Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Franconia Notch

I've seen the Old Man of the Mountain before. Actually, I should say I have seen him. Period. Because in 2003, the forces of gravity, water, and chemical erosion brought the Old Man to the point of collapse. You might say it was jaw dropping experience. That was the beginning of the end. He is no more. So what used to be the Old Man of the Mountain is now just the Old Man Historical Site. It's still a pretty impressive piece of nature's work, but without the "Oh Yea. I see him!"
A sign at the observation point at the foot of the path and down by the crystal clear lake describes the process of the collapse and illustrates it very well. Life goes on, but without him. Now he is a story for the ages and a living memory only in those who shared his time in the sun. Such is life. What goes up must come down. The turmoil within the inner earth pushes upward and outward only to have the natural forces of wind and rain, freeze and thaw struggle always to bring things back from whence they came. Beginning and end. Over and over again. The cycle of life plays out before our eyes every day in every way. It can be observed and appreciated, but not changed....and so it goes.
Meanwhile, a fisherman casts flies for brook trout in the clear icy waters of the lake that reflects the mountain. And a beaver gnaws at some trees to bring them down in order that he may build his dam and his home up. Water levels rise until the force of the water tears down what has been placed in its path. It's all quite a marvel.

The Basin, a massive granite bowl carved by glaciers of the past and raging waters of the here and now makes for a most amazing geographical feature. Not one that is easy to convey its majesty through the medium of photography, it none-the-less impressed me as one of the best we have seen anywhere along our journey so far. It was a great place to just pause and enjoy what nature has created.

A two mile hike up the mountain through The Flume Gorge was a mighty workout ( I didn't count the number of steps built into the Flume and I'm frankly glad I didn't) but the scenery rivaled the energy output and was well worth the hike.

The largest lichens I have ever seen anywhere were growing on the rock walls of the flume and can best be seen by enlarging the photo below and studying the left-hand side of the photo. Clearly the light and cool and dampness of the walls made for a perfect growing environment for them.
We reached the top just about the same time my legs were telling me they couldn't handle another flight of stairs, and there were two beautiful specimens waiting there to thank us for taking the time and effort to visit: this beautiful butterfly...

and this beautiful stand of mushrooms.

The downhill portion of the hike was only a bit easier than the uphill, but like the Old Man proves: What goes up, Must come down.

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