NH’s Northernmost Park

I figured I’d be out for six hours today, & I was right. That included stops. I scurried out this morning without much breakfast, and I paid for that later, as five minutes’ thought would have warned me. No matter. I’m here, at Deer Mountain State Park, five miles from Canada.

It took half an hour to walk from the Bungalow down to US 3. I stopped at a store a little north of Happy Corner, Treats & Treasures,  to buy (& drink on the spot) a bottle of Gatorade. I knew I’d need the calories as well as the fluid. At 2nd Lake dam, about two-thirds of the way to Deer Mountain, I stopped for about 20 minutes because I was bonking. My no-breakfast decision caught up with me. I nibbled on a Powerbar & drank some water, then nibbled some more as a few minutes’ rest revived me. I lay on the grass in the shade, leaning against my backpack, feeling better by the minute. The spray from the dam was a treat.

Route 3 was hot and shadeless at midday. I saw no moose – not a one – though to be fair, any self-respecting moose spent today by a shady brook.

It’s the end of a summer weekend. I saw a fair number of out-of-state plates. Lots of day trippers came north with their kayaks, I presume for East Inlet. I saw so many motorcyclists that I worried they were all headed to Deer Mountain to camp, leaving me without a site. They weren’t, meaning they must have been Quebecois heading home.

I stopped at a spring on the roadside a bit north of 2nd Lake. While I was filling my bottles with that wonderful cold water, two people drove up to fill a pair of five-gallon jugs. They’re regulars here. They caught me up on the forecast for the next couple of days, and it sounds good, meaning no rain.

Humid, sticky day. I’ve been disappointed about not being able to hike up Magalloway, but that doesn’t bother me so much now. This may sound like sour grapes, but it’s been so muggy & hazy the past few days that visibility from the fire tower must be lousy.

It’s 5 p.m. now, there’s a soft breeze coming on, and the sun is becoming less harsh. Families are pulling into camp to claim their spaces. I saw the reservation sheet, and at least two sites have been rented for the week, starting today. It’s very peaceful here. I can see the attraction.

The attendant here, whose office is a little patio adjoining his cabin, recommended an out-of-the-way site for me. It’s right on Moose Flowage, as the Connecticut River is known in this stretch. I love the sound of the water, & while the site is buggy, I have DEET. Good enough. I actually have a couple of spots within the park that I can go to get away from the bugs. One is here, at the 2-table picnic area out front on US 3, beside the campground’s flagpole. The pole sports the most faded NH flag I have ever seen, and a somewhat less beaten-up American flag. Maybe a VIP coming to the Sentiers Frontaliers/Cohos Trail press conference Tuesday will be moved to spring for new ones.

ALMOST there. Third & Fourth Connecticut Lakes are just a few miles away. My goals tomorrow are to get to 4th Lake and thus reach the current northern terminus of the CT, and to get over the border long enough to get my passport stamped. Lainie pointed out that bringing my backpack through Canadian customs, as I had planned to do, would be a headache. She’s right. I’ll try for the border tomorrow while my heavy equipment stays here.

The park attendant says the spring water here is fine, and I guess I believe him. He looks hydrated enough. He also said my bear canister was OK but probably not necessary. He hasn’t had a bear pester anyone here for three years. Fine. Let’s make it four. I’m using the canister. It’ll foil the raccoons, at any rate.

I’m sponging down my aching feet with my bandanna soaked in cool spring water. Ahhhh. The daily routine has been to soak my feet in cold water after a long day, dry them off, and put fresh padding around the nearly-healed blisters. (Another lesson from this trip: do not ever hike in wet socks.) That’s working well. My left knee was the day’s chief troublemaker. After 13 miles, it’s entitled to protest – just not for long.

A pair of hummingbirds entertained me for awhile when I arrived. I can hear plenty of other birds with unfamiliar songs. Sunburn & all, it’s been a glorious Sunday. This really is a lovely little piece of God’s creation.

Snug and dry as this tent was at Lake Francis, I’m still annoyed that I am never able to pitch it tight enough to keep the already-low roof from drooping. Also, I’m on a platform, and I’m still figuring out the best way to pitch and guy out my nonfreestanding tent. This trip is a learning experience. I’ve rolled back the fly and hooked it to the low side of the tent to keep ventilation going on this muggy evening. If it starts raining, I can have the fly up in a minute.

I can hear voices from nearby sites only faintly. I’m far from other sites but actually close to US 3.

I’ve put the bear canister a short distance from the tent platform. No bear is going to come after me, but I am concerned about a bear wanting my food if the food is tucked in with me. Perhaps I need a tad more fortitude.

OK, so I have fortitude of a sort. I’ve walked a fair chunk of the Cohos Trail alone. No one can ever take this away from me. I’ve also had some wonderful encounters with other people, & no one can ever take that away from me, either. This relatively inexperienced hiker is on top of the world.

For all the concerns expressed by family & friends as I prepared to take this trip, the most dangerous part of my walk so far was probably today, walking along Rt. 3. Drivers were very friendly as they zipped past me in their fast little cars. But here I am, thank God, with no injuries but the ones I’ve inflicted on myself. My feet really do look like a podiatrist’s nightmare.

My husband wondered how I’d get by without reading material. He knows me well. I brought a magazine with me on the trip, and I decided to leave it at the Bungalow for the next occupants. I dropped every little thing I could spare to cut the pack’s weight, & I’m glad I did. But oh, I could go for something to read right now!

This trip is over the hump, & my husband & kids & home are coming in sight. It’ll be good to see them again. As soon as I get back home, it’ll be time to help my daughter pack for her departure to UNH. That seems awfully close now.

It’s nearly dark, and I’ve written enough. God grant me untroubled sleep & an uncomplicated day for tomorrow!