The weekend before New Year’s we headed 2.5 hours west to Bethel Maine. We would be spending the weekend with our youngest before heading back to the coast to celebrate New Year’s with friends. I heard that the father / daughter time of night skiing was “awesome”. I have never done down hill skiing so I decided that with a new hip, now was not the time to begin a sport that had the potential for a hip dislocation.
Our plans for the next day were to visit Grafton Notch and view Screw Auger Falls which “is right there, near the parking lot” and Moose Cave, further down the road. The next morning, we discovered 9 inches of fresh snow blanketing the area but the roads were relatively clear and the sun was shining, so we headed out towards the Falls.
When we arrived, we realized that we had neglected the fact that road plowing would take priority over parking lot parking. After parking along the side of the road, we proceeded to climb over the snowbank in order to enter the park. Trudging through the fresh powder we arrived at the Falls, where, to our daughter’s disappointment, we discovered the frozen Falls. I, however, thought that there was still a magical beauty to be found in this frozen landscape.
Our next stop was Moose Cave. Here, the parking lot had been cleared so there was no need to park along the road. As we stood in the parking lot, we looked across the street and watched the clouds skirt across the mountain; first casting the hill in shadow and then allowing the light to dance across the landscape. On this very cold, clear day this truly was an impressive sight.
Turning back towards the trail, once again we climbed over a snowbank in order to reach the trail below. After I took the sit and slide down the hill approach, we proceeded on the trail towards the cave. According to legend, a hunter heard a moose struggling while trapped in the cave. Instead of helping it escape, he killed the moose and served it up for dinner. However, I have not found any factual evidence to confirm the validity of this legend.
I have found many references to the varieties of moss and lichens in the park, but obviously they were not to be examined during this visit. When we reached the cave, we were treated to yet another scene of frozen elegance. The stalactites of ice, dangled from the rock face above, partially disappearing into the opening below. We stood in awe for some time, admiring the vision before us.
We finished up the 1/4 mile loop, said our farewells to our daughter and headed back towards the coast. It had been an inspiring day. I wondered about how much of nature’s beauty the average person misses by refusing to bundle up and head out into this enchanted world of winter. How sad!