Table of Contents
Last August at our Annual Meeting, I read a letter from David McMurtrie regarding his Bowman Basecamp property and his desire to sell the property at a reduced rate. The membership present was enthusiastic in its wish that the RMC Board explore the possibility of buying the property as a permanent home for club operations.
Under this directive, the Board formed a Bowman Basecamp Committee and charged it with assembling a needs assessment, funding options, and start-up operating plan. The committee also was responsible for establishing a dialog with the owner and reporting back to the Board with a purchase price and recommended course of action.
After many months of research and negotiations, the Bowman Basecamp Committee recommend that the RMC not proceed with the purchase of this property. The main reason to pass on the property was the ultimate $150,000 asking price for the 11 acres and building, a price the committee thought was unrealistic. Former RMC President and structural engineer Jeff Tirey examined the building in detail and provided the RMC with a written structural assessment with the following conclusion, "When looking at the amount of demolition to be performed, i.e., gutting the building, and the associated cost of disposal of the debris , a significant expense will be associated with this work. When adding the replacement of windows, doors, roofing, insulation, wiring, heating plus all the structural work that will be required, it is my opinion that the cost to renovate this building will equal or exceed the cost of a new building on a different site. I believe that the RMC would be better off to consider construction of a new building which can be designed for the proper loads and the Club's program space needs for the same or less cost. I recommend that the RMC not purchase this building for its own use."
The RMC says a big "Thank You" to Jeff for all his donated time in performing the building evaluation and providing the Club with a detailed written report with supporting photographs.
The good news is that the Bowman Basecamp Committee has morphed into The Valley Home Needs and Search Committee. This new committee will be looking at land or buildings in Randolph that meet our criteria for a permanent RMC home for our summer trail crews, caretakers on their days off, and possibly our archives collection. If anyone has suggestions regarding space or other assets available, please let me know. The committee already has one good lead but would welcome as many options as possible to make the best plan for the future of the RMC.
We hope to have more information and, possibly, a plan to present to members at the upcoming annual meeting. This may well be the most important move the RMC will make since our decision to rebuild our camps on Mount Adams.
Regardless, I do hope to see you for the annual meeting on August 9. Our guest speaker will be RMC member Tom Stone, who returned not long ago from a multiyear walkaround the world! It should be quite an evening.
In 1973 Guy and I left our high-paying jobs in New York City and moved to the countryside of Vermont with no possibility of further employment on the horizon. We had elected to live a simple, self-sustaining life. We built a cabin in a clearing, planted a large vegetable garden, an orchard, and set out 16 high bush blueberry bushes. We tapped our sugar maples, cut our own wood, and enjoyed a life unburdened with expenses and modern conveniences that left us with plenty of time for hiking and exploring the White Mountains. Little did either of us suspect that when Guy walked out of the General Electric offices on June 8, 1973, removed his tie and stated, Gentlemen, Im never coming back to Manhattan Island again (he never did), that the next paycheck Guy would collect would come from the Randolph Mountain Club a full twenty years later when he was just past 60. Guy made an early December trip up to Gray Knob in 1991, and on his return told me that the caretaker, Craig Jolly, had been up there without a break since he had arrived. So Guy offered to pinch hit for Craig, and thats how Gray Knob came into Guys life, and mine too, even though I was the one who stayed at home stoking the fires of our homestead - the place we called Barra. The next winter Guy covered for Craig again, but in the winter of 1993-94, Guy became an official Gray Knob caretaker, sharing the position with Paul Neubauer. Guy was 61. Paul was 23. That first week Guy noted as a high point, Smooth working relationship developing between Paul and me.
Guys stint at Gray Knob proved a wonderful time for him, but I see it now as a poignant time as well.Guy knew his hold on the mountains was weakening, not on account of his age, but because of an inner turmoil that was leading him toward the close of his life. I saw little of this at the time. Guy kept his deepest thoughts to himself. But they came out at last, some six years later on Mount Lafayette on a frigid day in February.
On Monday, November 1st, I wrote in my journal, G left for Gray Knob very early [3:30 a.m.] and he must have had a very wet trip up. It snowed all day here, wet and melting, so it was hard to tell accumulation, but 2 to 3 inches is on the ground. Sloppy and slippery walking.
There was somewhat of a cliff-hanger with his getting off because Guy was suffering from a pulled back muscle that also affected his leg. We spent the weekend before at the Appalachian Mountain Clubs Wheeler Pond Camp in Vermonts Northeast Kingdom. Part of a work crew, we tore down the old tool shed and built an extension on the existing woodshed, as well as scraped out waterbars on the nearby trails. Guy felt pretty handicapped by his back. Everyone there had expressed concern, especially when they found out he was due up at Gray Knob on Monday for his first day on the job!
When Guy returned home to Barra after that weekend at Wheeler Pond, he began to break down what he had planned to carry up to Gray Knob from two loads into three weighing 43 pounds each, in deference to his back. It turned out this packing of lighter loads was a real revelation. Guy was famous for carrying 80 pounds on our ice climbing trips into Huntington Ravine. Now that he was forced to pack lighter, he was surprised to discover he actually liked carrying loads! I ended my journal entry for Sunday, October 31st, the night before he left, by saying: I trimmed up some brussels sprouts for G to eat tomorrow night at Gray Knob. So begins a very different seven months for us.
And so it was! Guy was away for seven or eight days at a stretch, then home for a week. That in itself was an enormous change for a couple who had spent very little time apart in the last twenty years. But there were similarities too. We both had to walk to reach home, though Guy had a longer and steeper walk compared to the mile and a half into our cabin, and his ended up at a higher elevation. He got more total snow, and it was a bit breezier, I would venture to assume, at Gray Knob than it was at Barra. But that first November week, my temperatures were lower than Guys on several mornings due to an interesting inversion. On November 6th the thermometer at Gray Knob read a blistering 50 degrees while I recorded a more normal 35 degrees on that date.
Our lives continued similarly in other ways as well. For instance, we were both using an outhouse, living without electricity, and hauling our water. But Guy got to talk to Bill Arnold every evening on the radio, whereas no phone ever rang at Barra.
