Saturday, August 29, 2015

The White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire

We made it to New Hampshire safely and parked the rig in a nice place in the town of Twin Mountains.

This is the first sign we saw after entering the state.  Most of the roads we used in this area posted this sign, even on the interstates.  The safety director immediately became alarmed and mentioned to the Captain that 'we' need to drive extra carefully!  

We spent a week in this area, mostly hiking, and words cannot describe the beauty around us.  The 800,000 acre White Mountain National Forest is called, "The Land of Many Uses."  That is so true. It is a managed and multiple-use forest providing areas of recreation and enjoyment as well as wildlife habitat and harvesting of the forest as a renewable resource.  The White Mountains are a range covering one quarter of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine.

Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are the most rugged in New England.  In all, there are 48 peaks over 4,000 feet known as the four-thousand footers along with many other smaller mountains.
The most famous peak is Mount Washington at 6,288 feet, the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. which lies in a line of summits called the Presidential Range named after U.S.presidents and other prominent Americans.

Our first hike was up Sugarloaf Mountain not far from our RV park. 

The trail was considered moderate but that must be by the standards up here.  We hiked most of the way uphill through rocky paths and along huge boulders. 

We found sturdy hiking boots and hiking poles imperative to keep from getting injured. 

But the views from the top were magnificent.

We met another gentleman with his dog heading up the trail.  Actually, he passed us because we were a little slow.  At the top he told us he was a local and has hiked all 48 peaks four separate times.  He said he quit smoking at 49 and started hiking and he appeared to be in very good shape for someone who was probably in his 70's.  

Even  though Sugarloaf was not one of the higher mountains, the views were breath-taking.

Below we saw the town of Twin Mountains where we were staying.

We did do a few other things besides hiking.  On Saturday we took a drive to a town called Littleton about 12 miles away.

Littleton is called the Glad Town.

Eleanor Hodgman Porter was an American novelist who wrote the fictional story of Pollyanna, an uplifting story of an orphaned girl with a sunny attitude.   The library has a statue of Pollyanna on the left front lawn and it is because of this  story that the city has its nickname.

In front of many shops on the main street were multi-colored pianos that anyone passing by could play.  The kids loved them.

A large old church with a very high steeple.

The oldest motel in New Hampshire established in 1948.  Emphasis on motel.

One block from main street they have a river walk with trails. 

One way you can cross over the river to the trails is through this covered bridge. 

The pups liked the cool waters.

Coming back from the trail we used a suspension bridge to get back to our car.

Lucy wasn't thrilled and walked like she was on eggshells.  Desi was oblivious to it.

Along the river walk they have large musical instruments that can be played.  These boys were having fun with the chimes.

Chutters, home of the world's longest candy counter. 

Schilling Brewery and Taproom.

Jaroslac 10 (Czech Dark Session Lager) and  a Maple Bacon Stromboli with fresh spinach, cheddar, bacon, and sliced apples drizzled with real North Country maple syrup.

It looks like it was burned but that is the maple syrup that browned from being drizzled over the top. Yummmm

The Captain feasted on traditional brats cooked in beer with sauerkraut and homemade beer mustard on a pretzel braid. We decided we needed sustenance to climb all those mountains.

There are several ways to get to the top of Mount Washington.  One can drive in a car on a narrow road with no shoulder or guardrails, or one can climb to the top (experienced climbers can do it in about 5 hours), or you can take the Cog Railway.

We opted for the Cog Railway.

In the distance is the cog railway line.

In 1869, 'Old Peppersass' became the first cog-driven train to climb 6,288 foot Mount Washington.

The original trains used steam but today they are all driven with biodiesel.

One of the cog trains heading up the mountain.

This is the cog part of the train that keeps the train on the track.

The passengers sit in the front car and the diesel pushes it up the mountain.

All aboard!

The railway is the second steepest rack railway in the world with an average grade of over 25% and a maximum grade of 37.41%.  The railway is three miles long and ascends Mt Washington at an elevation of 2,700 feet above sea level to the top of the summit at 6,288 feet.  The trip takes approximately 65 minutes to ascend and 37 minutes to descend.

This water tower and the trees behind it look as though they are leaning but are perfectly vertical.  The train is at such an angle that it makes everything else look as though it is leaning.

As we climbed higher the tress thinned out.

Looking behind as we climbed up the mountain.

In the distance you could see hikers heading up the mountain.

That scratchy looking mark in the lower left of the picture is one of the trails near the top.

Wildcat Ski Resort trails in the distance. 

We finally make it to the top.  What a view!

Once the cog train drops off its passengers at the top, the employees reverse the seats in the passenger car because there is no way to turn the cog trains around. On the way down the passenger car is not attached to the engine in front.  The engine just keeps the car from moving down too fast and an employee inside the car uses a series of breaks to slow the decline.  
There were many visitors at the top.  Some took the train, some drove up in cars, and the brave of heart did the climb.  Mount Washington offers a stagecoach ride (actually its just a large van)  for those who prefer to ride down rather than hike.  They charge $50 per person and the van is usually full.

Trailheads for the hikers were displayed at the top.

As the highest peak in the Presidential Range, on a clear day visitors can see five states and Canada from the summit of Mount Washington.  While the summit is in fog an average of 300 days of the year, on the clearest days visitors can see over 100 miles.  We were very lucky because New Hampshire was having great weather and for most of the week the view from the summit was spectacular.

From 1932 to 1937 the Mount Washington Observatory was operated in a summit office. In a great storm on April 12, 1934, the crews' instruments measured the world's fastest surface wind speed of 231 miles per hour.

Certain close-ups of the mountain tops were hazy because of the sun.

But they were still beautiful pictures.

At the summit there was a replica of a building called the Tip Top House which was a hotel for guests on the mountaintop in 1853.

Notice how fortified the walls were.

The accommodations were minimal.

I especially loved the bedroom which consisted of eight bunk beds all together in the same area.

A luxurious way to spend the night.

While at the top we learned about hard rime which is a white ice that forms when the water droplets in fog freeze to the outer surfaces of objects.  It is often seen on trees atop mountains and ridges in winter when low-hanging clouds cause freezing fog.  Scientists on Mount Washington often have to break huge chunks of hard rime off their weather equipment in order to keep the measuring instruments operating.

This is what hard rime looks like on Mount Washington.

Scientists keeping the equipment going. 

Luckily we weren't anywhere near the place when those pictures were taken but I thought the pictures were fascinating.  As we headed back down we took these additional pictures.

This weary hiker waved at us.

The ride down was interesting but a little scary, too.

The next day while driving in the area we came across a place called the Mount Washington Resort not far from the bottom of Mount Washington.

We were quite surprised because we never expected to see a place like this in the mountains.
So we checked it out, took a few pictures, and had a lovely lunch out on the veranda.

It was raining when we first got there and Mount Washington was hard to see.

But the weather cleared up and gave us a few views. 

The building has a lot of history and in this room in July, 1944, the Articles of Agreement setting up the International Monetary Fund were signed.

The next day the weather was going to be in the upper 80's with humidity so we decided to get an early start on our hike.

This particular day we drove on the interstate through an area called Franconia Notch.  It was a bright, sunny day when we left but as we neared the notch we saw a great deal of cloud action.

  I took these series of pictures to try and give you an idea of what it was like. 

The view from our car as we were driving through the notch.

This section of the interstate is reduced to one lane with a speed limit of 45 mph.  I can see why.

Climbing up out of the notch.

When we got to the other side and arrived at the park trail it was beautiful again.
We hiked up to Franconia Falls which has huge rocks with water cascading over them.

You could climb all over the large boulders and watch the water cascading down the side.

Although it seems fairly serene now, this past spring a seventeen year old girl from Connecticut got caught up in the cascades and was swept to her death. 

The water was cool and refreshing.

The pups had a good time.

We heard about the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train in the area and decided to give it a ride.  It has been in business since 1989 and serves a five course meal over two hours while the train travels 20 miles along the banks of the Pemigewasset river.  The train consists of three dining cars that were salvaged and restored for the restaurant.  One of them is a dome car that was found sitting idle in Kansas and brought back to New Hampshire.  It is the restaurant's flagship car and there are only two of these original dome cars remaining today.

The Captain splurged and we had dinner in the flagship dome car.

The dinner guests at our table were Dave and Peg from Pennsylvania and they were a delight.  We enjoyed hearing about their lives and they thought ours was exciting, too, so the time passed very quickly.

After seeing the dinner roll I started to wonder how I would be able to eat the rest of the meal.

Along the way we saw sections of the river 

and a tree farm with wild goldenrod.

People waved at the train along the way.

Peg couldn't finish her swordfish so this was the doggie bag they created for her.

After the dinner was over and everyone had disembarked you were allowed to view the other cars so the Captain  took these photos.

The main bar.

Another one of the three dining cars.

Driving back home we were praying we wouldn't run into a moose!

After a week in the beautiful White Mountains we decided to drive on down to Concord and visit that part of New Hampshire.  We heard about Winslow State Park and a climb up Kearsarge Mountain, and since a week hiking in the White Mountains had made us pros, we decided to give it a go! 

                Once again the trail was over boulders and tree roots and the climb was difficult.             

            The Captain stopping to catch his breath.  The trail up is 1,100 feet over 1.1 mile.         T

       Even the pups were getting tired climbing up the mountain.          

              In places the rock was wet and slippery so it became difficult to cross.  Both the Captain and  I fell during the climb.                    

         We had to make way for this big boy racing down the mountain.  He didn't even act tired.              

As before, the views at the top were wonderful. 

On the top we found fellow hikers and their pets taking a break enjoying the view and having a snack. 

After a 1.8 mile climb back down the mountain over pretty much the same type of trail we limped back to the rig and collapsed. Our plan was to drive into Concord our last day here and see what the capital was all about.  But.....not to be. The area got hit with a major storm and deluged us with over 2 inches of rain so we just hunkered down instead.

The motto of New Hampshire is "Live Free or Die".  After spending time here I can identify with the independent spirit of the people of New Hampshire.  They are fiercely proud of their state and especially the beautiful mountains.  They enjoy them in all types of sports and they are careful to preserve the beauty and keep it pristine.  We met fellow hikers from many different states while in the White Mountains and they were all in awe of the unbelievable beauty of the area.  The Captain and I both agree that it is one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen.  Peace!

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