Friday, October 29, 2010

The Good of Going to the Mountains Part 3

Continues From Part 2
After a saunter through the woods on a path of soft moss, we crossed a wooden bridge spanning a ravine where deep pools carved by the charging water serve as swimming holes for the intrepid in the summer. Soon, we arrived at the back door of the Mt. Washington Hotel. The last of the grand hotels, built in the 1800s, is a bit fussy for the Teva-set, but we were graciously allowed to enjoy a drink on the veranda. From there we watched the cog-train chug its way up the flank of Mt. Washington.

Mt. Washington was called the Place of the Storm Spirit by the Native Americans, who viewed it as the sacred home of the Great Spirit. The moody monarch, generally crowned with dark swirling clouds with a white cape on the shoulder was plainly visible in the cloudless blue sky. From the top of the mountain one may see Maine dotted with lakes, The Green Mountains of Vermont, the settlements of Bartlett and Conway, the four-toothed summit of Mt. Chocorua, and the other main peaks of the Presidential Range.

While relaxing at the hotel, our guide, Graham, who calls the Mt. Washington Valley home, shared the story of the Willey family with us. The Willeys were warned that they had built their home at the base of avalanche- prone mountain. So, they built a small shelter away from the house. When they heard the inevitable rumbling of a slide, the family of five went into the shelter. Unfortunately, the shelter, not the house, was crushed with all the Willeys in it. The site of the Willey family’s demise in 1826 was painted by Thomas Cole and is recognized as the best and most famous work of the White Mountain landscape artists.

Reading Gods in Granite, by Robert L. McGrath, a comprehensive collection of the art of the White Mountains is loaded with color plates and will deeply enrich your visit.

During our visit we hiked to Arethusa Falls, which at 200 feet is the highest of falls in the Whites, Sabbaday Falls, a picturesque series of cascades into a narrow channel, as well as Avalanche Falls in the dramatic Flume Gorge. But of the over one hundred waterfalls in the mountains, Crystal Cascade was my favorite. This most alluring rush of white plunges into staggered pools formed by boulders the size of a Volkswagen Bug. Twisted birch cling to the sheer granite walls that survive winters with snow so deep the cross country skiers have only the tree tops to find their way home. Nichol is one of the stout-hearted young men who carry their skis up to Tuckerman’s ravine, a huge glacier bowl above the falls, for a death-defying run down the mountain in the spring.

The bottom leg of the Basin-Cascade trail is a 2-mile mama bear run that follows the Pemigewasset River. It was to be our last stroll through burgundy and bronze, spiked with happy chartreuse leaves over head. Light streaming through the cathedral that is the woods spotlighted our path. I felt fortunate to have this quiet time free of cell-phone bleeps calling me back to duty. My internal tape had run clean during my week in the mountains, leaving me free to absorb the beauty all around me. I just hoped this calm feeling inside would stick. When we reached the Basin, a bowl gouged into solid rock from 25,000 years of hydraulic pounding, Nichol pointed to a rock formation under the water.

“They say that is the foot of the Old Man of the Mountain.”
“He must have been the first hiker to come here,” I said. “I bet it did him some good.”

New England Hiking Holidays offers all inclusive five-day trips from late June to early October. Prices before Sept. 18th $1,495. After Sept. 18th $1,595. In July and August they offer a gentle New England exploration that covers much of the same terrain of the other five day trips but focuses more on the rich history of the region. They also have 2-3 day trips available from May through Oct. from $885-$995.1-800-869-0949
for reservations or more information about the other hikes they offer about the globe go to e-mail

If You Go
The fall is the favored time to visit the White Mountains. If you want these dates you must book early. Late spring, in between the bugs of summer and the mud of later winter, is also wonderful time to go when the meadow are carpeted with wildflowers.

If you are unable to reach higher elevations on your own steam you make catch the scenic rail trip out of North Conway to the depot in Crawford Notch.


The Cog Railway, founded in 1866 chugs visitors to the top of Mt. Washington in Victoria era coaches.

The Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway in Franconia Notch runs daily, weather permitting.

I walk in beauty on the good red road
Linda Ballou

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Good of Going to the Mountains Part 2

Continues from Part 1,

The Whites from a distance appear benign but are reputed to be intolerant and unpredictable. The weather at the top of Mt. Washington, the highest of the peaks in the Northeast (elevation 6290) has the worst weather in the world. Gusts of over one hundred miles per hour have been reported during all months of the year.

“Winds funnel into the canyons from several different directions creating churning whiteouts that blind hikers and stop rescue attempts,” our guide, Nichol, told us. Hikers get lost so often the good folks of New Hampshire now require them to pay for the cost of their rescue. With the aid of New England Hiking Holidays, I was able to explore with carefree abandon the fabled notches, intervales and peaks painted by over 400 landscape artists and listen to the stories the forests tell.

