June 15, 2008 - Day Five
Actually, Irving slept right through the night, until getting up at 6:30 am; first time in years. Finally, we got up, and I ventured into Angelyne's bedroom, to find her still sound asleep; another anomaly. After which we did the usual; showers, and a nice slow breakfast with everyone relaxing, enjoying the intimacy, the quiet, the darkened atmosphere, the food. And while we sat there, eating and talking, the sky began to clear.
The low cloud ceiling lifted, and we could actually see the mountains again, beyond us. With the rain stopped, we decided on our venture for the day. We'd go back to Franconia Notch and spend a few hours at the Basin Cascades. On the road again, we watched thick winding trails of mist rise from the mountain slopes, the tops still hidden in the clouds impaled there.
On the highway medians an array of purple and pink lupins glistened after their drenching. Passing through small towns, house-proud gardens boasted large rhododendrons with huge purple-pink blooms. It was less than an hour's drive to our destination. At this time of year there is never much traffic. But for the motorcycles, hundreds of them, thousands of them, to attend the yearly motorcycle rally.
At Franconia Notch, we watch, mesmerized, as the mountains reveal themselves; the great rock slides, the signage identifying tourist stops, recreational camping facilities, the places of interest. The Old Man of the Mountain sighting sign is no longer evident, the silhouette having collapsed several years back, and no longer proudly placed on vehicle license plates.
We park, assemble our gear, and make off under the tunnel leading to the Basin Cascades trails, where everything is completely sodden. A condition leading to brightly translucent leaves, boughs low hanging, dripping. Beside the trails, there is yarrow, hawkweed, buttercups, dogwood, bunchberry, strawberries. We've a cloudy sky again, but no sign of thunderheads.
The Pemigawasset River loops down off the mountain, sliding riotously over the smooth grey, lichen-festooned granite. The granite well scoured by the relentless waterfall; sliding, eddying, spurting, winding, exploding on its way down the mountain slope. We follow its trajectory, on the trail intersected with ancient roots, the dirt on the trail worn thin over the years.
Making our way off the trail onto the smooth granite slopes, we begin to ascend over the stone itself, half of which is clear of water. We take innumerable photographs of the tumbling, frothing waterfalls, the smooth expanse of granite rising in gradual and immense formations of shelves, inviting us to sit awhile, to look out over the landscape below.
The scope of our views expands as we stride over rocks, gravel, braided and interwoven roots - long ago exposed by the gradual soil erosion, despite continual attempts at ameliorating the trail conditions. We take turns clambering up the trails, and accessing the rockface to climb further uphill.
The ambient air is cool, and surprisingly insect-free. We don't miss the sun at all. The flowing water sparkles and flushes, churns and whorls, jets and whips itself past turns into a white-capped frenzy.