Howdy! After shortening our winter/spring roadtrip by about 50% we finally got back on the road for a short adventure. Based on the title above you have probably figured out that we journeyed up the road apiece from our home base in Connecticut to the Granite State, New Hampshire. This trip was intended to “test the waters” for travel conditions in the new normal of the forever pandemic. Our choice of New Hampshire reflected its proximity, the fact we had not visited the state in some time and the state is welcoming visitors from all of the other New England states.
We visited Nashua and Manchester briefly on our trip north to the White Mountains but our main focus in New Hampshire was on camping and hiking.
The White Mountain National Forest offers significant camping options as well as a seemingly infinite amount of hiking options. We were fortunate to have very comfortable and mostly sunny weather which made for some wonderful (and occasionally strenuous) hiking.
Hiking in New Hampshire is so rewarding with its abundance of streams, rivers, lakes and waterfalls to be found along the way not to mention the views from the ridgelines and summits.
Littleton, hard on the Ammonoosuc River, was one of our favorite small towns in the Franconia Notch area. It has a well preserved downtown with a variety of shops as well as a number of eateries right along the river. Of course, best of all there was an excellent coffee shop with ooutdoor seating on the riverbank (Inkwell Coffee & Tea).
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in New Hampshire and plan to explore all of northern New England on a more comprehensive basis at some point in the future. Next stop: a short swing into Maine to visit friends in Boothbay Harbor and then visit the beautiful city of Portland.
Be seeing you!
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the art and coffee photo galleries in the sidebar.
After our terrific stay in BBRSP we journeyed east on FM 170 (farm to market) alternatively known as Farm Road 170. The local folks just call it the River Road. It is also a segment of the Texas Mountain Trail. Regardless of what name you reference it by it is an absolutely stunning drive. The road is an undulating strip of asphalt winding its way between the mountains of BBRSP on one side and the Rio Grande and Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains on the other.
Big Bend National Park is an expansive park with remarkable diversity in regard to the terrain and species of wildlife and flora. While it is wild and rugged it is far more accessible than Big Bend Ranch State Park. There are visitor centers, a gas station, drinking water, paved scenic drives and more people. The one thing that both parks have in common is the spectacular scenery.
We would rate this park as a “must visit” national park. A couple things to keep in mind – this is not a summer park due to the South Texas location and it is a spring break destination for many Texas families (making mid-March the busiest time).
Re-assessing our itinerary based on developments with Covid-19.
Be seeing you!
Video Clip: FM 170
Video: Chisos Basin Road, BBNP
Boquillos Canyon, Rio Grande, Mexico on the Right
We stayed four nights at the Slot Canyons Inn while exploring the EGSNM. The inn is located on a 160 acre property about five miles west of the town of Escalante, and is perfectly situated to watch both sunrise and sunset. While in residence at the inn we had the opportunity to hike on the property (what else!). There are four hiking cats that live on the property and three of them accompanied us on our hike as we looped the property. Joette-Marie Rex owns the inn and is an incredibly gracious host. Joette-Marie invited her friend Mary Kaye, a singer-songwriter in the western cowboy genre, to perform at the inn during our stay. She has a beautiful voice and provided a lot of history about the cowboy history of the local area.
We also had the opportunity to visit David Delthony’s studio while in Escalante. David is a custom furniture artist and built the two chairs in the Slot Canyons Inn (pictured below).
The Slot Canyons Inn was a great base for our stay in Escalante.
On Thursday morning we made an early drive into Zion NP for our final hiking of the trip. We started with a walk along the Virgin River following its winding path until we reached the narrows where the flow of water due to winter snow melt makes continuing further too dangerous. We then hiked the steep climb up to Hidden Canyon. This is a fairly strenuous hike with a 1000 vertical climb along steep narrow switchbacks and exposed cliffs. Well worth the climb with outstanding views and exhilarating moments holding tight to the chains bolted to the rock.
On Tuesday we hiked the Middle Fork of the Taylor Creek in the Kolob Canyons district of Zion NP. We accessed the hike from the trailhead on Kolob Canyons Road. We followed the middle fork crisscrossing the creek multiple times. The canyon narrows and deepens until ending at a double arch alcove. Along the way we stopped to see two long abandoned cabins built by homesteaders around 1930.
On Wednesday we hiked in the Box Canyon within the Box – Death Hollows Wilderness Area which is located in the Dixie National Forest. The Spring Creek flows through the canyon and requires numerous crossings of the creek to proceed up the canyon. This area is very different from the nearby Escalante desert with a mix of red rock canyon walls and towering Ponderosa Pines. The creek was running high from late winter snow melt so we eventually had to get our feet wet on several of the creek crossings. Our hike took about 4.5 hours in which time Maria and I had the canyon completely to ourselves.
On Saturday we hiked down into the Fairyland Canyon from the rim of Bryce. This is one of a kind scenery with towering hoodoos reaching straight up into the sky throughout the canyon. As typical of Utah at this time of the year at 8000 ft elevation the weather can and does change dramatically within minutes. We started this hike under cloudy skies and then encountered heavy snow as we descended from the rim down into the canyon. Within an hour the snow moved off and we enjoyed blue sky and sunshine for the remainder of our trek through the canyon. This is a long hike with over 2000 ft of vertical but well worth it to experience these other wordly formations.
On Wednesday we ventured down the Hole in the Rock Road for 26 miles to canyoneer in several exciting slot canyons. This environment was a dramatic change from the tall Ponderosa Pines of the Box Canyon in Dixie NF where we hiked on Tuesday. The road is a washboarded bone rattling dirt track but fun to drive none the less and provides dramatic views of the Straights Cliffs section of the Fifty Mile Bench and Fifty Mile Mountains. Once at the trailhead we tackled the three slot canyons which can be accessed from the Dry Fork Gulch below the trailhead. We hiked Dry Fork first as an out and back as the slot became impassable due to water. We then made a loop by climbing up through the Peek-a-Boo slot and then traversed across to Spooky Gulch and then down climbed Spooky slot exiting into Coyote Gulch and returning to the trailhead from there. As you can see from the photographs below the slots provide some challenging terrain with the tight spaces and chimney descents but make for great fun and excitement.