“Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.” -George Washington Carver
When I first visited Franconia Notch State Park, it was clouded in fog. So, I was pleasantly surprised when majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and a multitude of hiking trails greeted me on my first day being an interpretive ranger. There is so much to explore in the Notch, as I have learned by reading, personal wanderings and observations.
I have been able to see summer wildflowers blooming, cloudless days, and stormy nights. I have experienced wind, rain and hail, but through all that wild weather, I have begun to discover the true beauty of Franconia Notch. It is a place not only worth visiting on the sunny summer days when you can see for miles from the summit of a mountain; but also on the rainy days, when the mist wraps around you and the scent of balsam is in the air. In the words of William Shakespeare, “I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”
One of my favorite things has been learning of the rich history the Notch has. Taking a walk back in time is as easy as opening your eyes. Before the Franconia Notch was a state park, it was wilderness. The often-overlooked Pemi trail extends the whole length of the park, following the Pemigewasset River from its beginnings as a trickle to the waterfalls of The Basin.
Along the way you can see trees older than anything else in the valley of the park, relics from the time of the grand Profile House hotel along with bricks from the chimneys of the same.
Generations of people have come to the notch because of the lasting memories waiting to be made.
Reading about the beauty of a place is a start, but it is not until you get out under the open sky -whether good weather or bad- that you can really begin to learn. By observing the details, you can discover much more than ever expected.
So I encourage you to get outside, study a mushroom, feel the crisp air, watch the clouds, or step on a crunchy leaf, and create some lasting memories of your own in Franconia Notch State Park.