It was still hot at home, lows in the 70s and highs in the 90s, so we headed up to the Whites to beat the heat. I still had no luck on the web finding hikes to swimming holes, so I picked one of our typical ski routes: Ammonoosuc Ravine trail to the Gem Pool. My parents were in town and joined us.
The summer WMNF parking lot has a pit toilet and plenty of parking even though we arrived late. We had never skied the first leg from the summer lot to the Cog Railway spur trail. It looked tough to ski: one stream crossing, narrow, and lots of ups and downs. The Cog Railway has instituted new parking policies. We noticed they now have a specific hiker lot with a self serve pay station for $10.
After we joined the spur trail, Tyson and I recognized landmarks. It’s surprising how many boulders a good winter snow pack can smooth over. It looked to us like the Ammonoosuc River has carved out more chunks of trail since our last trip. We even found two bridges.
On the downside, we didn’t escape the sweaty weather. It was cooler than down south, but the dew point was about the same. So we were sopping wet. The rivers steamed fog up into clouds hanging on the sides of the presidential range. Isaac delighted in spotting slugs everywhere.
We stopped for lunch at the Gem Pool. Isaac wanted to go swim first thing. I changed him into just his shorts. The adults sat and ate lunch while Isaac stuck one toe in the water, and then balanced on top of the rocks to stay out of the cold water. After a few minutes he joined us for lunch.
The next section of trail is steep. When skinning up, we put our skis in our packs and use microspikes to climb. Tyson was curious about bushwhacking farther along the bottom of the ravine, but I thought we had a good chance of making it to tree line for a view. Isaac seemed enthusiastic.
We started the climb. Not far up, Isaac changed his mind and wanted to turn around. We convinced him to keep going with promises of views and more waterfalls.
Half way up the steep climb, there’s a side trail that we’d never taken in the winter. We took it this time and discovered it leads to a dramatic double water fall. And to a cliff where we worried about Isaac falling off into raging water below. Well worth the side trip if you are up there.
We continued up until the stream crossing. Both Tyson and I remembered it leveling off before the stream crossing and traversing. Somehow, in the summer time, it didn’t level off. Instead it required a ladder. My Dad pointed out it was 2pm and we aught to consider turning around. We hadn’t made it above tree line, but we had seen some good waterfalls.
Back at the Gem Pool, Isaac wanted to swim again. This time I joined him. Mom refreshed her feet in the cold water. For several hikes afterwards, Isaac referenced the Gem Pool as the “magic pool that makes feet feel better”.
We finished the hike with the flatter route out via the Cog Railway parking lot and road.