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State Line Maine (State #22)

September 29th, 2009 No comments

Maine, the deuce-deuce. But you’d think they’d at least wait till you’re out of sight of the “welcome” sign before telling you that you may as well expect delays given that you’re in Maine now.

welcome_maineWhat else should I expect? Lobster restaurants?

Spent the night in a hotel in Bangor, which is pronounced Bang-gore here. It’s fun to say.

bkd

Categories: northeast Tags: ,

New Hampshire Has Leaves and Then I Leave New Hampshire (Day 74)

September 29th, 2009 5 comments

It’s silly to hold this against Vermont, but if I’d spent one day less in Vermont, I could have spent one day more in New Hampshire. Hopefully that’s my biggest regret of the trip. It might be in first place so far.

I needed to end the day in Maine, as close to Acadia National Park as possible, so decided to just run through one of the Reader’s Digest drives, end up at Mt. Washington — because I love a good drive-up mountain peak –, and then head east into the far corner. The plan was executed to precise specifications and many leaves were photographed.

I don’t know if Acadia will have leaves. I should probably read up on it. Some of the trees in Maine have already dropped their leaves and are therefore considered “No-Fo’s” — no foliage. Anyway, here’s to closing down New Hampshire and going back one day to do some hiking because it looked like it’d be a lot better than Vermont.

Not that it’s fair to blame Vermont. It’s really well manicured there.

Eh, so campground: stayed at the Hancock Campground in the White Mountains National Forest. As I’ve come to expect from all NFS campsites, I was parked right next to a river. Mostly heard rain falling, though, at least until about the time I got out of bed truck sleeping bag cot bed. Nice leaves there, too (not pictured).

new-hampshire_presidential-ridges“The Presidentials” are peaks in the White Mountains named after presidents. I think these might be among them.

new-hampshire_leaves-succotashThis is about the fourth one of these I’ve uploaded now. They all remind me of sweaters Cliff Huxtable would wear. That or succotash.

new-hampshire_side-mirror-leavesOne day I’m gonna take a side mirror photo that works!

new-hampshire_sabbaday-fallsSabbaday Falls, named after the Sabbath Day. Photo taken on Monday, which is holy in no culture.

new-hampshire_sabbaday-falls-bridgeThey always build foot bridges over waterfalls out here.

new-hampshire_red-leavesLeaves. Finally.

new-hampshire_bend-in-roadA bend in the road.

Really I just wanted to post some New Hampshire photos with blue skies in them (sorry, Chad). Then Mt. Washington, the highest peak in New Hampshire. Naturally you can take a toll road to the top: $23! Which, of course, is a full buck cheaper than the one in Vermont. BUT — it’s 3.5 miles longer, mostly paved, and ascends to a peak that’s like 2,000 feet higher. And they give you a CD to listen to on the way up that tells you how to use low gear to avoid overheating.

It got really cloudy near the top, and cold and windy.

new-hampshire_mt-washington-glenThe base of the mountain, right by the toll booth.

new-hampshire_mt-washington-towerObservation tower on top of the mountain. Winds 20-30 mph, mostly cloudy (just not in this photo).

new-hampshire_mt-washington-and-meOn top of *yet another* state.

new-hampshire_mt-washington-clouds-roadHeading down, above the clouds.

Yeah, so I gotta go back and visit New Hampshire some time. The hike up to Mt. Washington looked worth it — it’s high enough to be above the treeline and if you have a clear day, the views would be pretty amazing. Hopefully the hike starts around 4,000 feet, of course, and hopefully you got a sweater handy. Just that it’s cold and windy on top there is all.

bkd

Sunday Driving Through New Hampshire (Day 73)

September 28th, 2009 4 comments

Woke up in a hotel in White River Junction, Vt., rainy as promised. Got in the car, drove across the river to Hanover, N.H. and ended up in the middle of Dartmouth’s campus. It looked like an Ivy League campus — basically the same as USC, but with worse weather. IMHO.

