It is now Friday, Day 13 of our leaf peeping adventure and we finally have sun and blue skies! That’s great, because we have a short drive east across the rest of Vermont, over the Connecticut River and into New Hampshire. We are heading toward the White Mountains and Franconia Notch State Park. The colors of the leaves are pretty much near their peak, with oranges, yellows, and reds interspersed with dark green triangles of spruce and fir. White trunks of paper birch pop out and in many spots there is a bright green carpet of pasture to set it off. With the blue sky and wispy white clouds, this is our best day yet for viewing.
A spot along the way, Beaver Pond, is just the perfect mix of water, sky and fall colors. Actually, the AT crosses our path here and we took a moment to walk maybe 100 feet of it, just to tell our nephew Adam that we did it.
Further on, the town of Lincoln, New Hampshire also sits along the AT, with several hiker friendly trail stops, and a little bit of crazy with the Hobo Railroad and Clark’s Trading Post featuring bear shows.
Just beyond that is the start of the state park and we pull off to hike the Flume Gorge. It is a pretty popular spot with the bus tour crowd, but once we got through the gift shop and started uphill it was fine. I remember coming to this area with my family as a youngster and hiking up through the flume, a cool, damp hike up stairways and ramps. I was not disappointed with this return visit at all.
The gorge is a split in the granite outcropping through which the Pemigewasset River flows. The entire hike is about 2 miles round trip, but the actual gorge is less than half a mile. I will let the pictures tell the story of the catwalk through the gorge (which is removed in winter and rebuilt each spring).
It was a great hike up and back, not too strenuous at all, and we were soon on our way back to Vermont and camp at Ricker’s Pond. Since it was such a nice night, we bought some firewood and sat outside around our first campfire (really?) until it got too darn cold. Mid 40’s is winter for us Georgians!
It is now Day 14 and our last one in Vermont. Dry camping in Vermont means we are being conservative with our water supply and careful with our propane for heat. We fire up the generator a bit in the morning and evening to heat food, water and charge devices. We have both been hauling water in a gallon jug from the spigot down the hill to keep the tanks at two-thirds. One reason is the shower house is metered (feed quarters) and we aren’t certain there is hot water. There certainly isn’t heat in the cement-floored building, so that isn’t an option. That means a very quick shower onboard. This will be much the same situation in Maine for 5 days – and it’s not a problem, just a shift in how you do things.
Ok, then, on with our day. We opted to stay close today and take Kodi along for some hiking. As you can see by the pictures, the colors are even more vivid. We walked the Cross Vermont trail a bit – an old railroad line that actually goes through our campground along Ricker’s Pond. Then we hiked up a bit more hill to reach Owl’s Head overlook and were glad we did. What a spectacular view of the mountains to the east. Just breathtaking.
We made a loop drive that took us to Danville, where we stopped for lunch at the only place in town that was open: Bentley’s Bakery & Cafe. Sandwiches were huge and delicious (pastrami panini and grilled chicken with cranberries and walnuts) on fresh made breads. Washed down with maple iced coffee and we were set.
Actually, we took half the meal back for dinner. The liquor shop next door had some Vermont beer from 14th State brewing that I just had to buy: “Maple Breakfast Stout” made with coffee and maple syrup. The heck with breakfast, that was going to go great with dinner!
The route back took us up and over rolling hills and bright green pastures, dotted with barns and silos. One of the cutest towns, and not a tourist stop at all, was Peacham, dating to 1776. Oh my goodness, the houses were charming and everything just looked postcard perfect. We soon arrived in Groton (pronounced like “rotten”) just as their fall festival parade ended and the town was jammed with people and cars. Just yesterday it was empty. But since there was no traffic light in town, just the Constable directing traffic, it didn’t take too long to pass through and back to the campsite.
Kodi was pretty quiet back in the camper, falling asleep in the passenger seat while Jackie took a power nap and I tried to burn off the last of the firewood. Tomorrow is going to be a hitch-up and get-outta-town day. Destination: Farmington, Maine (with full hook-ups!).