In the summer of 2013 my husband and I took a few hikes in New England. The hike to Mt. Lafayette along the Appalachian Trail stands out as one of the most beautiful. With mileage just over 8 miles, we give it an 8 in difficulty.
We spend the night in Lincoln, New Hampshire at an Inn and brewery called The Woodstock Station and Brewery. From here the White Mountains beckon. We began our day at the parking lot off of Falling Water Trail. The trail for the first hour was sandy with large sunken rocks. We hiked along the many falls up a comfortable grade before the tree roots of the spruce forest created natural stairs. We crossed rocky streams of clear water and then the forest receded, thinning out as the sky became big, blue and unobstructed.
-Map from 4000 Footers
We summited Haystack and then Lincoln, realizing that Lafayette was beyond another 1.8 miles. Species of low growth plants were blooming with the rock outcroppings. The climbing up and down wasn’t easy, and one must be sure-footed at all times. Mounting Lafayette proved to be amazing after waiting 15 minutes for the grey windy clouds of midst to pass. The trip down was the most difficult as large rocks were loose along the trail.
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) hosts hikers at the Green Leaf Hut, though it is a significant amount of mileage off of the AT. It was nice to sit there to take rest within view of the Franconia Ridge.
I’ve been working on a poem to pull together a few hikes from that summer. We were caught in a storm the day before hiking Mt. Lafayette while attempting to summit the Beaver Creek trail nearby.
The Appalachian range takes the sky to see
it was known to my ancestors, taller
before feet and storms crossed the spine and half the range crumbled
so unlike the stability it promises to hikers.
In my blood, my body aware, is drawn
ten hours from home
I travel far to find something of myself
a new life in New England
where the Presidentials are laid out
the White Mountains –Washington, Mt. Adams, Jefferson.
I’ve come to climb the peaks at Mt. Lafayette where
I follow many footsteps
those that link Georgia to Maine
And what did I find–
A storm came quickly, shaking the magnetic rock
waterfalls began to pool together
to make streams of clear water
over the faces of flat-paved rock.
At haystack, the base
the trees claw and stretch their legs like a relaxing spider–
the earth is soft between them. The fingers
drying after the morning storm.
An accomplishment of the 3,800 feet at the top, the exhaustion
a New Hampshire day in view of the distant mountains hiding their heads above the clouds
standing through the rain
letting the juice seep into the bones and nourish the desperate feeling of necessity when it is given.
This is what enters the mind at fatigue
the importance of simple food drink exercise
and at the root of it–
determination of the self
this is what enters the mind at fatigue
the things that don’t matter are driven away
allowing more important things to enter.