Summer was not summer unless our family made our annual trek through one of the notches. My Dad and Mom would pack us up along with a cooler crammed with dogs, burgers and sodas. An old cardboard box would hold paper plates, utensils, buns chips and goodies (as my father called them). Our picnic destination would be one of the various off road camp sites along the Kancamagus Highway. While my parents would unpack and organize the BBQ feast, the kids would go explore and rock hop in the icy cold, numbing, rushing water of the Swift river. Banded together at first out of parental concern, we soon branched out on our own exploring until we were called or dragged back to eat. We spent our picnic time reliving our water adventures. When we were finished we would clean up and pile into the car heading off to the next adventure. Maybe an ice cream sundae, a stop at a lake for swimming, or an unforgettable open cockpit airplane ride complete with head cap and goggles. Whatever we did on our way back home, there was never a lack of awe inspiring scenery.
This adventure was solo as I headed up 93 North in New Hampshire towards Franconia Notch. It was mid-week and mid afternoon so traffic was light. Wide open sky, green pastures, barns and rolling hills lined both sides of the highway as I passed each small town. When I was twenty minutes past Plymouth the scenery began to change. Mountains suddenly appeared and the highway offered more dramatic curves. I was filled with anticipation as the two lane highway morphed into the one lane parkway that bares it's name.
This Parkway has a controversial history beginning in the late 1950's. A route was first proposed, through this notch, linking Massachusetts through New Hampshire and into Vermont. The White Mountain Environment Committee ( an off-shoot of the AMC) and the Society for the Protection of NH Forests joined forces to champion the long battle to preserve the integrity of the wilderness. Eventually, after the dust settled, a compromise was achieved. Congress passed an amendment changing regulation to the federal interstate system. Finally in 1988 the parkway was completed. Originally planned as a four lane highway, now a two lane, speed controlled eight mile stretch of wonder and beauty .
My first stop was the Flume a two mile loop through the gorge at the base of Mount Liberty. Make sure to bring a hoodie I found it a tad chilly. Then onto Boise Rock an attraction opposite the back side of Cannon Mountain. As the legend goes, in the early 1800's, Thomas Boise was caught up in a huge storm. He sought shelter under this boulder's overhang. He killed, skinned and climbed into the the carcass of his horse to keep warm. His rescuers had to cut him out the next day. I took a selfie and continued on towards Cannon Mountain. Cannon's tram was up and running offering some magnificent views. Next door, the entrance to Profile Lake. This park was beautifully maintained complete with gift shop and ice cream stand. I walked down the pathway towards the lake. I passed the bike path and eventually to the viewing site of the now fallen profile of The Old Man of the Mountain. Time was of the essence so I got back onto the parkway and headed south towards my final destination.
I took the last exit to The Basin which I purposely saved for the end of the trip. The light tends to be better and there are less people. I spent a good amount of time here. This basin was formed some 15,000 years ago during the last ice age and that fact made me appreciate it even more. I wanted to capture the feeling of motion that the Basin embodies, so I knew I needed my neutral density filter and long exposure times. I walked the whole path, past fast moving falls, crystal emerald pools, the old man's foot, over wooden bridges and ultimately to the location pictured above. I found myself setting up my tripod in the riverbed of the Pemigewesset down past the falls. I captured this picture and in that instant relived a wonderful memory of my youth.