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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Franconia State Park

Our trip to the East coast started with a flight to Boston. Flights are always pretty terrible for me since I'm tall, but we spent a good majority of the flight entertaining ourselves by studying up on portrait photography. Right before the trip, I purchased The Photographer's Guide to Posing by Lindsay Adler that we read to fill our time on the plane. One of the things Katie and I love doing together is taking each other's photos, so I figured we could use some technical reference and background to understand what makes a good pose and how to direct one another in the poses to be more photogenic. We both really liked the book (and would recommend it) since it provided examples of photos that had problems with them and then showed corrected photos and very specifically told you what the problem was and why it was a problem.

Our flight got in around 6:30PM local time, and Boston is too far South for any colors to have popped yet, so we proceeded to drive North. After driving for over 2 hours, we made it to our destination, an Airbnb in North Woodstock, New Hampshire. We were driving in the dark, and because of that, we had no idea what we were in for from a fall foliage perspective, which was the main focus of the trip. It wasn't until the morning that we really knew what we were working with.

With the morning forecasted to be overcast, we knew there would be no sunrise so there was no point in waking up early. It was nice to have gotten to sleep in and recover from the long day of traveling. We picked out our morning hike to be a moderately difficult hike to Mount Pemigewasset in Franconia Notch State Park which is almost 4 miles round trip and 1,300 feet of elevation gain that took us a little over two and a half hours. The hike to Mount Pemigewasset didn't disappoint us as the first hike of the trip. We hiked through the dense forest with no overlooks or any indication of where we were going until we hit the summit, and then all of a sudden there was a gorgeous panoramic view of the White Mountains filled with colors. The fall colors weren't quite peaking in this area yet, but the colors were still gorgeous and much more vibrant than what we're used to. The hike was extremely familiar to the ones we're used to hiking in the sense that you're hiking up to a summit on dirt, rocks, and over tree roots through trees and that you might not get any views until you're at the top. But that's where the similarities end with hiking on the East Coast versus in Colorado. Because the East Coast is much more humid than Colorado, we didn't have to try hard to find mushrooms and fungus growing on things. Mushrooms are rarety on Colorado hikes, but in New Hampshire, they were literally growing out of the middle of the hiking trail. The humidity also made it much trickier to hike because it made the rocks very slick, something we're not used to in the dryer climate of Colorado. It was neat to have an experience like this that was similar to our previous hiking experiences but completely different at the same time.

Since we did a moderately difficult hike in the morning, our afternoon hike was planned to be an easy one - the one to Artist's Bluff. The weather was forecasted to be clear and sunny, so we planned to do it during the golden hour, but the forecast was wrong and there were heavy clouds sitting low on the hillsides when we got there. The low clouds ended up providing for a cool perspective and good framing for the photos. The hike was only about 1.5 miles round trip and only a couple hundred feet of elevation gain, but it was deceptively challenging. It poses most of that elevation gain in such a short distance that the steps are incredibly steep and on very uneven and slippery terrain. We went the wrong direction around the loop that we intended, but luckily that way that wasn't nearly as steep since it was a longer distance to the top of Artist's Bluff. The only downside to doing the loop in the wrong direction was that we didn't get to go to the top of Bald Mountain, which was a small offshoot from the trail. The trail was pretty busy, including multiple professional photographers at the bluff taking photos of clients. Even though it was busy, the views were as great as the countless photos we've seen online.

One of the main reasons that I like to hike is that you get to explore the more obscure areas that most people don't typically get to see, but with something as popular as this hike, you're doing a hike to get the same photo as everyone else, and I can always guarantee that someone else has a better photo of it. Not necessarily because I don't think I'm a good photographer, but locals can get the perfect shot consisting of the right fall foliage colors and the right lighting by going back to the same spot multiple times on multiple days. It's not to say that I didn't enjoy the hike or get a great shot, but it's lacking the uniqueness that I like to capture in my hiking photography.

Rocky and RootyMushrooms EverywhereLeaves on MushroomsAt the SummitDrop OffSummit PanoramaPortraitsAutumn HappinessFuzzyIn the BackArtistSelfie at the Top

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Kancamagus Scenic Highway

Our morning started almost 2 hours before sunrise. The morning was supposed to be sunny and clear, so we wanted to get to our first destination, Lonesome Lake, before sunrise to catch the golden hour on the lake and mountainside. When our alarm went off at 5:00 am, I walked outside, noticed it was completely overcast, and we went back to sleep. We woke up at a more reasonable time (although still early) and headed to the trailhead.

The hike up to Lonesome Lake was extremely challenging. The hike is only about a mile and a quarter to the lake, but almost 1,100 feet in elevation gain. It was straight up for that entire time. For our skill level, a hike like this would usually be moderately difficult, but since we did a similar hike the day prior, we were pretty sore and tired and took our time making it up to the lake. The views at the lake were worth the pain and difficulty, and we had the lake almost completely to ourselves other than a couple of other fellow hikers. The lake was mostly still with an occasional breeze that would make the water shimmer, and the weather stayed overcast which made for even lighting all across the lake and surrounding mountainside.

