The forecast spelled rain on a recent yoga and hiking retreat to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, so our group opted for an easier hike to Arethusa Falls: a short hike with a big payoff. Except the way I remembered the hike—taken more than 15 years ago with my then-boyfriend—was that it was grueling; steep uphills and narrow ledges that we pictured ourselves slipping off of into the ravine. I have the distinct memory of repeating “Are we there yet?” like a petulant 5-year-old and asking every hiker coming down the mountain how much farther till the end. I was 22 and had never exercised a day in my life.
But while I wasn’t looking forward to this “easier” hike, I was curious to see how it compared to the hike of my younger-self. My friend offered the right mix of encouragement (“Come on, let’s go!”), while reminding me I could stay in the lodge with a book (“The fireplace is calling…”). I opted to give it a go, and in addition to it being the perfect hiking weather (no rain, no jacket) it also turned out to be the perfect hike: barely an hour and not at all painful with a spectacular view. “We’re already there?” we said at the top. There’s something to be said for being fit and 40. But then maybe it was the snacks.
We’d been staying at the rustic and comfortable AMC Highland Center Lodge, so at the end of the weekend, we treated ourselves to a leisurely day exploring the majestic Mount Washington Hotel peeking into rooms, gazing at the mountain range, and making ourselves comfortable on the veranda. In other words, pretending we were guests at the expansive resort that’s housed presidents and world leaders, who, by our count, probably each had their own fireplace. A bit of a different feel than the lodge where rugged outdoorsy types traipse in, shrugging off giant backpacks and kicking of their muddy boots. In addition to myriad cafes and restaurants (and an old speakeasy in the basement called The Cave), the resort offers an exhausting array of activities: horseback riding, golf, biking and walking trails, indoor and outdoor pools, skiing, fly fishing, and rock climbing, but the clear appeal is its enormous wraparound porch that offers stunning views from every angle. Oh, look: another snow-capped mountain to admire amidst the peak foliage. Exhausting. I better just sit here on this wicker couch and rest.