The median age of our group was fifty. Fitness levels ranged from recovering couch potato to personal-trainer buff. Many of the guests were seasoned, international travelers, and most had a few week-long hiking adventures under their belts. After hiking 5-7 miles each day, we enjoyed the luxury of the Thorn Hill Inn and Spa, where we could partake in a full massage, steam or hot tub under the stars. The sophistication of the group made for stimulating conversation over gourmet meals prepared by a chef with a flare for perfection. The Inn is located in Jackson, a village oozing with White Mountain charm; pumpkin men and ladies on the lawns, benches for strollers to enjoy, bright flower boxes and a red covered bridge spanning the Wildcat River that runs through the town. Two of our nights were spent in the Sugar Hill region at the lovingly restored Sunset House, built in 1882, overlooking a vast meadow dotted with wild turkey.

Amazingly, the group of eighteen settled naturally into two groups of nine with similar degrees of fitness and aspirations. Once my group caught up with me, we tramped together to Lonesome Lake, where we enjoyed a healthful repast at the friendly AMC hut maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club, the oldest outdoor organization in the U.S. In our week we walked on several segments of the 2,125 mile Appalachian Trail that runs all the way from Maine to Georgia. In the sunny afternoon we circumnavigated the lake on boardwalks that kept us above the moose marsh surrounding the blue gem nestled in pines. I was struck by the fact that there were no mosquitoes swarming in what looked to be the perfect habitat.

“Fall is the best time to come here because there are no bugs.” Nichol explained. The pesky black flies of the summer months are at bay and ticks are out of season. The crisp nights bring out brilliant color in the foliage, but the days are in the seventies, perfect for the droves of leaf peepers who flock to the region this time of year.

On the way to the Basin hike, we passed by what remains of the Old Man in the Mountain. So loved was the jagged granite face carved by nature thousands of years ago he was put on state license plates. The “Old Man,” credited with being the guardian of the mountains, was held together for years with cables. Despite these efforts to save him, he came down in 2003. Now, he is affectionately referred to by locals as “Cliff.”

One day was spent exploring Crawford Notch, where Ethan Allan Crawford built the first hospitality house in the 1800s for the “rusticators” who came by train and stayed all summer. Tourists still pour off the train from Conway at the depot in the notch. Crawford also carved a trail to the top of Mt. Washington, which remains the oldest trail in continuous use in the United States.

Read more at Linda's website.

The Good of Going to the Mountains was originally published in Real Travel Adventures in 2006
Join us on Friday, for The Good of Going to the Mountains, Part 3


I walk in beauty on the good red road.

Linda Ballou

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Good of Going to the Mountains, Part I

by Linda Ballou

Like the poets, painters and millions of trampers before me, I’d come to the
White Mountains of New Hampshire to rid myself of commercial chatter, pollution and to
know Mother Nature’s healing heart.

I bound up the boulder steps of the Basin-Cascade trail tracing an energetic river graced with glistening waterfalls. While navigating the twisted roots of birch trees, I chanced a look to the heavens trembling with lemon leaves rustling in a flirtatious breeze. Relishing a moment of sacred solitude while waiting for the rest of my hiking group to join me at the base of Ellis Falls, I listened to the full throated roar of the powerful white curtain of water carving a path through sheer granite. The fragrance of balsam fir and the fecund odor of the gold and amber carpet of falling leaves filled the air. Like the poets, painters and millions of trampers before me, I’d come to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to rid myself of commercial chatter, pollution and to know Mother Nature’s healing heart.

Over 600 miles of well-marked paths lace our first National Forest. These trails seduce the hiker into shady glens through lacy fern forests and to alpine climbs pocked with turquoise glacier cirques …. Read more here

Find these articles and more on Linda’s website,

The Good of Going to the Mountains was originally published in Real Travel Adventures in 2006

Join us here on Wednesday, for Part II of The Good of Going to the Mountains.


I walk in beauty on the good red road.

Linda Ballou

Friday, October 22, 2010

Real Travel Adventures Reviews Lost Angel Walkabout

Real Travel Adventures, is the longest running e-zine on the net, that has spotlighted my work over the years. I want to recommend this fine magazine that gives first hand honest accounts from travelers without an agenda other than the desire to share. Editor, Bonnie Neely gave my book Lost Angel Walkabout a glowing review that makes me feel my desire to share essays of my most memorable adventure travels over the last decade was a worthwhile endeavor! Her review is below;

A Review of Lost Angel Walkabout by Bonnie Neely, Editor of Real Travel Adventures Magazine

Lost Angel Walkabout
by Linda Ballou is one of the most beautifully written travel books I have ever read. Linda tells her personal experiences of her many travels in different continents and environs. She is well-known as a top adventure travel writer, and her tales of her intrepid soul's search for beauty in the wilds and her ability to rouse physically to any demands of the setting will thrill the reader. She increased my desire to become more physically fit so that I could do some of the things she is daring and fit enough to do. She grew up in Alaska and has always loved horses. Her travel tales about returning to that wonderful environ and her experiences in many different places which involved riding horses are so beautifully inspiring. Linda also leads walkabouts in Los Angeles. I highly recommend her book as a treasure you will want to read, and then to re-read aloud to anyone who might want to listen. Her use of words is very commanding and her descriptions so vivid you will feel you have traveled alongside her and seen all the beauty of the surroundings which she so deeply appreciates. This is a MUST READ!

