Pssst… let me tell you a secret. Remember, this is just between you and me; don’t tell anyone else.
Take highway 16 south from Gorham, NH, toward Mount Washington, about five miles. On your right, you’ll see a sign for the Dolly Copp campground; don’t turn there. Go another mile or so down the road. If you pass a sign for the Dolly Copp picnic area, you’ve gone too far; turn around, being careful not to hit any moose or cars from Massachusetts. There’s a wide spot off to the side of the highway, between the campground and picnic area; pull off there.
Then make your way down through the brush and over the rocks, following the sound of the Peabody River, and you’ll come to the most magical place in northern New England.
A few hours ago, the clear, cold water tumbling through the granite channel carved by ancient glaciers was snow on the Presidential Range of the White Mountains; it hasn’t warmed up very much in its fall toward the Androscoggin. This water is so clear that you can’t tell how deep it is–at some points it may cover your ankles, at others it could rise to your chin, but all you can see are the gold and brown and green veins running through the granite, and the tiny boulders the river rolls along the river bed as it grinds them down to dust. It may take the river a million years to dissolve a stone, but the river is patient and persistent.
Cold as it is, you have to step in; make sure you remove your socks and shoes, and feel gingerly with your toes along the granite floor for the gaps and cuts where the lichens haven’t made the rocks too slippery. But if you do slip, don’t worry–it’s never terribly deep here, and slipping is the best way to get yourself into the cold. Besides, the sun will warm you up nicely if you stretch out on a rock and put your ear close to the river, and you can listen to it whispering its secrets of its journey from the mountains to the sea as you dream of silver fish and shady pools.
Remember, though, this is a secret, just between you and me.