The differences, of course, were great. I can think of two in particular.
The first was that Guy often had overnight guests. In fact during those seven months he logged in a grand total of 283 overnight human visitors. My overnight visitors during these months was zero. Guy kept track of dog guests as well, recording 13 in November, 3 in December, zero in January, 1 in February, 2 in March, and zero in April. I expect Doug Mayers dog, Barkley, accounted for many of the visits there. My overnight canine guests count was zero, except for our dog Elsa who was a permanent resident.
The other major difference, and one I must say I was happy not to exchange with Guy, was that my living space was a whole lot warmer. As winter frequenters of Gray Knob are aware, the caretaker is requested not to start the stove until 5:00 p.m., and then only if the temperature is below 32 degrees inside the cabin. On December 27th it was 5 degrees in Gray Knobs interior, as it was on January 6th and 19th. But most days the inside temperatures crested into double digits, with the most torrid reading occurring on November 15th with 49 degrees. No need to start the stove that night!
It took Guy a bit of practice to get the hang of the stove. There was plenty of wood, neatly stacked under the bench by the fall caretaker, Kevin LaRue. However, the finest to be found was spruce and fir, and it was as wet as a wash rag. (This was before the days of the woodshed to dry wood at Gray Knob.) To get it burning took a degree of patience and skill that Guy was unprepared for after all the years of burning hardwood (sugar maple, red oak, ash, hop hornbeam, and beech) seasoned until it could be lit with one match. I wouldnt have traded places with Guy for anything when it came to starting the stove at Barra versus the stories he brought back on a weekly basis of the amount of cursing, gnashing of teeth, and singeing of fingers it took to get the fire started at Gray Knob. Guy had to contend with the propane as well (we operated with kerosene for our light at Barra), and he noted as his low point for the week of December 8th, Difficulty with propane, necessitating valley trip in the rain, utterly unnecessary in the end.
During the day, when I was working on short stories in the morning (Guys absences every other week gave me a concentrated period to work on fiction, something new for me) and sawing up wood in the afternoon, Guy, when he wasnt packing up and down Lowes Path, was covering ground above treeline. Adams 4 was one of his favorite destinations, as was the summit of Adams itself as well as Sam Adams, and a lesser bump Guy dubbed Babe, the smallest member of the Adams family. The high point he noted for the week of December 21st was, Morning of Christmas Eve tour of the Adams summits with Tracy Rexford. It had been 30 degrees below zero that morning. For the week of March 2nd the high point was, Adams in dense whiteout on Sat, entire Adams family in splendor on Sun. And for April 6th week, Finding all 8 Adams summits in unseasonal wintry whiteout with Chuck Kukla.
I paid Guy one visit in his mountain home that winter, in early February. My knees werent up to much mountain walking anymore, and in fact that was one reason why Guys taking the Gray Knob job seemed like a good idea. Wed spent so many years, especially in winter, camped out and climbing only to return home to dry out, then back to the mountains again. At the beginning of each winter we made a list of what we wanted to explore, and though we managed to fit in three to four multi-night outings a month plus day trips, we never came close to exhausting the ideas we had for trips. Thats the great thing about the White Mountains! But it all took its toll on my knees. So it seemed that Gray Knob presented a splendid opportunity for Guy to be on the mountains in the winter in a way that challenged him, yet made him feel useful too.
With encouragement of Guy and Doug Mayer, I made it up the Lowes Path and was able to see how well-swept and welcoming Guy and Paul kept Gray Knob. The next morning we awoke to 20 below outside and 10 above inside, so Guy broke the cardinal rule and started the stove, even though it was nowhere near 5:00 p.m. I was sure he never would have done this for any of his other guests. It made me feel a little wimpy, but I knew he wanted to make me comfortable. The wind was roaring as we ate our oatmeal, and it looked like climbing Mount Adams was out of the question. But an acquaintance, Sue Johnson, showed up and said it was perfectly lovely out, so we donned crampons and started up. I was very glad to reach the summit of Adams on such a day with a cobalt blue sky and the snow so deep even the rock pile of Adamss summit was nearly filled in. The next day, I knew from my difficulty in packing down Lowes Path that the mountains had slipped away, and my eyes kept filling with tears as I thought about all our adventures ferocious bushwhacks, iced-up slides climbed with ropes and axes and crampons, wild times above treeline so often ending with a hot meal in our tent and the purring of the camp stove. Our best trips had been in winter.
Though I knew my mountain days were over, I didnt know Guys were as well. When he returned to Barra between stints he often said, When Im up above treeline in whiteout and wind Im completely at home, utterly confident. This made me feel happy for Guy. But then he added once, Ive felt confident about so little in my life, and though I thought I understood what he meant, I really didnt see at all.
On June 1st, exactly one month after his birthday, Guy descended Lowes Path for the last time and walked into a party at Doug Mayers house on Randolph Hill Road. Surprise! Friends had gathered to celebrate Guys retirement. He had turned 62 and was going on Social Security. Everyone had chipped in to give him a present a sundial which, as Doug put it, was the equivalent of the gold watch he would have received if hed stayed the course at General Electric.
Afterward I saw the retirement party was double-edged for Guy. He must have known it marked the end of his active life in the mountains, but no one, especially not me, saw this when we were celebrating such a good time.
Guy went to the mountains rarely after that and never again in winter. The cloud of demons that had long swarmed around his head clamped down. Though the spark that made Guy so much fun to be with never entirely vanished, he dwelt more in a dark land he couldnt or wouldnt talk about. His struggle, and his inability to share his pain, led to his suicide six years later, in February 2000, when he trudged up to the summit of Mount Lafayette to lie out in the cold and die.
I like to think back to how Guy enjoyed to the hilt his job at Gray Knob. As mountain host, he welcomed his carefully counted guests with floors swept, counters scrubbed, and wood neatly stacked. His romps through the alpine wilderness were a lifeline. Guy turned this time at Gray Knob into the high watermark and last hurrah. True to his nature, he was the only one who knew he was saying farewell.
