On Carter Ledge Trail
A June Night at White Lake
After thunderstorms with heavy fog and rain scared us out of Vermont last week, (Vermont really hates us, this time there was even a tornado near where we wanted to camp) we made our first camping trip of the season up to White Lake in Tamworth. With a late start because of morning obligations and plans to spend the next day hiking, we didn't bring the kayaks this time. Instead we spent the afternoon setting up camp and walking around the lake which at times was reminiscent of strolling along a garden path with a plethora of wildflowers lining the trail to enhance the already idyllic scene of late afternoon sun on water. The trail was adorned with literally hundreds of Pink Lady's Slippers. Painted Trillium is still to be found as well, the Rhodora is coming into bloom, and judging by the number of blueberry blossoms along the lake shore, in a month's time there will be no shortage!
Sunset From Our Tent
A lifetime of experience will teach you that all good things are worth a little suffering to attain, and so it was on this afternoon. With the warm temps the mosquitos and blackflies were merciless and after going to a local eatery we pretty much climbed into the tent upon our return to escape the swarming masses. To add to the insufferable insect blight, the previous few days weather had brought little rain and lots of sun which had pushed the pollen count off the scale. We both suffered overnight. In the morning we awoke to a heavy haze of drifting pollen, and the lake was covered with its yellow green tint. Not a breath of wind stirred and we were able to leave the rain-fly off the tent but at the ready, though there was no threat of rain in the sky or in the forecast. We were able to lay in the tent with a filtered view of the setting sun across the lake as it filled the surrounding forest with a beautiful glow and began to dip towards the horizon. We watched as sunset turned to twilight and the first quarter moon grew bright and, like the sun he was chasing, slowly began to sink into the west. Insects swarmed on the protective netting about us.
Sunset On White Lake
All night we listened to the mating loons out on the water which lapped at the shore only a few yards beyond our feet. They laughed and called without a care as to who could hear them, and their laughter filled our dreams and brought with it comfort and sleep. It seemed like a very short time between my very last glimpse of the setting moon and the very first pale lightening of the sky. Daybreak comes very early in June and it wasn't long before I could see the light of the rising sun light up the tops of the trees on the far shore of the lake and begin to work its way down until it began to warm their roots. With the pale light came the first bird vocalizations, some from deep within the surrounding woods, and some from much closer. Thrush, Veery, Jay, the gronk of a heron as he left his roost and flew silently along the shore. With the gathering light came the realization that just outside the protection of the screen a vicious swarm awaited our inevitable exit from the tent and into their bloodthirsty clutches. The balance of the universe was intact: On the one hand we suffered the tortures of the damned inflicted by insects and pollen, and on the other hand we witnessed the beauty and serenity brought by wildflowers, sunlight on water, moonlight, starlight and laughing loons...
Moon in June
50 Shades of Green
Middle Sister 3340'
Carter Ledge Trail/Middle Sister Trail
8.6 Miles 2700' Elevation gain
Kevin and Judy
June is a time of great beauty in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but it is balanced with the year's first hot days and the misery of flying, biting insects. I suppose this displays the balance of the universe, but I could easily live the rest of my life without one more minute of the feeling I was simultaneously frying and being eaten alive. However, if I did, then I would miss out on some of the most beautiful scenes of wildflowers and rocky crags that my soul so longs for and awaits with each passing year. To stand on a ledge and cast your gaze across a wide valley to a bald mountain and then back to where a wildflower reaches for the sun from a spot beside your booted foot, here you will find tranquility, and despite the sweat it took you to get there and the biting insects you swatted along the way the beauty will be stored in your heart to be remembered and revisited on a bleak winter day.
Chocorua from Carter Ledge
My apologies, ladies, but as I gaze from my perch on Carter Ledge across the open expanse to the stony outcrop which is Mount Chocorua, it rises high above a valley filled with fifty shades of green and I realize I will take this over 50 shades of gray any day. As the heat of the sun extracted the salt and water from our bodies and the biting insects sucked our life blood from our veins, we strode along paths strewn with wildflowers. Pink Lady's Slippers, Painted Trillium and Clintonia were all in bloom, and as we made our way across the ledges great patches of pink Rhodora lined the path as though a master gardener had laid the design, and indeed it had been laid by the greatest of gardeners, Mother Nature herself. The idyllic surroundings helped keep our minds from the tortures of sun and insect as we made our way to the top of Middle Sister.
Rhodora Rhododendron canadensis
On Middle Sister
Our goal for the day was to enjoy as much of this while it was in season as we could, and despite the pestering insects and burning sun we managed to accomplish our goal of this, as well as to knock a couple of more trails off our meager trail-bagging list. We loop hiked from White Ledge WMNFCG in a clockwise fashion, ascending the Carter Ledge Trail and descending the Middle Sister Trail. We had been on parts of both as we had ascended to the summit of Chocorua from Piper Trail/Nickerson Ledge on other trips, and we have also descended that way as well. Today introduced us to the lower halve of Carter Ledge Trail and most of the Middle Sister Trail. Just about the time we were about ready to be done with scrambling over ledges and swatting black-flies we came upon the trail junction of the two trails a short distance below the summit and just to the northeast of Middle Sister.
Looking West Across the Sandwich Range
We made the short hike/scramble to the foundation of the old fire-tower which still stands on the summit of Middle Sister. Here a nice breeze gave us some relief from the heat of the day, but did little to disperse the swarming flies. We shoved some food in our mouths and enjoyed the views as best we could before we gave in and allowed the biting insects to drive us from this beautiful spot. On the descent the trees once again accepted us and graced us with some cooling shade as they reached far overhead to shelter us from the determined sun, again, there was no relief from the insects. We applied more bug dope and made the best of it on the way down. In many spots along the trail it was evident that the trail sees little maintenance and even less use. Indeed, we had hiked the whole day without seeing another soul. I wondered if the flies had anything to do with it? and what they eat when they can't get Hobbit.
View North: Hancocks/Carrigain/Carrigain Notch/Crawford Notch/Southern presidentials/Washington/Pinkham Notch
Full set of White Lake pics HERE:
Full set of Middle Sister pics HERE: