Overland Expo to TBEX: Franconia Notch State Park

After surviving our frenetic entrance to Franconia Notch and our first night in the new tent, it was time to explore. The rain had subsided to an occasional sprinkle so we could get out and see what New Hampshire was all about. My buddy Will Clay suggested this stop and I was looking forward to getting serious with my baby… that is, my camera.

Geocaching at Franconia Notch in between rains.

The Basin…

We started off at The Basin. It was an easy walk with amazing scenery, i.e. a very high rate of return on our adventure investment. There were some scattered other visitors but overall, it was very peaceful. I got a little bit of shooting time before Fred and George decided they couldn’t take the black flies anymore. They’d been playing fairly contentedly on the rocks but the incessant flies finally got the better of them.

Reluctantly, I agreed to go in search of bug spray since I’d overlooked packing it. We took a break and headed towards town in search of some relief so we could keep exploring. We did manage to secure some bug spray and, in a lovely moment of serendipity, even managed to find new sandals for Fred. Bonus!

On our way back to The Basin, we decided to have a look at the remnants of the Old Man of the Mountain and snag a New Hampshire geocache. We were successful in our hunt and headed back towards The Basin. The weather was holding out for us. It was damp and overcast with intermittent sprinkles but still a workable situation especially since I now knew The Basin was accessible without a huge time commitment. If things went sour, I knew we could get back to Blubaru fairly quickly and just hunker down in the tent back at camp.

Things indeed went sour but not at all in the way I was anticipating.

The walk into the basin was a delight of streams and rocks.

How to kill an iPhone…

So back at The Basin, I stopped to shoot this gorgeous flume carved in the rocks by the power of water. It’s a geologist’s dream, especially if you’re the type of geologist who goes giddy for surficial processes.

Anyway, the boys were content, no longer plagued by black flies, and I set to trying to capture the intensity of this rushing water and carved rock. Typically I set my phone in my pack when I’m shooting. I’ll take some images with my Mark III and then grab a few with the phone for Instagram purposes so I like to keep it quickly accessible. This, my friends, is foreshadowing… because I did not set my phone in my pack this time. My phone was still in the cargo pocket of my hiking pants.

The roar of the rushing water was deafening. Every now and then I’d give a quick look to get a visual on Fred and George but for the most part my face was buried in my viewfinder. I couldn’t hear anything but the sound of the stream working it’s erosional magic on the rocks.

The roar of the water over the rocks masked Fred’s plunge into the creek.

Not long into this scenario, I feel little George calmly tug at my sleeve. “Mom, Fred fell in the water.” I turned around to see Fred on his hands and knees, right smack in the middle of the stream. He looked scared but he wasn’t panicking… yet. I could tell he wasn’t in any immediate danger, just cold, wet, and unable to get out on his own. The water was moving extremely fast and the rocks were covered in slick algae. He simply couldn’t get enough footing to get out and had clearly tried several times on his own by the looks of his soggy body.

Wanting to get to him before he lost his cool, I headed over straight away. The logistics were horrible. The algae-coated rocks were a huge obstacle. I opted to just move very slowly, checking each step carefully. I was successful in reaching Fred without losing my footing. I braced myself with one hand and stretched my other out to him but as the weight of his body countered mine, my footing gave way on the algae and I plunged into the creek with him.

I had been leaning far enough back that at least it wasn’t head first. When my feet lost grip, I landed on my ample rear and slid into the creek. So rather than road rash on my face I ended up with only a healthy bruise on my butt, a much less injurious blow to my ego.

So there we both were, on hands and knees in the creek. Classic. It only took a moment to realize we were both still ok and that we needed a new plan… and that my phone was still in my pocket. I didn’t need to look. I knew it was toast. And I knew I had more immediate problems to address. Again, none of this was life-threatening. The water was shallow but extremely swift and we were more frustrated than anything.

We both tried again to get back up onto the banks. It was a fruitless effort, the rocks were too slick. We simply slid back into the creek like a scene from the Three Stooges. Standing in the cold, rushing water we stopped to survey our predicament. It was clear we weren’t getting out the way we got in. I had Fred follow me downstream just a little bit to where there was a small footbridge. We ran the risk of taking a tumble again by walking down the stream but it looked like we might be able to get some footing there and possibly use the bridge for something to hold on to.

It worked. We both managed to clumsily pull ourselves out on our own and stood by the banks of the creek, dripping and cold, and feeling deflated. I could tell by the look on Fred’s face that he thought he was in heap of trouble. I gave him a small smile and chuckle and told him it was ok. His response? “Well mom, it will make a great story.” That’s my boy.

We walked the short distance back to where my camera and tripod were patiently waiting. Still dripping wet, I didn’t want to try to pack up immediately though so I decided to take the time to do a post-mortem on the iPhone. I sadly pulled it out of my pocket, knowing it would just be to say good-bye. I pressed the button. There was a flicker of the screen and she was gone.

That, dear readers, is just one of the many ways to kill an iPhone in the middle of a seven-week, ten-thousand-mile, cross-country trip.

Eating my words…

So, remember back a couple of weeks in the Overland Expo to TBEX expedition when I was in California? I caught up with some long-lost friends and we had a great time. Part of that discussion were the merits of the Lifeproof iPhone case. At the time, I was using a Griffin case that met my needs quite well. It was highly water resistant, but not waterproof. My buddy, the paddler, was extolling the virtues of the waterproof case which I retorted was totally overkill for what I do. I’m just not around the water that much. I’m not a paddler, dude.

Yeah… guess who now rocks a Lifeproof? Crow is not tasty, by the way.

Decision point…

So you’re on an extended road trip. Your smartphone is your lifeline to the rest of the world. You just killed it. What do you do?

The world doesn’t end because your smartphone dies. Your trip is not over. It’s a bit problematic if you happen to be a blogger who relies on it to get work done, but still not a trip-ending event. Fred and George had their dumb-phones so I still had ways of communication.

Back at camp, I went into damage-control mode. I needed to replace my phone at some point soon in order to keep working, geocaching, navigating, etc. A quick call to Verizon from Fred’s phone set me on course. There was indeed a Verizon store very nearby but of course, what I actually needed was an Apple store… which was not very nearby. (FYI, not a lot of Apple stores up that way. Just so you know.)

After a good bit of phone calls and general run-around trying to figure out where I could get a new phone and when, I finally got a plan in place. Part of that rigamarole was visiting the park office and working with a very helpful ranger to figure out how to get to the nearest Apple store since I no longer had a way to navigate and I was entirely unfamiliar with the territory. The other part was deciding whether to head out right away or continue on for a few more days at Franconia Notch, phoneless. The uber-helpful ranger set me up with the weather forecast and it was dismal. Seems we’d gotten the best weather we were going to get so I opted to exit stage left from Franconia Notch State Park the next morning.

But that’s a story for next time.

And now for your moment of green…

The Basin Falls at Franconia Notch State Park. A delight of water-carved stone if you can tolerate the black flies.

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