The late Guy Waterman was probably best known for the many outdoors books co-authored with his wife Laura. Among them are Forest and Crag, Yankee Rock and Ice, A Find Kind of Madness, and two ethics books-- Backwoods Ethics and Wilderness Ethics which, together, laid the groundwork for todays Leave No Trace ethic of stewardship.
A longtime member of the RMC, Guy had three unique connections to our club. His father, Allan, signed an ancient deerskin that served as the log book for the old Crag Camp. The date is particularly interesting: July 31, 1931-- nine months, to the day, before Guy was born. Writing in the RMC collection, Remembrances of Crag Camp, Guy wrote, I hasten to observe that, of my five siblings, Im said to most closely resemble my father!
Years later, Crag would be the last place Guy would be together in the mountains with his two oldest sons. As Guy wrote, We little knew then... that that night would be the last together in the mountains. Both sons died in their twenties in Alaska, far from the edge of King Ravine where we watched the dawn together on September 2, 1968.
Finally, sixty three years after his fathers visit, Guy became RMCs oldest caretaker, when he worked at Gray Knob during the winter of 1993-94. It was, as Laura Waterman wrote, Guys last hurrah. Guy intentionally ended his life atop of Mount Lafayette in February of 2000. A book about Guys life, Good Morning Midnight: A Life and Death in the Wild, was recently published by Chip Brown, writer.
One winter evening Dr. and Mrs. Edward Hincks, summer residents of Randolph, N.H., read in the Boston Evening Transcript that J. Rayner Edmands had died in Chicago. They discussed, with much feeling, the great loss this meant to Randolph.
Next summer, as the Hinckses were going up the Randolph Path, they met three men coming down, one of whom was indubitably Mr. Edmands. It is said that Dr. Hincks just sat down on a rock. But Mrs. Hincks was noted for her presence of mind. Why, Mr. Edmands! she smiled. We heard we heard that you had made other plans for the summer. Klaus Goetze
The last time I saw Louis F. Cutter was at a meeting of the Trail Committee of the Randolph Mountain Club two days before his death. Someone asked him why the trail to Lookout Ledge used to be called the Hallway. A man by the name of Hall had a farm at the beginning of the trail, he answered. And, by the way, when I am dead and gone, would you do me the kindness never to call a trail the Cutterway? Klaus Goetze
First printed in Appalachia, June 1957
Four Soldiers Path Trail Description
This new trail, located on land recently acquired by the Town of Randolph and the White Mountain National Forest, leads from the Pasture Path, 1.5 mi. west of its trailhead on Pasture Path Rd., over the Crescent Range to the Pond of Safety Trail, 0.3 mi. from the pond.
The most direct access to the trail from Randolph Hill is from trailhead parking for the Mount Crescent Trail on Randolph Hill Rd.; follow Grassy Lane for 0.1 mi. and the Pasture Path for 0.6 mi.
In combination with the new Underhill Path and other trails on the Crescent Range, the Four Soldiers Path makes possible various loop hikes from Randolph to the Pond of Safety. The trail is named for the quartet of American soldiers who, during the Revolutionary War, were accused of desertion and sought refuge at the pond.
The Four Soldiers Path leaves the Pasture Path on the right (west) 10 yd. beyond a sharp left turn. It soon crosses Carlton Brook and ascends at easy grades west through hardwoods, crossing two old snowmobile trails and several small brooks. It then ascends moderately along the southeast slope of Mt. Randolph. At 1.3 mi. it levels out, and there is a boulder on the left which provides glimpses of a view to the south. In 130 yd. it crosses the Crescent Ridge Trail, and in another 20 yd. it turns right and climbs gradually northwest through an extensive logged area where openings provide views of the Northern Presidentials.
The trail re-enters the woods and at 1.9 mi. it swings right where a spur path leads 50 yd. left to a fine cleared view across the valley to the high peaks. The main trail climbs easily for 0.1 mi. to the height-of-land and "The Eye of the Needle," a spot where there is a unique perspective on Mt. Washington through Edmands Col. The trail now descends gradually, swinging more to the north, and enters another open logged area with partial views of the Pliny Range and a glimpse of the Pond of Safety. It re-enters the woods and descends easily, crossing a gravel road at 3.3 mi.; the Underhill Path begins 25 yd. right (east) along this road.
The Four Soldiers Path meanders down to the northwest, then crosses a series of bog bridges in a dense, wet conifer grove. It crosses two branches of the outlet brook from the Pond of Safety and ends at the USFS Pond of Safety Trail, which is, at this point, a gravel road. To reach the pond, follow the road left for 0.1 mi., then a spur road right for 0.2 mi., and descend a path to the shore.
Four Soldiers Path
Distances from Pasture Path
This new trail leads from the Four Soldiers Path, 0.5 south of the USFS Pond of Safety Trail, to the Crescent Ridge Trail, 0.2 mi. west of Carlton Notch. It is named for Miriam Underhill, a pioneer in women's mountaineering and, with her husband Robert, a long-time resident of Randolph.
It begins on a gravel logging road 25 yd. east of the point where the Four Soldiers Path crosses the road and climbs gradually east and southeast through hardwoods. At 0.7 mi. it turns right and climbs through a series of switchbacks in a beautiful forest of fir and birch. It crosses a height-of-land at 1.2 mi. and descends, soon turning to the left (east). It then swings briefly to the south and ends at the Crescent Ridge Trail.
Distance from Four Soldiers
Mountain Club Jeopardy
1. Randolphs meteorological claim to fame:
A. The record, for many years,
for greatest 24 hour snowfall for a non-mountain station in the
contiguous United States
2. You are walking along a RMC path. You come to a bridge. A bench sits off to the side in a pleasant spot. To whom is the bridge dedicated?
A. Miriam Sanders
3. This water company served Randolph hill for many years. Its reservoir is next to an RMC path.
A. Mount Madison Mineral Springs
4. Finish the series: Ravine House Mountain View House
A. Spur Cabin
5. The year is 1944. You cross Hubbard Bridge on the Burnbrae Path to take you to Howker Ridge Trail. What trail is at the next junction?
