RMC Newsletter - Summer 2007

Table of Contents

President's Letter
By Jamie Maddock

"In the same way, the RMC is entering a new season and the same changes serve to renew and reinvigorate our club. We have built the Stearns Lodge and completed quite a task. Much of the club’s time and energy has gone into the construction effort. Our continuing challenge is to keep the RMC healthy and vibrant for the future."

Reports from Committees
By Bill Parlett, Storm Schott, Doug Mayer, Dave Salisbury, and Mike Micucci

Treasurer's Report, Camps Report, Trails Report, RMC Merchandise.


Stearns Lodge and its Extraordinary Volunteers

With Stearns Lodge now completed, it's natural for those of us involved in the project to find ourselves reflecting upon the endeavor, what it says about the RMC, the club's many volunteers and friends, and the act of coming together to accomplish a substantial community goal.

Managing the Randolph Mountain Club
By Judith Maddock Hudson

"The Randolph Mountain Club, nearing its 100th anniversary in 2010, has been a mostly volunteer operation from the very beginning. Rather casually organized at first, the Club has evolved in response to the needs of the time. Let's take a look at several periods in the RMC's history, beginning with the highly structured outfit of today."


Bradford Washburn, 1910-2007
By Lydia Goetze

"The world knows Brad Washburn as a mountaineer, aerial photographer, cartographer, and Director of the Boston Museum of Science. Less known is that Brad spent some childhood summers in and around Randolph. So we also remember Brad (an honorary RMC member, with his wife Barbara) in more personal ways."

Two Lives Saved by Search and Rescue Effort
By Edith Tucker

"The lives of two middle-aged hikers who became disoriented while descending Mt. Adams on January 10, 2007 in whiteout conditions above treeline were saved by the combined efforts of two volunteers from the Randolph Mountain Club and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, and four state Fish and Game Department conservation officers."


Formalizing Handshakes: First RMC Trails Easement
By Samarjit Shankar

"Today a significant proportion of RMC trails crossing private lands lack adequate legal protection. Why would they require legal protection, one may ask? Having allowed their construction in the first place, why wouldn’t Randolph landowners continue to allow the RMC to maintain trails on their properties?"

Memories of Trail Crew, 1951
By Christopher Harris

"Early in the summer it was learned that the arrival of the Crag Camp caretaker would be delayed, and I was instructed to get the hut ready for visitors in his stead. Up the Spur Trail I went with what gear and provisions I could carry, feeling quite ill-equipped for the task. In hooking up the water supply from the nearby spring, I discovered that a section of pipe had burst during the winter..."



President's Letter

Looking across the Great Gulf at the Mount Washington Auto Road from Mt. Adams. Photo by Doug Mayer.Another winter is behind us and the RMC has come through in great shape. Now it is getting warm outside and summer is around the corner. In our house, we observe this change by storing away the skiing gear and hauling out the hiking boots, bikes and other warm weather stuff. The winter gear is put away with a little regret as there is always some adventure left undone, but this feeling quickly disappears as we dig out our summer equipment and start putting it back into shape. The new plans and challenges of the coming season start to take shape and we reacquaint ourselves with our summer friends.

In the same way, the RMC is entering a new season and the same changes serve to renew and reinvigorate our club. We have built the Stearns Lodge and completed quite a task. Much of the club’s time and energy has gone into the construction effort. Our continuing challenge is to keep the RMC healthy and vibrant for the future. In some ways it is a harder job since there is no final goal, just a lot of things to take care of. We are a diverse club with camps, hikes, trails, and social events, and it takes many people with different talents to keep the RMC running. With our new crew and caretaker lodge, we are now able to adapt to the increasing year round requirements of the club and the ever evolving demands of trail and resource management. The RMC is evolving to meet these challenges, so take some time this summer to talk to a board member or send an email and tell us what you want the RMC to be -- or better yet volunteer and help make the club what it should be. It’s your club!

