In our never-ending quest to seek out new places and do new things we took a trip further north than we had ever been in New Hampshire before. This trip brought us north of Dixville Notch to the town of Colebrook, and to Coleman State Park, that has within its borders a small pond by the name of Little Diamond Pond. I am not sure of the origin of the name, but it is truly a "Diamond " in the rough. Rather than hauling our pop-up camper all that way we opted to field test our new tent. We took our new Coleman tent to Coleman State Park in Colebrook. How d'ya like them apples? The tent passed its quality test with flying colors when we got two inches of rain in a deluge Tuesday night.
After the long drive and some local shopping for supplies we picked a spot and set up camp. Afterward as we explored the campground a little further we wished we had looked around a little more before choosing a spot as we found a beautiful spot available right on the water, the only waterfront spot besides a lean-to. We would gladly have paid the four extra dollars a night for it. The thought of moving to it was a brief one as the thought of tearing down the tent, packing everything into the car and setting everything up again to move 100yds outweighed the desire to be on the water.
After a quick walk around the grounds and over to the pond we had some supper, then we set out in the kayaks to explore the pond further. We quickly discovered there was a family of loons taking residence there. Momma and Poppa were busy fishing and feeding a chick who had grown as big as they were on their care. He did not yet have any adult plumage and did not yet seem to have the skill or ability to feed himself. They were quite tolerant of the kayaks and allowed us to float near them and observe their routine. It was exciting to have the chance to photograph their intimate behavior.
We shared the pond with only the loons and two other kayakers who were fly-fishing for trout. A more peaceful scene could not have been hoped for, that is until one of the angler's cell phones rang and she proceeded to have a loud, unnecessary conversation. Fortunately it didn't last long. Man, some people just don't get it. This is one of the main reasons I do not own a cell phone, though Jude has one. I find them obnoxious and for the most part unnecessary. Nice to have in an emergency, but that's about it. We have one for that sole purpose. Thankfully we have not needed it.
Next morning I was up before the sun, Judy or Emma, a rarity. I was a little cold and I figured getting up and moving around would warm me up. Emma followed me out of the tent and we went over to the pond for a pre-dawn paddle. The moon was still high as the eastern sky began to glow. The clouds lit up golden as the earth turned enough to make the sun visible. We paddled beside the loons who also appeared to be waiting for the day to begin. Emma and I had the pond and the loons to ourselves. Moments like this make me pretty sure that paradise cannot be all that far removed from this plane of existence.
Emma and I went back to camp and had tea and sticky buns for breakfast. Today we were going to explore Dixville Notch. We had never been. I knew of a place called Table Rock that we could hike to, but that was all we knew. The story of our hike and visit to the various waterfalls can be found here:
After hiking Emma and I had a nice steak and potato dinner while Jude had rice and vegetables. After supper we walked it off with a short hike out to a viewpoint in the park. The trail brought us by a couple of old cabins, now withering in decay. It was sad to see them run down as they must have been something in their day. The clouds hung low over the surrounding hills so their was no sunset and little view. A couple of hours after climbing in the tent it began to rain. Then it rained harder. Then it poured! There was two inches overnight, but the tent kept us dry.
We slept in late and hung around waiting for the remaining showers to end. The sun would come out, the clouds would cover it up again, it would rain a bit, then repeat the whole scene for most of the morning and early afternoon. When things looked like they were clearing we headed out to do some more exploring in the park. The Cohos Trail comes through the park, so we hiked along some of that, mostly in search of moose as much of it is wide snowmobile trails in that stretch. When we returned to camp it was late afternoon and the sky was doing a good job of chasing the clouds away.
We set off on another paddle. I was interested in seeing the loons again. I wondered how they had made out in the deluge the night before. I often think of how hard it must be to be a wild creature, dealing with all sorts of weather and the many perils they encounter on an almost endless basis. Consider living life half in the water, half out, having to survive by skill and luck by eating living, squirming things and hoping not to become a meal yourself. Ahh, but the ability to fly, even awkwardly, now that may make it all worthwhile...
The loons seemed more cautious this time, staying low in the water and seemingly more alert. I wasn't sure why, until I saw a huge black shape rise over the hill and float on the air across the pond. It set in the upper branches of a tall, dead tree near the shore. I had seen the shape and behavior before, home on our own pond. It was a Bald Eagle, Lord of the Sky. He glared down at the puny humans who dared invade his domain. The loons stayed low and paddled away. I paddled nearer, hoping for some photos and expecting the usual, black dot against white background I had taken so many of before.
He stayed in place, watching the doings on his pond. I got as close as the kayak would allow without getting out and walking, he stayed put. I snapped away, I knew the light was poor. I waited for him to get tired of this and take off. He stayed put. Then it happened: The sun came out from behind a cloud and lit him up. It was perfect! At times like these you always wish for a bigger lens, but I quickly put that out of my mind and drank in the scene and the experience. Things could not be better! He eventually decided that all was well in his kingdom and he had better things to attend to, and just as he had appeared, he disappeared. The loons did a happy dance and and let out a couple of whoops to signal the coast was clear again. After supper I paddled out again, this time alone. The sunset was bland and the light was not good enough for shooting, so I just sat and enjoyed the audible silence and majesty of place.
Next morning I woke up a little later than I had wanted to and peering out the window of the tent I saw that the sky was already lit up with the dawn. I scrambled out of the tent and over to the pond as quickly as I could in time to snap some shots of the quickly fading illumination of the entire sky. I was somewhat disappointed in myself for not getting up 20 minutes earlier, but I dismissed the thought and once again drank in the beautiful scene. Life was good! I was soon joined by the quiet kayaker from a couple of nights ago who was obviously enjoying the scene as much as I. We conversed in hushed tones as the sun appeared above the horizon. Shortly thereafter we were joined by Emma and Judy. To make a partial quote of Shakespeare: "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."
We went back to camp and packed up, it was time to be going. Before leaving I sought out the old timer who was the State Park manager. His nickname was "Tink" and he had taken quite a shining to Emma. I wanted a picture of them together, which wound up to be not my best shot, but glad to have it nonetheless. Tink had fought cancer a few years earlier and by some miracle was still around to enjoy life in the northwoods. He had been born a few miles from the park, and still lived a few miles down the road. He was old as the hills and just as tough, and a real pleasure to talk with. I hope the bureaucrats in the state house realize just what great folks they have working for the state manning these parks and take this into consideration when it is time to dole out the funds. Thanks Tink, and Pete, and all the folks who make our State Parks great places to visit!