The afternoon consisted of a 100 mile long drive through the Kancamagus Scenic Highway that took about 4 hours including stopping in many places to take photos and eating lunch in Conway, NH. The views were breathtaking and completely unreal. We, just like many other people, were complete tourists gawking at the beauty of the White Mountain National Forest driving along the Kancamagus Highway. We stopped along the way at many of the scenic overlooks to take a few photos, wherever we could get a parking spot. The sun started to come out in the afternoon which just amplified the vibrance of all the fall foliage.

We enjoyed the drive so much that we went back to a specific overlook on the Kancamagus Highway to watch the sun go down. It was the only time during our trip that the sky was completely clear, and the only time we had wished there were at least some clouds in the sky for a better sunset. Even though going back for sunset photos was a bust, we still enjoyed the sunset together. This was our second day in New Hampshire in the White Mountains area, and even though it feels like we just got here, we head on to Vermont in the morning.

MirrorDecomposingBlue MountainsOn the BoardwalkPemigewasset RiverOff the KancOvercastFrankenstein CliffSaco RiverSilver CascadeSmall Pool

Thursday, October 7, 2021

On to Vermont

Today was our last day in New Hampshire. We woke up and packed our bags and headed to one more hike before leaving the state. We picked The Nubble on haystack Mountain because it was a pretty easy hike, only 3 miles long and about 600 feet of elevation, and had great reviews of full panoramic views at the top. After driving up the highway, the trailhead was down a dirt road and very secluded which felt really good to get away from all the people. When we parked, there were only 3 other cars there, and we only passed one person on our way up and 2 groups on the way back down. The trail was so seldomly used that at some parts we weren't sure where the trail even was, which made us happy we were truly hiking in the middle of the mountains. The summit was truly incredible and you could see for hundreds of miles in every direction and the mountains were filled with colors. We even got some fog coverage low in the distance, which is something really weird to experience but provided some nice texture to the photos.

our afternoon consisted of driving to Vermont to the Smugglers Notch area. There isn't a lot of hiking in this area, so we opted to keep it pretty short of a stay here. This area, at first glance, seems to be a lot more touristy than where we were in New Hampshire, which is a little bit of a bummer, but the views so far have been pretty spectacular. Our evening hike was planned to be Plot Road to Roundtop Shelter based on a photo of a panoramic view. This hike was a little over 2 miles and 600 feet of elevation gain which seemed like a pretty easy hike for what it was promising us. When we got to the shelter, there was a bench overlooking the Western mountains that were mostly blocked by trees. It wasn't much of a panoramic view, and we later realized that the picture we saw was actually for a different hike.

The climate of Vermont is different than New Hampshire. It's lower in elevation, by about 1,000 feet, and it's a lot dryer. When we were hiking, the ground was actually dry in spots and the leaves crunched under our feet. We figured that the hiking would be pretty similar everywhere in the New England area, so it was a pleasant surprise that there are some differences in the area.

The Nubble at Haystack MountainCascadesWide OpenGoldenUp the TreeSummit View

Friday, October 8, 2021

Full Day in Vermont

Today was our only full day in Vermont. In the morning, we woke up for a quick hike up Spruce Peak to get a panoramic shot of Mount Mansfield. The views were pretty good, but the mountains around here weren't nearly as vibrant as New Hampshire, and I think that's because of the increased number of pine trees mixed in on the mountains. One thing that was strikingly different during this hike was the smell of pine trees during the hike. Vermont has trees that everyone associates with Pine trees (and Christmas), as opposed to the pine that we're used to in Colorado being more like a faint vanilla smell. So that provided for a unique hiking experience that we weren't used to. On our way back to the trailhead, we headed down a small 0.1 mile detour to get to Sterling Pond. Sterling Pond was a nice pond and a good stop, but it wasn't all that interesting since the sun was facing the wrong way and because there weren't any color-changing trees around the lake. The hike ended up being just under 3.5 miles and was 1,200 feet in elevation gain.

We then started to relax for the remainder of the day by first stopping at the Ben and Jerry's factory in Stowe. They weren't doing any tours due to renovations, so we just got some ice cream and went on our way to Burlington. In Burlington, we walked along Church Street which reminded me a lot of Pearl Street in Boulder. We went to a couple of breweries and came to the conclusion that no one in the East knows what a good beer is. Breweries here seem to just brew the classic german beers and IPAs and don't do anything too wild or experiment. There's nothing wrong with that, but those types of beers aren't all that exciting to us. In the late afternoon, we walked along the Colchester Causeway for about a mile which is a bike path in the middle of Lake Champlain. We ended the evening by having dinner at the Shanty by the Shore which had a fantastic view of the sunrise. The food was good, but not worth the 45-minute wait to be seated.

