After years of spending our summers hiking and camping in the White Mountains we have reached a sort of turning point in our lives where the appeal of crowded, smoky, smelly, noisy, buggy full to the brim every weekend campgrounds and hot, sweaty tortuous treks through bug plagued woods to crowded summits has lost some of its luster. The call of the loon across the clear, deep water, the huge expanse of the clouds and sky, and the cool breeze across the water have stolen our attention in the summer months, putting hiking and camping on a bit of a back burner, saving it for the cooler, bug-less months of September and October.
Buying kayaks a couple of years ago may have been the best thing we ever did. In a canoe together we would argue, "You're supposed to do this," or, "you're supposed to be doing that!" In kayaks, we have separation. I can go where I want, she can go where she wants, and we're still together. It has opened up new worlds and frontiers, and exposed us to some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife that our chosen home of New Hampshire has to offer. We have visited many places we most likely would not have otherwise.
This weekend we set out for new territory again. Though we had visited the Great North Woods of New Hampshire as far north as Colebrook and Dixville Notch, we had never been further north than Stewartstown and into Pittsburgh. Again, we fell in love with a new place. The pristine waters of Lake Francis and the Connecticut Lakes are some of the best we have seen. We camped at beautiful Deer Mountain State Park, a real diamond in the rough. There are several beautiful sites that are set back and private, beside a lovely brook. At the north end of the park there is a site beside the dam with a view of a huge beaver pond, a prime moose viewing spot. That evening we paddled upstream a good distance at dusk, but we saw none there.
We were there for me to photograph a friend's wedding, and as we arrived the night before the wedding we had plenty of time to explore the park. As we came to a spot beside the dam and gazed out at the scene we each looked at each other and said, "They should get married right here!" As it turned out, that is exactly where the ceremony was held. It was a beautiful wedding, and I was proud and honored that I had been invited to be such an integral part of it all. In the heat of the day, as the young folks set up for the wedding, Judy and I slipped away for a paddle at Second Connecticut Lake. The water was calm, there was a nice breeze, no bugs, bright sun and beautiful sky. Late in the paddle we were able to observe and photograph some loons. I don't know, as much as we love hiking, this scene has way more appeal to me when it's this hot out...