Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Hike in the White Mountains

Rachel in the mountains
After Tropical Storm Arthur washed out most of the 4th of July celebrations in Boston (moving an abbreviated Pops concert and early fireworks to the 3rd).  

After sitting around the house on a wet 4th, our cabin fever propelled us to take a little hike.  Rosie came up with this suggestion for a hike in the White Mountains at Crawford Notch.

It would only be 5 miles.  Maybe 3 hours at a "normal" pace or 5 hours at a "relaxed" pace.  It featured climbing up to the top of the Frankenstein Cliff (named after a German artist who lived in the area, not the famous monster) and then passing the Arethusa Falls, the tallest non-seasonal waterfalls in New Hampshire.  Sounded good.

Hike to the Frankenstein Cliffs and Arethusa Falls
Google Earth view of the hike.  The photo of me is at that bald spot at the top center of the map above.

Crawford Notch station
So off we went. After a couple of near-rear end collisions with the tourist drivers on I-93, we made it to Twin Mountain for lunch. From there it was a short drive past Crawford Notch station, one of my favorites. It is maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club and served in summer and fall by a single round-trip train from North Conway.

From the parking lot we set out.  Of course, son #2 took off at his own pace, not to be seen for hours where he was waiting for our return.  Rosie and I set out on the climb.  In short the trail was up.  And up.  And up.  And, for variety, some steeper up.

The trail went up.  And up.  And some
 more up!
Rosie says, will it ever descend?

From time to time, you could get a good view of the mountains all around.
Frankenstein Trestle
After hiking north for a half mile or so, the trail turns west and passes under the Frankenstein Trestle which soars over 80 above the trail.  The trestle was built in 1893 by the Portland (Maine) & Ogdensburg Railroad as part of its route through the White Mountains.  Later it became the Mountain Division of the Maine Central Railroad, with freight trains traversing the line into the early 1980s.  Since 1895 the Conway Scenic Railroad runs a daily passenger in summer and fall.

Frankenstein Trestle soars over the trail
The Frankenstein Trestle many years ago, before the forest grew up around it.

The Frankenstein Trestle from Google Earth.

Historic Marker

After passing the trestle, we passed this long waterfalls cascading down the face of a portion of the Frankenstein Cliffs.  There are two ways to reach the vantage point of this photo.  One can climb the rock pile between the trestle and falls, or follow the zig-zagging trail.  We took the trail.

Frankenstein Cliffs Overlook
After the waterfalls, we had about another 100 feet up before we were treated to the magnificent views from the overlook.  The view looks to the south through Bartlett Notch in the general direction of Conway.

The view
Looking down on Route 302
The mountains beyond

Rosie and I, atop of overlook.

At the overlook, we chatted with a family group who stopped for lunch to rest and enjoy the view.  One of them, who had taken the trail maybe 20 years ago, said the trail would easily descend from here and we didn't want to go back the way we came up.  So on we went.

But there was no "down" just more up.  And some more up after that.  Then there was a little bit of down, followed by up and then steeper up.  Seems we still had another 80 feet to rise before we reached the peak of the trail.

Waterfalls and Streams
Well eventually, we dis start descending, which went on for miles.  Along the way, the trail crossed many streams and there were a number of waterfalls where the streams cascaded down the face of the cliffs.

Mountain streams cascading over rocks crossed the trail as several points in the descent

Rosie checking her phone for another way across the stream, perhaps.

Arethusa Falls: the destination of the 2nd half of the hike.  Its 140 foot drop is the tallest non-seasonal waterfalls in New Hampshire.  (The Dryad Falls is taller but the stream is intermittent.)
After the falls, it was still over a mile and a half back to the parking lot.  While it was mostly down, it still was a bit of an effort at the end of the hike.  About a half mile before the end, by left hiking boot "blew out" with the soul falling off.  I had to shuffle back to the car.

All in all, we did the trail with stops in about 3 and half hours, which is not bad for not having hiked last year while recovering from a procedure.   It always feels great at the end of the hike.

We stopped at the rest area overlooking Mount Washington and its namesake hotel just to take in the view.  (Turned out, there were folks who were tailgating at this rest area, too!)

Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range, with the Mt. Washington Hotel.