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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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FEBRUARY 22, 2006
"The ground we walk on, the plants and creatures, the clouds above constantly dissolving into new formations - each gift of nature possessing its own radiant energy, bound together by cosmic harmony."
- Ruth Bernhard

A view from Mt. Cube on Day 115

Speaking of "cosmic harmony," I went through heaven and hell in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

When the weather is good, the Whites are very, very good. When the weather is bad, they are very, very bad, just like the little boy in the childhood nursery rhyme.

In this photo essay, I am going to highlight only four of my days in New Hampshire. The last three of these days showcase the White Mountains. I wasn't planning to have so many "cloud" essays, but you'll soon see why I had trouble selecting just a few of these shots to share with you.

These are four of the very, very good weather days I experienced in New Hampshire, the ones with the most cloud drama. Several other days were clear but the clouds weren't so prominent. You'll see some of the very, very bad weather days - with ominous gray clouds or fog - in subsequent photo essays.

I took more pictures per day in New Hampshire and Maine than anywhere else along the entire Appalachian Trail except for Day 14 in the Smokies and Day 32 in the Mt. Rogers National Recreational Area. The White Mountains, and the mountains in Maine that I'll feature in the next essay, must have less pollution in the air than other places along the AT because skies don't come any more blue than these.

Let's take a little tour of New Hampshire, beginning with Mt. Cube . . .


Although the Mt. Cube summit is only 2,911 feet high there are outstanding views from the multi-colored "white" Clough quartzite rock ledges. The photo below and the vertical photo at the top of the page are from Day 115.

There is also a photo of an unusual striped rock in the journal that day, down in the text. The pattern resembles the stripes on a highway. The bedrock is enhanced by the intense blue sky and white clouds.


One of my best days in terms of scenery and pure fun was Day 118 on Franconia Ridge - awesome views, fascinating clouds, interesting hikers. If you're ever in the neighborhood, I recommend you wait for good weather or you'll miss some of the best scenery on the entire Trail.

Come along as we climb from Franconia Notch (U.S. Route 3) north to Mt. Lafayette:









Some of the gray clouds in the pictures above might be more appropriate in the "storm" essay coming up, but it never did rain on my parade that day. The clouds just looked ominous.

Here's a look back at Franconia Ridge in the late afternoon, from several miles north:

That's just a fraction of the sixty-four photos I took that day! It's a wonder I made it to Galehead Hut in time for supper. I can't wait to return and show it to Jim.


Another great photo op awaited me on Day 120 in the southern half of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, which includes (from south to north) the mountains named in honor of the following United States Presidents: Webster, Jackson, Pierce/Clinton, Eisenhower, Franklin, Monroe, and Washington.

Here we go from Crawford Notch (U.S. Route 302) to Mt. Washington. You don't even have to worry about the 6,000-foot total climb!




And of course there is the appropriately named Lake of the Clouds Hut, situated a mile below the summit of Mt. Washington:


The sky was just as blue and the clouds just as billowy on Day 126 when I ran/hiked the northern Presidential Range from Mt. Washington to Mt. Madison, crossing Mounts Clay, Jefferson, and Adams on the ridges between them.

There weren't many clouds early in the run (first photo), but the sky got more interesting as I progressed northward over the spiny ridges.




Ready to book that flight to New Hampshire yet??

Next up: equally dynamic skies in Maine . . .

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2006 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil