My son, Logan, and I had some interesting experiences as he grew up…some good, some bad, some really awkward! He withstood 18 years of living with me so I know he is made of fabric not easily torn nor easily wrinkled, although occasionally soiled. This is why I wanted to give him a week in the White Mountains the summer he left for college. I was aware of the possible challenges of taking my brainy, computer loving son to New Hampshire to camp and hike. I have spent several summers hiking in the Whites and I believe them to be my heaven on Earth (and sometimes my hell too!). So I reserved a tent site at Crawford Notch State Park and starting planning a week of adventures in the Whites.
Day 1: The trip to Crawford Notch
It takes about 9-10 hours to get to the Whites from Maryland. Brattleboro, Vermont is when I started to know this trip was the right thing to do. We stopped off for lunch and Logan picked up letter writing supplies! Letter writing? My text crazy son was going to write letters? This was cool!
Arriving at the Dry River Campground in Crawford Notch State Park we pitched our tent on the platform, then headed out to explore. The “river” was indeed dry, but I found a little soaking spot! Afterwards, Logan wrote some letters to friends. 🙂
This is a great campground with hot showers and laundry facilities. 🙂
Day 2: Frankenstein Cliffs & Arethusa Falls
Logan is a train enthusiast and what do we find high on the hill right across from the campground? A trestle! I examined the maps and found the trail to Frankenstein Cliffs passed the trestle…well, that was a no brainer! And the elevation gain wasn’t too bad for a first day of hiking!
After a nice break on the ledge we headed down to Arethusa Falls. When we hit the side trail to go down to the falls, it was literally down. I thought as I went down…oh god…I have to come back up this! But there were some nicely graded steps so it was decent on the knees. The falls were gorgeous, and crowded of course. I took the opportunity to kick off my shoes and soak my feet in the cold water…bliss!
Day 3: The Mount Washington Cog Railway…What fun!
The cog RR is one of the coolest trips! Logan fell in love with Mount Washington and at some point we will go back to hike it together. Rising up out of the valley to an altitude of over 6000 feet is awe inspiring and may give you a little vertigo! At the top, Logan and I walked a bit of the Appalachian Trail over the rocky moonscape. I am not talented enough with words to describe this place, so the pictures will have to do!
Day 4: It rained. So we drove around…went to touristy spots like North Conway…
Day 5: The Summit of Mt. Monroe and a Pit Stop at Lake of the Clouds hut! 10 hard miles!
We got up bright and early, got the summit forecast, and headed out to summit Mt. Eisenhower…not a typo…
First stop south at this great deli in Bartlett for breakfast, then north to find the trail head for Crawford Path (the oldest hiking trail in the U.S.) The trail head was not hard to find…but it was a fee lot. Where was my national parks tag? Oh shoot, back in Maryland in the OTHER car. 😦 Well, I did not want to have to pay a fee…I mean this week was costing me a lot of money I didn’t have and I already supported my national parks by buying the annual pass! I kept driving and found a non-fee lot at the Edmand’s Path trail head. Hey, it went up the mountain too so no worries!
Well, Edmand’s Path turned out to be a wonderful choice. That is one sweet trail that the AMC has put a great deal of work into in order to keep it well maintained! Thought we might have to ford a creek, but no, there was a great foot bridge! Highly recommend this trail!!! 🙂 In 2.9 miles we intersected with the Crawford Path at the base of Mt. Eisenhower…perfect as this is the mountain we had planned on summiting today.
Once at the top, we found a few scrubby bushes and sat down among them to cut the wind while we had a snack. While we ate we decided we wouldn’t summit Mt. Eisenhower at all. We had our sites on the horizon…the mountains were calling and we could not ignore the urge to push onward to Mt. Monroe! Why we did this I will never know…but it made the trip unforgettable! It was a gorgeous day and we just wanted to stay up above treeline and enjoy the experience as long as possible.
We took off towards the horizon, ooohhhing and aaawwwing at the view as we went up and over the hump known as Mt. Franklin. At that point we realized, wow, we were in for a hike! We stopped for another snack before climbing the rock pile to the summit of Mt. Monroe. I remember looking up as I climbed hand over foot trying to see if Logan was okay. Heck, that boy was out of site! I knew right then and there that he was going to be alright. Not just here on this mountain, but in life. It was me I needed to watch out for! I was on the verge of true emptynestdom … it was a strange and liberating feeling!
When I summited Mt. Monroe, with Lake of the Clouds hut and Mt. Washington in view, it was as if a new more courageous, more confident and happy me took over. My eyes were wet, both from the wind and emotion. Standing on top of this mountain was a tipping point for me. That would be tipping…not tripping. That came later…after descending the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail…it was on the flat part…don’t ask…there was boy scout pack behind me…oh god…the shame. But you know what? I needed to take a break anyway!
The last two miles of the hike were on the road from the Cog RR to our car…and that blacktop hurt! Finished up the day eating good food and sharing our experiences on the mountain! 🙂
Day 6 & Day 7: Touring northern NH and one more little hike
I’ll be honest … after the Mt. Monroe hike we were pretty much done hiking for the week! Whew…that one was tough! We did drive up to the Canadian border…only because Logan kept asking what was up with all the Canadian flags. He didn’t realize how close we were. In fact, while driving around, at one point we could only get Canadian radio!
It was a great week! Definitely one of the best trips I have ever taken. I treasure it and keep it close to my heart.