If it’s Saturday once again, it is time to head back home

This was the last day of our wanderings before we headed back down to Massachusetts.

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Well known, and somewhat historical, breakfast place. In Sugar Hill in the Franconia Notch area
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Bridge across the Pemigewasset River river on the trail to the Flume Gorge
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Trail up the Flume Gorge
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In the sometimes heavy rain!
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Sentinel Pine Bridge and Pool on the Flume Gorge trail
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Sentinel Pine Bridge
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Storm Clouds over the mountains
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Rocky Gorge area, Swift River, next to the Kancamagus Highway
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The Swift River

And thus our adventures on this vacation come to an end!

If it’s Wednesday, we must be climbing Mt. Washington in the White Mountains

We drove up Mt. Washington, and visited a few waterfalls today.

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Our Bed and Breakfast place in Gorham, NH, in the morning
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Start of the climb up Mt. Washington (yes, there is a tollbooth!)
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Weather at the top of Mt. Washington as indicated on the tollbooth
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A cog railway train on Mt. Washington
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Summit of Mt. Washington
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Storms brew as we descend Mt. Washington
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Waterfall near the AMC Headquarters at Pinkham Notch
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Glen Ellis Falls
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Arethusa Falls

We stayed the next three nights in Littleton, NH, near Franconia Notch in the White Mountains.

And if its’ Thursday….

Bridging the Gaps

I am a big fan of bridges, and I admit that I have taken too many pictures of them.  I think that some of the bigger ones, especially the suspension bridges, are marvels of engineering design.  The fact that we have figured out ways to use the laws of physics to construct these gigantic, and often beautiful and majestic, structures to leap across wide open spaces and voids in such a seemingly effortless manner (a perception that is deceptive) is remarkable.  The manner in which the roadways hang in the air, suspended from cables attached to elegant piers that rise from the ground or the water into the air to tower over the bridges themselves, is amazing.  And many of us take these structures for granted while using them in our everyday lives, with not an appreciation or understanding of, or interest in, the ingenuity that went into their construction.

But having said all that, I would like to take a different tack for this week’s challenge.  I will just focus on some more down-to-earth “bridge” encounters from our recent trip to New England.  These are simpler bridge stories from the other end of the spectrum.  The physics involved is quite simple in many cases.  These pictures will show that as far as the simple act of walking or hiking is involved, there are many basic ways that are used to bridge obstacles that may appear in front of you.  In some cases, even the simple rocks found in nature will offer you a bridge!

The following pictures are from the Camden State Park in Maine.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is from a hike up Gorham mountain on Mt. Desert Island in Maine.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese bridges are a few of the many on a trail in the Flume Gorge area in New Hampshire.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis bridge carries a trail across the Winooski River in Montpelier, VT.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABridges, in many different forms, are an essential part of our lives today.

A Study in Visual Perspectives

I had the opportunity to hike the Franconia Ridge in the White Mountains of New Hampshire recently.  The 8.8 mile trail that we tackled started in the Lafayette Place parking lot in the Franconia Notch.  It took us up from the valley to the ridge and the mountain tops and back in a loop.  If you do this loop in a counter-clockwise direction, you climb up to the ridge using the aptly named Falling Waters trail.  You break out of the forest near the end of this trail at Little Haystack Mountain.  You then take the Appalachian Trail (AT) along the ridge for a while, proceeding to Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Lafayette.  This part of the hike is completely above the tree level and feels very different from the climb and the descent which are through the woods.  At Mt. Lafayette, you descend the mountain to the Greenleaf Hut following the Greenleaf Hut trail.  At this point one takes the Old Bridle Path trail back to the parking lot.

This is an amazing hike.  It is quite challenging with the steep slopes and the rough terrain, and it takes a good part of the day to complete the hike.  You have to be well prepared,  and the hiking conditions also change with the seasons.  We did encounter a little bit of snow on the trail even in May.  If the weather is bad, and I have heard that it can turn bad in a hurry even on a good day, you will be completely exposed to the elements as you walk along the ridge.

I took at lot of pictures during the hike, but the ones I have been coming back to look at most often on my computer are the ones taken along the ridge.  Because it is quite open out there above the treeline, you get a good lesson on visual perspectives.  I have pictures of certain sections of the trail taken at different times and from different distances.  When you look at something from a certain distance you get a certain picture in your mind of how the terrain might be and of the distances you will be covering, but as you get closer you may realize that the picture did not accurately represent reality.  Often times, you do not even realize the size of what you are up against until to get close to the object.  Here are a series of pictures focusing on the slope leading up to the top of Mt. Lafayette.  (In viewing these pictures I found that I could use the size of the patch of snow on the side of Mt. Lafayette as a reference of some sort.)

The first three pictures were taken from Mt. Lincoln by zooming in with the camera.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next three pictures were most likely taken from the small crest in the ridge closest to Mt. Lafayette. You can see this crest in the first and second pictures in the series of the three pictures above.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn both of these series of three pictures, I think it is the size of the people that could give you a better perspective of what you are dealing with.

Here are a couple of pictures that I think help with providing a better perspective of the vastness of the space that one is dealing with, especially because people are present in the pictures.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first picture below may make you think you are actually walking along a narrow edge for this section of the trail, but the picture below it clarifies that the edge is really not that narrow after all.  In fact, as you walk along the ridge you do not get the sense of this being a risky endeavor, a perspective that could prove to be incorrect and quite dangerous on a windy day.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen you get up to the ridge at Little Haystack and look north along the trail you see Mt. Lincoln in front of you.   Mt. Lafayette is hidden behind Mt. Lincoln even though it is the taller of the two mountains.  If you were unfamiliar with the territory you would not know which mountain you were looking at and heading towards.  Some people may not realize until they get to the top of Mt. Lincoln that there was still more ground to be covered to get to the last stop along the ridge.  It is all a matter of the visual perspective.  Here is a picture that provides a little bit of that perspective.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think it is actually quite difficult for a person who is only looking at pictures to truly grasp what one is dealing with in reality.  You will appreciate the real challenge you are up against only while you are in that space.   You might try to capture the nature of that space with a series of pictures, but that is not the same thing as being in that space.

Here is a picture of the Franconia Ridge taken on the way down the mountain. (Click through to see the picture in its full size.)  At this point we still had a long way to go to get back to the parking lot from where we had started the hike. The Old Bridle Path trail from the Greenleaf hut descends along the ridges of the hills to the left of the picture.  The three peaks that dominate the picture are Mt. Lafayette (5249 ft), Mt. Lincoln (5089 ft), and Little Haystack (4760 ft). We walked the ridge from Little Haystack to Lafayette, a distance of about 1.7 miles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are interested in viewing more pictures of the hike, follow this link.