Peaks of Gold
Oct 9, 2008
|Until it snows the White Mountains are every color but white - Thursday, October 9
A cold snap has sent the sap plummeting to the roots, leaving the sugar maples scarlet and the birches a glittering yellow. The pines among them stay green - and seen from a distance the colors mix to produce a warm and luminous gold.
Never having been here I pictured New England scenery as colorful, but shrunken and less spacious. I never imagined the height of the mountains, or the vastness of the valleys between them. Vistas in New Hampshire are as breathtaking as those of any state in the west. It’s only in the towns that streets get narrow and the spaces cramped - making a 27 foot motorhome feel like an eighteen wheeler. You get used to pulling in your mirrors a lot.
Some drunk took out a pole last night, so we woke to a power outage in our KOA campground. That meant we couldn’t use the internet either. We hung around, hoping it would come back on so we could fill our propane tank, but by 11:00 it was still out with no end in sight.
It was time for us to get going. We passed the utility crews on our way out of town. They were still dressing the pole and they hadn’t put the wires back up yet, so it’s just as well we didn’t wait around. We retraced the route to Mt. Washington and this time we passed the turnoff. Our plan was to drive a scenic loop through White Mountain National Park. It turned out to be a good plan for a bright, sunny day.
Mountain passes are called ‘notches’ here, and we took the road through Crawford’s Notch, stopping at many of the turnouts to gawk and marvel with the rest of the gawkers and marvelers. Grades are steep - 10 to 13% sometimes, but they are gently curved and banked so you don’t have to use your brakes a lot. Traffic was light and the only hazard was an occasional gawker and marveler standing in the road to take a picture. The scenery can make you oblivious to everything else, including traffic bearing down on you.
We took our share of pictures too, and the results are here at the top of the page. Captions seem trite, but if we don’t put them in Trip Journal software plugs in the word ‘untitled’ which I always hate when I’m looking at something. Some artists and photographers think it’s trendy and sophisticated to leave everything untitled, but I have never been one of them. I figure you had to have some reason for making this picture, so tell me about it!
We spent the rest of the day gawking and marveling, with stops at an occasional rest stop or store. We ended the afternoon with a drive along the Kancamagus Highway, a 34 mile scenic road that is part of the White Mountain National Forest loop. It follows the Swift River and climbs to nearly 3,000 feet as it traverses the flank of Mt. Kancamagus.
The Swift River has cut deeply into the New Hampshire granite, and one of the special features of the park is a stretch called Rocky Gorge. We stopped there to take pictures of the falls, and to take the short walk up to Falls Pond, a quiet body of water that reflects the color of the peaks that tower over it. In the setting sun much of the valley was in shadow, but an occasional tree would sometimes catch the sun and light up like a lantern against the dark background of the woods.
We ended the day at a campground on the Lost River Road, where the power was on and we were able to fill our propane tank. With nights near freezing we don’t want to run out of propane! Their WiFi is out, and since they are closing on Columbus Day they haven’t wanted to spend the money to fix it.
A lot of the campgrounds are closing Monday, and as we head into Vermont and New York this could be a problem. But we aren’t going to worry about it until the time comes. Something always works out and we have learned to have faith in that process. It may cramp our style in getting online to update this journal - but we know you’ll survive without hearing from us. In fact it may be a welcome relief!