Winter use of the camps was down a little, but having a caretaker at Gray Knob once again proved its worth this winter. We had a rescue involving two hikers who were lost at the top of the Great Gully trail, and this might have had a very different ending if Gray Knob had not been open, manned and heated. Bowman Builders has been finishing up the Stearns Lodge, getting it ready for our summer trail crew and caretakers. It has really turned into quite a building! Please save Sunday, July 15th to join us in celebrating its completion. Details for the day are being worked out now. It will be a day of visiting, food, contests, and a chance to see the new building. Please check the RMC web site (www.randolpmountainclub.org) and the Randolph Weekly for celebration details as the time approaches.

The Stearns Lodge is wrapping up on time and on budget. Thanks to everyone involved we will have a fantastic new facility and a healthy reserve fund to go with it. Nonetheless our annual budget is going to need some work. Last year we raised dues and camps fees to cover the operating costs of the Stearns Lodge, but with camp visits and memberships down we will need to cut some expenses and raise our income. We will try to have more fund raisers this year and also update our membership list, but there is not much else we can do to increase our income. The RMC is a lean organization, so every dollar counts and if we have to cut something, it really hurts. Your gifts truly help; please consider an additional gift if possible.

Hope to see you on the trails or at an RMC event this summer!

Jamie Maddock
RMC President

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Reports from Committees...

Treasurer’s Report
By Bill Parlett

I recently sent the club’s 2006 end-of-year financial data to Jamie Maddock for inclusion in the President’s Annual letter. Therefore, I will not reiterate them here, other than to say that the club remains financially sound with income and expenses being generally in balance and with modest reserves on hand. I should note, however, that with income down, mainly due to decreased camps use, memberships, and contributions, the committee chairs and co-chairs did remarkably well in keeping expenses in check.

While the construction of the Stearns Lodge moves along as planned, the receipt of pledge payments is a well ahead of schedule with less than seven percent of pledges yet to be received. This overwhelming generosity and early payment of pledges have allowed us to pay as we go -- a bridge loan will not be necessary. The Randolph community is simply awesome!

As was done last year, we plan to have the financial records audited by a team of interested club members, Ken Lee, Dan Tucker and Jim Hunt, and to have their report available at the RMC Annual Meeting. Thank you Ken, Dan, and Jim for volunteering your services for this important, though somewhat less than exciting, task.

I personally owe a great deal of thanks to Michele Cormier for providing copious amounts of time and assistance. For consistency and confidentiality, Michele continues to handle all Stearns Lodge pledge related issues. Additionally, she makes essentially all of the clubs bank deposits and, with considerable patience, fields a plethora of my questions — from accounting to taxes.

It is an honor to serve as your treasurer and it is with reluctance that, due to other obligations, I have concluded that I will be unable to continue serving as treasurer beyond my term’s end in August. I do, however, look forward to continuing to serve the club in other capacities. If you would like to serve as RMC Treasurer or know someone who may be interested, please contact me by e-mail.


Camps Report
By Storm Schott

We have had a good winter up at the camps. The winter started out fairly mild, but the winter experience is at full throttle as I write this in late February. We began the season with Chad McClean and Matt McEttrick trading a week on/ week off schedule. Chad had to leave early due to an injury, and is missed. We were able to fill in the gaps with volunteers, trail crew, caretaker alumni, and the occasional board member. Thanks to all who pitched in. Matt was able to quit his other job and has taken on the brutal 11 on/ 3 off schedule. A big “Attaboy!” goes out to Matt for all the hard work he has done for us over the course of the season.

Sally Manikian has recently accepted the job as spring caretaker and will be starting up there on April 5. Sally is currently the caretaker at Cardigan Lodge in Meredith, NH, and also brings with her two seasons of experience caretaking for the AMC at Carter Notch Hut. Welcome, Sally! We are still accepting applications for summer caretakers.

Our caretakers always like to see a friendly face up there, especially during the quieter times of year, and they truly enjoy treats from the valley. If you have a chance to, go on up and feed those poor souls!


