Mike and I both grew up in New Hampshire. We didn’t meet until college, but we both spent our first 22 years in the Granite State. I’m finding that it takes extra effort to have an explorer’s mindset when you’re so close the place of your childhood.

Before arriving in New Hampshire everything felt new. There was always something to see, a trail to hike, a friendly camp neighbor to meet. I’m sure visitors to New England feel the same way, but for me, I’m having a hard time feeling the newness of a place I know so well.

This isn’t a diss on New Hampshire. New Hampshire is a spectacular state filled with mountains, endless lakes, and a little bit of ocean. But for whatever reason, I can’t force myself to see it with new eyes as I so desperately want to do.

But enough of that. It’s probably the rain talking.

We’ve been busy scouting waterfalls, camping under the trees, and hauling ourselves up and down rock strewn mountains. We spent a day exploring around Pinkham Notch, dodging thunderstorms and taking short hikes.

We said goodbye to our glorious camping spot in Jackson and traveled west toward Franconia Notch. Franconia Notch is one of the prettiest areas in New Hampshire, and is also the namesake for our beloved pup Nia. It’s been just over a year since she left us, so we decided to hike Franconia Ridge in her honor.

The Franconia Ridge Loop consists of three trails: Falling Waters, Franconia Ridge, and Old Bridle Path. The loop climbs almost 4000 feet, most of that straight up. I have grown soft from my years in the West, where switchbacks create gentler grades.

The trails were busy, filled with all the people who were waiting for a nice day. The ridge is exposed, high in elevation, and a magnet for lightning strikes. We arrived in time to score a shady parking spot for Lemhi and tried a new technique with our roof fan to keep him cool while we were gone (it worked!).

The hike was gorgeous from start to finish. On the way down we stopped at Greenleaf Hut for a quick lunch out of the wind. We hiked down on jelly-legs and found a great free camping area nearby.

We spent a couple days in Bethlehem, a cute little mountain town, before cruising west into Vermont. The Green Mountain State has a lot to explore, but unreliable cell service. It’s been frustratingly hard to find places to camp that have enough cell service that I can work, and places to work where there is camping nearby. C’est la vie. We knew the East Coast would be tricky!

I’m writing this dispatch from Waterbury, land of Vermont breweries, the Von Trapp Family and Ben & Jerry’s. We’ll be spending the next couple days with friends near Burlington, then we’ll likely cruise back into the Adirondacks. We just can’t get enough mountains!

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