First stop of the day came in Orford, which the Reader’s Digest book said was representative of all New England towns. But I think I missed the turn into town. Stopped at this church anyway (it was Sunday after all):

new-hampshire_orford-churchWet road — a recurring Day 73 theme.

From there, headed up Highway 10 till I got to Haverhill Corner, at which point I got out of the car to take a photo of another church.

new-hampshire_haverhill-corner-churchAnd only one power line in front of this one!

Yeah, and then I guess I could keep talking about how I stayed on the same highway for a while, except that would be uninteresting. And I’m all about mad hooks and, I dunno. It’s a little cold right now. I should do these exclusively at night. Meh.

new-hampshire_tree-tunnelThe tree tunnels are different here. They all look like the opening scene of a horror movie set in 19th-century New England.

And then I — nothing. I did nothing. I think the next photo is from the town of Bath, except you only see the inside of *something*. It could also be in a horror movie if you wanted it to be. Or not. Either way’s probably fine. [BTW, it’s now evening.]

new-hampshire_bath-bridgeThis would be the *inside* of the (covered) bridge. No cars allowed since ’99, though, which kind of kills it.

new-hampshire_pemigewasset-riverI think this is the Ammonoosuc River. I suppose I could just make up a name.

new-hampshire_swiftwater-bridgeThe Swiftwater Bridge. You can still drive over it.

new-hampshire_swiftwater-cascadeMy kingdom for a blue sky. Oh well. It’s not much of a kingdom.

Just FYI, I like(d) New Hampshire. It has two things that Vermont doesn’t:

  1. Rivers!
  2. Places to park so you can get out and take photos.

Huge. Anyway — Highway 112 is a fantastic drive. Blue sky, yes, would’ve ruled. As stated: oh well. Keeping on keeping on:

new-hampshire_hwy-112The, uh, highway.

new-hampshire_hwy-and-dry-bedThe parallel lines of road and riverbed describe the dual nature of nature and non-nature.

new-hampshire_hwy-overhangsMore leaves. If you’re getting tired of them, maybe skip Day 74…

So then I ended up at this place called Flume Gorge. I don’t know who runs it — it seems to be on NFS land and the visitor’s center says something about a state park, but somehow it costs $13 to get behind their barricade and take a two-mile walk. It was about this time that it started raining kind of harder, which did not result in discounted admission to the two-mile walk.

new-hampshire_pool-and-bridgeThe Pool.

new-hampshire_bridge-and-fallsSame bridge, same falls.

new-hampshire_avalanche-falls-topDifferent bridge, different falls.

new-hampshire_flume-gorgeAnd then the gorge.

Meh. These photos looked better last night than today. Maybe they’ll be good again in another week or two.

bkd

Welcome-Bienveune to New Hampsire, “Live Free or Die” (State #21)

September 28th, 2009 1 comment

This is how Vermont says good-bye:

vermont-rain

Which, coincidentally, looks a lot like how New Hampshire says hello.

Well, except New Hampshire also tries to get all formal about it:

welcome_new-hampshire“Bienvenue”?! Did we lose a war or something?

And I’m pretty sure the welcome sign is actually in Vermont.

bkd

Categories: northeast Tags: ,

Green Mountains: Short, Colorful, and Full of Tree Prisons (Day 72)

September 27th, 2009 2 comments

A tree prison is a prison made out of trees, not a prison *for* trees. Although we probably need those.

Nice weather, enough time to recuperate from the Big Slide hike, so time to head for the hills. Since the hike up Mt. Mansfield would’ve taken me to a place I could *drive* to, I decided to hike up the other side of the valley to a destination called Elephant Head, which struck me as a name you could call a person who had a big nose, big ears, and hopefully tusks.

When I’d talked to the park ranger the day before about hiking, he asked me what kind of hikes I like and I told him I’m good for anything so long as it’s not a long, steep ascent through trees that keep you from seeing anything the whole time. He informed me that *that* was all they had in Vermont. He wasn’t kidding. Note to self: you don’t have to go hiking if you know you’re not going to enjoy it. Ah well. Just wondering how many more times I’m gonna have to learn that lesson.