Trails Report
By Trails Co-Chairs, Doug Mayer and Dave Salisbury

Trail Crew at 2006 Trail Crew July pot luck. Photo by Doug Mayer.The biggest news for RMC’s trails this coming summer, is, of course, happening right in the valley -- the opening of Stearns Lodge for use by our trail crews and caretakers. Much has been written in the RMC newsletter in recent years about what this means for the club. For those of us directly involved in the trails effort, the value of a place like the new lodge is immediately apparent!

At long last, RMC’s trail crew will have a place they can really call their own. From listening to organizations as varied as the Green Mountain Club and the Wonalancet Outdoor Club, and from our own experience with the Tuckers’ Jones Cottage, we know that having a central home will only add to the sense of spirit, will help retention of crew over the years -- and will make coordination by the volunteers that much easier. In a more intangible way, anyone who passes through the Stearns Lodge can’t help but be impressed at the obvious commitment that RMC’ers have for giving our workers every resource necessary to meet the challenges of the day. Simply put, Stearns Lodge speaks volumes about the depth of feeling for our RMC trails network and the importance we attach to it.

For this summer, in addition to the usual spring patrolling, brushing, blazing, and cleaning of drainages, our crew will a tackle three major projects. First, one crew will spend about two weeks on the bank of the Pond of Safety stabilizing a steep, eroded descent from the woods road to the pond, and adding rock step stones to the viewpoint at the pond. In July and August, the crew will head to upper Amphibrach, working from the vicinity of the Cliffway to the Pentadoi, improving and adding drainages, and adding and repairing rock steps and step stones. Both of these projects are 50% funded by the Androscoggin District of the White Mountain National Forest.

Rachel Hestrin clearing a blowdown during June Patrolling, Cliffway Trail. Photo by Chris Fithian.Our other crew will be working on the trails in town, specifically Diagonal, Wood Path and EZ Way. The crew will be repairing existing work and adding new drainages and rock work. The New Hampshire Bureau of Trails, through their popular Recreation Trails Program, will fund 80% of this project cost. The “RTP” is a reliable source of funding for clubs large and small each year. The money the state distributes via this grant program originates with the federal gasoline excise tax.

From time to time RMC has had a fall crew that’s tackled a project or two -- more than just the usual fall drainage cleaning. This year, we’re pleased to have funding from the Waterman Fund and the US Forest Service to perform erosion control on RMC’s Lowe’s Path from Gray Knob to the summit of Adams. The Waterman Fund’s mission is to “strengthen the human stewardship of the open summits, exposed ridgelines, and alpine areas of the Northeast.” The Fund stresses outreach and education, so a part of the project includes before and after photos which will be used to make photo albums explaining the work. Copies will go to Crag Camp, Gray Knob and Stearns Lodge. The fall crew will work during the week in September and October as weather permits. And, for once, we won’t have to search for housing -- the crew will be in residence at Stearns Lodge.

RMC board members Mike Micucci and Matt Schomburg are organizing our trails work trips this year. See the list on our web site -- we hope you can join the fun and lend a hand on our trails. Volunteers continue to be a vital part of our overall trails efforts.

We hope to see you on our paths this summer, whether tackling the Great Gully, enjoying a long day wandering up Howker Ridge, or simply walking around Randolph on Bee Line and Diagonal. Happy hiking!


RMC Merchandise
By Mike Micucci

The RMC merchandise program is going well! We've recently added several new products including a winter fleece hat with a great looking RMC logo and a beautiful new long sleeve "performance" T-shirt depicting the Randolph Valley and the Northern Presidentials. These items are selling well and are nice complements to the other T-shirts, maps, and books the Club sells.

The RMC merchandise program is critical to the club for many reasons. It's an important source of revenue used to support the club's mission, and the program helps hikers stay informed and safe with guide books and maps. RMC shirts and hats also provide great visibility for our club when our members wear their RMC gear out on the trails.

We're always on the lookout for new products that make sense for our program. New items currently under consideration include a "day hike" trail map and guide, bringing back the RMC necktie, and an RMC bandana imprinted with trails.

