2020 Year in Review, White Mountains

The Pemigewasset River near the Flume Visitor Center in Franconia Notch State Park in Lincoln, New Hampshire covered in snow on a cloudy autumn day.
Pemigewasset River – White Mountains, New Hampshire

2020 Year in Review, White Mountains – As the year comes to an end, I am still trying to understand this pandemic. And I am also still trying to grasp how badly overrun the White Mountains have been this year. While there appears to be a vaccine for the virus, there is no immediate solution for the current human impact issue here in the White Mountains.

If you live in the White Mountains region, did you ever think the outdoor community would be fighting about the definition of “local” and vehicles at trailheads being vandalized just because they have out-of-state license plates? With social media fueling the fire, this year has been an awful display of what the White Mountains outdoor community is all about. For better or worse, social media has changed outdoor recreation.

Graffiti on rocks along the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, near Lincoln Woods Trail, in the New Hampshire White Mountains in August 2020.
East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, near Lincoln Woods Trail (Aug. 2020)

Overuse (human impact) has been a problem throughout the history of the White Mountains, but I think 2020 has woken up many outdoor enthusiasts to how bad the problem has gotten. And while most of us don’t physically mark up nature, like above, being a responsible steward of the White Mountains involves more than promoting leave no trace principles, completing hiking lists, volunteering to do trail work, and ranting on social media about trail etiquette. Outdoor enthusiasts have to also be willing to give up personal agendas and work together for stewardship to be successful. It will be a group effort to conserve the Forest in the 21st-century.

Small cascade on a tributary of Lost River in Kinsman Notch in North Woodstock, New Hampshire.
Tributary of Lost River – Kinsman Notch, New Hampshire

Because of all the state restrictions put in place throughout 2020, my plans were changed early on in the year, and I ended up shooting local. I spent time in the Kinsman Notch area documenting various segments of the Gordon Pond Railroad (1907-1916). Because of drought conditions this year, the brooks and rivers were extremely low. The above tributary of Lost River I have never seen so low.

The abandoned Tripoli Mill in Livermore, New Hampshire during the autumn months.
Tripoli Mill – Livermore, New Hampshire

I also spent time documenting the short-lived Woodstock & Thornton Gore Railroad (1909-1914). One of the more interesting features of this abandoned logging railroad is the old Tripoli Mill site in Livermore. Owned by Charles B. Henry, son of the timber baron J.E. Henry, this mill dredged East Pond for diatomaceous earth (also called Tripoli) during the early 1900s. Diatomaceous earth has many uses; it is used as an abrasive in metal polishes. The railroad traveled through the mill complex.

Street bridge, which crosses the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway (Route 112) in Lincoln, New Hampshire on a cloudy winter morning.
Kancamagus Scenic Byway – Lincoln, New Hampshire

2020 has been an eye-opening year for me, and I am sure for a lot of other people. And like many of you, I am looking forward to putting this year in the rearview mirror, and I really have little to say at this point. So have a happy and safe holiday season. And never stop exploring the White Mountain National Forest – you might just find what you are looking for.

To license any of the photos in this blog article for publications, click on the photo. And you can read more blog articles focused on the New Hampshire White Mountains here.

Happy image making..


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6 Responses to “2020 Year in Review, White Mountains”

  1. Robert

    Thanks so much, Love reading your blogs, this one is again inspiring. Have a great new year.

  2. Miranda Gatewood

    Thanks so much for your great posts, but mostly for your stewardship of nature and selfless point of view. I realize how blessed we are to have these spaces. 

    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Miranda,

      I am glad you enjoy my blog articles. And I agree, we are blessed to have the White Mountain National Forest and other public lands to enjoy.

      Happy Holidays, and stay safe.

  3. Mike Saltmarsh

    Hey Erin, I get your alerts and always check out your great posts, though I don't reply often. I think this is especially a well-written, hearfelt exemplification of hiking and 2020. Thanks.


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