BTW, it’s raining here this morning.

Took almost no photos on the hike, except for at the top of it (at the Elephant’s Head). The photos are all of sides of hills with mostly green, but also orange and yellow trees. Ah, leaves!

elephants-head_sidehillThe close-up ones turned out better.

elephants-head_mt--mansfield-viewSee? BTW, this is Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in all Vermont. Granted, you can fit all Vermont into a good-sized Costco, but still, the highest.

Anyway, not pictured: the trail you had to take in order to get here. This is where the aforementioned “tree prison” comes in. 2.5 miles hiking straight uphill (close enough) and over slick granite rocks (because they were wet) while tripping through complexes of exposed tree roots (at least they provided hand-holds) to get to *this view*.

Y’know, as a westerner I always figured that east coast hiking must be lame because of how short all the peaks were and the lack of altitude sickness and all that. Turns out the east coast makes up for it by hiking straight uphill all the time. Hat’s off, east coast and whoever the masochists are who go out and do the “Long Trail” (a 272-mile trail from the top to bottom of Vermont), just wow. BTW, these trails would be *fun* (for me) if not for the tree prison aspect. Climbing up roots isn’t a bad thing, unless doing so is rewarded solely by a view of more tree trunks, at which point it just feels like the trail engineers are mocking me.

Once I got down off the Elephant’s Head, I drove down to the ski resort and shelled out $24 (!) to use their 4.5-mile “toll road” to drive up to (near) the top of Mt. Mansfield. The price is ridiculous, but it was definitely the most interesting thing I did while in Vermont. You’re driving through the ski resort up the hill and then once you get to the parking lot, it’s only a mile walk/rock scramble up to the true peak. And for some reason Mt. Mansfield has multiple peaks, all of which are named after face parts. The real peak is called The Chin. The Nose and The Adam’s Apple (for reals) are not as high.

mansfield_stowe-liftSee? Ski resort.

mansfield_the-noseThe high part there is The Chin. The house-like part there is the top of the Stowe gondola. I should’ve seen whether that was cheaper than the drive.

mansfield_trail-landscapeThe trail. Off to the left you can see all the way across Lake Champlain to the Adirondacks in New York and to the right you can see all the way across, er, a state line and see the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

mansfield_alpine-colorsI just liked the colors here.

mansfield_looking-southThe trail is not unpopular — although it was fun to listen to the people who hiked all the way up here gripe about everyone who just drove up.

mansfield_me-at-topI am the highest point in all Vermont. And scowling because of the wind.

The hike over to The Chin was really cool, even if it *was* crowded (it was the first Saturday of fall and everyone knew that Sunday’s weather was going to be awful). $24 is a lot to pay to drive up a silly road, but I still figure it was better than a 2.5-hour walk/climb through a tree prison. Probably. It would’ve killed me to have gone through that and gotten to the top only to be stuck in a mob of tourists. Probably worth it.

bkd

Vermont Is a Well-Kept State (Day 71)

September 27th, 2009 No comments

It’s kind of like Switzerland. Not much is out of place. The campground I stayed at, at Smuggler’s Notch State Park, was the nicest, cleanest campground I’ve ever been to in my life. Plenty of trees separated the campsites, for instance. There were showers and they were immaculate. There was a water feature inside the bathroom. There was a ranger on-site 24 hours a day plus a volunteer host. They sold firewood, kindling, and firestarter. And this post isn’t even about the campground.

Which, it turns out, was sort of the best part of Vermont. Ah well.

The campground was located between the town of Stowe and the Stowe ski slopes. Nice locale.

stowe_churchThe church in Stowe.

And then these waterfalls are across the street (and then a steep half-mile down) from the campground.

stowe_bingham-fallsBingham Falls, named after the copper mine.

