bed! Ugh. By the time my laundry was done it was time for lunch and after lunch the rain had started to let up so we went out in search of someplace to take a quick walk. But first we stopped for ice cream! LOL!

There are tons of trails to hike around here but most of them have awesome views of the mountains and while the rain had stopped, the clouds were low and there wouldn't be any mountain views. So we decided to check out two state parks that were near Gorham - Moose Brook State Park and Jericho Mountain State Park.

Moose Brook was a nice park! It was small - only a few trails, some picnic tables, a natural swimming pool, and a good sized campground. Dad and walked for about 30 minutes and explored most of the park. There were a lot of single track mountain bike trails, but that's not our thing!

The next stop was Jericho Mountain State Park. I'd looked up the park online and I saw that there were a lot of trails do I felt certain we'd find someplace to walk. We got there and learned that all the trails were ATV or dirt bike trails. Not our thing. There was a nice lake and we could have kayaked in it, but we weren't ready for that. Dad and I walked over to the lake and looked at it and then we headed out.

The AT crosses US2 a mile or so from our campground so we decided we'd bring mom back to the campground and go walk a mile or so up the trail and then walk back. We headed south on the AT and it was a gentle uphill next to a nice river! It was wide and gentle and just a trail through the woods, no views or anything, so perfect for a rainy day (although the sun was starting to come out, the clouds were still lingering). We walked up the to Rattle River shelter and then headed back to the car. We probably should have started with our "old friend" the AT!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Presidential Rail Trail

The train came though at 1:00 am. Holy Smokes! It was loud! The train didn't blow it's whistle, but it must have been coming up the hill because the engine was chugging hard & sounded like it was coming right in through my RV! (The tracks are prob less than 100 feet down a steep ravine from my RV). I went back to sleep and 2 hours later the train came through again! Quiter this time, but it still woke me up!

When we were in Bar Harbor we were doing laundry and got to talking to a guy who was doing his laundry and he told us about the campground and about The Presidential Rail Trail that runs between Jefferson and Gorham. He said it was really great because you had views of the Presidential Range the whole way! It took a lot of research to figure out where it was and where to go to pick it up, but we thought we had figured it out.

Despite the forecast for rain we decided to try and ride the trail today. The whole trail was only 18 miles and we were going to have Mom drop us off and pick us up in Gorham. Also, we had read a review that said that after 115 the trail was very rough and not passable for hybrids, so we were going to start at 115, cutting several miles off.

When we got to the spot where we thought the trail crossed 115 we couldn't find it. We drove down the road that went parallel to the trail and we were about to give up when Mom saw it. Dad and I got out to survey it, the trail was very rough - gravel base, covered in grass and the weeds on the sides were growing over it. We decided it was impassable. I was using Google Maps (the rail trail was on the map, however it was indicated like a railroad, I had to know that it was not in fact an active railroad) and I saw another place ahead where the trail came near the road and we went there. Here the trail looked smoother so we went for it.

Despite being smoother and less overgrown, the trail was still rough! I suspect that this trail is more for snowmobiles, snowshoeing, & cross country skiing and all the rocks and such are covered by snow! We managed to bike it, but There were lots of rocks! I was not exactly heeding the advice of the guy in the bike shop in Bar Harbor to stay on paved roads only! Luckily my tire seems to have survived!

The trail was very straight and passed by many ponds that looked like they should have moose in them, but I didn't see any! After we hit the Castle Trailhead Parking area - 4 miles from where we started - the trail smoothed out significantly and was more suitable for bikes! We continued downhill, in and out of the trees, with some views, even though the mountains were covered in clouds!

As we neared Gorham the trail was open to ATVs and we encountered many. We had to cross a high bridge over the Androscroggin River and when we got over it we realized that we needed to get back over it to get to Gorham, or go on to Berlin. We weren't sure which option was the best, and we saw another guy on a bike (first one we'd see all day!) and we asked him what our options were. He seemed like a nice guy, very polite, but he had a pistol on hip! No idea why! Dad pointed out that a gun on his hip is better than a gun in backpack! Turned out the best option was to go back over the bridge and go down what looked like an overgrown trail just on the other side.

Turns out the trail on the other side of the bridge was not only overgrown, but very steep! We wrestled ourselves and our bikes down, it wasn't the easiest thing, but it wasn't too hard either. When we got to the bottom, the only option was to walk next to the tracks. We were pretty sure we wouldn't encounter a train, but it still felt very "Stand By Me". Soon we were at the road and we rode over to McDonald's to text Mom.

While we were waiting for mom we checked out the bike shop - it was tiny and the kid inside was quite the salesman. Soon we got in touch with Mom and headed over to Mr. Pizza for lunch & Gifford's Ice Cream. After lunch we saw three thru-hikers leaving the post office and trying to hitch a ride the 5 miles back to the AT. We didn't have room for all three so we left Mom at the Italian Grocery Store and picked them and took them to the trail! They were really nice and it was fun hearing about their hike! They will be in Maine either tonight or tomorrow!

After we dropped off the hikers & picked up Mom we headed up highway 16 toward Errol, NH to go to LLCotes - a big hunting, fishing & outdoor store. By this time the promised rain had begun and it was pouring most of the way! The road was next to the Androscroggin River the whole time and we were told there could be moose but we didn't see any. After LLCotes we continued around on route 26 to Grafton Notch State Park back in Maine. I'd been there a few years ago but I didn't get to see Screw Auger Falls so we stopped there and took a quick walk to see it and continued down the road. After a quick tour of Bethel, ME we returned to the campground for dinner!