You'll find a full selection of RMC merchandise on the web site and at Moriah Sports in Gorham. You'll also find items available at the Lowe's Store in Randolph. Please stop by!

There are two items of particular interest. First, the second edition of "Randolph in Appalachia" has just been put into stock. Second, the Waterman book of trail development is in stock and selling well.  These are limited edition printings compiled and edited by the club historians, Al and Judy Hudson. They are very well done and interesting for anyone with an interest in Randolph history specifically, and White Mountain trails history in general.

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Stearns Lodge and its Extraordinary Volunteers

With thanks from the RMC Board…

With Stearns Lodge now completed, it's natural for those of us involved in the project to find ourselves reflecting upon the endeavor, what it says about the RMC, the club's many volunteers and friends, and the act of coming together to accomplish a substantial community goal.

Stearns Lodge. Photo by Jeff Smith.In the inevitable reflection, two thoughts rise to the surface. First is the remarkable outpouring of support for the club's ability to maintain its trails and support its caretakers. To put this in perspective: the most RMC had ever raised before was $84,400 to rebuild Crag Camp in 1993. For this project, we raised more than four times that amount, and received four of our five largest gifts in the club's history. We were equally touched by the many small gifts, some of which came from donors who, we suspected, really didn't have those dollars to spare.

Just because an organization can raise money for a project, however, doesn't mean it will necessarily happen -- even with an array of volunteers to lead the effort. And this leads to the second thought: these projects require some special individuals who will step up when the project is about to stall, and will do their best to get over a looming hurdle.

With that in mind, we would like to note those RMC volunteers who have done this for Stearns Lodge, listed in order of the project's chronology:

Dan and Edith Tucker: Were it not for RMC's experience with the use of the Tuckers’ Jones Cottage for five years, the club might never have had the opportunity to see the value in bringing all of its employees together under one roof. Esprit de corps is up, coordination is much easier for board members, retention of trail crew and caretakers has risen, and your camps and trails chairs needn't spend the time trying to locate increasingly hard-to-secure housing. In this sense, Dan and Edith enabled RMC to see how it could be a stronger club with a valley home for its trail crew and caretakers.

Gary Chabot (Gray Knob Caretaker 1984) and Dave Fontaine. Photo by Doug Mayer.Doug Mayer: As the chair and co-chair of the Trails Committee for many years, Doug has had the vision and the expertise to bring RMC trail work into the era of heavy use and new construction methods. Seeking outside grants for much of the needed work, Doug was perhaps the first to recognize that the work and enthusiasm of our larger, modern Trail Crew can best be supported by practical common housing. Throughout the planning and construction process, Doug has worked with the Trail Crew, the Building Committee, and the Board to make the Lodge a reality for the summer of 2007.

Ben Phinney: From its earliest moment, Ben intuitively understood the club's need, and he has a natural gift for explaining the issues to a broader audience. As head of the Fundraising Committee, Ben also taught all of us how to make the process a two-way street, listening to what RMC members and friends had to say, and sincerely doing our level best to integrate those comments into the final plan.

RMC Board of Directors: Most boards usually find themselves reacting to situations. It's not often that a board can look down the road, spot challenges, and plan ahead. But in the case of Stearns Lodge, that's exactly what the RMC Board did. The Board's willingness to tackle one of the biggest projects in the club's history and the 100% participation of its 15 members in fundraising are tribute to the Board's belief in the project. Money and participation aside, the board also spent dozens of hours over a number of years, carefully thinking through the project and its implications. Special thanks to Michele Cormier for handling contributions to the Stearns Lodge fund.

Lodge, January 2007. Caretaker living space at right. Photo by Doug Mayer.Tim Sappington: A volunteer very early in the process, Tim was the first person to put pen to paper and bring the building to life. His early drawings were instrumental in our ability to visualize the building and share our ideas with members.

Mary Brown: As President of the RMC during the first few years of the project, Mary's renowned organizational skills and expert follow-through were absolutely vital to getting the project off the ground.

