This year’s fall foliage target area was the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire, an area I last visited in the late 50’s. The mountains and the foliage hadn’t changed although the Old Man of the Mountain was gone, having slipped away in 2003.
Notwithstanding his absence we had a great week enjoying Franconia Notch, the mountains, and the Kancamagus Trail. Our weather was mixed. Bad days were mostly heavy cloud cover with occasional rain but nothing to hold us back. When the clouds did descend upon us now and then I worried that we would only experience Fall Fogiage but we made out well. Our base was at the Franconia Inn, a pleasant 1863 inn whose charm did not extend to having an elevator and we were up on the third floor. Excellent breakfasts and fine dinners, however, made up for that; it just took us longer to get to the dining room. From the inn we journeyed out and about to enjoy fall.
Here’s a typical day’s low cloud cover. We’re at Echo Lake along I93, edging Cannon Mountain. The image above was also made from the Echo Lake Beach a couple of days later, showing the contrast we experienced between days.
On another day, driving southeast on NH 112 near Mt. Moosilauke we came upon Beaver Pond with some great views of the mountains and the foliage.
There was a bit of a dam here which created an attractive spillway. Barbara scolded me for walking down this slope and being too close to the edge.
Back on I93 and further south there is a natural basin in the path of the Pemigewasset River (trust me: I couldn’t make these names up). Thousands of years of rushing water (it is said) have carved out the basin. Our thought: it needs a few more thousand years. The river, however, provided lots of image opportunities as it headed for the basin.
Also off I93 in the Notch there is a 6700 acre state park called the Flume, a 70′-90′ deep gorge which extends from the base of Mt. Liberty. It sounded like our kind of scene but when we learned that there was lots of walking and climbing of stairs we settled for the restaurant and the gift shop. It also seemed reminiscent of New York’s Ausable Chasm which I have previously hiked. On another day, however, we opted to climb Mt. Washington. That’s figurative as we actually went to the 6300′ peak by a cog railway, a fun and colorful adventure, itself.
Arriving at the peak, we had, perhaps, ten or fifteen minutes before a cloud moved onto us. This was our brief pre-cloud view of the surrounding country. The white material is called rime ice, ice that forms when the water droplets in fog freeze to the outer surfaces of objects. While the view was enticing, the rime-covered chairs were not. Once again we sought the comfort of the restaurant and some hot chocolate. At our table I struck up a conversation with an older man (hey, it’s relative) and a younger woman, both of whom were visiting from Germany. I struggled with my high school German, and she, with her high school English. We talked about Mt. Washington versus the Bavarian Alps but there wasn’t much to compare. At one point the man told me that she was an East German communist. Well, I had never met one. The pleasant conversation continued between three people from this planet who had never met and will never meet again but I will remember it.
Fortified, I had to explore the peak a little further. Here’s the sign marking the peak, and a hiker’s cairn. Yes, people hike the 6300′ and some arrived through the cloud while we were there. The 6300′, while a vertical wall for me, is routine for others. My friend, Dave B. used to regularly hike to the 14,000+ feet summit of Long’s Peak in Colorado, and also climbed well up on Mt. Everest in Nepal. Ahhh, youth.
The trip down provided a fun perspective.
Near the base of the mountain is a more welcoming place, the 1902 Mount Washington Resort where one may luxuriate for $300 a night (and up). Handsome, gracious, evocative of decades past.
On another day (or two) we drove across the state on the Kancamagus Highway, Route 112 from I93 east to Conway. Here’s one view along the way. At lunch at a local bar at the end of the highway we were told that on the Columbus Day weekend the highway is one long parking lot.
An artist friend, Marilyn F., had commissioned Barbara to photograph some covered bridges which Marilyn could use as a guide for a possible painting. We encountered a couple here and there but found this magnificent scene, the Albany Covered Bridge which carries Passaconaway Road from NH 112 over the Swift River about six miles west of Conway. It was a perfect day of sun, river and beautiful clouds to photograph the scene, and a memorable image capture to end a great week.
There is a gallery of these and additional images. Click Here.