2021 Year in Review, White Mountains

2021, the Flume Covered Bridge in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire covered in snow on an autumn morning. This picturesque bridge crosses the Pemigewasset River.
Flume Covered Bridge – Flume Gorge, New Hampshire
 

2021 Year in Review, White Mountains – As the year comes to an end, I don't have much to say. And like many of you, I am looking forward to the start of the new year. What a year it has been! This year I am going to keep it short and just make a handful of comments about my favorite images of 2021.

Over the last few years, all we have heard about is how overrun the White Mountains are now. And I agree it is an issue that needs to be addressed. Our trailheads are overflowing into the streets, mountains summits are overcrowded with peakbaggers looking for the perfect selfie, and campgrounds are beyond capacity. But because of the "off the beaten path" locations I have been documenting over the last two years, I have seen almost no one in the White Mountains. Serenity still can be found in the White Mountains.

Scarface Brook in Bethlehem, New Hampshire during the autumn months. This brook is a tributary of the South Branch of the Gale River.
Scarface Brook – Bethlehem, New Hampshire
 

I started documenting the Gale River Settlement in Bethlehem this year. This was the location of an 1800s mill settlement, the Gale River Railroad (1874-1921) ended at this settlement, the Profile & Franconia Notch Railroad (1874-1878) traveled through it, and a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was also in the area. I will be shooting more of this area in 2022. In the general area of the settlement is Scarface Brook (above), a tributary of the South Branch of the Gale River.

Mt Tecumseh, August 2021 - A tree wound on a birch tree along the Mt Tecumseh Trail in New Hampshire.
Trail Blaze Tree Wound – Mt Tecumseh Trail, White Mountains
 

By choice, I documented almost no human impact in 2021. However, for the ninth year in a row, I photographed the healing process of a human-made tree wound (above) along the Mt Tecumseh Trail. If you’re a trail steward or hiker, view this image series; it promotes the importance of proper trail blaze removal practices.

(Poor trail stewardship practices were used to remove a painted trail blaze from this tree – causing the tree wound. A trail blaze was painted on this tree in 2011, and then it was removed from the tree in the spring of 2012. The bark, where the blaze was, was cut and peeled away, creating a tree wound where rot, fungus, and insects could enter the tree. Most trail maintenance organizations in the White Mountains no longer use this practice of blaze removal because it damages trees and goes against leave no trace principles.)

Remnants of an abandoned wooden dam on Tecumseh Brook in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire during the autumn month of October.
Tecumseh Brook – Waterville Valley, New Hampshire
 

Much of my focus in 2021 involved revisiting locations to photograph them. When it comes to historical sites, photographing them is sometimes a two-step process. The first step is locating the site, and the second step is going back to photograph the site in ideal conditions. I have visited the old dam above many times, but because of numerous reasons, I have never been able to get a good photo of it until this year.

Autumn foliage on Little Coolidge Mountain from along the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River in Lincoln, New Hampshire on an autumn October day. This mountain was logged during the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad era (1893-1948).
Little Coolidge Mountain – Lincoln, New Hampshire
 

The autumn season in the White Mountains is one of my favorite times of year to photograph the region. This year it seemed like every time I went out shooing, it was cloudy and overcast. However, I did have a few good days. Little Coolidge Mountain (above) is one of the first mountains J.E. Henry logged when he moved his logging operation to Lincoln.

Soldiers Park in the village of North Woodstock, New Hampshire early in the morning during the month of January.
Soldiers Park – North Woodstock, New Hampshire
 

The White Mountains region of New Hampshire is magical. And at this point in my life, I can't imagine living anywhere else. I hope my work inspires you to explore as much of the White Mountains as you possibly can. Never stop exploring, and don’t be afraid to take the path less traveled. Have a happy and safe holiday season.

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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Erin Paul is a professional photographer, writer, and author who specializes in environmental conservation and historic preservation photography in the New Hampshire White Mountains. His work is published worldwide, and credits include; Backpacker Magazine, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and The Wilderness Society.

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