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GILA Hiking The Whites (Part Two) NH, Visiting Cape Cod, MA

The hike to Zealand Falls is about five miles and is moderate. I get there early enough to have the place to myself. From all my excitement, I forgot to take a picture. This waterfall is long, but what is unique about it is its angle (about 45 degrees) and the play of its flow around the rocks. It is a must-hike if you ever come to this area. I continue my hike and make the strenuous incline up the Appalachian Trail to a viewpoint halfway to Zealand Mountain. This viewpoint takes your breath away and lets you understand the magic in those mountains.

What a perfect day! In the end, my hike ends up being ten miles of heavenly pleasure and renewed energy.

I return for another night at the hotel parking lot, but this time, I "pay" for my parking spot as I treat myself to dinner.

The weather in The Whites is tricky. I feel blessed to have had such a gorgeous day yesterday. Today, the day starts with some drizzle. I drive to the North and Middle Sugarloaf trailhead to cook breakfast and wash up. Even though this hike is also considered moderate, it is only in comparison to the usual strenuous hikes around. The hike is up the mountain with a hugging forest. The smell of the pine trees feels like Christmastime, and the gentle songs of the birds are a peaceful melody.

I am thrilled when I am rewarded with a breathtaking view on a challenging hike. In the last several years, I have hiked many trails in The Whites, constantly pushing my physical strength. I have summited Mount Washington four times, each from a different starting point. Hiking in The Whites is all about perspective and pushing one's boundaries with love and respect for Mother Nature.

On my ascent to Middle Sugarloaf Mountain, I bump into a couple I talked to on the summit of North Sugarloaf Mountain. Amy and Scott are from New Hampshire. The conversation takes us to Newfoundland and the amazing experience Scott had there. I appreciate it when Scott reminds me that courage cannot exist without fear—so true.

Okay, sometimes I need to think outside the box and break some rules, not necessarily my own. Of course, I use logic to convince myself that it's okay. So, I am dying for a shower. iOverlander has no suggestions for my area. The only place that comes to mind is the communal showers at the AMC's Highland Center, a few miles away.

For many years, I was a member of the AMC, and every time I visited the area, I would combine my stay between the Highland Center and different Huts. So I know the place with my eyes closed. Of course, I convince myself that sneaking in to take a shower is a small reward for the years I was a certified volunteer hike leader. Anyway, I don't take without giving. I make sure to go at a time when it is not busy. I tip $5 to the cleaning guy who just finished cleaning the bathroom and leave $10 in the suggestion box. So far, I have paid 50 cents to $12 for a shower; $15 will cover it.

At this point, the weather has changed, and so do my plans. The heavy rain and wind put me back in the hotel. There is no point in heading to Conway for more hikes, as the spot I found on iOverlander for the night near Conway is on a dirt road. I try to avoid boondocking on unpaved roads in the rain.

Rainy days are writing days. I find a corner with a table and dive in to recall the events of the last few days. Typing my thoughts into writing always opens my soul to go deeper, creating a creative space for me to see life from different angles.

My corner at the hotel parking lot will be my home again tonight after I "pay" my dues with another dinner.

All night long, the sounds of the raindrops soothe my sleep. By early morning, the skies dry their tears, and the sun comes out—how wonderful!

A sunny day with green mountains and blue skies is the perfect day to travel to Cape Cod and visit old friends.

Leaving a place that means so much to me is simply sad. I drive slowly, not ready to let go. As I drive through Franconia Notch, I make one last stop at The Basin to enjoy the flow of the Pemigewasset River with its many waterfalls.

Johanna and I met on one of my trips to The Whites. We clicked right away and stayed in touch. I visited Johanna a few times at her house in Cape Cod and met her tenant, Heather.

Even though Cape Cod is a bit of a detour from my path home, I don't want to miss the opportunity to visit Johanna and Heather. I am disappointed when I learn that Johanna will be on her way to Alaska the day I arrive.

Heather and I share a passion for colors and paintbrushes. Heather is an artist who captures the beauty of The Cape on canvas. Her artwork is represented in a few galleries on the island ( I love her style and her relationship with texture and color.

It is lovely to catch up with Heather and spend an evening with her friends Linda and Deb, discussing books that captured our imagination and inspired us.

It is time to move closer to home and visit another state...

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