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.
Location: Monroe, Massachusetts/USA
Elevation: 2,730 feet
Note: It’s good to know that every so often you can come across a simple trail. Depending on where you are, you can encounter a host of obstacles and unanticipated factors, especially in New England, which might hinder your way. For example, in early Spring, tree’s may have fallen during the previous Winter before rangers can re-designate the trails with new markers. This can have you miles into a trail expecting a rewarding view, only to be completely off-trail and configuring a way back. For the dedicated hiker in Winter, snow may cover an entire route. Just last week on a trail in New Hampshire a man had the bright idea to bring an M16 rifle several miles into Purgatory Falls Trail; he opened-fire along the river, all while people were hiking, which mind you, is totally LEGAL in New Hampshire. These things should not hinder your dedication to seeking the beautiful and meaningful high points in the landscape, but it should teach you to increase your awareness that the rules do change in different environments/countries/states. This is why it is a relief to arrive at a place like Monroe State Forest, set in a very special region of Massachusetts, on the beautiful boarder of southern Vermont. Here you will find a clear and straight trail heading directly to the best view in the entire region. This place is a rolling set of small mountains that vividly encapsulates the medium-scale hiking elevations of central New England. My friend Jon Bent, who is a local, and expert on these hills, has told me that the growth here is not ‘old’ at all, but rather, it is recent (150 years old), which contradicts several sources about these woods. Whatever the case may be with these massive trees, they are a batch of somewhat rare trees for Massachusetts; such as the Yellow Birch, American Basswood, Beech, Red Spruce, and towering White Pine. It is my belief that the crafted stones were here LONG BEFORE any trees, as they were present on the landscapes in Celtic ranges. Navigating to the best entry point for this trail requires locating Tilda Hill road in the town of Florida, Massachusetts, which eventually becomes the indistinctly named “Main Road”. There is a sign for Monroe State Forest at the intersection of “Main Road” and Raycroft Road. Raycroft Road is actually a rugged dirt path and the trail for this hike, which elevates gradually into Monroe Forest. You can park your car just passed the Monroe State Forest sign at the turn-off towards Raycroft Road, beside the flowing Dunbar Brook on your left. Simply park your vehicle and head straight up the wide dirt path, without veering in either direction, all the way to Hunt Hill porch. It’s about 2.5 miles to reach the vista. You will actually come to the top of the hike and re-enter a short path directly in front of you leading a bit downward again for 2 minutes before opening up to Hunt Hill Porch. It’s a striking view. On this day someone wrote on one of the porch stones “All good things in all good time.” Perfect spot to contemplate this.Mount Spruce is actually a secondary priority compared to the view at Hunt Hill, here at Monroe. Hunt Hill should be your goal. After discovering the Hunt Hill vista you can turn back towards the main trail and follow the westerly paths, to the left, heading towards Mount Spruce. The pathways heading away from the main trail are narrower, with towering trees and hedges. These trails continue along hilly glades and knolls that display shafts of cinematic sunlight, and scenes where a stop for water and rest in the Forest is a great idea. Looping down to the main trail again you will be heading generally back towards Dunbar Brook. At about the mid-point of the Raycroft Road main trail, there is an easterly path of forest with those beautiful White Pines, all continuing down to Dunbar Brook and beyond into the lower valley lakes.
Within this glade of White Pines are some compelling free-standing boulders, with sliced faces and rounded rears, like many Celtic territorial markers. Look at the face of this 10 ton boulder on the left. It is blatantly flat, looking at it head-on. The view from the side reveals that the boulder looks to have been split, like a knife through butter, with a rounded base at the rear, as shown on the right. What could’ve possible done this? Look at these standing stones with rounded rears at Glenveagh National Park/Ireland (White Diamond Face), and Mount Watatic Mass (Red and Gold Leaf coloring on stone). It’s the same exact principle.
Dunbar Brook becomes a beautiful set of small waterfalls dancing through the rocks and boulders. You can follow this stream with confidence if you so choose, navigating both down and back, with small pathways along the side to help, only be prepared to climb a bit along the boulders.
From the vista at Hunt Hill down to the Car Park at the head of Dunbar Brook are Neolithic stones all throughout the forest. Hundreds of zigzagging stone-linings, and squared-out spaces with areas that look like hearth-centers in ancient living centers. Below is an image of what looks like the symmetrical foundation to what was once an ancient living space, with the hearth-stones in the center; presumably for a fire. Look at the leveling of this stonework, which is identical to corbel layering in Celtic ancient spaces. Here’s closer look at the scale of these stones against the landscape, which stands about 4 feet tall. It raises serious questions about the idea that Colonial farmers just randomly decided to waste their Summer seasons utilizing all their resources to build structures like this, and without even an ounce of explanation or claim. Something much more complicated is taking place in these Forests and Mountains. For certain so many people will look and say in a most bored fashion, “Yeah o.k, big deal, it’s just a stonewall…” But the point is where it is, and the style and size of it. These stones are in the middle of a Forest and run literally everywhere. They are part of a grander network of connecting stones that do not mark, say, quartered fields, or farmhouses from the colonial period; they zigzag, and often times connect to rivers, like cords connecting to a power source. If a reader doesn’t see that it is riveting to possibly piece together the idea that someone was engineering the entire landscape for the purpose of harnessing energy in antiquity, than just stop reading now. These discoveries are changing the way we conceive of “monuments”. The culture that did this monumentalized the entire landscape. The whole thing was once synergized by a connecting system of natural energy producers, like flowing water and Sun. Most people just don’t understand. The same concept of energy connectors and crystalized power sources within your phone, is the same exact principal being discovered on the New England landscape. Above is yet another image of stone-linings zigzagging through the woods. In the forefront of the image, and the back, are stones beyond counting. The odds that these linings connect to the flowing water of Dunbar Brook, just beyond, are 99 to 1. That’s what it is starting to look like; that’s where the physical evidence takes us. All of this happens under beautiful White Pines, tall and fair, on this eastern extension from the main trail here at Monroe State Forest.Heading back to the beginning of the trail where your car is parked, you can spend some time at a focal point of Dunbar Brook. There is a hollowed-out section of stream with a small waterfall coming around the side of this central pool, and it is serene. In the image below, the stream looks to have been redirected around the pool, to the left, then continuing to flow down the valley. So now you’re thinking that “redirecting” the flow of water at a rocky stream seems impossible right? Take a look at this beautiful waterfall in Donegal, northern Ireland. Aside from the incredibly crafted stones above the fall, which practically look like a faucet fixture funneling the water to an exact point, is an absolutely crafted side-stream to the left. The stones of this side-stream are like a perfect staircase, in width and leveling, allowing the water to mingle with the main flow in front of it in a perfectly sectioned process. This waterfall in Donegal is wild, completely indigenous, without even a path connecting it to the road; the work that was done to it, was done in antiquity, and with great skill. And there are many other places like this, with skilled crafting, alignments, and fitted stones. (See ‘Bears Den’ in the New England Section of Stonestrider.com if you are interested in more water engineering in antiquity.) Monroe State Forest is a simple hike to the vista at Hunt Hill, surrounded by enchanted forestry and networks of Neolithic stones. The awareness of this beautiful factor can change the way we read landscapes. Improve your landscape literacy and hike Monroe State Forest. Pictures and images are o.k, but the point of these articles is to get people there for themselves. Spring is here, so go for it! Seeing is believing. Thanks for reading.