“Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea.” ~ Mikhail Lermontov
Growing up in the White Mountains, I hiked year round.
Yes, even in the winter.
Do I like torture?
Nope not particularly.
I get the trepidation of winter hiking; its cold, threats of avalanches (which is a very real concern, it may not be Everest, but Mount Washington has had its fair share of them) you need special equipment, you need to dress correctly so as to avoid hypothermia, and did I mention it is cold? No, winter hiking doesn’t sound that fun does it?
For this warm blooded girl, I swear it actually is!
Winter and summer hiking literally are night and day, the obvious weather aspects aside. In many ways winter hiking can actually be easier then summer, because the trails tend to be more even, and it isn’t as hard on the joints. The scenery also tends to be out of this world.
Literally I feel Like I have walked into another world.
Awhile back I mentioned Arethusa briefly when I talked about short half day hikes and then I mentioned this glorious mountain again when I did my annual New Years Day hike. Well this beauty deserves some more much needed fame time. ESPECIALLY with Winter roaring it’s chilly head.
For full disclosure, this is one of my favorite hikes. I usually hike it four or five times a year and I don’t live in New Hampshire anymore! It is that amazing! It is also incredibly quick if you just hike to the falls. There is another trail that goes to Frankenstein Cliffs, but that is a much longer hike though the views are worth it, if you have time.
If I really want to be Wonder Woman, I can hike it in a little over an hour. Most guides say to factor in three hours. It is three miles round trip, and usually the rule of thumb to hiking is an hour a mile which can be pretty conservative especially for easier hikes like this. I usually find two is plenty of time to hike to the falls, have a yoga photo shoot, and hike back.
What makes the most famous waterfall in New Hampshire, so spectacular? Firstly, you can get up close and personal, though I warn you at your own risk. While it comes in at 140 feet, the pool is actually quite shallow. Making it, especially when it has not rained much, easy to get closer to the base of it.
When I was little you were even able to climb to the top where you would get spectacular views. The last time I hiked it, was right after Irene and, let’s just say it was a little Bear Grylls-esque. I haven’t attempted it since.
While it is stunning during the summer and fall, it transforms into a snowy icy winter wonderland landscape. I imagine it is what Antarctica would be like, albeit much much colder. Everything is covered in snow and ice. The river and stream that during the summer you have to carefully choose each step on slippery rock, has now frozen over creating endless options to explore. The monstrous waterfall, that comes crashing down is a frozen cascade of icicles. It is truly an awe inducing sight. With micro-spikes, you can easily walk up the waterfall about halfway. In fact you might even see ice climbers there, when the waterfall has truly frozen.
While I do not like the cold, I do make exceptions for this. Arethusa while beautiful during the warmer months is a truly magnificent sight during the winter. I have been hiking this for years, with hurricanes, winter storms, and nature always switching it up, Arethusa has transformed through the years. What use to be one big gentle river is now two streams with an island in the middle. New paths and erosion are always giving me different perspectives. It is an incredible representation of the strength of mother nature, and what can be created as well as destroyed in the blink of an eye.