White mountains report
My significant other and I just got back from a 3-day weekend to the White Mtns. of New Hampshire.
Saturday was pretty horrendous, travelwise, with the rains from former-hurricane Ivan pounding down upon us, so I stuck with I-91 to US-302 into Littleton, where we had reserved a cabin. The rain subsided by the time we arrived, so we were able to have a nice fire that night. It was really cold (maybe 40 degrees, tops, at night).
Sunday we braved the elements (rain threatened, and in some places delivered) and headed out for a drive, even though we had intended on a hike. We drove along US-302 which traverses some fascinating countryside and mountain passes. A highlight of this drive is the Mt. Washington Hotel, which I cannot even begin to describe. It made the hotel from "The Shining" look like a dollhouse (though I'm sure that, in person, that famous landmark is quite formidable). As we progressed along the road, I decided to pull in at the trailhead where we originally planned to hike. We had our gear and a light drizzle isn't going to stop us stubborn yankees! (go Red Sox!) ;-)
We chose Arethusa Falls, which is the highest waterfall in the state at over 200'. The falls were quite spectacular, flowing as they do down a sheer granite rock face. The best view is had by crossing the stream, which was a little more difficult given the high water. The hike in was 1.4 miles, and there were quite a few fellow travellers and hikers there.
The trailhead is just off of US-302, and nearby is the Frankenstein Cliffs. The road near this area is at a 13% grade, so careful driving is a must.
After the hike we ventured along US-302 and then took a side road to the Kancamagus Highway. The sky cleared enough to let us see some great views of the mountains from the highway. We stopped in Lincoln at Bishop's Homemade Ice Cream. She had pumpkin, I had strawberry (though I sampled hers, too) - delicious!
From there we shot back up I-93 and it's one-lane wonder through Franconia Notch where the Old Man used to be. It was weird not seeing him, even though I've only been up there two or three times before. Another cold night with a roaring fire!
Monday was our last day, so we cruised into Littleton. Weather being what it is, the sky was crystal clear. We ate at the Littleton Diner - typical diner fare, nothing rave but the staff was friendly (much friendlier than that of the Collin's Diner in Canaan, CT, who were, I quote "not making any milkshakes today!", but I digress). There was a working grist mill on the Ammonoosuc River, a really nice music shop with a large selection of acoustic and electric guitars, a fully-stocked bookstore, a cigar shop, the list goes on and on. But the most enjoyable stop was Chutter's candy store, with the world's longest candy counter (111 feet, with a Guiness certificate to back up the claim). She bought some fudge while I pondered buying odd-colored M&Ms and how much potential energy was tied up in this store's sugar supply.
We wanted to be home in time to unpack (and I had some studying to do), so we headed down I-93, traffic was extraordinarily light - a benefit of weekdays - and as we went we were presented with the majestic views of the White Mountains.
Eventually we made our way through Concord and onto US-202, where we experienced a more laid-back trip on a really nice road that offered us views of Mt. Monadnock, which I have seen from many different views, including that of several mountaintops in Massachusetts (yet I haven't climbed it). We hopped on MA-2, just in time for some afternoon traffic and hit MA-32 and went home.
For a moment there, I thought maybe you'd been out to Arizona! (we have White Mountains too!)
I can't remember what happened to the Old Man -- did it just collapse and slide? I vaguely remember something happening, just can't remember what it was exactly! Bob
You're right the Old Man just fell off. I believe it was in May of 2003. Every time I drive through this area I keep looking at that mountain like if the Old Man was still there. It was a familiar figure for me since my childhood when I used to go to Maine with my parents. I always asked them what was the legend about the Old Man of the mountains. We all miss him!:-)
Ps-Bob, have you read "The Great Stone Face" by Nathaniel Hawthorne? It's a great White Mountain Story on the Old Man.
Yeah, the Old Man finally met his fate - he had been held up there for many years by artificial means - so now he's just a pile of debris. I'm wondering if NH will change its road signs in the future, many of them have a depiction of this natural feature for an outline.
Foliage wise, there seems to be more changes going on in central MA and southern NH than up there (even when taking into account the amount of conifers up there), although with a few more chilly nights I'm sure that will change.