6. This trail once took you to your mail.
A. Burnbrae Path
7. A possible dubious claim to fame for the RMCs Along the Brink Path.
A. Site of the fall and subsequent
death of E. P. Monahan in 1931
8. Finish the series: Proteus, Erebus and...
9. As an early shelter, at 2,800 feet in Cascade Ravine, it featured separate bunks for men and women as well as a fire.
A. Cliff Shelter
10. Now the question comes; who did the deed? It is not certainly known who did it, yet I am convinced that I myself had a hand, yea, two hands in it. Who is speakingand about what?
A. J. Rayner Edmands speaking
of a landslide in Cascade Ravine.
11. No one built more miles of trails in the White Mountains in the 19th century than he ... he is credited with inventing the string method of laying out trails, and was a bold and innovative explorer, delving curiously into the less-traveled ranges.
A. Eugene Beauharnais Cook
12. Theyre just bumps along the trail, but on this trail theyre called something else.
A. Lowes Path
13. A special buoyancy lit up Randolph in those years. A small group of lively summer residents fused with half a dozen local woodsmen-mountaineers to form a creative alliance for trail work, as well as an atmosphere cracking with physical vitality and uproarious good times. Name the decade and the hotel that was the focal point for this camaraderie.
A. Ravine House, 1880s
14. I am lower than the Elevated and you might want to take your pack off when you check out the ice in August. What trail am I?
A. Ice Cave Loop
Having spent the last, frigid, winter as the Gray Knob caretaker, I was able to witness the natural processes of the mountain world with some immediacy. I saw storms roiling over the Northern Presidentials, high-pressure systems barreling out of the northwest, stars blazing through deep frigid nights, and even the return of juncos and buntings in the spring. There was another phenomenon, though, of particular note, which would unfold every Saturday night. Just as a hint of moisture in the Serengeti air makes the wildebeest herd restless, or a certain slant of light sends our local bull moose into a frothing, eye-rolling frenzy, the dim light and relative heat of Gray Knob, along with bitter winds kicking up in the nearby krumholz, inevitably signals the commencement of the weekly Knob struggle for alpha hiker.
I am told that, while social status and the establishment of a hierarchy is important among the animals of many species, it is of particular importance among social pack-hunters and their descendants. Like dogs, for instance, and like us. Ah, but for humans, the joy of showing-off is tempered by a need for subtlety. First of all, at least at Gray Knob, any display of prowess is unlikely to be physical. After all, most of the weekend warriors who manage to drag themselves up Lowes Path are unable to so much as stand. Secondly, and herein lies the real art, one must be able to boast while appearing not to. The display must look accidental, as if to say, I wouldnt dream of bragging. How can I help it if these things come up in conversation?
Now, what is it about Gray Knob that so consistently inspires this poorly hidden game of one-upmanship? Is it general insecurity inspired by the storm-shrouded view of Jefferson from the Quay? A desire to claim the Whites as ones own domain; after all, how could anyone else have such wonderful memories of this mountain range? Maybe this is simply how people act when they meet one another in a situation where status still seems unestablished (except the caretakers status, of course, secured by his or her control of the woodstove). These questions I leave to the reader, and to the witness of future winter weekends at the Knob. I, having lived among these hikers long enough to observe behavioral patterns, will offer a few observations. The following is a partial list of strategies in the conversational Gray Knob Dance for Dominance.
The Leading Question: An old favorite, these questions can, out of the blue, bring conversation around to any exploit or experience. So, have you ever climbed Mount Rainier? Usually, the questioner cares very little about the answer, so eager are they to hear the reciprocal, How about you? Caveat: an attentive listener might answer the question without the reciprocal question, bringing the session to a frustrating and premature end: No, Ive never climbed Mount Rainier. Say, Im hungry.
Good Cop/Bad Cop (or old hiker/ new hiker): The company of another hiker, especially a hiker who is relatively inexperienced, paves the way for an easy bragging set-up. Well, Tom here has never been in the Presidentials in the winter. I just keep telling him about it, but this is his first trip. Or, Well, Jen here thought the wind was blowing about seventy on top of Adams. Of course, shes never been up there on one of those really windy days, you know? Caveat: A perfect way to destroy a romantic weekend in the mountains when, having basked in the glow of recognition, (Oh, so you must come up here a lot), one turns to face his less experienced partner, with her face bright red. Thats not windburn (the wind wasnt blowing that hard); its embarrassment. And rage.
The Loud Talker: A classic, if simple strategy. Tell your story loud enough, and everyone will hear about your ski down the ravine. Caveat: Were people listening or not? Youll never know.
Gear-Speak: A mind-numbing recitation of gear terms, dimensions, temperature ratings, and, of course, brand names can make a first time mountaineer sound like a pro. Caveat: Said recitation can also make a pro sound like a first time mountaineer.
The Name Drop: An easy way to sound plugged-in to the mountain community. One needs only to remember the name of a former caretaker, forest ranger, weather observer, trail crewmember or RMC President. Importantly, and this is the beauty of a small community, you need never to have actually met them just to have heard the name: So, hows Matt the ranger doing? Caveat: You better be sure youre not asking Matt the ranger how Matt the ranger is doing.
The Redirected Conversation: Perhaps the most direct way to display ones mountain resume. You know, that hot chocolate youre drinking reminds me of the time I climbed on Denali. The possibilities are limited only by the speakers connective imagination. I mean, whos to say that talking about firewood wouldnt lead directly to a conversation about just how fast you hiked from Jefferson to Washington? Caveat: This is the conversational equivalent of, say, deposing a government without any plans for a replacement: What were we talking about? Chaos ensues.
As the stubborn packed snow disappears from the White Mountain trails, so too the stove-side rites of a cold Saturday night fade into memory. But of course, it wont be long before winter rules again, and boasts, subtle and not so, rebound from the walls of the Knob, and are carried toward Randolph on the wind. Ah, the wind. You know, that reminds me of the time I was on top of Mount Adams
Will Kemeza was RMC's winter caretaker. He has worked for the AMC as Carter Notch winter caretaker, and for GMC as the caretaker for Taft Lodge on Mount Mansfield. This fall, he heads to Harvard University to attend Divinity School.
