The White Mountains
Location: New Hampshire/USA
Elevation: 2000-5000 feet
Note: I have wandered into countless forests, to find mysteries that date back to the beginning of time. I never expected to find anything of the sort, just trees and hedge, mingling with the moonrise. At certain times in my life, that would’ve been reason enough to dissipate into the hills with my cameras. I have been that individual, in the far away distance, in one moment, an acknowledging speck in the distant glances of happy travelers from the valley down below, and in the next moment, vanished.
Once I began to see the legitimacy of what is clearly an oppressed anthropological Culture in the woodsy places of the world, I simply couldn’t tell people fast enough. But as I began to inform people, friends and family, I realized that I was actually performing a new type of vanishing. This vanishing was related to the idea of who I used to be, what I used to say and think. I have one friend, in particular, who, when I would point out some fixture in the stones, would say to me: “It can’t just be beautiful can it? It has to be something… more?” Well, I‘m here today, to say to the entire world, in my least vanished state, that yes, sometimes, if you are truly lucky, it can just be beautiful.
Just look at The White Mountains.
I have travelled many times to the White Mountains intent on the discovery of The Megalithic Culture. In truth, Mount Chocorua, Mount Washington, and more than a half-dozen more of the mingling granite peaks here, in the heart of New Hampshire, hold world-class evidence. But on this excursion, in the Autumn of 2019, although I knew they were certainly there, I would not allow myself to see a single rolling stone. This is the time for trees.
Autumn in New England is a rolling tapestry of trees, an impressionism in real-time, an ocean of foliage. The Mountains roll like stilled tsunamis, continual colors into continual colors, until the sky contrasts the distance. The backdrop of blue, when the Sun is in the sky, fills the scene with brightened colors, deeper shadows, and depth. When a grey mist rolls over the peaks, the shadows seem to vanish, and the colors become slightly more miraculous, against the grey. Ingesting scenes like this somehow creates a mechanism in the heart for turning natural miasmas into rather simple suggestions; like the idea that there is an infinity of everything, spanning in all directions, over the one majestic scene. A true understanding of Nature, that humans are created with a literal connectivity to the lessons of the landscape, becomes clearer in scenes like this. The beauty of the moment is enhanced by the knowledge that it is soon to pass. It underscores the very nature of our lives. To spend time in a space like this is in fact to come many steps closer to what it would be like to wander freely among the stars, blazing against the backdrop of an infinite blackness by the starry billions, and long after you are gone.
Note 2: Mount Pemigewasset Trail/Franconia Notch State Park/NH
The White Mountains sit at the central heart of the State of New Hampshire. It would be a good guess that the State itself established its original boarders in order to encapsulate this Mountain Range gem. To the West is Vermont, and the beauty of the Green Mountain Range, running throughout. To the Northeast is the massive State of Maine, where Mount Katahdin looms in awe inspiring autonomy, like a section of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. (Image/Below)
The main highway that runs straight into the White Mountains is Route 93. One of the most popular and beautiful stretches of road in all of New England in Autumn. Make the choice to drive route 93 through the southern portion of the White Mountain Range, and connect to Route 302, which makes an incredibly visceral swing to the East, through the gorgeous White Mountain passes. Just like any of the Celtic Ranges abroad, this region offers excursions into National Parks, Waterfalls, Lakes, and photogenic stretches of valley, all along the main highways. Due to the amount of incredible choices for hiking, as well as its proximity as a gateway to the central Range along Route 93, Franconia Notch State Park was chosen for this Review. Trail choices here include Flume Gorge (easy), Mount Pemigewasset (medium), Little Haystack Falls (hard), and many more. A Ranger on site recommended the stellar view of Mount Pemigewasset Trail (Image/Below), which is achieved by a moderate hiking experience through absolutely classic New England forestry, with very few rocky formations along the way, for a change.
The trail begins on the north side of the Franconia Notch Parking lot. This is an active scene in Autumn, with cars piled along the side of the highway due to the amount of hikers intent on capturing the views of the region. There is a central lodge with a cafeteria, and information center for guided tours into the Mountains. A sign marks the trail for Mount Pemigewasset, along with a distance description of 1.5 miles to the peak. This measure is significantly off. Understand that it is about 2.1miles to the gorgeous peak at Mount Pemigewasset, obviously making the total hiking experience about 4.2 miles. This hike begins beneath a small picturesque bridge which passes beneath a bustling Route 93. If anything, this bustling is an indicator of exactly what it is you are hoping to get some distance from. Drifting into these Woods is a sonorous escape, where the sound of sifting leaves slowly overcomes the constant murmur of automotive assertion taking place down below. As you slowly climb, the woods whisper over a wide clear path, with roots, rocks, and golden-red leaves. This is a gorgeous forest, on par with the Black Forest of Germany, and beauty of the Scottish Pines in Glen Coe.
There are no variations on Pemigewasset Trail. You follow the clear rocky path, inundated with gold and rouge. The stones do seem deliberate, but this is not that type of Trail. This is a place to admire the raw and massive force that a New England forest can be, a venerable wonderland of the greatest depth, and degree of beauty. As the incline of the Trail continues the glades begin to change. Families of Birches emerge to greet you at about 2000 feet. Even while hiking in the elevated forests of Wyoming, for example, you might unexpectedly wander into a vast family of Birch trees. They simply pop-up wherever they wish, offering a gorgeous glimpse at the often whimsical mentality of trees; something that many of us just don’t consider in our constant ‘problem-solving state’ of ‘corporate function’, and bullshit. The beauty of where glades decide to grow is a marvel made specifically for hikers to ponder, and has a magic all its own, especially when walking through the miniature white pillars of a plentiful Birch boardwalk, closer to the clouds than the clamoring cars below. If you reach these Birches you know you are close to one the prettiest small-Mountain views in all of New Hampshire. As you pass through a narrow corridor of small trees, the vista emerges before you. Take your time breaking through, and prepare to receive your reward. This is a once in a lifetime scene. For those just visiting New England, it may be the only time they see such a vision. This is vista that offers a glimpse of the southerly course leading across New Hampshire back into Massachusetts. The multiplicity of the colors can be disorienting, so do not stand too close to the edge at first, and don’t take selfies near the ledge as well. At the Grand Canyon last year, many people died due to this tendency to ignore the significance of the ledge while leaning-back for their photos. Sit down with your friends, and loved ones, then take the pictures. There is a little bit of forever in the foliage here, sitting down is a small price to ask.To the West is a view along the edge of the Forest, revealing the edge of the immediate Valley. Somehow, it feels as if you could leap down into the softness of the tree-tops, and bounce out of view in just a few bounds. The scene is that surreal. The stony top-platform feels like a fortress beneath your feet, as the contrast of the soft foliage drifts off over the Valley, and through the woods.The way back down is doubly easy, as it always is. When you finally arrive back to your car, having seen the foliage, continue onward to the North, up Route 93 to Rt 302, and follow. This is one of the most wonderful drives in all of North America, winding through the Passes of the White Mountains, where hundreds of Waterfalls lay hidden, while some roll down completely open to the road. Silver Cascade Falls is just such an open view along Route 302. (Image/Below)The White Mountains have a blessed status among Ranges; They blush before sleeping, as the Winter sets in and the trees let go. Let it be a lesson to all of us, that all of our growth, and gain, and loss, will one day hang loose, and simply let go. For those who become sad at the notion of this, just remember that the universe of colors for the following year to come, has already been coded. This code, of course, is unable to be seen, but you better believe is more permanent, than even the White Mountain stone. Get into it, and good luck as you go.