A Much Better Day

2014 update: Since this trip in 2009, the exceptional hosts about whom I write below have gone their separate ways, and I’m uncertain about the availability of the Bungalow. Several campsites are on the property, though, on a donations-accepted basis. Send inquiries to cohos@cohostrail.org. The trail still runs over Prospect Mountain, with its incomparable view of First Connecticut Lake.

At the End of a Much Better DaySun came out 9-ish this morning, so I had a chance to spread out the tent fly and backpack to dry. In the hour before things clouded up again, I enjoyed a walk along the lake shore before I came back to pack up my gear. I blessed every one of those little plastic bags as I re-packed them into the backpack. Dry gear and a bit of sunshine did wonders for me.

I made a mental note of things to do differently if I’m ever possessed to to this again: get a lighter tent; bring fewer clothes for a midsummer hike; find useful rain gear; no more sleeping pads from Target. Pony up the big bucks for a light-but-cushy pad.

Today’s short hike brought me to the Mountain Bungalow, on the property of Lainie & Pete, Cohos Trail board members. The Bungalow is going to be my home for a few days while I do some trail maintenance with Lainie and play tourist in Pittsburg. I’ve lived in NH for over 25 years, but northern Coos County is unfamiliar to me, and I want to see as much of it as I can while I’m here.

The walk up River Road to Rt. 3, with a little shortcut marked with a CT sign, leads to what the map calls Happy Corner. What’s so happy about it? Check this out: Young’s store, a great little restaurant, and a covered bridge, all right there. (Oh, all right, I actually had to walk for 5 minutes to find the covered bridge. Don’t be picky.)

Young’s had the camp shoes I hoped for, lightweight & cheap. The Happy Corner Cafe next door served me a splendid lunch. Let me recommend the Corner Burger, piled with cheese, onions, mushrooms, & green peppers. Two tables over sat the family that camped at the site next to mine last night.

I headed up Danforth Road in a light drizzle, along the south slope of Prospect Mountain. (New Hampshire is littered with Prospect Mountains, I think, but this is the only one near Happy Corner.) It’s an uphill walk, but no killer. The bungalow was at the end of the road, a bit shy of the summit. Two moose, cow & calf, crossed the road ahead of me as I made my way up, but they were gone before I got my camera out. I was later told that I was lucky; moose are apparently an unusual sight on that road.

I knew I’d found the right place when I got to a sign proclaiming “Northern Headquarters of the Cohos Trail.” By the time I got there, the sun was out, and we had a gorgeous afternoon. My hosts gave me a friendly greeting and showed me to the Bungalow. I have the whole place to myself; it can accommodate up to six people. No running water, but there are plenty of jugs I can fill from the main house. There is electricity. There’s a radio, and I’ll check out the reception eventually. The kitchen is tiny but certainly adequate. This all reflects a lot of work & care by my hosts.

A cache that I had mailed a week ago awaited me. It has a few days’ food for my expected 4- or 5-night stay at the Bungalow. Once I emptied the cache box of its contents, I started filling it with things from my pack that I’ve already decided I can live without. Must lighten pack.

I put on my new camp shoes as soon as I got here. My boots will now dry out from their dunking in the bog yesterday. My blisters, every ugly swelling one of them, get TLC by not being jammed back into damp shoes. Aside from the boots, everything has dried out from the bog & the rain.

At the End of a Much Better Day

view of Mt. Magalloway and First Connecticut Lake from Prospect Mountain

Lainie offered me a ride on her ATV to the top of Prospect Mountain with its grand views, and so I added “ATV passenger” to my list of firsts for the trip. No helmet. (I’m in a land of people with a particularly jaundiced view of government regulations.)  The path from the Bungalow to the summit is short but steep and muddy. The views on this sunny afternoon were breathtaking, dominated by big 1st Connecticut Lake just below. Mt. Magalloway loomed in the distance; I could just make out its fire tower. I was too dazed to take in the list Lainie recited of all the other peaks in sight. I took photos galore.

Armand Buteau, another CT board member & the owner of Pathfinder Tours & Rentals here in Pittsburg (note: retired as of 2013),  has offered us a kayak trip up East Inlet later in the week. I’m delighted. I had planned a hike in that area, but the best way to see it is on the water. I can barely wait.

Now to review the day’s photographs, read for awhile, and get used to the monster bug that is fascinated by the lamp here in the Bungalow. Tourist injury update: at this point, aches & pains & blisters are manageable. Naproxen helps, and so do dry feet and moleskin.