Anyway, then I ended up going to this state park where they have an abandoned old town. About a mile into your hike through the old town, however, you begin to realize that there aren’t any building there any more or, like, anything to look at. Little River State Park was the name. Avoid it at all costs. I don’t think these pictures are as boring as actually being there, though:

stowe_little-river-leavesThat’s right, another photo of leaves. How I’ve kept my mind is a wonder.

stowe_graffiti-houseFine, there’s *one* house still standing. For now. And: you mean there’s a *down*-side to eminent domain?!

stowe_little-river-cemeteryThe town’s population was maybe 100 and existed for like 80 years, but somehow managed to maintain three cemeteries. Maybe people just died there a lot.

To be fair, I think the park’s trails were meant more for snowmobilers than normal people. Is that fair? Whatever.

Spent the rest of the day driving around the Stowe area trying to derive meaning — the next day was going to have better weather, so I was waiting for that before going up into the hills mountains. Tried to go to “Texas Falls”, but there was a bridge out at the trailhead. Drove up to Lincoln Gap, but there’s not really anything to *see*, just a road and another trailhead. Went to Shaw’s, which is the east coast’s Albertsons. Bought batteries and brown-and-serve sausage links. Pretty cool. Ate at an expensive Thai restaurant in Stowe. Then went back and luxuriated in the cleanliness (and orderliness!) of the campsite.

bkd

Welcome To Vermont, The Green Mountain State — State #20

September 27th, 2009 No comments

Big number 20. One more state and my roadtrip can legally drink.

welcome_vermontRain has stolen most of my bug-splatters. The Wilmington Notch campground, however, donated some pine needles as replacements. Long may they ride.

Crossing the bridge over Lake Champlain (Lac Champlain), there’s a broken-down fortress that the US built on the lake before realizing that they had chosen a site legally in Canada.

bkd

Categories: northeast Tags: ,

Whiteface Mountain at the Top of the Adirondacks (Day 70, Part 2)

September 27th, 2009 No comments

Awful, awful headline.

They charge you $10 to drive up this road that goes to the summit of Whiteface Mountain. If you don’t want to pay $10, you can take a six-mile hike to get there. I paid the money and drove. It’s a well-maintained road. The person who takes your money is pleasant. When I got to the parking lot near the top, the elevator was broken. Happy day! I got to walk up the rest of the way. Steep stone steps. Lots of people going up them. Trail was 0.2-miles long, but I wonder whether they measured the base or the hypotenuse. Talked to a German couple from Berlin a little on the way back down. A little cold and windy. The day, not the couple. The couple were average-temperature at least in demeanor. Book said this was the highlight of many visits to the Adirondacks. Maybe.

whiteface_colorIn real-time, I’m kind of done with fall foliage. And only New Hampshire and Maine left to go!

whiteface_elevation-signGettin’ close to the top.

whiteface_trail-to-peakTrail to the top.

whiteface_the-road-upThe road up.

whiteface_top-of-whitefaceThe top of the mountain.

whiteface_lake-placidLake Placid — yes, it’s shaped like a horseshoe. Who knew?

whiteface_watchtowerThe watchtower, watching.

Inasmuch as paying to go on any 8-mile stretch of road is worth it, this was worth it I guess. Better than hiking it — can’t standing hiking somewhere that other people have driven to (see: Vermont) (once it’s posted).

And then I left the state.

bkd

US Olympic Glory, ca. 1980 (Day 70)

September 26th, 2009 2 comments

I kind of think that the guy who asks my brother questions at work is right: the 1980 US hockey team defeating the Soviets and winning the gold medal is probably the greatest (American) sporting event of all time. Granted, I like the romantic idea that the victory was what started the country’s overall turnaround from, well, the 1970’s — but still: morning in America.

