To hopefully beat the impending rain, we left early Wednesday to do some riding in the White Mountain National Forest area. We headed south to Franconia and Woodstock and there it began spritzing, but we decided to chance the weather anyway and headed east on the Kancamagus Highway (Rt. 112), because we’d heard it was a very pretty ride. The rain started more, so we donned our rain suits and continued our ride, heading through some thick fog as well as the rain. We enjoyed the area anyway, since it had two of our favorite features: rocky streams and rivers and some good twisty and curving roads, and except for the thick fog on one of the higher elevations we rode through, it was OK because it didn’t rain too hard most of the trip. I enjoyed seeing all the white birch trees nestled amongst the evergreens and hardwoods, and I figured this area would be especially pretty during the fall when the colors change. After leaving the Kancamagus, we rode north on the Bear Notch Road past Bear Mountain, and then back through Bretton Woods to our RV park. We passed by the famous and elegant Mt. Washington Hotel and Resort, where a famous economic summit once was held, but decided we’d go back and see it later this week, since we figured the hotel personnel would frown on us wandering in dressed in our rain suits. I have noticed a lot of moose décor as we rode through the nearby towns; lots of people have moose statues of various materials in their yards, but my favorite was a life sized manikin dressed like a soldier but with a moose head, standing on a porch with a large banner proudly stating “we support our troops.” We drove to Lancaster after lunch, visited the library, and went to the town’s movie theater to see “The Dark Knight.” It was an old fashioned one screen theater, the prices were great, only $5 a ticket, and medium sized popcorn was only $3.50, so it was a bargain to see the movie, compared to our prices at home.
Thursday there was more rain, all day long. We still wanted to see some of the area, however, so we went out in the truck to see some waterfalls. We saw two very tall cascades that were several hundred feet high, both cascading dramatically in several sections down the rocky mountainside right near the highway. Both the Silver Cascades (640 feet) and the Flume Cascades (420 feet) were on Rt. 302 on Crawford Notch (a notch is the white Mt. term for a pass or a gap) and easy to see even from the truck, but we got out in the rain to see them both more easily. The falls were exceptionally pretty due to the extra rain that had fallen on Wednesday! We also drove up to Mt. Washington Hotel, which was extremely stylish and well appointed. We checked out several of the common areas and were very impressed. We also tried to see three other waterfalls in the Franconia Notch area, but the rain was quite severe by then and did not abate enough for us to hike to the falls. Our alternate plans were to drive to North Woodstock so Fred could have a microbrew at the local brewery, and he thoroughly enjoyed it so much that he bought a 6 pack to take back to the RV for later enjoyment.
Friday was definitely a wonderful waterfall day! The morning was sunny and bright, with all the rain finally concluding during the night. We left early so we could get to as many waterfalls as possible; we’d decided to hike in to any falls that were no more than a half mile hike one way, so we could see lots of them in one riding day. Fred mapped out a great loop route and we were successful seeing ten falls and cascades, plus quite a few creeks and rivers, all of which were flowing really well because of the recent rain. None of the hikes were very difficult, although all required a lot of ups and downs; I figure we walked off at least all the blueberry pie we ate in Maine last week! Since there are over 100 waterfalls and cascades in the White Mountains, there are still lots more to see on another visit. The Silver Cascades and the Flume Cascades were still flowing very well when we rode by them – and still gorgeous! Our first stop of the day was at the Willey House Historic Site, which memorializes an early 19th century landslide that claimed the lives of the entire Willey family. We continued to ride along several beautiful roads until we reached the village of Jackson, a very neat town, made especially pretty because of the large cascades near the center of town. Created from the rushing waters of the Wildcat River, the first federally designated “wild and scenic river” in New Hampshire, both the lower and upper falls were incredibly beautiful with a series of lovely cascades, the highest of which had an 80 foot drop. Hiking into the 80 foot Crystal Cascades at Pinkham Notch was fun because we met lots of hikers there who had either just descended from Mt. Washington or were preparing to hike up the mountain. Fred took lots of photos on our waterfall walks, so choosing just a couple to post will be very difficult, especially since every waterfall was very pretty, and each unique in its characteristics. For example, the Glen Ellis Falls had a 65 foot drop rushing straight down. We also enjoyed re-riding the Kancamagus Highway, this time in the sunshine! When we rode it on Wednesday, there was so much fog and rain we didn’t see much except the trees. This time we stopped several times, first to eat our picnic lunch and then to hike into more waterfalls: Lower Falls, Rocky Gorge, and Sabbaday Falls. I can’t really choose a favorite – all were great! Also, determined to see the falls in Franconia Notch that we couldn’t see Thursday because of the super rainy day, we rode to them again today, after another stop in North Woodstock so Fred could have another microbrew. I liked the way the water swirled around in The Basin, a 20 foot wide pothole created, like most of the flumes, waterfalls and cascades in the area, during the glacial period about 25,000 years ago, and the nearby flume was also a very interesting water element. Both of these are part of the Pemigewasset River, which itself is very pretty, with water rushing over rocks in many directions. Our final stop of the day was at a glacial erratic, a giant boulder called Boise Rock that has interesting folklore attached to it. A teamster named Boise was caught in a huge snowstorm near the rock during the mid 19th century, so to survive, he killed his horse, skinned it, wrapped himself in the skin, and hid under the overhanging shelf of the huge boulder. When located the next day, his rescuers had to use axes to free him from the frozen skin. I am so glad the weather finally cleared up so we could see how beautiful the White Mountains really are; on another visit maybe we can see some more of the waterfalls we didn’t have time to hike to today. There are also quite a few more trains that would be fun to ride on another visit too, so a repeat visit to New Hampshire, maybe on the way back to Maine, sounds like a good plan!