By Shamus McKim, NH Grand Intern, 2017-18
Many people come here to hike, ski, explore and try their best to see and do things they haven’t experienced. Possibly because their city life is lacking it, or maybe because they’ve heard the many stories and tales of what you can do up here. Whatever it may be, if you live in New England you’ve most likely heard of the North Country. You’ve probably heard the reviews
of the area and how awesome it was to hike up Artist Bluff and see the beautiful notch, or that the climbing was exceptional, or even that Cannon Mountain had a blue bird day for once! But rather than listen to the words from someone who had a weekend excursion of the area, take it from me. A local.
I’ve lived in Franconia, New Hampshire on and off over my lifetime (which is a whopping 18 years), and I’ve explored basically every corner of the globe from a place way down under in Auckland, New Zealand, to the smog stricken streets of Santiago, Chile. From the cobblestone walkways of Geneva, Switzerland, to the pointy mountain tops of Vail, Colorado. As fortunate as I have been to explore all these places, one might ask: why do I choose to stay here in this windy, vortex of a place? Well the first reason is that I can’t afford to live elsewhere, I’m a senior in high school, and I live with my parents. But outside the obvious, there’s just something about the place. The notch (Franconia State Park/Franconia Notch), has instilled a load of character into basically every person within a ten mile radius. It can be scary, it can be crazy, but it also can be beautiful, and you’ll find that it’s this way more than not. Franconia will give you a taste of what mother nature really can do, and it’s satisfying. It’s ultimately the world showing how inferior you are to it. It will make you feel short. It will make you feel vulnerable. It will make you feel like the minuscule life form that you are. But this is refreshing. It’s good for you! You need to be broken out of your bubble. You need to hike Lafayette and see the giant rolling mountain cascade into the distance. You need to walk through the giant waterfall crack in the flume. You need to ski Cannon top to bottom in -20 degree weather with wind blowing you up the hill.
These are the things that help you build character. They make you more appreciative of what the world has to provide. It makes you realize how important these things are in life, and most important of all, it makes you a better, more receptive, and tougher person. As it may seem that I’m making Franconia seem a somewhat hell hole of a place, which it is occasionally, it’s actually quite extraordinary and exceptional. From the mountain top of Cannon, to the naturally carved rocks of the basin, Franconia has it all. Just a 30-minute drive and you’ve got yourself one of the nicest hotels in the East at the one and only Mount Washington. You’ve got the ever so renowned Tuckerman’s Ravine, Kinsman Notch, beautiful Upper Falls, and the good old Cog Railway. There’s much to be had here for an outdoor enthusiast, especially that of a climber, skier, and overall adventure seeker.
For myself, I seem to be a jack of all trades. I’ve found myself climbing almost everyday at Tamarack Tennis Camp, bouldering the Notch pull offs, skiing throughout the entirety of this forever lasting winter, cliff jumping the area’s many roadside holes, and endlessly hiking the mountains just outside my door. It definitely suffices for someone who can’t stand still. Because of these many attributes I find myself never bored. Like ever. I like to pride myself in being an artistic person in the photography and videography sense. The North Country provides a boundless amount of picturesque sunsets, landscapes, wildlife, and much more. You have to be incredibly unwilling to go places and do something somewhat athletic to not be able to capture a new photo or video daily.
As I sit here today typing out a blog post, I see another beautiful suave sunset cascading over downtown shooting an orange and pink screen across the mountain range behind me and I see why I love this place so much. I see why I am always occupied. I see why I always miss this place when I’m away. That is why I love the notch. That is why I love to live here.