Dan and Edith Tucker – again! Dan and Edith's generous donation of land for Stearns Lodge eliminated the single largest roadblock to the project. With their offer of land, the project went from a theoretical possibility to being within reach.

Stearns Foundation: The Stearns Foundation's remarkably generous $100,000 challenge grant is the largest gift in the history of RMC -- and it came at just the right moment for the club's fundraising efforts. Their matching gift inspired members and friends to be as generous as possible and brought our goal within sight.

Jamie Maddock: Taking over from Mary Brown as RMC President, Jamie moved the Stearns Lodge project along, successfully resolving a number of issues and ultimately enabling the RMC to build a lodge that was safe, practical and affordable.

Lunch Break: Gerard Cotnoir, Dave Fontaine, Ray Cotnoir (L to R). Photo by Doug Mayer.Paul Cormier: During the construction phase of the project, no one has been more committed to Stearns Lodge than RMC's Construction Coordinator, Paul Cormier. Starting as the volunteer co-chair of the Building Committee, Paul was the perfect candidate for the paid role of construction coordinator -- though he selflessly continued to volunteer a significant portion of his time. Paul's hard work on a daily basis maximized the value of every gift made in the name of Stearns Lodge. His many years of construction experience meant that the project was diligently supervised and sturdily built, exactly as specified. From last September through this spring, Paul rarely had Stearns Lodge off his mind. Paul's quiet, selfless hard work has been immensely important to the quality of the end result.

RMC Members: Every organization should be so lucky to have such a collection of talented, generous volunteers. In addition, the percentage of the membership that contributed is really amazing. The members of the RMC are the real lynchpins, and future members will thank them for their foresight. To each of our volunteers, and to the hundreds of donors, one thought remains: we couldn't have done it without all of you!

Thanks!

The Board also extends its thanks to Ray Cotnoir and Dave Fontaine. As the local builders of Stearns Lodge, they have used their skills to craft a beautiful yet practical, affordable and sturdy basecamp that we and generations of caretakers and trail crews will use and enjoy. While building the Lodge was a business arrangement for them, the extra care and attention they have bestowed on “their” lodge is in the RMC tradition, and we thank them.

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Managing the Randolph Mountain Club
By Judith Maddock Hudson

The Randolph Mountain Club, nearing its 100th anniversary in 2010, has been a mostly volunteer operation from the very beginning. Rather casually organized at first, the Club has evolved in response to the needs of the time. Let's take a look at several periods in the RMC's history, beginning with the highly structured outfit of today.

The RMC in the New Century: Support for Ongoing Operations. Since 2000, the RMC has enlarged its presence in the Randolph valley, constructing its first buildings to support its activities and staff. The Goetze Trails Workshop was erected in 2000 to be used in trail crew operations and to store camp supplies. The following year, tent platforms were built to house crew members next to the Jones Cottage, where a kitchen, bathrooms and living room were made available by the Tuckers. Construction of a permanent facility for crews and caretakers began in the fall of 2006, and the Stearns Lodge will be completed this spring for use this coming summer.

Crowd at the 1913 RMC Picnic at Cascade Camp.A substantial undertaking, the Stearns Lodge was conceived, financed, and finally erected under the supervision of RMC volunteers. Who comprises this group? The Board of Directors, as listed in the winter 2006-07 newsletter, consists of five officers and ten additional members. There are twelve committees, some permanent, some ad-hoc, whose personnel include another 17 non-board members. There is also a webmaster, an archivist, an historian, a cartographer, and a radioman (the only board member). It is these volunteers who run the RMC today -- establishing policy, helping raise funds, editing newsletters and Randolph Paths, publishing maps and archival papers, hiring summer trail crews and year-round caretakers, and running summer activities.

There are many others who are not listed formally -- from trip leaders to work party participants to picnic and charade organizers. The Club could not run smoothly without their participation, or that of the Club's 16 to 18 workers who are compensated for their time -- trail crew, summer and winter caretakers and the summer field supervisor, a position first created in 1998 to assume the major burden of managing the summertime operation of both trails and camps.

