Yesterday, I traveled mostly north. Today, I turned west. As I look down the highway, I see the whole continent laying before me.
My headphones have shorted out. I might be able to tape them so they work again, but for the past two days I have been alone with my own thoughts. That, and the creaking of my bicycle trying to carry my weight and the weight of the gear. It hasn’t been as bad as I thought and I might just continue this way for a while before fixing or replacing my headphones.
The traffic was intense along US 302 between Fryeburg and Conway, NH. Fortunately, there was a large shoulder. In Conway, the traffic heading east was bumper to bumper and they had trouble making any progress. It looked like they were fleeing a natural disaster. They were heading away from the mountains, so I don’t know where they were going.
I also noticed a large number of people on motorcycles today. Sometimes alone; sometimes in group up to a dozen.
After Conway, I turned onto the Kancamagus Highway (NH 112), where the traffic was not nearly as bad. It follows the Kancamagus River up the mountains. Kancamagus (“The Fearless One”) was the last “Sagamon” of the Penacook Confederation (I have no idea what a Sagamon is, but assume it is some kind of head of the Confederation). Kancamagus tried to maintain peace between the native people and English settlers, but constant harassment by the settlers caused him to go to war. The Confederation ended up scattered through northern New Hampshire and Canada.
I little sign about the highway recommends, “Take your time and enjoy your drive.” I don’t think I have much choice in the matter as I slowly climb into the mountains. The climbing part of today’s ride was not so bad. It was a gradual climb that stated slowly and built up a bit. However, it lasted for miles and miles. I still have not reached the crest of this range. I think I am about five or six miles away. I will crest it fairly early tomorrow morning, then it should be about 15 miles down the other side.
I met a woman whose grandfather rode a single speed fromMassachusetts to Los Angeles back in the 1920’s, back before there were highways. She said, judging from the stories he told he was lucky to survive. Like the time he lept on top of some hay bales. When he got into town the next morning, someone asked where he had slept. When he told them the hay bales and they were very comfortable, they asked if the noise bothered him. “What noise,” he asked. “Those hay bales are full of rattle snakes.”
I am going to try to take fewer days off. I think I should moderate my rides and continue each day. Today, I stopped early at about 3:00 p.m. I probably could have gone further, but felt that if I did, I would really feel it tomorrow. Plus, there was a campground on the side of the road that was first come/first served. About half of the sites were still available. Stopping early allowed me to take a nap this afternoon, which was nice. When I finished my nap, it looked like all the vacant sites around me had filled up. With a long downhill tomorrow, I should be able to make good progress. Of course, once I finish the downhill, there is another range of the White Mountains after that.
The White Mountains are really beautiful. I think I took too many pictures, and the pictures probably don’t do the mountains justice. I can see why this is a popular section of the Appalachian Trail.
I am really considering getting a citronella candle. I have insect repellant, but that only goes so far. It would be nice to be able to clear out the whole area. I have never used a citronella candle, so I don’t know how effective they are. In this campground, there are insects that look like large ants about half an inch long. Most of them have wings, which makes me think they are some kind of small wasp. I haven’t been stung, though, so maybe not. Also, I think I have seen some that do not have wings.