I can't remember the last time we camped at The Basin in Evans Notch. If I can't remember, it's been too long! It is one of our favorite places to camp and hike. There are great trails right out of camp, or within a few miles of camp. Because there are no 4000 Footers it seems to be less visited than the other notches and therefore quieter. Over the years we have sought these quieter, less visited places more and more often. We were surprised to find the campground half full on a Monday morning in September. We may have set a trend! Not likely...
It was quite windy, but otherwise a nice day when we arrived. The wind picked up during the day and erased any hopes of getting a paddle in that afternoon. It seemed strange to see white caps on a twenty five acre pond. Further to the west and behind the ridge that forms The Basin we could see a cloud cap that was obviously cloaking the Northern Presidentials. As night closed in so did the clouds. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped. It felt like autumn had arrived!
We had planned to hike next morning and when it broke bright and clear the plan was set. We were heading even further north to tramp some new territory. Forty two miles later we were in Grafton Notch where the Appalachian Trail crosses Rte. 26 between Old Speck and the Baldpates. The Baldpates had been on the radar for years and we were glad we were finally getting a chance to hike them. There was still a stiff breeze when we started out, but it turned into a perfect hiking day. The tale of that trip can be found here: http://ghostflowers.smugmug.com/White-Mountain-Hikes/Baldpates-9-11-12/25359908_QMgtk5#!i=2085828854
After a great hike to the Baldpates* we had a late supper and turned in early. We were beat. For information on the asterisk you must read the trip report. Next morning things were calm and clear on the pond so we set off for a paddle. It was another beautiful day! We sat for awhile on a tiny island in the pond and soaked in the morning's rays. After the paddle we set off for a short hike to stretch our legs. One of our favorite places is the Rattlesnake Pool off the Stonehouse Trail. It is deep, cold and beautiful, and it casts shades of green and blue usually only reserved for the sea. We also explored the gorge further below the pool on the Rattlsnake Brook, also a beautiful place.
After a late lunch and some lazing we set off on another paddle, this time a very lazy paddle as we watched the sun dip below the ridge as the shadows lengthened on the surrounding hills. A pair of Barred Owls hooted their "Who, who, who cooks for you?"hoots somewhere out in the natural amphitheater and the surroundings walls echoed with their laughing calls. Overnight we could hear them calling over and over again, first near the camp, then further down the valley. There is nothing quite as peaceful as being serenaded to sleep by distant loons or owls voices rising above the dead quiet. That night when nature called my eyes did not have to adjust at all to make out the cloudy Milky Way overhead. Each star pierced the darkness with its brilliance and it was long before I felt the cold that reminded me of my warm sleeping bag.
Next morning we packed up early as it was drive home day and we wanted to stop and paddle Chocorua Lake to break up the ride. As many times as we have stopped by going to and from the mountains we have never tired of the view and natural beauty that can be had here. Chocorua itself rises above the lake and if the conditions are right reflects in the still waters below its heights. Today was just such a day. We paddled out and felt the warm sun as we rippled the reflections cast on the smooth as glass water. Loons called on the lake as we paddled about, and showed themselves long enough to get a few photos. It was a great way to spend the early afternoon!