Please understand that this was my first hiking experience at Franconia Notch - so if you are an experienced hiker, try not to laugh too hard. I’m mostly referring to the older couples that easily passed me and the kids I saw on the way down who weren’t even breaking a sweat.
After a short-lived, laidback beginning up the Lonesome Lake Trail my mind quickly began wondering:
"How can this possibly incline for so long? This is basically climbing giant stairs made out of boulders!"
And although my Nebraska upbringing did not completely condition me to climb large geologic formations, I did not quit. Slow and steady won the race in this scenario. Fortunately I had taken up an interest in fungus recently and there was plenty to see along the trail. After about an hour of enduring nature’s stairmaster, the trail began to level off and I saw bright blue between the trees up ahead.
For a split second it looked like the trees just ended and the trail dropped off into the sky. Then I realized that it was Lonesome Lake reflecting the sky above. I scrambled my way over the last few boulders, tip-toed across the marshy shoreline and finally got an uninterrupted view of the lake. I was relieved to find that the view was absolutely worth it. For a minute I stood there and thought of all of my family and friends back home; it felt like I was enjoying this view on their behalf. They have all supported me and got me to this point in my life so this feeling of accomplishment felt dedicated to them. Finally a band of mosquitoes decided to take advantage of my mushy moment and convinced me to move on.
Several people had advised me to walk the path around the lake, and I happily obliged. The boardwalk was simple and had interesting things to look at above and below where I stepped. The occasional stream appeared under my feet with little fish darting around, but the surrounding mountain ranges were steadfast. The stroll around the lake was so relaxing and scenic that I was surprised when it ended and it was time to descend back to the campground. I felt very optimistic at that moment. The hard part had been over for a while and now I was just enjoying my own company next to this beautiful lake.
On my way down I decided that hiking this kind of terrain isn’t the worst thing ever; maybe people did it to challenge themselves and then feel the satisfaction of the descent and overall accomplishment. That was my motive, anyway. Even though my descent consisted of seeing kids easily climb over boulders that I had basically crawled over, I held onto my personal achievement. Franconia Notch is famous for its trails, and I have found that I caught hiking the bug. Looking back on my time at Lonesome Lake, I have to laugh at how naïve I was. I couldn’t have guessed what I was going to encounter on my hike (if you can call it that) on the Franconia Ridge not 48 hours later. But that is a different blog for a different time.
Spoiler Alert: I survived that journey as well. If I can do it, I have very high hopes for you.
By: Monica Casey, Discover the Power of Parks Interpretive Ranger
Discover the Power of Parks is presented by New Hampshire State Parks in collaboration with the Student Conservation Association and made possible by generous financial support from Eversource. The program offers a look into the natural world through hands-on programming.
Interpretive programs focus on connecting participants with nature and building appreciation for New Hampshire's unmatched natural heritage. Programs include guided hikes, interpretive tours, and imaginative environmental workshops for children and families. Programs are offered free to guests with paid park admission fee. No pre-registration is required.