Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hiking the Appalachian Trail and the Robert Frost Home

Saturday was just one of those days made for hiking!  Beautiful fall colors, sun just dappling in through the leaves, cool crisp air in the trails, but yet warm enough to wear just shorts and tshirts--what could be better!  So we've been itching to hike some of the AT here in New England and this day was our chance.  We're staying right near Franconia Notch, so the AT goes right up through there, with tons of side trails also off the AT all along the way.  Lots of places were full of roots and rocks, which seems to be the way the geography/topography of New England is--was this way in Maine when we hiked up Cadillac Mountain, and several other places we've been.  Most of the AT we've done in the southern states have trails that are less rocky; not always, but more of a flatter surface pathway.  Anyway, it 's always good to see different areas of the country in all respects, and with these roots and rocks, it really keeps your attention focused on your footing.  But we had a glorious hike up toward Liberty Spring and it was just a wonderful time out in the woods.  Several times we would almost have to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren't just dreaming of hiking the AT in New Hampshire!  Found a nice little spot to stop and eat lunch, and we met several people who were with full packs, out backpacking and back country camping for the holiday weekend.  Brought back memories of when we used to do this at a much younger age!  When I was in the Army, stationed in D.C., we went to the Shenandoah Mountains just about every weekend and had so much fun doing most of the AT in Virginia.  Last night we did a little google research about the AT, and learned that a man who had hiked the whole trail from one end to the other on one hike--commonly called "thru hikers," came back when he was nearly 80 years old and did it again, starting at the opposite end!  Pretty amazing!  Anyway, just a great day of hiking.  As we hiked we thought of our friend John Ard, who hiked the trail end to end, from Springer Mountain in Georgia--which we can see from our back deck--to Mt. Katahdin in Maine!

Whoops!  Almost forgot!  Before we started hiking on the trail, we stopped at the Old Man of the Mountain, the place where the craggy face that's the symbol of New Hampshire (it's what you see on the New Hampshire state quarter) is--or, rather was!  It was first noticed back around 1850, and ultimately lead to the steady stream of tourists and visitors to see this now famous profile.  Trisha recalled coming here as a little girl when she and her family lived in Newport, Rhode Island, when her Dad got called up to active duty in the Navy during the Korean War, and we had come here when we took our first RV trip 30 years ago, right after Jeremy was born.  Through the years, geologists had discovered that the rock face was falling prey to the elements, and would eventually fall.  So they installed a series of turnbuckles, to try to hold the rocks in place.  This lasted for a time, but in 2003, the rocks forming the profile fell, leaving only a relatively flat surface where once stood the profile of the Old Man.  Then, in 2011, someone had figured out a way to give visitors a little of the sense of what it was like when the profile was still there, and constructed a series of metal poles with bars extending upward toward the mountain.  On the side of each bar they welded iron replicas of the profile.  Then they places these at different intervals on this well done little plaza, with foot prints set into the surface, showing you which pole to stand in front of depending on your height, so you could look up along the inclined line of that pole, which would line up with the edge of the mountain, and the little replica of the original rock profile of the Old Man's face would appear, with the depth perception approximating what it once looked like before the fall.  A pretty ingenious way to capture some of the original feeling.

When we got back to the RV later in the afternoon, we headed on to the Robert Frost Place, where he and his family lived from 1915 to 1920, and then summered there every year for nineteen years after he sold it back to the original owner.  It's an old farm house, with a barn nearby where he raised chickens, and sits on 50 acres, which we learned he farmed during these years.  It's in Franconia, a place Frost fell in love with, particularly since it had lots of apple trees on the property, which he would raise and sell every year.  Frost apparently really loved apples and a place with apple trees was his main criterion when looking for a place in Franconia.  He was in his early 40's when he lived there and it was so interesting to watch the video about his life there, and to tour the home and sit out on the front porch, where he would sit, spending hours just looking out at this incredible mountain view, just soaking it all in--pretty remarkable to realize as we sat there that we were sitting in the very same spot where Frost himself would sit, often for hours at a time.  We saw the overstuffed leather chair in the front parlor where he would sit to write his poetry, and the old iron stove next to it that would keep him warm.

