Franconia Notch

Posted on 09 Jul 2021 by Steve Markham

The first stop on the Awesome 2021 Camping Trip was Franconia Notch State Park. It was awesome, and I’m headed back to the White Mountains next month. I just couldn’t do all the hiking I wanted to with the whole family in tow.

All of my kids got along with each other surprisingly well.
All of my kids got along with each other surprisingly well.

Step 1: Load everything into the van. At first I wasn’t sure it would fit without stuff on laps. Then I decided to sit the girls right next to each other so I could drop a third of the back bench, and we had plenty of space.

Janet commented on how nice it was to even have a rear-view mirror.
Janet commented on how nice it was to even have a rear-view mirror.

Before we even got to the campground we stopped at Lost River Boulder Caves. It was lovely.

It was boardwalk the whole way. Lots of waterfalls.
It was boardwalk the whole way. Lots of waterfalls.
Lots of boulder 'caves' too.
Lots of boulder 'caves' too.
At the end we hiked up out of the valley for some gorgeous views.
At the end we hiked up out of the valley for some gorgeous views.
The kids had a blast in together the whole trip, including playing owls.
The kids had a blast in together the whole trip, including playing owls.
Group shot taken by a stranger at the nest.
Group shot taken by a stranger at the nest.

Monday night was a simple dinner: quesadillas. I don’t know why we haven’t made quesadillas more often when car camping. Easy, customizable, and everyone loves them. Then jiffy pop and s’mores for dessert.

Tuesday we hiked to Lonesome Lake with the Youngs. I took only one picture worth posting, so check Janet’s blog.

As far as I know, Lewis has never been coached. This is simply his natural pose when he makes it to the top of a big rock.
As far as I know, Lewis has never been coached. This is simply his natural pose when he makes it to the top of a big rock.

We stopped for lunch at an AMC hut. It was interesting, but not my style for actual backpacking.

Dathan and I went for a longer swim in the pond. It was cold only for the first 15 seconds, and then quite relaxing. A large group of youth showed up, Camp Walt Whitman. It wasn’t 100% girls, but the odds were pretty good for the few lucky guys. Curiosity eventually got the better of me, so I asked the “adult” (maybe 21yo) in charge what the deal was. A few girls instantly chimed in–this was the “easy” hike, and all the boys were on the hard hike up to the ridge. It sounds like they all really love the camp, and fly from all over the country to go there year after year. If you’re interested in sending a child, it’s only $13,700 for their 7-week Full Summer program, and younger kids who are nervous about such a long camp can go for 4 week for less than $10k. It makes NOLS seem like a good deal:)

After the hike we played around camp. Dinner was hot dogs and brats over the fire, joint with the Youngs.

Wednesday we hiked the Falling Waters trail, recommended by Alan. Oh boy was it a great trail! We didn’t do Alan’s full recommendation, a loop, because short legs got tired. I can’t wait to see the rest.

Too many waterfalls to show them all.
Too many waterfalls to show them all.
The trail crossed the stream several times, but our feet stayed dry.
The trail crossed the stream several times, but our feet stayed dry.
This is the largest of the falls we saw, and where we stopped for lunch and turned around.
This is the largest of the falls we saw, and where we stopped for lunch and turned around.
There was a mixup after Kyle and Camille went 'ahead' on their own, so I was pushing Adele to go a little farther. She was displeased, but smiled for the camera when asked to.
There was a mixup after Kyle and Camille went 'ahead' on their own, so I was pushing Adele to go a little farther. She was displeased, but smiled for the camera when asked to.
Once we all met up, Lewis was chilly and borrowed Camille's jacket.
Once we all met up, Lewis was chilly and borrowed Camille's jacket.
The kids practically ran back to camp, with the big kids helping the younger ones.
The kids practically ran back to camp, with the big kids helping the younger ones.
Back at camp, it started raining. Fortunately, we brought a spare hammock tarp that worked as a rain fly for the table.
Back at camp, it started raining. Fortunately, we brought a spare hammock tarp that worked as a rain fly for the table.
Mac and cheese and leftover hot dogs for dinner, under the tarp.
Mac and cheese and leftover hot dogs for dinner, under the tarp.

Thursday we went to Flume Gorge with the Youngs.

Lewis didn't make it to the top of this rock, though he did find another boulder cave.
Lewis didn't make it to the top of this rock, though he did find another boulder cave.
The gorge was lovely, but hard to capture in pictures.
The gorge was lovely, but hard to capture in pictures.
After the boardwalk through the gorge, we walked another mile of trails along waterfalls and pools.
After the boardwalk through the gorge, we walked another mile of trails along waterfalls and pools.
The girls and Lewis worked out a system for 6-legged walking. They couldn't get enough of it.
The girls and Lewis worked out a system for 6-legged walking. They couldn't get enough of it.
It was too cloudy to see all of the ridgeline.
It was too cloudy to see all of the ridgeline.

We went to Echo Lake as planned, despite sever wind and chilly water, so that brave people could swim. The girls found some ducklings to chase around, and Dathan’s brother and sister-in-law came up from Manchester for a visit. We stayed for over an hour, until it started raining.

Kyle is the bravest.
Kyle is the bravest.

We went into town to beat the rain in the late afternoon. First stop was the longest candy counter in the world at Chutters (112’, if memory serves).

What else can I say? Lewis was like a kid in a candy shop.
What else can I say? Lewis was like a kid in a candy shop.

Carina made Cincinatti chili (regular chili, afaict, but eaten over spaghetti noodles) for dinner. Friday we packed up and headed to Acadia.