The abundant and unique natural features found within Evans Notch are part of a somewhat hidden, or a least less-frequented side of New Hampshire. The Notch has a look and feel to it, both from the road and on the trail, which speaks of wild scenery and a rich backcountry. Yet, not all visitors realize that many locations like this were once the battlegrounds for some very shortsighted and massive human disturbances (timbering, namely). While the large-scale devastation has been contained and the land revitalized thanks to the Weeks Act, regular small scale disturbances still exist; and can quickly add up. Places that lie within a short walking distance from the road tend to get the brunt of misuse, which can occur even in places that seem isolated and out of reach, like Evans Notch. An incredible amount of stewardship goes into maintaining the overall beauty and quality of this and other scenic areas. Yet, there is still work to be done; there is a story to tell and imagery to share about hundreds of areas in New Hampshire, and about the possibilities within places like Evans.
Rolling Green Waters at Emerald Pool
New Hampshire’s share of Evans Notch contains miles upon miles of hiking trails, surrounded by lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and several distinctive alpine mountain peaks. Not to mention a spectacular notch-corridor for pleasant and scenic driving. I recently had a day to explore and enjoy the Notch, and I had hopes of experiencing a little bit of everything in terms of the landscape. I plotted a hike along a pleasant loop that would take me to the Emerald Pool, up to Bicknell Ridge for a view of the Baldfaces, and down for a visit to the impressive and graceful Eagle Cascade (a total of roughly five and a half miles).
I began my hike at 8:30 am, which is a bit of a late start in my opinion but the best I could do. Ultimately, I wanted to enjoy the Emerald Pool before the crowds arrived, because at only .7 miles from the road it tends to be a popular swimming spot. And although I got there well ahead of any influx, I could have come away with some significantly better photographs of the pool if I’d only arrived about an hour and a half sooner (there was intense sunlight washing out the right side of the falls’ ledges, so I had to isolate my focus a lot more than what is normal for me and my style of photography). I spent about an hour photographing the intense green of the pool and listening to the rush of the water. I hiked onward as planned and spent another hour or so upon the ledges of Bicknell Ridge photographing the Baldfaces. From there, I walked to Eagle Cascade where I spent more time photographing, and then enjoying a tasty lunch of peanut butter and home-made blueberry-ginger jam on whole grain bread.
Bicknell Ridge: South Baldface View
On my way back down, I paid a second visit to the Emerald Pool but it was well occupied with boisterously loud visitors so I did not dare try and shoot it a second time. I did unfortunately happen upon some evidence of environmental disturbances such as trash and a couple of ill-placed fire pits alongside the river, complete with melted beer bottles and all.
Unfortunate Usage Mere Feet from the Emerald Pool
Evans Notch is a place worthy of a visit, and if you make your way here I offer this first bit of advice: Bring a camera. If you want to properly remember a place like Evans Notch and truly appreciate this lesser known side of New Hampshire, you need to capture it. While photographs are a great tool for aiding your own memories and storytelling, photos can also serve in the passionate individual promotion of conservation and stewardship. It is through our senses that we connect with the nature of a place, and it is my firm belief that photos, as both art and records, can truly galvanize that connection. It does no good to promote places like the Emerald Pool as “a great place to camp out and jump naked into a swimming hole”; this kind of description fails to convey any appreciation for the beautifully wild and diverse biome, and instead invites visitors to throw their cares aside and desecrate the area a little bit at a time. The damage caused by trash, riverside campfire rings, and parasitic hikers is no small deal if these types of locations are to ever be kept beautiful. Besides not trashing them in the first place, representing the Emerald Pool and other places properly and lovingly can go a long way.
If you’re serious about your photography like I am, be sure to bring a tripod and a polarizer. You may also consider bringing a range of lenses, as the variation in the size and shape of the subject matter in Evans Notch provides photographic opportunities and challenges alike. Take the water features for instance; some falls are tall and long, others are short and wide. In addition, this year’s rainfall patterns have been sparser than years past, which means that the waterfall landscape has a slightly different look. Some folks may have presumed an early end to “waterfall season” as a result, but not to me. I happen to like the change in volumes and flow, and I enjoy seeing New Hampshire just a bit differently this year over last.
Eagle Cascade: A Classic View
Indeed, the summer is winding down, and some of us have thought of how to have that last hurrah for the season. Some local photographers may have begun shelving their camera gear for a few weeks while they wait it out for fall foliage to arrive. But trust me; there are still things to do, places to shoot, and all kinds of natural areas to discover and appreciate. Don’t be afraid to pay Evans Notch a visit…you might just fall in love with it the way I have.
Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with me. We’ll see you again real soon!