Harvey-the-RV  - Roadtrip 2009

 White Mountains, New Hampshire, USA

7th - 15th August 2009

Fishing the Peabody between showers

On arrival in the White Mountains area, we found ourselves south of the town of Gorham, in a Forest Service campground named Dolly Copp.   This was in honour of the Copp Family, original homesteaders in the area where the campsite was located.   Dolly herself achieved fame when, on her fiftieth wedding anniversary, she declared that fifty years was long enough to live with any man, packed her bags and left.

The campsite's convenient location on the Peabody River allowed a pleasant evening of fly fishing, once the rain stopped. 

Next day we took a drive northwards from Gorham along the route of the Androscoggin River, in search of more exciting fishing.     Just past the town of Berlin, we spotted a likely spot, with plenty of rocks and pools for some fish action.     By the time Phil donned his waders, fishing jacket and gathered all the necessary equipment it was around ten am.     As we scrambled to the water's edge from the Highway we passed a notice warning of scheduled water releases from the upstream dam.    Paying little heed, we headed into the river, Phil wading out into the faster water, Christine settling herself on a handy rock for a spot of serious daydreaming.  

Finding her toes beginning to get damp, Christine raised her feet a little higher and relaxed again.    Feet suddenly wet again, she noticed that the tide seemed to be coming in, fast.    Evidently the release of water from the dam coincided exactly with our arrival in the river.    Hurriedly calling the engrossed fisherman back to the safety of the shore, we returned to Harvey, watching the tide rise quickly behind us.     Now the water was flowing too quickly for any serious fishing but at least we hadn't been swept away!

We headed further upstream, past the offending Pontook Dam to seek out a safer spot.    Now we found ourselves diverted away from the river due to a road closure,   This wasn't to be our most successful fishing trip ever!    

After a brief visit to the quaint rural village of Errol, far into moose infested wilderness, we decided to return to our campsite and make the most of the fishing right on our doorstep.     Our return took us through another small village named Milan, which was celebrating its "Home Days" festival.     The festivities seemed to consist of the entire village becoming one massive yard sale, the streets lined with assorted junk on offer.    Somehow Harvey seemed to become entangled in the noon time parade.     This wasn't a particularly big affair and by twelve thirty, still crawling at parade speed through the village centre, we started to meet the beginning of the parade heading back in the opposite direction.    Harvey's first parade!

Pontook dam nearly swept us away!

Is that the front of the parade coming back, or the back of the parade starting out?

Content with having captured, petted and released half a dozen of the trout from the Peabody River, we headed south to the tourist trap of North Conway.   Not really our scene, we hid out in a commercial campsite for most of the day, taking care of chores.     On venturing out later, despite the whole area seemingly being one large traffic jam, we did come across the lovely Clearwater Fly Shop on the banks of the Saco river.    The friendly proprietor gave us handy tips about the local fishing spots and which flies were finding success.  He then walked us down to the river, where he threw out a handful of food to the large waiting trout residents, who snapped up their free lunch eagerly. 

Back at the campsite, we found we'd been joined by the neighbours from hell in the next site.    A family complete with small whinging boy being entertained by smashing things with a large hammer, Mum complaining at loud boy to stop whinging, whilst merrily puffing her cigarette smoke in our general direction and Dad with boombox, local radio and its countless commercials blasting out at high volume even when nobody was present to "enjoy" it.   Later they made an attempt at a campfire which completely filled Harvey with smoke.    These were things which reinforced our preference for the relative seclusion of the State and Forest Service campgrounds, where you could rarely see or hear your neighbours from your own campsite.

Rocky Gorge on the "Kank"

After spending a morning trying to escape North Conway, our attempts to locate the local grocery store leading us in circles via the next town and back again, we were beginning to feel a little like inmates from The Prisoner!    However, we finally escaped, fully re-provisioned and fled to the relative peace of the Kancamagus Highway, a scenic byway through the mountains, known locally as "The Kank".

Here, we set up camp at the Jigger Johnson campsite and set out to explore by bike.     Our first stop was a rather depressing historic site, an old homestead where in the 1800s the man of the house told his wife he was popping out for a while.    Despite her never giving up faith that he would return, lighting a candle in the window of her home every night to light his way home, he did not finally return until three years after her death.    During his absence of around forty years, he'd been off to explore the world, visiting South America amongst other places, never thinking, apparently to drop the poor wife a line.


