Second attempt the charm for father-son hiking team
In a Father's Day article in The News-Item about climbing mountains in New Hampshire, one mountain, Mount Potash, poised a challenge for this father-son team this past May. We were unable to climb this mountain and had to turn around because of a swollen stream at mountain's base.
Realizing that this mountain would be "there for another day," we returned this August to attempt to climb this 2,680-foot mountain located along the Kancamagus Highway near the town of Conway. Many hikers throughout the country described this hike as "a gem to take and easy to moderately difficult."
The four-mile round trip hike was undertaken on a bright, sunny day with temperatures in the mid-70s. As we approached Downes Brook at the base of the mountain, which forced us to turn around the last time, the stream with its cold water pouring off the mountain was lower but just as powerful in appearance. Using our hiking poles, we slowly trudged across the stream, eventually making it to the other shore. The trail immediately rose from the other shore and continued upward, leveling off briefly at times into evergreen and hardwood forests. The sunlight fluttered through the leaves, casting shimmers of light on the trail.
One of the most interesting characteristics of this trail was that the pathways were continuously covered with the roots of the adjoining trees and there were many large rocks and flat, slippery sheets of granite. These trails present challenges to hikers, especially as they go downhill, because they can easily result in a sprained ankle, a fall or other injury.
As we progressed up the final third of the mountain, the trail opened into a large, slanting granite ledge that we needed to carefully walk across through a side step type of motion. As we continued up the final steeper trail, it became apparent that the quarts of water that each of us were carrying on this warm day were important to have to prevent dehydration. Unlike our previous challenges on the other hikes in late May, preparation and organization through packing water, maps, extra clothing, snacks and hiking poles was vital and made this hike more enjoyable.
After overcoming a second, steep granite ledge near the summit, we finally reached the top, where there were panoramic views of the Swift River Valley highlighting the neighboring White Mountains. A calm and peace comes over hikers who take in such impressive views of the mountains and valleys.
Throughout the hike, which took 5 1/2 hours to complete, we encountered seven fellow hikers on this trail who were cordial and helpful.
As we slowly progressed down the mountain, we again encountered the infamous stream. Although this mountain "was there for another day," so was the cold, swift stream. The father member of this team lost his footing while crossing as the stream seemed to again exact its vengeance on these hikers.
Fatigued and drawn out from the mountain, this father and son team, although damp, had an enjoyable and memorable hike in the New Hampshire forest as we concluded the hike at the trailhead.