The 2006 budget was more than $100,000,1 with over $33,000 allocated to camps and nearly $43,000 for trails. The Board of Directors had 15 members, 10 of whom reside in the North Country. There were 973 members in 2003. An adult single membership now costs $25 a year or $50 for a family.

The Early Years: 1910s-1920s. In its early years, the RMC was far simpler. Founded in August 1910, at the instigation of Town Selectman John Boothman, the RMC was established in response to the destruction of much of the pre-RMC trail system by widespread lumbering on the Northern Peaks. Randolph's hotels depended upon their summer clientele, many of whom came to walk on Randolph's paths. The Club’s original mission was to rebuild this devastated path system, using both volunteer labor from its members and hiring local woodsmen for the heavier tasks.

Early RMC activities, which occurred exclusively in the summertime, consisted of the annual meeting (on the second Saturday in August), an August or early September picnic, and work parties to clear or sometimes cut trails. In September, 1912, the picnic was held at Cascade Camp in Cascade Ravine, where 38 men and women assembled to celebrate newly completed repairs to the old birchbark camp of J. Rainer Edmands, who had died in 1910:

About six weeks ago, Mr. Edmands' niece, Mrs. Southard, gave the camp to the club to hold as long as the club would keep it in repair. For the last fortnight or so, Mr. [Eldredge] Blood and several men have been working to repair it, and now the work is finished....The framework of peeled spruce poles remains as it was when Mr. Edmands built it twenty years ago. The original covering of "Red Rope" paper remains in place; a few holes have been patched. On the roof, another layer of "Red Rope" paper has been put over the old paper, and, instead of the protective outer covering of birch bark, a new outer covering of long shingles, split by hand from spruce logs, has been applied. On the sides of the camp, the old covering of birch bark remains.2

Attendees also worked, both coming and going, to clear various trails to the camp. A similar clearing party was organized about the 1913 picnic at Cascade Camp, to which over 80 men and women hiked.

For many decades the organization was managed and supported by the summer hotel guests and "cottagers" of Randolph. The Club’s business was accomplished in one or two meetings during the summer season. The president and board of directors (with the exception of local families like the Boothmans, the Woods, and the Lowes) were all summer residents. Many of these individuals served until infirmity or death rendered them incapable. The first president, the Reverend Dr. Edward Y. Hincks, held the office from 1910 until 1922. Arthur Stanley Pease, his successor, served for 11 years. Louis F. Cutter was an officer in the RMC from 1910 continuously until he died in 1945: 30 years as vice president, and 5 (from 1931-32 through 1935-36) as president.

Another indomitable volunteer was Miss Elizabeth 'Lizzie' E. Jones, who, from the Club's inception until 1949, acted as secretary or treasurer (and for at least 10 years as both). For many years she painted all the trail signs as well. In the summer of 1945, when I was ten, my brother and I scouted and cut a short trail on the Hill to Glover Spring before the new road was put in, and I remember going to Miss Jones' cottage to consult about making signs. I believe she helped us paint a set of signs to mark the path.

The Club’s financial records from 1913 to 1948 were succinct enough to be all contained in a 4" x 6" leather-covered loose leaf notebook, now housed in the RMC archives.3 The board had only 4 officers, all summer people. In 1910, there were 131 members. Dues originally were $1 per person. Two new categories, contributing ($2) and sustaining ($5) members were added in 1920. There was no change in membership fees until 1952.

Treasurer’s reports reported basic facts in the early days. The first annual accounting of income and expenses (which we have in George N. Cross' hand for the 1912-13 season) showed a balanced ledger amounting to $469.87. The largest single expense, $154.70, covered the improvements to Cascade Camp. Other labor expenses, presumably mostly for trail maintenance, were $150.82. The year ended with a surplus of $160.45. The minutiae of income and expenses were meticulously recorded, as illustrated by a much later income item from 1929: "T. Lewis, selling blueberries, Mt. Hayes . . . .15 cents." Tom Lewis (who was later killed in WW II) was probably about ten years old at the time, although it's unclear if he picked and also marketed the berries on the summit of Mt. Hayes, or carried them down for later sale.