September 27, 2002
Dear Mike, Diane, members of the Randolph Mountain Club, and all the others who came to my aide on September 24.
Enclosed you will find a contribution to the RMC with the heartfelt thanks for the kind, generous, and professional skills that you offered me (just in case you have forgotten, Im the guy who limped down the mountain this past Tuesday night/ Wednesday morning with a small army following me). I wish I could offer more, but please accept this as a small token of my appreciation. Also included is money for your membership fee. Please enroll me as a member of the RMC! I have added an additional check to cover the cost. Any organization that sends its President out to the rescue Ive got to join!
I cant tell you enough how incredible you all were. Please pass my thanks on to all involved. I only managed to get a few names.
Also a major thank you to the great people you have at your huts and trail crew. Matt, Dan, Aaron and Laura, were incredibly helpful, positive, and generally great people to be around in a time of need. Seeing them come up the trail was like having some kind of new age, hip, cavalry to the rescue. They were great.
I hope you have a wonderful and safe fall and winter.
This past winter was a fine one for our camps, thanks in no small part to our excellent winter caretaker, Will Kemeza. Will worked diligently throughout an exceptionally cold winter and could reliably be counted upon for solid advice, outgoing friendliness and a general great demeanor this past seasoneven when temperatures sunk to 25 for the third day in a row!
Joining Will for a number of days was John Pereira, a graduate student from Antioch. John undertook a winter-long Field Practicum, studying the impacts of winter visitors to the Northern Presidentials. As part of the study, John also conducted a thorough survey of RMC guests. His collected data is currently being analyzed to determine the extent of the impact of winter hiking above treeline, and to get a better understanding of the skill and knowledge of the winter visitors. John already has two interesting findings: the majority of winters hikers (~70%) actually have less experience in the alpine zone than anticipated, and the area of greatest winter impact was around the shuttered Madison Hut, where broken krummholz and human solid waste were regularly found. A full report of John's study will appear in the winter newsletter.
At long last, the snow in the mountains has melted away and the RMC camps are into another summer season. This spring, former RMC Trail Crew members Jenny Cleary and Anders Kraus caretook from April through May, with Field Supervisor Zach Gayne filling in during most of May. This summer, Jenny Cleary will be joined by first time caretaker Nathan Robinson. Both are sure to do a great job this summer.
A fantastic new display is heading for the walls of Crag Camp. The bilingual, French-English display will feature an educational view of the alpine zone, and will provide helpful suggestions while hiking in the fragile environment. Special thanks to Steve Bailey, Doug Mayer, Brian Post and Eric Scharnberg for their help with this project, along with Kai Allen and Rebecca Oreskes of the US Forest Service. Funding for the project came from the newly established Guy Waterman Alpine Stewardship Fund.
No major projects are scheduled for the 2003 summer season. The Log Cabin pit toilet will be converted into a composting toilet in 2004. Our cabin libraries received a much needed upgrade, as 30 new books were hiked up last month.
This summer we will be continuing the online Trail Sign Auctions, but this time they will be silent auctions. Our eBay experimental auction this past March raised $570 in 7 days not bad! If you're interested in acquiring a retired RMC trail sign, check the web site regularly during the upcoming months for our popular sign auction.
As always, the RMC web site contains almost every possible bit of information you could want, whether you are planning a trip on RMC's paths, or to the camps. Please check there first for guidelines for using RMC facilities. If you have questions, many RMC members also check the online bulletin board and will respond with answers about everything from trail conditions to mosquito and blackfly updates!
The RMC web site has been online for more than 4 years now and were always looking for ways to keep the site fresh and current. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other board members can be reached via the "contact us" link on the site homepage.
Is it time for another trails season, already?
Perhaps the trail work season seems to be upon us so quickly because last years trail crew worked all the way into November, building the new Pond of Safety paths. Both the newly-constructed Four Soldiers Path and Underhill Path will be open for business on July 1.
Were privileged this summer to have a Senior Trail Crew comprised entirely of members from last years Senior and SCA Crews. In fact, even our Student Conservation Association Trail Crew, which normally is comprised of new comers, boasts two returning members of the RMC community-- last years SCA crew member Rachel Hestrin will act as mentor, and Randolphs own Roz Stever, Crag Camp caretaker for the last two summers, will be on the crew. The RMCs Field Supervisor for this summer is Zach Gayne who comes to us after many seasons leading trail crews for the Adirondack Mountain Club.
The major projects well be tackling this year include the wrap up of a two-year, joint project with the US Forest Service on RMCs Kelton Trail up to the Inlook Trail junction. If you havent been on the Kelton Trail in years, be sure to check it out this summer. Among other erosion control additions, youll find a beautiful, long staircase set naturally into a formerly eroded section of the path. The SCA crew, meanwhile, will be wrapping up the second of a two year state-funded grant on the Ice Gulch Path, the Peboamauk Fall Loop and the Cook Path.
The loose ends we plan to tackle this year include continued recairning on Watson Path and Castle Ravine Trail, and additional bog bridges on Owls Head and the new Pond of Safety Paths. This year, the RMC is also donating a day of trail crew time to assist the non-profit Northern Forest Heritage Park in some efforts on its property.
Last year, we tried a Meet the Trail Crew potluck at the Jones Cottage and it was a rousing success! We hope you can save Saturday evening, July 12 at 6 pm for our second annual dinner. This is a great chance to relax and visit with the folks who are working on RMCs trails all summer long, along with RMC board members, other volunteers, and friends. Bring a dish to share and come for a few minutes, an hour or all evening. Youll enjoy meeting our hard working, lively crew.
Many hands make light work is absolutely true when it comes to maintaining our network of beautiful paths. Thanks this year to: Larry Jenkins, for his masterful work building new pack frames for the crew, Dennis Pednault for getting bog bridges to their respective trailheads and handcrafting high quality new swizzle sticks for brushing, Jon Hall for his cartography skills, and Irene Garvey for her help in meeting State of New Hampshire DES wetland requirements for our trail crew projects. Special thanks you to RMC board member Matt Schomburg for his consistent, reliable assistance on all trail matters.