After we toured the house we took this walk on what they've set out as the "poetry trail,"  through the very same woods where he had walked, and now they have his poems posted along the way.  This was really a special way to feel like we could connect, just being in the same woods he had trod, lo those many years ago!  How well we all remember studying his poetry in school, and I remember his reading of his poetry at President Kennedy's inauguration.  It was so neat to stop at the places where they had copies of his poetry along the trail and just imagine his being here, walking these woods, seeking and receiving inspiration for his wonderful poems.  My two all time favorites, of course, Stopping by a Woods on a Snowy Evening and The Road Not Taken, were prominently displayed and it was pretty awesome to be there.  Just a great way to top off the day of wonderful hiking!  So we came on home to the campground and made some wonderful black bean/salsa soup for supper--the perfect way to warm up our tummies from the approaching evening chill, and a wonderful way to end another super day!

Some views as we approached the Old Man of the Mountain site
 Ski runs coming down Cannon Mountain

 Sunlight on Profile Pond, near where you view the profile of the Old Man site
 Eagle's Notch

Love this Daniel Webster quote

 Looking up to where the Old Man once was, on the left face of the outcropping at the top of the mountain

 Story board explaining what happened
 Looking up to see the "mock" profile
 The poles with profiles mounted, at different spots to let folks of different heights see it

 Profile Pond

 As we're pulling into the parking area to start our hike on the trail

 Heading up the trail
 Beautiful moss

 Gorgeous streams along the trail

 Just look at these fabulous bursts of colors!!

 This hole in the tree made us think back to our time in Big Bend National Park in Texas, when we saw the mama great horned owl with her babies!

 This was at the spot where we stopped for lunch, just loved the contrasting colors of the vivid green ferns against the fallen leaves and the downed beech tree

 The trail gets a bit rocky here!

 Have to be careful with your footing on these rocks and roots--R & R we call them!

 And then, WHAM!--you come around a bend and are just bombarded with these breathtaking colors against the sky!  Just beautiful!!

 This was on our walk from where we had to park the RV up the road to the Frost Home
Love the way the clouds were wrapping the top of the mountain in their puffy embrace!  This is the view Robert Frost had as he sat out on his front porch, where he apparently spent quite a bit of time, just gazing at this sight, filling his heart and soul with the inspiration to create his wonderful poetry!

 Letter for you, Mr. Frost!
 This picture of him in the parlor, by the stove, hangs in the front room as you come into the house
 Here's the chair, with the handmade writing table, where he sat to write his beautiful words, warmed by the stove nearby
 Looking into the restored living room
 This is part of the house that's occupied each summer by a poet in residence, chosen by the board of a foundation each year.  The poet gets to come live for the summer in Frost's home, to feel his spirit and become infused with inspiration for their work--pretty cool!
 The view out the window of Frost's bedroom, on the front of the house

This framed Life Magazine cover sits on a dresser--I in fact remember this cover from when it came out!
 The lovely front porch
 Taken as we sat out on one of the wicker chairs on the front porch, as you can see from the following selfie

 Here's Trisha by his mailbox

 Along the poetry trail

Loved the spirally pattern on this tree trunk!
 This just about says it all!

 The back of his house, shot from the poetry trail
 His chicken barn

 Lingering to look once more from his yard

 Crossing the little stream, on the way back to the RV

 Driving back through Franconia on the way back to the campground

 The sun sets on another simply gorgeous day!!

1 comment:

  1. We saw the "other " Frost home, in Shaftsbury, VT, on the way to Acadia. Also worth a visit if you are back there! And then I read Joyce Carol Oates' "Lovely, Dark, Deep," in the current Harper's--a fictionalized hatchet job on Frost. He had his dark side, but I love his poetry.