New England or Bust, Part 3

Having completed a grueling, frigid hike through steep slopes in the snow (uphill both ways), everyone piled back into the van, grateful to be able to sit and rest.  I started the engine and we set off for our next destination: a grueling frigid hike through steep slopes in the snow!

We needed to make a pit stop first, and I happened to pull into a parking lot next to another White Mountain attraction: the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway.  This is a huge tram hanging from a tenuous cable by a single arm that travels to the top of the mountain for spectacular views.  Unfortunately, it only runs in the summer and fall.  But I SO want to try that!

Would you trust this cable to hold several tons hanging from one metal arm?

Our destination was a trail to an overlook called Kilburn Crags, just outside the town of Littleton, NH.  The directions sent us to a small road along the side of a hill and said to look for a sign and a parking area just off the road.  We had to drive back and forth a few times before finally discovering the sign, which didn’t face drivers, and the “parking area”, which was an 8′ x 20′ gravel area barely wide enough to fit our van.

The sign said the hike was only 7/10 of a mile, so we figured we could handle it.  What it failed to mention was that it was 7/10 of a mile straight up.  No switchbacks.  Just walk up the mountain.  Having already exhausted our kids on the earlier hike, we were wary of an imminent meltdown on this hike.  Nevertheless, we threw caution to the wind and set out on the hike.  Because, you know, we’re not that bright.

Are we there yet?

I’m not a huge fan of hiking.  I’m fine with it as long as there’s a point to it–something spectacular at the end of the trail, for instance.  I’m not one to just go walking for nature’s sake.  At some point it stops being fun and just becomes putting one foot in front of the other.  This is similar to jogging for exercise, which stops being fun about 1.7 seconds after you start.

Anyway, this hike was dangerously close to being abandoned.  I think my wife and I could have done it ok by ourselves, but the kids were going very slow.  And with good reason.  There just weren’t many places to stop and rest.  I had to do double duty for a while just to keep some semblance of a pace going:

I think I can...I think I can...

In case you think that looks easy, remember that Scotty’s head alone weighs approximately 17 tons.  Give or take.

All joking aside, I have to say that I’m extremely proud of my kids.  They pushed hard and kept going, and really didn’t complain despite the hard work.  Just as we were ready to give up on the point of the hike, we crested a ridge and came upon this.

And suddenly, all that work was worthwhile.

Mt. Washington, looming over the town of Littleton

The snow-covered peak is Mt. Washington, the highest point in New England and home of the world’s worst weather.  It held the world record for the highest recorded wind speed at 231 mph, which stood from 1934 to 2010.  When I was there 10 years ago, the peak was completely socked in with fog, which is usually the case.  Seeing the peak totally clear like this is a rare feat.  We sat on a bench and rested, marveling at the view.

Scotty, what do you think?

Ladies and Gentlemen...Scotty!

The trip down the mountain was obviously much quicker than the walk up.  By this time, it was time for dinner.  Although it couldn’t compare with grilled fluffernutters for lunch, we did get a gourmet meal at the local McDonald’s, which boasts one of the finer views of any McDonald’s in the country.  So it has that going for them, which is nice.

Fine dining with a view

This was one of the new remodeled McDonald’s that looks like a Starbucks if it were remodeled by Darth Vader.  The kids sat on stools that were basically seats with no backs or arms hovering six feet off the ground, as though they were cars getting their tires changed.  We christened these chairs “kamikaze stools”.  Naturally, Dave managed to fall off halfway through the meal and hit his head on the way down.  He wasn’t hurt too bad, but the manager felt bad and brought out free ice cream for the kids.  Obviously, the lesson learned is to encourage your kids to throw themselves off of stools in as many restaurants as possible.

Now if you know me, you know I’m a Wilderness Lodge geek.  By far my favorite Disney resort.  Because we love that outdoors feel so much, we decided to try renting a log cabin for a couple of nights.  We found one that looked good on Homeaway.com, didn’t cost much more than a hotel, talked to the owners and got a good feeling, and went for it.  It was about a 20-minute drive from Littleton, and very remote.  It was a newer cabin, very clean and comfortable.

I am not to blame for the poorly-strung icicle lights.

We loved this place.  The kids fell in love immediately, running all over to check out all the rooms.  Even though it was quiet and remote, it had heat, a modern kitchen, and perhaps most importantly, satellite HD-TV.

As near as we can tell, we took care of the place to the owner’s satisfaction and managed not to burn it to the ground, so hopefully he’ll welcome us back someday.  I’m sure it’s spectacular in the fall.  After we put the kids in bed, we tried taking pictures of the star-filled sky, but had trouble with the focus.  This is the best we got.  Surely we can do better!

I think that's Orion.

We can do better.  And don’t call me Shirley.

Coming Up Next: I scream!  You scream!  We all scream for…

5 thoughts to “New England or Bust, Part 3”

  1. Two grueling hikes? Was this a family vacation or SEAL training? But nice job, kids!

    That cabin looks awesome. Congratulations on not burning it to the ground.

  2. Wow, Dave and Scotty are my hero’s. I congratulate you on still being married after taking that hike!

  3. Mark, I just want to say how extremely disappointed I am in you. You just lost a few “cool dad” points. How can you possibly make your kids walk up and then back down snow covered inclines without a sled? I think we need a new MAN LAW saying that if you are going to require your kids to hike uphill in the snow, it is your duty as a dad to provide a sled and some cooking spray for the downhill part.

    Love the cabin, reminds me a lot of the ones we stay in when we go to Gatlinburg. Kind of ironic though that it is a log cabin sitting in the middle of nowhere, but probably nicer and more luxurious than my house.

  4. Well, we packed a lot of stuff into the van, and only had room for a sled or cheese balls. I couldn’t leave the cheese balls behind. We had 8 hour drives to worry about!

    The cabin was pretty sweet. I’m sure it cost more than my house, too, but at least their rental rates were reasonable. Dave fell in love with the place. I’ll put that story in the next update.

  5. Great so far! That pic of your family in the living room has to be fake! Admit it! That was a pic of the info brochure! Lol. Really beautiful shots!

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