A few weeks ago, our little family headed to a popular summer hiking spot: The Flume in Franconia State Park. This time of year the trail through the Flume is closed due to dangerous ice that develops through the notch. Rangers even remove the boards and steps that thousands of tourists walk on in the warmer months. However, we knew that we could still conveniently enjoy others areas of the park, especially since we have come to realize that Franconia Notch State Park can serve as our easily accessed local park with big rewards.
We walked around the visitor center, looking for the trail to the Sentinel Pine Bridge. Unfortunately, the rangers take down the majority of the signs making the trails unrecognizable and by the bewildered looks on other visitors faces, we were all confused by the maze of pathways. We walked behind the visitor center and a friendly couple pointed us in the direction of the bridge.
The trail wandered through a glacial boulder field and we had fun pointing out the big rocks. Alden even insisted on crawling under a big rock that created a little cave. We then spent the next 20 minutes playing in the cave, only to convince Alden that we should keep going so we could follow the 3 dogs (and their owners) who just happened to walk by.
We made our way to the bridge and the magnificent views of the Pemigewassett River. The views are stunning any time of year and while The Flume is typically overrun with visitors, this part of the park has significantly less people.
The bridge itself has a great story of being built in 1939 on top of a log that met its’ fate after the hurricane of 1938. The bridge was restored again in 1984. After taking in the water and bridge views from multiple angles, Lindsay remarked, “I like how massive the rock face looks from here.” Andrew responded, “I like how the moss clings to the rocks over there.” Alden then chimed in, “I like the tree.”
As we started to turn around and make our way home, Lindsay and Andrew were discussing something, when Alden said, “Wait you guys, I see something.” We turned back to see what Alden had spied. It was a closed section of boardwalk that had a stop sign across the entrance. We explained why we couldn’t walk up there, and then smiled to one another, proud that our little boy was turning into a little outdoor explorer, not wanting to pass by anything that might lead us to another interesting place.
The quiet of the afternoon settled in and with the regular walking rhythm, Alden was soon asleep. Instead of staying on the trail that would take us back through the glacial boulder field, we bushwacked 50 yards to the snowmobile/bike path which took us back to the parking lot.
Trying not to wake a sleeping 2 year old, Lindsay unclipped the carrier and was placing him gently in the car, when Alden stirred. In a half dream state, he whispered, “That was fun, Mommy, that was fun.”
And it was fun and continues to be fun watching Alden grow up and be excited to be in these outdoor adventures with us.