Dripping WaterMount MansfieldSelfie At the TopInto the SunSterling PondSmugglers NotchIce CreamOn the TrailStraight Path

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Headed to the Adirondacks

Today we headed to Lake Placid for our Adirondack hiking with was the final segment of the trip. We drove for about 2 hours to get to our first hike of the day. The drive consisted of taking a boat Ferry, something that Katie has never experienced and I have only experienced when I was younger (I think). We got to our first hike of the day in New York which was the Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower trail. After signing into the hiking register, we learned that the locals just call it "Poko" for short, and that seems like an appropriate abbreviation. The hike was good and had great views, but because it was the middle of the day, the lighting wasn't great around us. The summit was extremely windy, so we didn't stay too long, and the observation deck on the fire tower was closed (although you could walk up the steps and get an even better view of the mountain).

Since we had quite the drive to get there, we were hiking pretty late in the day, and we failed to get lunch before the hike and ended up having a very late lunch that we were both pretty hungry to eat. Our lunch was at 2pm and was at a random pizza shop in a nearby town where we got New York Pizza. On our way from the hike to Lake Placid, we stopped at the Jay Covered Bridge, which is the only remaining covered bridge in Upstate New York. It was a gorgeous area, but a powerline right across the bridge ruins the photos. We got creative and were able to take a few, but I wouldn't recommend this stop to any photograhers for that reason.

We didn't have a lot of time in the evening for another hike before the sun went down, so we went to the High Peaks Wilderness area and walked around Heart Lake. The lake doesn't look like much of a heart shape, although the path that we took ended up looking like a better heart than the actual lake itself. The "hike" was pretty easy and flat and gave us a good chance to stretch our legs out before heading to dinner.

Leaf-Covered ForestLadderOld HomesteadHazyWindy SummitPoke-O-Moonshine Fire TowerI-87StairsAusable RiverJay Covered BridgeInside the BridgeBridge from the BridgeWoodenHeart LakeSunset

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Balanced Rock and Cobble Lookout

Today was our first full day in Lake Placid. We started off the day with a pretty tough hike to Balanced Rock, which gives a great view of Cascade Falls, the two Cascade lakes (upper and lower), as well as the High Peaks area. The hike was incredibly steep in a couple of spots, but we managed to make it all the way up to the top in about an hour. The hike was a little over 3 miles round trip and 1,200 feet in elevation gain. The summit was gorgeous, but the trees seemed like they were already past peak with many of them dead and not much color variety other than yellows and browns. When we drove into Lake Placid, we saw a lot of red varieties, so we were thinking this area would be perfect, but I guess that particular mountainside wasn't.

Since we knew that there were great colors in the Adirondacks, we ventured further North, closer to the route we drove in on where we knew we could find some red colors in the trees. Our evening hike was Cobble Lookout, which was an easy 2.5-mile round trip hike with only a couple hundred feet of elevation gain. The summit was a gorgeous 180-degree panorama that viewed East, South, and West and had all the colors that we were hoping for. The trees on this hike were still past peak colors, but not by too much and all we really cared about was seeing come color variety. The sun was behind clouds which made for even lighting across all the mountains to get a great photo. We spent a half-hour hiking to the summit, and half-hour enjoying the view, and then another half-hour driving back into town. Knowing that the colors are great in this area, we picked that area for the following day, which is our last full day of hiking.

Balanced Rock SummitCascade MountainUpper and Lower CascadesCascade FallsUpper Cascade Lake"Get Out of my Way" LookCobble LookoutSummit Selfie

Monday, October 11, 2021

Last Day of the Trip

Today was the last day of our fall colors trip. After hiking at least once per day for over a week, we were completely exhausted. We picked out something easy for the day, which was seeing the highly touristy High Falls Gorge that you pay to get into and only have about a half-mile walk. The falls were uneventful and we felt like they were overhyped by marketing tactics, but they were still neat to see. The afternoon we spent in the downtown area of Lake Placid and did a little shopping for souvenirs, and then in the evening, we did our final hike of the trip: Up Haystack mountain.

This is the second Haystack Mountain that we've hiked on this trip. As our last hike, it was also the longest hike that we did, with a round trip distance of 5.5 miles. It was just over 1,000 feet of elevation gain, so it wasn't the highest hike we climbed, but it still was exhausting particularly since we've been hiking for over a week. The views were pretty good at the top with a few obstructing trees, but the lighting was bad. The hike would have been better in the morning for sunrise golden hour, or to watch the sunset. When we got to the summit (around 4pm), the sun was too high in the sky and washed away most of the views. The hike was still good, but both of us were excited that we wouldn't be hiking for a little bit after we completed this one.

High Falls GorgeBoardwalkAusable RiverColorful TreesStill LakeHaystack Mountain

October 2021

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