The Lower Falls ~ An Enchanting Stop Along the Swift River

lowerswift7lowerswift16The Lower Falls recreation site on the Swift River is one of the most popular stops along the Kancamagus lowerswift12Highway. Located in Albany, New Hampshire, everywhere you look there lowerswift15is a postcard lowerswift13worthy view of sparkling water spilling over granite rocks, collecting
at the bottom into a pool that is packed with swimmers during the lowerswift9summer months.  It’s a great place to stop for a picnic, complete with picnic tables and charcoal grills. The parking lot is on the right, about seven miles in from the Conway end of the Kanc, and is definitely worth the drive!lowerswift14    lowerswift4

Ripley Falls ~ Crawford Notch State Park

ripleyripley1Ripley Falls is a horsetail waterfall located in Crawford Notch State Park, NH. One of New England’s steepest-angled waterfalls, it boasts a drop of slightly over 100 feet. The falls are only a half mile up the trailhead, which has some steep and rocky patches, but is a quick and easy hike. I highly recommend making the 20 minute climb to see it for yourself.  

Champney Falls to Mount Chocorua

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chocuruachocurua17It was a beautiful, summer-like day when we set off to hike Mount Chocorua. There are several trails you can take to the summit. We chose the Champney Falls trail, named after renowned White Mountain artist Benjamin Champney, for the view. The trailhead was easy to find, located right off the scenic Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire.

chocurua12chocurua15We began the 7.6 mile hike in high spirits, stopping for lunch near the falls under the shelter of an overhang hidden in a chasm off to the left of the trail. Although it was May 10th, a thick layer of ice covered the ground, making our little picnic spot much cooler than the surrounding area.

chocurua9We then resumed our journey up the trail, the day becoming hotter and hotter, my skin frying under the boiling sun. The trail is in the tree line until you reach the bare, craggy rock at the top. Unfortunately, most of the trees along the lower 2/3rds of the trail were just beginning to sprout their leaves after winter.

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Just when I thought I couldn’t handle any more heat (pretty sad for a Florida girl, huh?) we reached the pine lined switchbacks of the upper trail, occasionally crossing ice patches with their lovely little pockets of cold air. By the time we reached the treeless reaches of the upper realm, I had recovered from the heat.

chocurua8chocurua10It was clear, sunny, and best of all, windless when we arrived at the 3490 foot summit. The easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range, Chocorua’s views spread far and wide,
providing a gorgeous view of the surrounding landscape. After chocurua7a quick break, we began an uneventful descent. All in all,  Chocorua was a lovely hike, the falls were gorgeous, and it was another day well spent in the mountains.

 

 

Diana’s Bath

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As the sun beats down on a blistering hot day it’s hard to imagine that it was only last month that I was trekking through the snow and slipping over ice to explore Diana’s Bath.
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A quick hike across flat terrain in Bartlett, NH, Diana’s Bath boasts a series of small waterfalls. Located in the White Mountain National Forest, the falls were once used as a sawmill, but now the area is a protected historic site. The water levels are at their peak in April, when these photos were taken.  This  picturesque hike is a wonderful way to spend the day and is easy enough for the whole family. With plenty of nearby trails to explore and sites to see, Diana’s Bath should not be missed.

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Trekking the Tripyramids

tripyramid1Once upon a time, many years ago, I was an archaeology major. I was (and still am) enthralled by mysteries like Stonehenge, the Nazca Lines, and the Egyptian Pyramids. While this line of academic pursuit was abandoned for a degree that promised a more lucrative future, I still get a thrill from reading about ancient ruins and cultures.

tripyramid9I have to admit I was excited when we decided to hike the Tripyramids last weekend. The name is so much cooler than Lafayette, Whiteface or Liberty, even if imagination fell a little short on dubbing the three peaks North, South, and Middle Tripyramid. The mountains are so named because of their three distinctive peaks. As only two of the three are officially on the New England’s 4000 footer list, we decided to hike only those two – North and Middle Tripyramid. This would allow us to take the path less traveled, a trail that would avoid the infamous ‘slide’ on North Tripyramid, and which would bring us down along the Sabbaday Brook and waterfall in an eleven mile loop.

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Although the day wasn’t particularly hot, the air was thick and humid. As we hiked along the Pine Bend Brook, the mosquitoes swarmed in droves, sticking to our sweaty faces, and on several occasions, flying directly into my eyes. Not my favorite part of the hike. I do have to say, however, that this was one of the more visually interesting hikes I’ve been on. Moss covered rocks, a wide range of foliage, and over a dozen different types of mushrooms made for a nice view – at first.

tripyramid11This was the first hike where we used our new Camelbak packs and the trekking poles we received for Christmas. The packs were great. We didn’t have to stop to drink, and their streamlined design resulted in much less gravity drag while scrambling across large rock slabs. The sticks were also a huge help. I hadn’t realized how much strain they reduce on your legs, and they’re awesome for river crossings.

tripyramid4We made it to the summit of North Tripyramid (4,160 feet) soaked, but in good spirits. I climbed down to the little ledge that provided the only view, took a few pictures, we ate lunch, and then we were off. Middle Tripyramid (4,120 feet) was conquered soon enough, and after a  few pictures shrouded by a nasty looking storm cloud, we began the five mile descent. That’s where things got a little dicey.

tripyramid5It seems that very few people take this way down. The trail is narrow, claustrophobic in places, and covered in hurdles. We played a game of over – under – over as we negotiated through the maze of trees that had fallen across the trail, in some places using branches overhead to swing over gaps or to balance while walking down trunks. Blazes on the trail were few and far between. Then came the river crossings. No stepping stones across, no fallen trunks, no option other than wading in knee deep, digging into the river bed with our trekking sticks to keep balance against the rushing current. Over and over and over again.

tripyramid6At one point we were on the trail, which continued ahead of us, when we saw a blaze on a tree growing on a strip of land down the middle of the river. So we crossed, walked down the middle of the river for a bit, until we were led back to the trail we had been on. I became convinced that some individual(s) had brought their own paint to blaze a trail of madness for their own personal amusement.

sabbaday1By this time, my mood was not the best it could be. I was tired of wading across the river, tired of the trail, tired of feeling like someone’s fool. Then we hit the falls. Reaching the falls meant that we were only a half mile from the parking lot, and a flat half mile at that. After eleven miles, we could still cover the distance and be back at the car in ten minutes. But the Sabbaday Falls were beautiful. They could not be ignore.

sabbadayLike an ancient ruin that had stood the test of time,  it was a magnificent wonder, cutting a deep gash through the rock with its liquid tongue. Bad moods were abandoned as we happily sloshed out into the water, this time by choice, to take pictures. I can’t say that I suggest taking the Sabbaday Falls Trail as a descent from Middle Tripyramid, but I definitely recommend the half mile hike from the parking lot to see the falls.