Once again we pitched up our tent. This time in Hancock Campground, making sure to cover it with our tarp. There was still a strong threat of a storm so we weren’t taking any chances. We were also met with a sign stuck to the table warning us that we were once again in bear country. Still yet to see a bear in the wild, we weren’t convinced that we were going to be meeting one tonight either!
Whilst I got the tent prepared with our sleeping bags and pillows, Barry went off to get some firewood. Tonight he was going to be cooking us some jacket potatoes again. Once he arrived back with the wood, he started to make a fire. When he couldn’t get the fire to stay lit, he suddenly realised that the wood was damp following the showers we’d had earlier in the day. The numpty had taken the wood from the top of the pile which was kept outside! It took a long time to get the fire going that night and lots of foraging for twigs and sticks to keep it topped up. We were determined to have jacket potatoes though so we stuck with it and with a lot of perseverance; we were able to eat them for our dinner.
The next morning we were up early, as we had to pack up our tent and make our way down The Kanc. First though, we stopped to take a walk down to the river, which ran directly at the bottom of our campsite. We fell asleep to the sound of the river raging, so we just had to see what was making all the noise. Once we reached it, it wasn’t a mass of gushing water like the noise suggested, it was just a shallow stream. However, it was very rocky so the water that was flowing down continuously hit the rocks, which caused all the noise.
Having checked out the river, we headed to the start of the days hike. We were going to be doing a 3-mile hike to the Franconia Falls. I’d read that you could swim there and that there was a natural rock slide so we were excited to try it out. However, we also knew that the water would probably be freezing, so we just packed our swimming attire in a bag and hit the trail.
This time the trail was a properly laid path so not merely as exciting as the last one. However we were surrounded by woodland and with that the mushroom obsession was born…
After we’d spotted one on the trail, it seemed to become our mission to point out every mushroom we saw and the more unusual they were the better.
Once we’d reached the end of the path, we came across a sign that pointed us towards the falls and into the woodland. The man made path disappeared and we were back to scrambling over branches and through mud. We could hear the river running alongside us behind the trees but it didn’t sound like a big waterfall so we were dubious as to what we were going to find.
After about 10 minutes of walking, we came to a clearing in the woods, so we headed out. We were met with a gushing river, falling from some massive rocks – We had found Franconia Falls! Not the waterfall we were imagining, but a sight to see none-the-less. We perched ourselves on a rock and ate the lunch we’d packed. There were a group of kids playing around on the rocks opposite us. One boy decided to go for a wonder, when he found himself at the top of the waterfall opposite us. He sat down at the top of it and before we knew it, he was sliding down between the rocks, over the waterfall and plunging into the pool below. He looked pretty cold when he got out, but this didn’t stop him from running back up the rocks and pushing himself over the fall again.
Straight away I said I wanted to do it but Barry didn’t seem as enthusiastic. Whilst I was deciding if I actually had the courage, Barry jumped up and started to get changed into his trunks. He had to hide behind a tree as there were quite a few people around and no one wants to see that sight! Whilst I was still sat contemplating if I actually had the balls to do it, Barry made his way to the top. I was all prepared with the camera in hand and as soon as he sat down, he was off and over. The current was so strong where the water was hitting the pool, it was difficult to swim to the edge and pull yourself back out. I watched Barry struggle, silently chuckling to myself. Once he was out, he was shaking the water was so cold.
I soon decided I wasn’t going to let him take all the glory by being the only one of us to take the plunge, so I got behind the tree and changed into my bikini. I made my way to the top of the rocks and looked at the water below, thinking about how cold it was going to be. I dipped my hand it – yep, it was freezing. At this point, a few more people had arrived and were gathering round. I couldn’t back out now, so I stepped into the raging water and lowered myself down. Once I got the thumbs up from Barry that the camera was rolling, I let go and the water pushed me over the edge. Within a second I was flying off the rocks and plunging straight into the water below. I must have closed my eyes as I hit the water because when I opened them and peered up, it looked as though I was miles below the surface. The cold had hit me instantly, so much so that it took my breath away and I was gasping for air. I quickly swam to the surface and when I reached it, it was a mad dash to get to the edge and pull myself out. The force of the water was so strong it felt nigh on impossible and my body was so cold I couldn’t get myself to swim properly. All I could muster was a doggy paddle. Whilst I was desperately trying to scramble out, Barry was trying to talk to me, but I couldn’t get the words out. It was like the wind had been knocked out of me and my body was in shock. Still it was fun and this didn’t stop either of us from doing it again!
Once we’d both been over Franconia Falls couple of times, we lay out on the rocks to dry ourselves out. We hadn’t bothered to bring a towel, as we didn’t think we would actually be going in the water. Luckily the sun was beating down on us so we dried out pretty quickly. Now though, we had to get changed and there were lots more people around than before. I went down a dip in the rock surface, hoping it would shelter me. It kinda worked, although I did end up with a few leaves and small twigs in my pants! Now we just had to do an hour and half trek to get back to the car, which meant more ‘shroom spotting and some very tired legs at the end of it.
When we did eventually make it back to the car, we were pretty exhausted, so bypassed another trek we had planned to another waterfall. Instead we headed straight for our next campground – Blackberry Crossing. This campground was built on an old CCC site. CCC stands for Civilian Conservation Corps, which was a work relief programme for young men back in the 1930’s. They were sent out to work on the conservation and development of natural resources. All that was left of the site that they would have lived in was a couple of old chimney breasts.
Whilst we were yet again putting up our tent (we had quite the routine going now) the camp host came over to speak to us. All the sites we’d been staying in were government run parks, so you just had to drop your money in an envelope and post it in the box provided. You didn’t have to formally check in with anyone and as a result they were exceptionally cheap. All the sites did have a host in case there were any problems, but this was the first time one of them had ever spoken to us. She was a lovely lady and gave us a brief history on the park and even told us some of the places we should visit nearby.
Once we were all set up we took a drive to the Albany Covered Bridge. We’d seen these before in Madison, Iowa, but we weren’t able to drive through them. This one you could. So we braved putting the GoPro back on the roof (we’d since purchased a new suction mount for it) and we drove on through.
It didn’t fall!!
Faith had been restored.