WHITE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST,
NEW HAMPSHIRE

Thursday, August 22, 1996

Stayed at a private campground in Notchland last night. The previous night I spent on the floor of the Pittsburgh airport. Nice place, but I wasn't supposed to be there. Anyways, I flew out here to hike with Jim and John and Jennifer Ruebens.

We began hiking the Nancy Pond Trail around 11:00. The climb started fairly gradual but became very steep a literal climb in some places up the Nancy Cascades. The starting elevation was 1000 ft. and it is 3200 ft. at Norcross Pond. There was lots of pooling and cascading water in Nancy Brook. The river bed was made of many, many boulders, from bowling ball-size to car-size.

We saw a few people on the way in. A ranger told us where to bushwack to find legal sites, although he was a bit vague. We stayed at Norcross Pond, in an illegal site, with a great view of the pond and down into the valley below.

Before cooking dinner on the rocks, Jim went for a quick swim. No one fished since we didn't see anything surface.

At night we watched for shooting stars and slept on the rocks next to the pond. We did about 3.5 miles of hiking today.

 

Friday, August 23, 1996

We awoke early to the sunrise and dampness from the dew.

A guy hiked through camp before breakfast. He was from the Appalachain Mountain Club and was marking legal campsites on his GPS. He told us we were in an illegal site and the rangers would move us if they caught us. He semed to be checking us our like a junior forest ranger. Good thing he left before we told him to leave.

The trail today descended to Desolation Shelter, which the AMC built. The AMC also did much of the trail maintenance, which was done well, but I wondered if they had done too much.

There were more cold-water pools at the shelter. We read the shelter's log and learned that no one had seen Brutus the bear this year. Most weekend nights between 4 and 7 people are using the shelter. I think that would be a tight fit.

The shelter itself is an illegal campsite, according to USFS rules. As were all the other sites we saw along the streams. Why are they so adamant about this, when nothing else appears to be provided?

After the shelter, 80% of the rest of the hike was along abandoned railroads. It's boring, and you won't get lost. We found our next site where the East Branch and the North Fork of the Pemigewasset come together another illegal site.

It appeared to be an old logging cap, "T3" according to the engraved log end we saw hanging high up on a tree along with a horseshoe. We fished the river quite a bit and caught a half dozen 4" to 6" beautiful, colorful brookies. Jim and John did likewise. The water here seemed low, but was very clean and clear. So much so that is held very little food for the trout.

We hiked about 7 miles today and only saw one person. This whole are was clear-cut as of 50-75 years ago. Only saw a few really big trees most were mature, but pretty much all the same size and blocking the views of the mountains.

 

Saturday, August 24, 1996

We fished soon after waking up, but didn't catch much. We left camp fairly early to try our fishing luck at Black Pond. The hike was way too easy slightly downhill, straight along the abandoned railroad bed. We did 4-5 miles to Franconia Brook Campsite.

We began to see many people and see more of the river as it widened. We also hung out around a couple of railroad tressles. A ranger met us at the Wilderness Boundary and spouted rules at us like we were 5 years old. She was very annoying and could ofer no useful advice, just more of the illegal campsite shit. Funny, the ranger campsite was also illegal.

We camped in the only legal alternative, their $10 a night campground for a full tent platform. It was nice enough and didn't seem like there were 15 other sites. They provided bear boxes and fly-infested outhouses. The ranger came back once more to ask if we paid.

We hiked up to Black Pond to fish but saw nothing. While fishing on the far side of the pond, it started to rain. I bushwacked and ran back to camp to put the flies on the tents. Stuff didn't get too wet.

We then fished the Pemigewasset hard after the rain let up. I caught 4 or 5 small brookies, most were a little bigger than upstream. Jim and John caught a couple. It was fun wading the river and enjoying the sunshine.

At night, Jim, John and I hiked to Franconia Falls and declared it the inspiration for every water park in America. Hundreds of people used this area today.

 

Sunday, August 25, 1996

We slept in a bit while John and Jennifer went to see the falls. When John came back he was wet and had been down the flume ride. Soon, Jim and I headed back there with them. The three of us guys went down the slide several times, and we all enjoyed the beach-like atmosphere of the falls. We soaked in lots of sun and watched as people jumped off the cliff and swam. A few were backpackers, but most were dayhikers.

On the way out, we passed at least 100 people hiking or riding their bikes in. John and Jennifer retrieved the cars while Jim and I fished near the Lincoln Woods Trailhead.

We all met up again at Trinity Brewpub in Providence for good food and beer.

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