Last month, the RMC received some great news on the funding front as a $16,537 grant request to the states Bureau of Trails was funded in whole. The grant will allow the RMC to spend major portions of the next three summers performing valuable erosion control work on trails in the Randolph Community Forest-- specifically, the Crescent Ridge Trail, the Mount Crescent Trail and the Castleview Loop. Work on this project will start at the end of this summer. The RMC relies significantly on the states Recreational Trails Program for funding of our SCA trail crew.
Later this summer, the RMC will have a new interpretive guide to the Four Soldiers Path available for all to read and enjoy. The project, funded by another State of New Hampshire trails grant, is being overseen by longtime interpretive specialist Clare Long. Volunteers include Dave Govatski, Gail Scott, Lisa Troy, Edith Tucker along with Ginger Beringer and Tim Sappington providing illustrations. Check the RMC web site for news about when this booklet is ready to go.
As always, the RMC is on the lookout for crew members for the years to come. Anyone between the ages of 16 and 18 is welcome.
To volunteer with the crew for a day or two, to get a sense of the work. Contact Trails Chair Doug Mayer for details.
We hope you can join us for a day, or even a few hours, on the trails this summer!
RMC Long Range Planning
The winter edition of the RMC newsletter carried the report of the Long Range Planning Committee on its work last summer. Participating in the long range planning process was especially gratifying for the committee members in that we enjoyed getting to know other RMC members better, the board acted on our recommendation to improve communications with the membership at large by creating the newsletter, and we confirmed the existence of strong support for the club.
Since the winter edition came out, the RMC board has decided not to pursue the purchase and development of Bowman Base Camp for reasons enumerated elsewhere in this newsletter. The discussion of the benefits of the Bowman Base Camp option stimulated thinking about long term needs/opportunities for the club. The possibility to locate such a facility on land elsewhere in town is currently being explored.
Therefore, once the RMC Board articulates a specific plan, the Long Range Planning Committee will continue conversations similar to last summer which will seek your opinions on the pros and cons of establishing such a base camp and an endowment for the club. More later
The Randolph Mountain Club finances are very strong beginning the year 2003. The Board has been strict in controlling expenses and keeping them within budgetary limits. The first column on the next page shows activity through March 31. The second column is the annual budget. At this point in the year, we should be about one-quarter of the way through our budget. Naturally, the Club experiences seasonal fluctuation. For example, camps income suffers from mud season and then is very strong in the summer and fall. As you can see, we had a very busy winter. We expend little on trails until summer when the trail crews get to work. The budget is in a good position at this time of year since the summer is when we see large outlays of cash for trail crew projects.
Since this report was published, we have recorded an additional $5,000 in revenue from dues and general contributions. With good controls in place, I anticipate the Club will meet its budget expectations and hopefully be able to put extra revenues into reserves for future projects.
Since existing sources already cover the early
years of the Club, in the summer of 2002, I was asked by the
RMC to write a manual for its Directors which would summarize
current practices and policies of the Board. Part of this document
provided some historical background for the various activities
in which the RMC is engaged. These sketches concentrate on the
post-World War II era.
A Brief History of Trails
Pathmaking in the Randolph area dates back over 150 years, to the 1850's, when Gorham mountain guide James Gordon, at the urging of Thomas Starr King, opened a path from Randolph to the summit of Mt. Madison. By the turn of the twentieth century, there were over 100 miles of paths cut by early pathmakers such as Peek, Cook, Watson, Edmands, and Sargent within five miles of Randolphs major inn, the Ravine House. Beginning in 1903-04, the northern Presidentials were being heavily logged, resulting in the destruction of countless miles of trails by the end of the decade. Many of the original pathmakers were too old to organize reclamation of the paths. In response, the Randolph Mountain Club was formally established in August, 1910 at the urging of John Boothman, cottage builder and proprietor of the Mt. Crescent House. The RMC helped reopen the damaged paths by using both woodsmen and volunteer work parties. Logging roads were used to create new trails, traces of which are still evident in present-day paths like the Beechwood Way and the lower Amphibrach. Natural disasters, including the 1927 flood and the 1938 hurricane, also created havoc in the trail system.
Up until 1941 the Club hired local woodsmen for trail maintenance, often contracting the job through John Boothman who then himself hired local labor. Volunteer work parties were also a regular summer activity, mostly to clear blowdowns and brush the paths. The local labor force was depleted during World War II, and the Club fell back upon a few older workers (Holmes and Betts) and the artist LeRoy Woodard (who was 4F, i.e., deemed unfit for military service). Woodards legacy lives on in Randolph: he designed the original Randolph highway sign as well as creating the art work used in the RMC logo/patch. By 1947 the situation hadn't improved and, as then president Klaus Goetze reported, "the difficulties...had been augmented this year by the encounter of our mower with a bear, which caused the mower to vanish." Professional labor became impossible to find, and volunteer work parties weren't sufficient to do the job.
Klaus Goetze suggested hiring college "boys." In 1948 the Club hired two boys (Edward Chase and William Allen) who worked through the end of August. Minutes from the RMC's board meetings dont make it clear where the boys stayed, but do make it clear that housing them was already a problem. In 1950 Bert Malcolm, proprietor of the Waumbek Hotel in Jefferson, was able to send his employee, Joe LaFlamme, to work on trails. LaFlamme was employed for two seasons, but in 1952 was no longer available (he may have been too old to want the job). At the last minute, Chris Harris, a long-time Randolphian, and Bob Cote of Gorham were employed for an hourly wage of under $1 per hour. For a considerable number of years thereafter Randolph youth vied for trail crew and caretaker positions, often having to try out on volunteer work parties led by Klaus Goetze. Supervised by the Trails Chair, trail crews cleared blowdowns and brushed the trails. One of Klaus ventures for volunteers in the early 50's was the extension of the Link from the first Castle to the Caps Ridge Trail.
