We left the WelcomeCenter and continued south on I-93. Twenty minutes later we were pulling into the parking lot at CannonMountain. The reason for this stop was to take the aerial tram to the top of CannonMountain and take in the view of the White Mountains. Margo and I had made this week long trip to see the world famous fall foliage and were hoping for some spectacular scenery. We had missed peak here in Franconia Notch (a notch, by the way, is gap between mountains. We know them as a “pass” here in Colorado. It’s the easiest way to gain passage through mountains), but it was still beautiful.
We bought our tickets and some batteries for the cameras.
I think those very distant mountains are in Maine
It’s amazing how quick you blow through them, and we didn’t know if there would be any for sale up top. The tram arrived shortly, and we and about ten of our newest friends climbed in. If you have never taken a trip to the top of a mountain, you will likely be surprised by two things. One, it’s cold. If it was pleasant at the bottom of the hill, when you get to the top it’s chilly. If it was chilly, then the top is cold. If the bottom is cold, you’re an idiot for going to the top. Fall in New Hampshire has its ranges, and today was below pleasant (upper 50s, but climbing), so the top was a bit chilly. Number two is the wind will almost certainly be blowing. Calm days at elevation are not very common. Today was no exception, but it wasn’t too bad.
Our ride up had come with a tour as well. The ranger on duty was very good about telling us some of the history of the area, and pointing out various geological and geographical features. One of the geographical being that on a clear day, which today was, you could see four states (NH, VT, ME, & NY) and Canada. Covering geology we learned a little bit about the Old Man of the Mountain.
I wish we had been here a week earlier. The color would have been something.
Obligatory description of what I learned. The Old Man of the Mountain was a granite silhouette of a man with a very prominent chin that juts off of ProfileMountain and overlooks ProfileLake. The natural granite formation is very much beloved in New Hampshire. The Old Man is on the back of New Hampshire’s state quarter. Daniel Webster said words to the effect that where as men hang a picture of a shoe in front of a cobbler shop to show that shoes are made here, God had hung a picture of a man to show that men are made in New Hampshire. Very cool words. Unfortunately despite much effort to starve off the effects of gravity and weather, the Old Man collapsed back in 2003. I would have liked to have seen the Old Man, but we were five years too late. The people of New Hampshire are working up some sort of park that will recreate the view, using an optical illusion created by five ground level silhouettes.
That ribbon in I-93 winding it's way through Franconia Notch
I’d like to see that one day.
Once at top we walked around the viewing area and saw all there was too see. There was a trail that let to a viewing tower. Since viewing is what I came to the top of the mountain to do, I was going to do walk on over. Margo was not. My wife likes uphill walks and stairs almost as much as cats like to take baths. She decided to wait inside the mountain top café, out of the wind, cold, and away from evil stairs. We had a small snack before I left.
The walk wasn’t too bad. It was about a quarter mile, and the grade was pretty easily. The viewing platform, built around a radio antenna, had four flights of stairs. The elevation shouldn’t have bothered me. Where I live in Colorado, the elevation is already 4200 ft. Cannon Mountain is only 4100 feet above sea level. But, climbing those stairs had me breathing hard by the time the last tread had been conquered. The view was better than what I had seen a couple hundred feet lower, but it was just too cold and windy to really enjoy, so I didn’t linger.
The walk down was hindered somewhat by a couple who were older, and much less fit than I am. (The bar isn’t set too high here). But, they found a spot to rest and I got around them. I met Margo and she asked how it was. I wanted to lie and say it was a life altering experience, and that she should kick herself forever for passing up, but I didn’t. We made our way to the tram and rode back down.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!