Roy Family Wedding Fun, Franconia Notch & the Mahoosuc Range

My last blog post was quite morbid, so this one is much more joyous. This past weekend we were in Maine for a wonderful family wedding. Billy (my first cousin) and Ashley married each other on North Peak at Sunday River in Newry. The bride and groom are dedicated hikers working on their New England 4,000 footers. The entire weekend brought back great memories of the adventures that Debbie and I had before kids, including our own assault of the 4,000 footers. It was an amazing event with a hiking theme that was unique and lovely.


Debbie, the kids, and I drove up on Friday. We made a mini adventure out of the trip. It was my first time in the White Mountains this year. Debbie has been there four times in the past month. The kids each got to experience the hills of New Hampshire as well. Shepard did AMC Teen Wild Camp in July. He got to rock climb, hike, paddle and have a ton of fun. While he was away, Debbie took Dahlia to Joe Dodge Lodge and Madison Spring Hut.


They climbed Mt. Madison, a hill the kids were thwarted from summiting on a prior trip. When she picked Shep up from camp, they did a short backpacking trip that included the summits of both Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams. Now, Dahlia is jealous. She has to bag Adams too. Then, the weekend before last, Debbie was at the Highland Center in Crawford Notch leading the AMC Women’s Trail Running & Yoga Retreat. She will reprise this event for the third time in 2020.



So they had all kinds of White Mountain fun and I missed out. That wasn’t the case during this wedding weekend as all four of us did a short hike on Friday afternoon to the top of Mt. Pemigewasset in Franconia Notch. We had a spectacular view. This split up our drive and avoided the nasty I-95 traffic on the alternative route. We got to Sunday River around 6:30 P.M. in time for a gorgeous sunset.



On Saturday morning, I got out for a solo bike ride. I explored the Sunday River valley, riding parallel until the road turned to dirt, and then rougher dirt. When the road was about to turn to a trail and head straight into the mountains, I turned around. I saw some cool stuff on this ride including an old covered bridge, gravestones from the early 1800’s, Frenchman’s Hole (a lovely waterfall and pool), and lots of critters. It was nice to ride for two hours and only see five motor vehicles.



After the ride, we held a mini-Roy Family hike up to Jordan Bowl. We were staying at the Jordan Hotel, so it was only 1.5 miles to the top of the nearest hill. We earned our view of the Mahoosuc Range, and it was spectacular. It brought back memories when Debbie and I did the Grafton Loop Trail (and Old Speck) 11 years ago. All weekend we were fortunate to have such great weather. It was cool and sunny. When there were clouds in the sky, it added texture, contrast, and beauty. Many members of our hiking crew hadn’t been together since our 2017 Mount Katahdin Adventure. That trip was awesome in its own right. We didn’t get to Katahdin on this trip, but the presence of that great mountain was felt.



I’ve never skied at the Sunday River, but now I want to check it out. It’s a large resort with a lot of terrain. We got to see some of it on this hike. Some of us returned to the hotel to prepare for the wedding while Debbie, Shep, Alex (my nephew) and I made a five-mile loop before returning to the hotel. We had a great time and I think Alex discovered that hiking is for him. He previously hiked Mt. Washington with his Dad, and we told him we would take him on more trips as we go all of the time.


The wedding was hiking themed, which was very cool. The ceremony was in the late afternoon outside the North Peak Lodge. We had to take the “chondola” to this sub-peak. Debbie and I were dressed up, but still elected to take a chairlift up. I think late at night after the reception, and for obvious reasons, everyone was required to ride inside a gondola on the way down. That’s OK. We had a blast doing both. The ceremony and reception were a blast. It was so good to see all our Roy Family and friends. Billy’s father Phil is my Mom’s younger brother. They are two of seven brothers and sisters that hail from Upper Frenchville in Aroostook County. “The County” was well-represented at this wedding.



I could go on and on about the wedding. It was such an amazing production. Every little detail had a connection the outdoors. Even the speeches given by the Maid of Honor, the Best Man, and the Groom’s brothers featured nature and adventure. It was my kind of wedding!



On Sunday morning, I got up really early and drove down the access road into Bethel, and west to Gilead. I parked at the picnic area just east of town and then rode my bike to Rt. 113 which is better known as Evans Notch Road. I took it south as it parallels the state line. I stopped a few times to take photos. The pavement was fresh, like a week old, and the weather was cold, but spectacular.

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It was chilly but refreshing. I didn’t have enough time to do a full Evans Notch Loop, but I’ll have to return. I settled for an out and back. When I got to the point where the road crosses into New Hampshire, I reversed my direction. As I made my way back towards Gilead, I took a detour on a dirt road that headed for a campground deep in White Mountain National Forest. I followed this for 10 minutes and then again turned back. My ride was about 27 miles and like the day before, I could count the number of motor vehicles encountered on one hand.


I was back at the hotel in time for a late breakfast and to say goodbyes. We packed up and then made our way west across the top of New Hampshire. We took this route to avoid the crazy ME/NH/MA traffic. It was a wise decision. My only regret was that the high peaks looked magnificent and we didn’t have time to stop and hike. It is rare to see Adams, Madison, and Washington without a cloud in the sky. It would have been an awesome day to venture up high. Alas, it was not to be as Monday and work were the priority.



We made a few stops in Vermont, at a rest area and at the Putney Co-Op. Then, we stopped for an early dinner at Paul & Elizabeth’s in Northampton, MA. Chances are we will be back in Maine at this time next year. The venue hasn’t been chosen yet, but Billy’s brother Danny (Debbie’s “go-to” ultra pacer) is getting married too. That may not be our only Maine wedding as at least one other cousin (Andre) is slated to get hitched in the Pine Tree State. It was great to see so many Roy Family members and we are already plotting our return. Katahdin is calling. Katahdin is always calling.



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