A concerted effort to improve trail signs was begun in 1965, when, in the words of then President Nancy Frueh, she and Barbara Wilson were coming down the Israel Ridge Trail and were taken aback to find a sign pointing to Cascade Camp--which had been destroyed by a slide in the 1920's. The old signs, made by Lizzy Jones, were mostly either outdated or mangled by bears. We got a reform-minded Signs Committee together, and I persuaded the CEO of Stanley Tools (who was visiting Randolph at the time) to give a Stanley router to the RMC.
During the relocation of US Route 2 in 1965-66, parking lots were created on the south side of the new highway at three trail heads in Randolph Valley: Randolph East (trails had previously started at Randolph Station), Appalachia (parking had been near the Ravine House or at Coldbrook Lodge) and at Bowman in the west. By the end of summer 1966 Charles Blood had cut new trails, none substantial relocations, connecting to the new parking areas. At the same time, the AMC moved the Lowes Path trailhead from Bowman to a location across the highway from Lowes Store (actually the location of the original nineteenth-century path).
By 1969, pay had been raised to $1.60 per hour, netting the boys about $350 for a half summer of work. More skilled crew members used a chain saw to clear heavy trail damage. Some summers, the crew was comprised of three members and, by 1970, a four-person crew had been hired, perhaps as much the result of the large number of eager Randolph applicants (all with more or less equal qualifications) as opposed to the need for more workers. The effectiveness of the crews varied, depending upon the diligence which the crews brought to their jobs and the amount of supervision they were given.
Paul Bradley (at age 14) took charge of sign painting and, between 1969 and 1972, replaced nearly 400 signs. In 1971 the Emerald Trail (from the Bluff to the Castle Ravine Trail) was the last new RMC path cut on WMNF land for many years; it was blazed and cut under Klaus Goetzes supervision. In 1972, after considerable board discussion, the first "girl" was hired: Betsy Rising, who went on to become the first woman caretaker several years later. Paul Bradley headed the trail crew for several years, during which he and Al Hudson developed a scheme of priorities for trail clearing.
Winter usage of trails was increasing and, in the 1971-2 season, winter caretaker Jeff Bean began making trips to Gray Knob on weekends. Trail maintenance became more of an issue and, by 1973 liason problems with the USFS began to occur: the Forest Service began insisting that erosion control as already practiced by the AMC should become part of the RMCs trail maintenance. Klaus suggested the RMC should train its crew in AMC methods. In 1974, Bill Arnold was hired to construct more than 100 water bars on the Spur Trail. Board members questioned the Club's ability to afford erosion control, but it soon became apparent that erosion control must be accomplished or overused trails would be closed by the Forest Service. In 1977 the USFS's unit plan contained an alternative that called for the closing of specific redundant trails, among them the upper Howker Ridge, Brookside, King's Headwall, part of the Spur Trail, and the upper Amphibrach. After much protest by the RMC and others this alternative was discarded, and the only trail discontinued in 1980 was the upper Brookside.
During 1978 the RMC hosted the 2nd Annual Cooperators' Conference and began exploring signing a cooperator's contract with the WMNF. In 1979 the first such agreement was signed; the RMC agreed to maintain trails to minimum Forest Service standards; to hold annual consultations with the Forest Service; and to conduct a biennial joint inspection of bridges.
By the early 80's, there were few Randolph youth applying for the crews. Not only had the teenaged population gone from abundant to scarce, but most young people found it necessary to take better paying summer jobs to help meet college expenses. The Board decided to hire an experienced crew, drawn often from the AMC. In 1982 a two-person crew (John Michael Field and John Tremblay) was hired for a ten-week season. RMC trails and camps personnel received First Aid training for the first time. A three-year plan for priorities on trail clearing was developed and Peter Rowan was hired to flag and clear a new Vyron D. Lowe Trail (to connect with the Crescent Ridge Trail near Lookout Ledge). The USFS cooperators agreement specified that signs must include mileages, but with the rangers consent these were allowed to be changed only as replacement signs became necessary.
The first cooperators agreement for trail hardening was signed in 1984 by the RMC and the USFS. The project was designed to control erosion on the Spur Trail and many new rock steps and waterbars were put in. The following year the four-person crew did not manage to accomplish work sufficient to meet USFS standards on the Israel Ridge Path; the agreement continued in force for a second year until the work was satisfactory. The USFS ranger, Gary Carr, felt that many RMC trails duplicated other more heavily used paths and brought forth a scheme to close a number of paths, resulting in the closing of the upper Log Cabin loop. The Club fought successfully to have other trails maintained.
In the late 80's, finding adequate workers again became an issue. The job was attracting less experienced personnel. The crew had done poorer quality work and needed better supervision. By 1990 the Club realized its salary levels were no longer competitive, and the Board agreed to engage a more highly paid, better qualified, and smaller crew of two, who attended a Trailwrights training session before beginning work.
Between 1991 and 1995, the trail crews heavy work on erosion control contracts was supplemented by trail clearing and bushing by a volunteer group of North Country teenagers, Trailmasters, who were led by David Dernbach. The group was based at the Perch or at other back country locations. In 1992 prison inmates (under the supervision of Rich Lewis) built cairns on the Cornice Path. Regular work parties were also organized by Board members to help with lighter trail work.
In 1995 the Board realized it would need to add a second trail crew if the RMC was going to accomplish the major erosion control requested by the USFS as well as continuing `routine maintenance on its paths. Through the Student Conservation Association of Charlestown, NH, the Club hired a three-person crew, all first-year workers. The addition of a second trail crew freed the more highly skilled senior crew to focus on erosion control. The SCA crew in turn brushed and blazed trails as well as rehabilitating paths north of US Route 2. To this day, the two crews have served the club admirably. In addition the Club has regularly received help for short term work projects from various volunteer groups like Americorps, the White Mountain School, and the Penn State Outing Club.
In 1996, the Lowes Path was transferred from the AMC to the RMC. The heavy use this trail received was largely due to year-round Gray Knob visitors and both clubs felt the RMC was in a better position to see that the trail was kept cleared. The next year Trails co-chairs, Doug Mayer and Mike Micucci, began a computerized database for trail work, completed the Trails Manual and the Safety Manual for crew members, and drafted a policy statement on logging in proximity to RMC trails.
