Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Keeper of Lost Ladies

Nestled high in the White Mountains, only eight miles from the breath taking Franconia Knotch,
is the most photographed waterfall in the state of New Hampshire. The Coppermine Trail branches off of the Coppermine Road on the southward direction of Rt 116 (easily reached from I-93 North). The morning was, to use a New England euphamism, "wicked cold", about 28° F. The main attraction to getting up at 4:45 in the morning was a combination of wanting to try out the winter gear (really, how warm can all of these layers of thermal wickable material keep you? As it turns out, very! And also, since it being the weekend of Hallowe'en (my favourite holiday), it was rumoured that there is a ghost-town somewhere in these hills.

The story goes like this. The European settlers, under the belief in manifest destiny, and being given "dominion over the earth and subdue it", found a particularly rich vein of copper in the area, and started to build their town. However, when they returned in the morning, they would find the previous days work dismantled. They questioned the native americans who were snickering behind their hands (I'm guessing), and it was explained that the spirits didn't want them to build there (it was a burial site), and would dismantle their labours. They tried and tried again, the buildings were repeately taken down as if my magic (or gremlins). Eventualy they just gave up, and only the foundations remain as a testament to their follies.

The other claim to fame for the area involves the lovely actress Bette Davis. Tired of her life in superstardom, and basically at the beck and call of Warner Bros, the longed for the romance ad stark beauty of Franconia Knotch, and it was here that she purposfully got lost at the end of the Coppermine Trail at Bridal Veil Falls, and was rescued by the object of her affection, Mr. Arthur Farnsworth. They fell in love, but as befitting of moviestar love, it ended tragically with his death. Evidently Bette left a plaque on a boulder in the middle of Coppermine Brook, dedicated to Arthur "Keeper of Lost Ladies" Farnsworth. I did search for this plaque, but couldn't find it at all, but I will look again in warmer weather.

The trail is roughly two and a half miles long, is mostly level with only a few up-grades, and is a great hike. Along the way, the brook had frozen on low hanging branches, and there were ribbons of ice that looked alot like the "gypsum flowers" found in some caves. Just watch your footing on some of the rocks in te trail as they are loose, and the falls themselves at the end of the trail were well worth the early morning hike and freezing temps!

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