After my visit to the Old Man’s mountain and the hike along Portrait Lake, I got back in the car and immediately off at the exit advertising The Basin. I had no idea what that was either but I pulled into the parking lot and found out. This being surprised is turning out great. I had no idea all this was in Franconia Notch.
Again I followed a path. This one was beside the Pemigewasset River which at this point is actually a stream which flows out of Portrait Lake from which I just came about 5 miles away. Pemigewasset is an Abenaki word meaning swift. At an elevation of 1900 feet the river drains Franconia Notch and is fed by small streams flowing from the steep mountain sides that line this valley. Sixty miles from here it becomes the Merrimack River. I watch it flow lazily over large rock faces. Nothing like the roaring torrent I understand it is in the spring.
But today it is a sweet beauty and I’m lingering near it and imagining how slippery those rock faces would be to walk on.
I’m here to see The Basin. I find the sign that tells me it is a large pothole in the river , 30 feet in diameter and 15 feet deep which had its beginning 25000 years ago as the melting glaciers filled Franconia Notch. During the thousands of years that followed, sand and stones were whirled around by the force of the river causing a boring action the left the side walls of the basin smooth.
My pictures don’t do justice to how splendid it is. It makes me very happy to be here where in 1839 one of my favorite writers, Henry David Thoreau, was watching the water “cascade into the granite bowl and whirlpool around its walls.” He later wrote in his journal “this pothole is perhaps the most remarkable curiosity of its kind in New England.” Sure wish my David was here. He’d love this.
No swimming in the bowl and I know the water is freezing still there is something about it that makes me want to climb in. But instead I decide to climb the Basin-Cascade Trail.
It’s a hike up river along the stony rock faces with what seems like a small amount of water cascading along for the rain we’ve had. Maybe the rain stopped at the Vermont/New Hampshire border.
At earlier times in the year they would never be able to sit here. But it’s sweet today.
The path climbed and then went back down by the water multiple times.
The trail was rocky brushy and narrow. I was glad I had my hiking pole this time.
The little falls and cascades were all along the river. I was in heaven.
Of course they were all different and equally wonderful.
It’s a wonder it didn’t take me all day to do these 4 miles given how many times I stopped to enjoy and take pictures. This is a must return to hike for sure.
But after the “cascades” the really messy part began. Muddy, rooty, rocky and difficult.
I didn’t take nearly as many pictures of this more steep and difficult climb but I made it to Kinsman Falls and I was not disappointed.
My first view.
I figured out how to get closer
And ultimately how to get down to the foot and sit for a spell.
It was wonderful and I could have stayed much longer than the 30 or 40 minutes I spent there. But I knew I had a rough trail back and there was one more thing I really wanted to see before my day was over.
Just a couple pictures from the hike back. If you come to New Hampshire, you must not miss this hike if you are able to do it. Be aware that it is only for the sure footed, that some of it is steep, much of it is muddy, rocky and slippery. Be sure to have good solid hiking shoes and poles. As you have seen, it is worth the effort.
Amazingly this is not the end of my day in Franconia Notch. But this part was so great that I didn’t want it to get lost in what’s to come. So next post will be all about the Fantastic Flume Gorge. The place and its story are amazing.