A violent ice storm in January of 1998 threatened the entire RMC trail system, leaving debris strewn everywhere. An emergency fund raising letter was sent to members, which eventually raised almost $16,000 for trail clearing. Despite early predictions of necessary trail closings or abandonment, crews (both paid and volunteer) began work once the snow had melted. By one account, crews operated chainsaws for a number of hours equivalent to almost fifty years of routine trails patrolling. Because of this tremendous effort, all trails had been cleared of storm damage by the middle of June and all were open as usual.
A paid position of Field Supervisor was added in 1998. Day-to-day supervision for trails and camps was transferred from the volunteer coordinators to the new employee. Originally an 11-week summer job, in 2002 the Supervisor worked for 12 weeks. The person hired usually starts in May with a few weeks of caretaking to get used to camps routines as well as beginning summer planning. Although the intense supervisory burden on the Camps and Trails Chairs had been lessened, new problems confronted the RMC. A facility for tool storage became essential when Doug Mayers garage would no longer be available to the Club. Housing for the crews was also needed for years crew members, since they usually didnt have direct Randolph connections, had difficulties finding living quarters while they performed their jobs and it became difficult to hire competent workers because there was no housing. The solution to both problems originated with Edie and Dan Tucker at Coldbrook Lodge. The Tuckers offered the Club a site on which to build a trails workshop. It was built in 2000 and dedicated to Klaus Goetze. The following year, the Tuckers made available the Jones Cottage as a center for the trail crews and Field Supervisor and tent platforms were built to accommodate the RMCs employees.
The Randolph Community Forest, a large tract of former lumber company land on the Crescent Ridge, was acquired through the joint efforts of many organizations and individuals; the town voted to accept the Forest at its 2002 Town Meeting. The RMC has begun a formal relationship with the town as "activity manager for hiking trails" in the Community Forest. Two new trails on Community Forest land, the Underhill and Four Soldiers paths, were scouted in 2001 and 2002 and cut by a special RMC trail crew in the fall of 2002.
When the Club amended its Bylaws in 1999, there was one omission and one item which should have been deleted. The Bylaws provide for amendments "at any general membership meeting provided that notice of said meeting be given by posting and by mail (as provided for meetings other than the Annual Meeting) at least two weeks prior to said meeting. Said notice shall contain either the text or a brief summary of the proposed amendments."
The membership will be asked to vote on the two changes proposed below at the Annual meeting on August 9, 2003. This insertion in the Newsletter will serve as written notice.
The first change is an addition to Section 2 of Article 4 , which now reads: "Thirty members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at any general membership meeting of the Club." It is proposed to add the following that was omitted in 1999: "Eight members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at any meeting of the Board of Directors of the Club."
The second change, to Section 4 of Article 4, concerns the announcement of general membership meetings. Section 4.4 now reads "the secretary...shall give notice of all general membership meetings by posting a written announcement in at least two public places in the Town of Randolph." It is proposed to strike this provision from the Bylaws. The method of announcing the Annual Meeting in recent years has been to publish this information both in the Club's Newsletter and in the Randolph Weekly, more efficient ways of getting this information to our membership. Announcements have not been posted in some years, and the Annual Meeting, as specified in the Bylaws, must occur on the second Saturday of August. The complete text of section 4.4 now reads (changes in italics):
The Secretary/Clerk shall see that notice of the Annual Meeting is given in the Newsletter and is printed in the Randolph Weekly. In the case of meetings other than the Annual Meeting, the Secretary/Clerk shall give notice to the Randolph Weekly and also send a written announcement to each member of the Club at his/her address as shown on the Club records, at least 14 days prior to the date of the meeting. No notice shall be required for junior members and duplicate notices to one address shall be avoided.
Answers to RMC Jeopardy
1. A. Source: Randolph Paths. 56 inches of snow fell in 24 hours, November 22-23, 1943.
2. C. To quote Randolph Paths, Named in memory of Phyllis Peek Folsom, descendent of the trail builder W.H. Peek, a lifelong Randolphian, and active member of the RMC.
3. D. The trail in question is the Carlton Notch Trail.
4. D. Working our way uphill, the Ravine House was located on then Route 2, the Mountain View House was located at the turn on Randolph Hill Road (now the Woods residence) and the Mount Crescent House was located atop Randolph Hill.
5. D. The junction with the Moosebank was next and then the Fordway. Courtesy of Louis F. Cutters 1944 map, Randolph Mountain Club Map of Trails to Tama and Mossy Glen.
6. C. The post office was located at the Woods house at the bottom of the Wood Path. The Torrey Path, closed in 1944, also went to the post office.
7. C. Does anyone know of any trails shorter anywhere else in the entire White Mountains? We don't. Along the Brink runs next to the edge of White Cliff, from Cliffway to Ladderback.
8. C. The three falls along the Town Line Brook Trail, off the Pinkham B Road.
9. D. The description comes from the 1917 AMC Guide to the Paths in the White Mountains and Adjacent Regions.
10. D. The quote comes from the book, Mountain Summers: Tales of Hiking and Exploration in the White Mountains from 1878 to 1886 as Seen Through the Eyes of Women, page 248. To finish the quote, I feel that I can safely trust the confession to youthat you will not betray me nor my accompliceshowever you may share Mr. Lowes indignation against us. We did not go to do it, and we are very sorry if we did it. I, for one, intend never to abet the making of a fire upon the scurf, even in a pouring rain, without grave cause.
11. A. Eugene Cook. Source: Forest and Crag, page 225
12. D. The Howks of the Howker Ridge Trail.
13. A. The quote is from Forest and Crag, page 223.
14. D. The Subway in King Ravine. Ice Cave Loop has ice, but is higher.
0-5 correct: Pasture Path Division. Its time to hang up your Limmers for a few weeks and hit the books!
5-10 correct: Mount Crescent Division. Good job, but perhaps you need to get out on a few more RMC hikes?
11-14 correct: Mount Adams Atherian Award Winner! The editor politely requests that you write the next edition of RMC Jeopardy.