After last weekend’s trip, we wouldn’t blame our friend Dan if he never wants to go camping with us again. We promised him clear views of the ruggedly pristine White Mountains, a relaxing campsite by a river complete with a roaring fire and jolly camaraderie, and a hike through gorgeous Franconia Ridge. Who wouldn’t want to go after hearing that? Our reality turned out to be quite different. Murphy’s Law plagued nearly everything we did over the stretch of two days. Long story short? We hate basins and thunderstorms.
We all packed into the car Saturday morning, breakfast sandwiches in hand, and began the drive up. Thick clouds covered the sky from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, but the possibility of storms didn’t register in our minds. We claimed a nice gravel patch by the river at Hancock Campground—a site Colin has sought after since we first tried to stay there. As we set up our tent and Dan secured his hammock, the sky darkened to an ominous gray and gave us a preview of the weather to come by splattering with sparse, yet heavy raindrops. No big deal, we thought. After setting up everything, including a protective orange tarp over Dan’s hammock (which reportedly smelled like vomit), we eagerly raced down to Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill before they closed.
Polly’s was probably one of the best parts of our weekend. The inside was reminiscent of an old, cozy, New England farmhouse, and our table was adorned with cute touches like red maple leaf shaped placemats and local goodies like maple spread and maple-infused sugar. The adorableness was overwhelming. We all enjoyed some unique, afternoon pancakes and buzzed with anticipation about the next day’s hike (and naturally grew more concerned about the weather). By the time we left, it was pouring, but at least there was a pony we could visit across the street! What’s better than pancakes? Pancakes and ponies. What’s better than that? Nothing.
Before settling at out campsite for the night, we stopped at Abbey Cellars to buy our ritual wine and cheese. Dan, being on the cusp of twenty-one, was not allowed to come with us. Inside, we were surprised by a free wine tasting, which took up a good fifteen minutes before we actually set out to find the perfect pairing. Meanwhile, Dan fell asleep in the backseat of the car while the thunderstorms intensified (Sorry, Dan…). We emerged with a bottle of Merlot and a cheese with a black tea leaf film. We then stopped at Rite-Aid for some rope to hang the tarp we brought for over the picnic table, and we were off.
Upon our return, our site was nearly flooded. Dan’s hammock and his pillow, despite the tarp, were soaked (our little pumpkin tent held up, though!). The fire pit was almost brimming with rainwater. It was dismal. The rain continued plummeting down on us at full force, so we donned our raincoats and went to work. We rigged the tarp so it hovered over the picnic table, and relocated the fireplace to halfway under our makeshift shelter. Somehow, we started a fire, attempted to dry out our clothes and raincoats (to no avail, naturally), cooked up some weenies, and indulged in some wine before heading to bed obnoxiously early. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, we now know how to equip our campsite to handle heavy rain!
The next morning, we found the rain had stopped—a fantastic sign! Except for the thick fog surrounding most of the mountains we saw on our way to breakfast, and the dark thunder clouds looming over some of the summits. We had to make a decision. We figured safety is priority, and it would really suck to get caught in a storm while hiking. Plus, the trails would likely be slippery and the mud thick and abundant. So, we opted out of Franconia for the weekend in favor of experiencing New Hampshire’s other natural wonders, like The Basin! This turned out to be a terrible idea. Also, remember that time when we wrote “safety is a priority” a few lines up? We lied.
Here’s the Sparknotes version of what happened. Dan and Colin decide to jump the fence in front of the Basin that specifically says “Do Not Cross Fence.” Katie decides to join them. Colin and Dan jump between high slabs of rocks and over a rushing stream to get a better view of the pool. On her way over to the other side, Katie falls right into the Basin itself (as only she could do), which was much deeper than anticipated. Fun fact about Katie? She can’t swim. Colin booked it down to the pool from where he was standing and dragged her out, essentially saving her life. A near drowning pretty much killed the mood for the rest of our time in New Hampshire, so we left as soon as we could, leaving The (Stupid) Basin and our stupid decisions behind.
So, that was our trip. We formally apologize to Dan for the terrible culmination of disaster that was last weekend. We’re sorry we promised you such an awesome trip and it failed so miserably. We’re sorry your hammock and pillow got soaked, and we’re sorry for laughing when you recounted how you fell out of your hammock while you were sleeping. We’re sorry you had to spend two days in wet clothes and shoes (on a related note, we’re sorry we forgot to advise you to bring a change of clothes). We’re sorry we left you in the car for so long while we were getting wine that you ended up not liking. We’re sorry we accidentally dropped your chicken sausage in soot while it was still cooking. We’re sorry we canceled the hike. We’re sorry you had to witness an almost-drowning. And most importantly, Katie is very sorry she asked you to sing that penguin song so many times. At least you got to hold Captain Feathersword for a while.
All jokes aside, please don’t be stupid like us and pretend signs are just there to protect stupid people from slipping, because not just stupid people encounter danger (although we’re certainly the poster children for dumb kids doing dumb things). The most experienced hiker in the world is still always at risk for danger, especially if they are tragically overconfident in their abilities. Thankfully, the situation ended far less worse than it could have. A lesson well learned in safety that we surely won’t forget for the rest of 48, or ever.