Feeling adventurous, we headed uphill in search of a "bike trail" leading down to the river.   We finally located the "bike trail" and began peddling along the scary, overgrown gravel track.    Soon we began to wonder if we were really that keen to make it to the river, our trusty but aged bikes not really up to the demands off-roading.    Finally, fearing a serious spill due to our lack of off-roading experience and our bikes lack of much but rust holding them together, we decided to err on the side of caution and turned around, making it back to our campsite at the cost of only one puncture!

Already unsure, even at the well-groomed start of the trail!

Late that evening, an urgent call of nature forced Christine out into the absolute pitch dark of the nighttime campground in search of the bathroom.    She quickly returned complaining that her torch (flashlight) would only stay on for three seconds and then keep going out, refusing to relight again for half a minute or so and it was really, really dark.   Phil laughed on her trepidation and boldly volunteered to walk her to the bathroom.    It was only on stepping out into the dark that he too realised just how dark it was in the middle of the forest, at the dead of night on an overcast, moonless night.   As soon as the torch failed, we were plunged into the blackest dark we'd ever encountered, not even able to see the path in front of us.   We returned quickly to Harvey in search of some kind of light.   Finally the only portable light we found that actually worked was a rear bicycle light.   In the pale red gloom from this light we scurried quickly to the bathroom and back.     Batteries for every flashlight aboard were now top of our shopping list.   How pampered we RVers were compared to our tenting neighbours! 

Abandoning the perils of two-wheeled transport the next day, we decided to make the most of good weather and hike to the 2500' summit of Mount Hedgehog.   Classed as "moderately difficult", this hike involved a long climb through shady woodland to the open, rocky ledges at the peak of the mountain.    Here we enjoyed fabulous views of the White Mountains, whilst picnicking and discussing how this open mountain top would be no place to be in a thunder storm.    We packed up our picnic and continued the hike around the summit ready to  descend on the opposite side of the mountain.    Of course, on rounding the mountaintop and encountering the view in the opposite direction, we were faced with dark, menacing storm clouds and minutes later found ourselves right in the middle of a serious thunderstorm and downpour.     The only option available to us was to cower down in the relative shelter behind a large rock, water running off the rock and down over shoulders, straight onto our now soaked legs, whilst hoping the lightning wouldn't find us.    Luck was with us and we made it down off the mountain some time later unharmed but seriously soaked. 

Scrambling up Mount Hedgehog

Next day we moved further west along the Kank, arriving at Hancock Campground.    Here we spent the evening sitting in Harvey, listening to the torrential rain pounding on the aluminium roof, whilst being grateful we weren't in a tent, like many of our neighbours.

After being trapped in Harvey we were eager to hike again the next day.     Fishing rod and picnic packed, we headed up the trail opposite the campsite.    About five minutes into our walk, Christine managed to trip on an errant tree root, landing face down on the gravel trail.  Knee blooded and wrist and palm bruised but with mostly only wounded pride, we hobbled on to Black Pond.   This was a tranquil spot, off the beaten track except those beaten by moose and bear.   Here we spent a pleasant couple of hours fishing and watching the other inhabitants of the pond, newts and leeches going about their business.

Black Pond

Franconia Falls

Heading back from the pond, we rejoined the madding throng on the trail to the Franconia Falls.   We felt overdressed in our hiking gear when passed by bikini and flip-flop clad hikers, heading up for a dip at the falls.    Still we were glad we weren't wading through the muddy trail in only flip-flops!

We'd hoped to return on a trail we'd spotted on our map, on the opposite side of the river but on hunting around, completely failed to find the trailhead.    We finally had to retrace our steps but added interest with a spot of river fishing on the Pemigewasset on the way.


Christine's birthday came and passed without much event, as they usually did after a certain age.    We relocated to a commercial campsite to give her a chance to do the laundry, cleaning and internet chores in celebration.    

Unable to walk far with her sore knee, the birthday girl was then persuaded to paddle her husband around the stunning Profile Lake in the Franconia Notch State Park for a spot of fishing!

Beautiful Profile Lake

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