Blackberry Crossing Campground is a first-come, first-served White Mountain National Forest campground just west of Conway, NH on the Kancamagus Highway. It’s an old CCC base from the 1930s and there’s evidence of it’s former life all around, with chimneys and foundations in the center of the main loop. It’s small, with only 26 sites. The small loop to the right runs parallel to the Kanc, so you’ll get more highway noise there. There are some walk-in tent sites toward the back of the campground. It has been a very wet spring with a lot of rain and snowmelt and this open, walk-in area showed the effects. The tent sites are spaced around the perimeter, at the edge of the woods, but they’re in an open field. The middle of the field was very wet, but the tent sites themselves were elevated and dry.
I was in site 12A, next to the hand pump for water. Vault toilets were a campsite away. There is a small stream running behind the campsite and trillium were starting to bloom. Like most WMNF campgrounds, the sites are large and generally level. Site 12, next door to mine, is probably least attractive, because it has a large slab covering most of the site and it’s right next to the vault toilet. This campground is smaller than the nearby Covered Bridge Campground (also WMNF), so there are fewer people to make noise. The campground host was friendly and available, offering to delivery firewood ($7) to my site for me.
Prices have gone up from what the website states; it’s now $25/night. If you have a second vehicle, you’ll pay an additional $5. If you want a shower, you’ll need to hope that Passaconaway Campground is open for the season and be prepared with quarters (it wasn’t this weekend in mid-May, but Franconia Notch State Park is if you’re in that area). Bring cash to pay.
If you’re looking to get out and explore, the Champney Falls trailhead for the hike to Mt. Chocura is a few miles west of the campground, but get there early to beat the crowds. Other fun, family friendly areas to explore include the Lower Gorge, Rocky Gorge, Sabbaday Falls, and Potash & Hedgehog Mountains. I was out driving early and encountered a young moose crossing the road. Consider stopping at the Ranger Station at the beginning of the Kanc (from either end) to pick up a parking pass so you don’t have to pay the iron ranger at each spot if you’ll be driving around a lot. If it’s summer and you need to cool off, there are many places to go tubing on the Saco River.
If you’ve forgotten anything or need to fill the car up before you drive across the scenic Kanc, you’ll find it in Conway, just a few miles north of the junction of the Kanc and 16.
Aftershokz Trekz Air headphones
As a Ranger for the Dyrt, it’s my privilege to test different gear and provide a review. My AfterShokz Trekz Air bone conduction headphones arrived and I was anxious to check them out. Let’s just say, I’m in love. Like any partner, there’s a lot of good along with a few negatives that I’m willing to overlook. The Trekz Air have been my constant companion for the past month. Right out of the box, I turned them on, paired them with my phone with ease, and was listening to my audiobook in a minute or two. Also in the box was a smooth, zippered, waterproof storage pocket that held the USB charging cord and some foam earplugs in a plastic holder. It’s large enough that I could easily store a portable battery pack in the pouch, too.
The packaging doesn’t contain clear instructions about how the headphones are supposed to fit, but there are online videos that I watched just to be sure I was wearing them correctly. The headphones slide over the ears and are held in place with a light tension from the speaker/microphone units just in front of the ears; the band in back doesn’t touch my head. After a couple of days, I didn’t feel the slight pressure behind the ears. I sometimes forget I’m wearing them if I’ve turned them off. I love not having something IN my ears, especially when I’m listening for extended periods! I wear glasses most of the time and found there was no problem fitting them over my glasses. Friends with longer hair had a little extra challenge putting them on.
The fit is comfortable and secure. I tried shaking my head all around and these didn’t budge. What a great difference from some other in-the-ear wireless earphones that I’ve used that fall out or transmit extraneous sound. For the past month they’ve joined me for my daily commute on foot, bus, and subway; while working on projects around the house and yard, setting up my campsite, and hiking up and down mountains, and biking around the campground. Occasionally the loop behind my head bounces off a pack, but a light touch puts it back in place. It didn’t interfere with a bike helmet. I loved that I could put my phone down and listen to music, books, or podcasts as long as I stayed within about 30’ of the phone before it started cutting out. That meant I could set up my campsite without having to worry about dropping my phone, etc. The button on the left side lets me stop and start the playback with a touch; buttons on the right let me adjust volume or turn it on or off. Turn it on and it announces the battery level.
These are great for times when you are hiking alone, want to enjoy the sounds around you, but would like some additional entertainment or inspiration. My trail this weekend included rumbling brooks, beautiful waterfalls, and fellow hikers…and I could enjoy all of them. They are not great when riding on the old, noisy subway in Boston unless you use the foam earplugs to block external sound. If you turn the volume up too high, you’ll start to feel a slight vibration on your cheek from the headphones. Battery life is substantial, reaching a full charge in a few hours and lasting for at least 8 hours of playback in my experience. And I would love a color other than black for the storage pouch. Finding a black pouch in a black-lined bag is a nightmare! (And no, it doesn’t need to be orange.) Thrilled with these comfortable headphones!