White Mountains, Remembered
A  father and daughter perspective
on the gift of the White Mountains, New Hampshire

By Robert Werner and Dawn Marie Fichera

From the Eyes of the Father

I don’t know just what it is about mountains; maybe it is because they fill so
much of my vision.  They are literally an eye full.  And of all high places I have
visited the White mountains of New Hampshire and the Presidential Range
surely fill the bill.  The Franconia and Crawford Notches, and Mt. Washington
sit at the summit of my list of most favorite places to experience.

My fondest family memories are of the time spent with my children at these
places.  We would, and my daughter and I still do (although less frequently
than both of us would wish), hike the tails to Lonesome Lake, Mt. Lafayette, the
Frankenstein Cliffs, and the more difficult tails to the summit of Mt.
Washington.

Adding to the fun was pitching a tent and starting a warm fire at either a local
campground or one of the many State camp grounds in the area, most notably
at Franconia Notch the former home of the Old Man In The Mountain.  The cool
clear evenings allowed for a great view of the night sky and in mid August
some spectacular meteor showers.

Shorter Hikes to Lonesome Lake

In all these things my daughter and I cherish, and for me some of our day hikes
held some great moments for our memory books.   

For example, the little hikes up to Lonesome Lake.  A little hike compared to
Mt. Washington, but one with surprises and a wonderful stretch of cascades.  In
fact the tail is called the Cascade Brook Trail.

Myself, my daughter Dawn Marie, my son Eric, and Grande, (the smartest dog
I’ve ever known) started out our hike at a place called the Basin.  Of course,
there was the usual confusion –
no not that way, this way stuff --  and did you bring
the oranges?
 But the chat died down as we settled in and the “up” part of the
walk began.

Cascade Brook

Cascade Brook is beautiful.  You can walk up the bare granite and be quite
satisfied with the hundred little and not so little waterfalls, or you can put on
you trunks and swim and slide down the cascades and cool off in the “holes’
along the way.  On an August morning, after about 40 minutes of up, the
swimming part started to sound louder in my ears as beads of sweat bloomed
on my forehead.

The kids were all over the cascade.  So as we neared our pivot point that would
take us away from the brook I needed to assert myself and use my “Dad” voice
to get the wet footed minors to focus on our change in direction.  It took several
tries with increasing volume on each try to succeed (please note that Grande,
being more mature, stood too at my first calling).  

Dawn Marie and Eric both, but not at the same time, came to understand that
we were about to go in a different direction.  So off we went, up the trial, and
ever so slowly the sound of the brook dimmed and the forest enfolded us in it’s
quiet.

Magic: The Sound of Nature

And now for the magic of the day:  From great vistas and booming cascades, to
the quiet small things.  No birds or insects could be heard.  Just a stillness that
we of the megalopolis have almost forgotten.  So as we walked I stopped and
whispered to Dawn Marie, “Listen”, I said.   “Listen to what?” she said.  I said,
“Stop talking and you’ll know”.  

As she listened she
heard.  She heard the sound of water where none could be
seen.  The slow trickle of an invisible underground stream beneath our feet that
tinkled and pinged in low humble volumes as it made its way down hill to join
its brothers and sisters.  

It was “cool” quoting my wide eyed wonderful daughter.   

Off course, my son found it useful to find every bog and muddy place his
enthusiasm and curiosity could uncover.  After losing a shoe in a black bog, I
pointed out that there were no shoe stores on this trail and the rest of the
journey “up” and all of the journey “down” would have to be spent in those
very nasty boots.  

I sensed a light go on behind those eyes as he slid the slimy boot back his foot.   
“I know, I know” he said.

Our hike continued from that point with the occasional stop to take in our
surroundings.  This is a very important aspect of hiking.  You tend to focus on
the task of going up the hill. You’re looking down for good footing most of the
time, and miss the small secrets on either side of the trail.  So you have to stop
every so often and just look and listen.   And so far it had been just us on the
trail.  After the swimmers and sliders on the cascades, we had met know one.  
Solitude now made the still of the forest complete.

Soon, after so much quiet, the sound of the brook to our left increased in
volume from a solo voice to a chorus of sound.  We were nearing our
destination, but the forest still loomed around us obscuring our view.  The
ground leveled and the biggest surprise, the reward for our efforts stood just
beyond the next turn in the trail.

Lonesome, But Not Alone

We breached the tree line and there it was, Lonesome Lake.  A wide body of
water sitting in an ancient bowl dug out during the last ice age.  And after so
much time without seeing anyone, all of the sudden there were people.  The
lake sits along the Appalachian Tail, and hikers from all over the world passed
each other here at the lake.  They sit, swim, and fed themselves, as we did until
it was time to head back and start the “down” part of our adventure.

I don’t know what it is about mountains, but this little hike allowed me to shake
off the everyday, work a day world, expand my vision, and share it all with my
children.  It was an experience that we have carried back to our home and into
our future, expanding our vision of this wonderful world, our wonderful world.

Next: From the Eyes of a Daughter...click here for Part II of this story...
New Hampshire's White
Mountains


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Author Robert Werner at Lonesome Lake