Jason has been telling me about the White Mountains since we met (eight years ago today, actually), and I was always a little dismissive. How could New England mountains have anything on my Wasatch Front? Well, I have now seen the White Mountains with my own eyes and they are beautiful.
The Flume Gorge is an 800 foot long carved gorge at the base of Mount Liberty. Apparently it was discovered back in 1808 by a 93-year-old woman whose family didn’t believe she had actually found a natural wonder. Bummer. She must have eventually convinced them to come see it because now there is a walking path built along the rocks.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t even close to this. The walk was incredible. It was the closest I’ve ever felt to being in a slot canyon outside of the west and I loved it. One of my favorite parts of the walk was the suspension bridge at the end. Apparently there was a giant tree (called “The Sentry,” I think) that grew along the edge of the cliff. It came down in a hurricane, and they used it to build a bridge across the chasm. The whole trunk of the tree makes up the bottom of the bridge. You can barely see it below behind Jason’s head, but I’m sure we have a better picture somewhere.
I need to get the rest of Jason’s pictures because I know he got some good ones with the nice camera.
We also went to the Lost River and Boulder Caves. On the way, we passed a sign for The Frost Place, permanent home of Robert Frost from 1915-1920, and summer home for the next twenty years. How could we not stop?
Every year an emerging writer is awarded a Poet in Residence post, which includes a stipend and the chance to spend a summer living and writing at the Frost home. I am so jealous.
Apparently on a Frost family vacation long ago young Jason requested a visit to the Frost Place, to the chagrin of his younger brothers. Our trip here went much more smoothly. I loved it, especially after having read The Art of Robert Frost earlier this year. I can see how he was inspired by New Hampshire. It is an amazing place.
After our not-so-out-of-the-way detour, we headed to the Lost River.
This gorge was evidently formed by a glacier, which deposited giant boulders along the way. When everything eroded, some little caves remained. Like the Flume Gorge, the gorge was accessible by a wooden path built right into the rock.
The walk isn’t too long, and there are little turnoffs where you can scramble through the caves. None of them were very long (as evidenced by the fact that you’re not issued a headlamp and helmet at the beginning).
At the end you could turn left and go straight to the lodge, or you could turn to the right and explore more trails. We went to the right, of course, and found a gazebo and chairs. In my vision of our future we have a porch with adirondack chairs (but real wooden ones, none of this plastic nonsense).
After finishing the Boulder Caves, we decided to hike the Dilly Overlook, described as a steep, 3/4 mile one-way hike for only experienced trekkers in appropriate boots. Check check. We started up, and indeed, the trail got a little steep. In fact, it wasn’t so much a trail as a rock scramble…and it just kept getting steeper. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was as steep as the last bit of Angel’s Landing (though there was only a 100′ drop off the side instead of 1,400′ on both sides). We turned around probably closer to the end than we would like to admit because it was so sketchy. On the way down, Jason lost his footing on the wet rocks and slid toward the edge. I turned around just as he was falling, which was one of my more terrified moments. He skidded into a tree (thank goodness!) and was a little shaken but fine aside from some serious rock burn on his arm and leg. I offered to take a picture of it, but he’s not as enchanted with documenting injuries as I am. We went back to the lodge so he could clean himself off in the bathroom and then we headed on our way.
We didn’t go too crazy on the food front in Littleton. We ate at a diner that only accepted cash (thank goodness they had an ATM on site), and we picked up (more) homemade ice cream at Bishop’s (again, cash only. Oh, New England).
We ran into our first real GPS trouble as we left the Lost River heading home. Neither phone had service, so we just started off in the way we had come. I kept checking the phones, but still, no service. Finally, for just a minute, we ended up with just enough service for me to see the proposed route on one of our phones, and I realized we were going in the wrong direction. Then the cell service was gone again. Fortunately we had picked up a map from the Flume Gorge, which I used to navigate us through the wilds of New Hampshire (no really. So many back roads.) and back to the freeway in Vermont. I was very proud of my effort.
The drive home was incredible. New England really is a beautiful place.
When we got back, we met Jason’s mom at the airport so we could return our rental car. Then we stopped in at Jason’s grandparents’ house for a few minutes. As usual, I was in stitches by the time we left. We also stopped in to see his cousin Kelley and her sweet baby boy. He is the first baby who seemed to like me, and actually let me carry him around the house for a while! Babies always love Jason, but I’m hit or miss.
After our visit with Kelley and Maureen, we went to Mexicali, a newish restaurant in Windsor (I think?). The food was awesome, and Jason had a good conversation with our waiter in Spanish. Jason also goaded his mom into trying some of the habanero salsa, which was not her favorite. She’s a good sport.
The next day Jason and I played some tennis and went to Frank Pepe’s for lunch. Our flight kept getting delayed, which meant I had time for one more game of Scrabble with Mom Frost. We finally went to the airport, but the flight was delayed further still for bad weather. We were supposed to get into D.C. at 7 p.m., but ended up landing around 10:40 p.m., leaving us no time to fill our bare cupboards before heading back to work the next day.
I’m so glad we made the trip. I love seeing places that Jason loves, and spending time with his family is always wonderful. His parents are too good to us.