So, went to Lake Placid and checked out a couple venues. I think ski jumps make for good photo subjects.

lake-placid_ski-jumps-behindSki jumps, where no miracle happened in 1980. At least, not for any American.

lake-placid_top-of-the-jumpKind of doesn’t look that imposing from on top.

lake-placid_jump-looking-upLooking up the ski jump.

lake-placid_ski-jump-colorsColors, viewed from ski jump. Woo!

lake-placid_ski-jump-stripEh. I’m kind of bored of my own photos. Maybe I just need more sleep. Sort of reminded me of a film strip or something.

lake-placid_1980-arenaInside the “1980 Arena”. No, you can’t go in (it’s still used as an arena). And the “olympic museum” at the “Olympic Center” isn’t worth the $5.

lake-placid_churchThe Olympic church, with double-parked Hummer.

Lake Placid is a pretty area. I didn’t go to the bobsled run. People are a little reserved, but friendly when you talk with them. Parking costs $1 an hour in town. Downtown Lake Placid is located on Mirror Lake, a mile away from Lake Placid. It cost $10 (IIRC) to go to the ski jumps. It came with a free chair lift and elevator ride, though.

bkd

Adirondacks: The Brothers to Big Slide Loop Hike (Day 69)

September 25th, 2009 5 comments

“Big Slide Loop” is not a thing. “Big Slide” is a peak. “Loop” refers to the hike being a “Loop Hike”. “The Brothers” may be a peak or several peaks or some other undisclosed feature. And the whole thing is in a part of the Adirondacks called the “High Peaks”, even though the highest is only 5,000 and change. They’re not far from Lake Placid. I camped at a campground called Wilmington Notch. There were showers, but the lines between campsites were indistinct. And though the weather looked sketchy, the guy at the mountaineering store said that I should *definitely* go hike Big Slide that day, because the rain was going to hold off and I’d definitely get the good view from the top.

My route: The Brothers trail to Big Slide, then down by way of the John’s Brook South Trail.

There: the stage is set. Here are the ride-along photos.

big-slide_root-trailPath, uphill, with roots.

big-slide_valley-leavesFirst valley view. Clear-ish.

big-slide_brother-viewView from the First Brother. Maybe First Brother.

big-slide_cliff-trailThis isn’t scenery, this is the trail. It’s at least as steep as it looks.

big-slide_peak-from-brotherThat peak up there is Big Slide. Still looking clear!

big-slide_me-on-brotherI’m going to say that this is me on top of Fourth Brother. If there *is* a fourth brother. If there are any brothers for that matter.

big-slide_walk-through-treesSteps through the trees.

big-slide_brook-with-mossA moss-covered brook.

big-slide_me-climbing-rockFinal assault to the peak and me without my harness. (Fine, it’s only about 70 degrees from horizontal in real life. That’s kind of steep for a hike.)

big-slide_me-at-peakMe at the peak. Not so clear. But I like the idea that the world ends just past that row of trees there.

big-slide_leafy-trailThe way down isn’t as steep, but it’s two miles longer (four up, six down).

big-slide_creek-on-mossA brook-covered moss.

big-slide_cascade-with-leavesA happy cascade. I imagine. It’s probably repressing anger at the cairn in the foreground, come to think of it.

big-slide_big-rockA big rock that looks like it could function as a big slide.

big-slide_red-leavesLeaves, red.

big-slide_chaise-longueIt’s hard to completely disrespect a trail that places chaise longues at various locations.

big-slide_johns-brookJohn’s Brook.

big-slide_more-leavesMore leaves. And then it started raining.

big-slide_me-at-trailheadProof Evidence that I made it back to the trailhead. Plus I wanted to show off my rain jacket that I never get to wear (because it doesn’t rain on this trip, apparently).

Sorry for the narcissism on the photos — I just felt that it was *me* that was making this place come alive.

  • Without the view at the peak, the hike is a little light on payoff.
  • It’s a very different terrain than I as a western hiker am used to. Out west they would’ve found some way to build switchbacks across all those faces. Not here.
  • As such, it’s a ten-mile hike that took me six hours.
  • Also as such, the trail itself was more engaging than I’m used to — although there were also plenty of long stretches but nothing to do but go up steep, dirt trails and peer through the tree-prison.
  • And some of those rocks were pretty slick: yes, I fell once.
  • But: pretty, worth it.

So it was.

bkd


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