Visit Real Travel Adventures and sign up for their free newsletter;

Find more books about travel adventures;


I walk in beauty on the good red road

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Two Roads To Make Travel Writing Success

My other half says I lead a charmed life. I have to admit I am amazed at how great my life has become. I am hosted by wonderful people eager to share their brand of beauty with me. I only go where I want to go and take adventures that are exciting to me and then I write honestly about what I see and experience. I have a few favorite editors who love my work and make placement of my pieces easy. I’m happy to share my roadmap for this journey with you.

Blair Howard, a freelance journalist and photographer who has spent more than 30 years traveling the world. He is the authors of 34 books and more than 2500 magazine, newspaper and web articles. One of the differences between me and Blair Howard is that he has been making a living as a travel writer for over twenty years.

I, on the other hand, approached the field a decade ago with the idea that I wanted great trips that I could not have afforded on my own budget.

Mr. Howard capitalizes on his strong photographic skills and the text of his stories simply supplement his images. I have been a writer all my adult life in many different genres. I approach the task by journaling and look for the hook in my story while he is looking for the shot.

Mr. Howard and I both have tips to offer to you. I have a free download "How to Make Travel Writing Work for You."

You can read Mr. Howards tips below and sign up for his class for a fee if you like.


I walk in beauty on the good red road

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Taste of Lost Angel Walkabout - The High Sierras

The world has been spinning for about twenty minutes now. It is the top of the fourth day of my horse-pack trip into the High Sierras. After a long day of riding my legs were weak, I stepped over a rill meandering through the grass, sank into the moss and lost my balance. My fall was shortstopped by a jagged branch jutting upward from a slumbering log that lodged in my rib cage.

Will the Lost Angel survive?

Read more here;

I walk in beauty on the good red road.
Linda Ballou

Monday, October 11, 2010

Get Your Aloha Fix Here

Willy K is a full tilt Aloha Fix. With nothing but a guitar and incredible voice he blew everyone lucky enough to be sitting with him under the stars away with him on Oct. 8th at the Ford Theater in Hollywood. Willy K who is amazingly versatile does Hawaiian music of course, but then he does scat-singing with an operatic finale. Plus this man is laugh out loud funny. I came to the Aloha Fest for the hula which was divine, but an unexpected discovery is always the best kind.

I walk in beauty on the good red road
Linda Ballou

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Breathing Life Into History - Kern County Book Festival Oct 12-16

Breathing Life Into History

Please join Linda Ballou, and friends, at the Kern County Book Festival on Oct. 16th at 11:00 AM -1:00PM at the Beale Memorial Library, 701 Truxtun Ave , Bakersfield ,Ca 93301

Linda is pleased to part of a lively author’s panel at the Kern County Book Festival! She will talk about what brought her to Ka’ahumanu the proud chiefess that inspired her protagonist Wai-nani High Chiefess of Hawaii , Sarah Burns will be giving a women’s history presentation and some background for her book Matilda of Argylle. Mary Ruth Hughes will talk about her book Tisho-Mingo. Between the three authors you will learn about three separate cultural/matriarchal groups. This panel is the culminating event in the four day book fair from Oct. 12-16.

To find out more about The Kern County Book Festivals click on the link;


I walk in beauty on the good red road

Linda Ballou

Friday, October 8, 2010

Get Inspired to Travel by Ellen Barone Mentions Linda Ballou and Her Experiences with Whitewater Adventure

The Canadian Mountain Holidays website in their Power of Adventure section has posted an article by Ellen Barone, titled, “How Travel Adventure Changed My Life” and in this article she talks about me, Linda Ballou as one of four travelers that are living proof of the power of adventure.

Get Inspired to Travel by Ellen Barone

We know that adventure travel is great fun, but it can also act as a catalyst for live-changing decisions, new relationships or transformational experiences that open heart, soul and mind. From facing a fear of drowning and a perfectly timed random encounter to following love across Africa and learning to love solo travel, these four travelers are living proof of the power of adventure. Read on for serious inspiration.

"A whitewater adventure gave me the strength to face my fear of drowning."

Having nearly drowned in the Pacific Ocean twice, Linda Ballou had a nagging fear of oceans and rivers. "I envied those who surf the blue face of foaming waves or whitewater rafters who fight their way through the fury of a wild river," says Linda.

Mired in the traffic and chaos of her Los Angeles life and craving an opportunity to regain control of her life, she signed on for a guided rafting adventure on the Salmon River. "I fell in love with the idea of taking an uninterrupted journey through rugged, isolated country where I might enjoy solitude," Linda recalls. "And a rafting vacation gave me the chance to face my fears head on."

Easing into the 86-mile float, Linda gained confidence in stages, graduating over the week from the group raft to a guided two-man kayak to solo status on the final day of the trip.
"It took all my strength to navigate the waves," says Linda. "But I felt empowered, brave and heady with triumph. Confronting, not hiding from, my fears allowed me to break down the barriers to forward movement in my life. It was a tremendous experience and a real breakthrough."


I walk in beauty on the good red road

Linda Ballou