In 1915 the first formal legal step by the Directors of the Randolph Mountain Club was to incorporate the Club under the laws of the State of New Hampshire, for which Articles of Agreement were drawn up and signed by a group of its members. Incorporation mandated that one officer, the clerk, reside in New Hampshire, raising the number of board members to five. The document was filed with the Secretary of State in Concord, NH, on September 8, 1915, under the signatures of Edward Y. Hincks, Louis F. Cutter, George N. Cross, Eldredge H. Blood, Wm. O. Pray, John H. Boothman, Frank H. Chase, L. M. Watson, and F. C. Wood.4 Article 2 of this brief document reads:

The object for which this corporation is established is building and maintaining paths, and building, maintaining, and controlling camps, in and among the White Mountains, in New Hampshire, and transacting any business legitimately connected therewith.

Contributions above and beyond dues have always been welcomed, and often requested for special projects, the first of which was for the Log Cabin in 1922. Forty-one individuals contributed $221.50 to help defray the costs of rebuilding under the supervision of Irving W. Crosby. Funds contributed in memory of Eugene B. Cook and J. Rayner Edmands were used in 1924 to build Memorial Bridge, which was dedicated to all the early pathmakers at the centennial celebration for the town of Randolph in 1924. War bonds in memory of Alfred Hubbard, who lost his life in World War I, led to the building of the Hubbard Bridge over the Moose River.

By 1924 the board saw the need for setting aside enough cash for the following year's expenses, guaranteeing that there was money to pay woodsmen to clear the trails of winter debris in June before the hiking season began.

At the 1924 annual meeting, George N. Cross reported total assets and expenses of $990.51, $425.73 of which was used to build Memorial Bridge, and $452.63 for labor on paths and camps. There were 5 members of the board, including Randolph native Francis Wood, the clerk. Cross tallied 328 members: 83 at $1; 46 at $2; 22 at $5; and 177 delinquents who hadn't paid dues by August 9th.

The 1940s: Imposition of Organizational Structure. Let's jump now to the 1940s, when World War II forced the RMC's directors to seek new solutions to maintaining trails because the local supply of labor had gone to war. Louis F. Cutter, indomitable at age 78, marshaled volunteers to clear trails in a scheme very like recent "Adopt-a-Trail" programs,5 while the rest of the Club's activities continued as usual.

Change was in the cards, however. At the annual meeting in August, 1943, Charles W. Blood was elected as a director of the Club, and the following year he became president.6 Born in 1878, Blood was a prominent Boston lawyer who had come to the White Mountains every summer since childhood. Around 1903, once he had begun his professional career, he became interested in trails and spent many years scouting and cutting new paths as a member of the AMC. He was active in the AMC, serving as Councillor in various AMC departments, as president, and from 1930 to 1952 as treasurer.7 No stranger to Randolph, Blood had first stayed at the Ravine House in 1926:

For thirty-four years we went to the Ravine House and if it had not been torn down I should doubtless be going there still, for I believe it was the finest tramping center in the White Mountains.8

"C. W. B.,” as he was known by his friends, was a systematic and well-organized man. Although most of his trail work during the 1920s and 1930s was devoted to places other than Randolph, he wrote that while he boarded at the Ravine House, “My son Henry ...and I also started putting in a few water bars on the Air Line."9

World War II, with its gasoline shortages, forced Blood to work closer to the Ravine House:

where some trails had been crossed by local lumbering operations...These Randolph trails went diagonally through lumbered areas and, except for the old footwaythere was nothing to mark them for a year or two. Then they grew up - first to raspberry bushes and then to young cherry. In essence it involved standardization every year to a width of six to eight feet. I used a sickle and Dr. Schmeckabier used sort of a rake with teeth like a mowing machine. As cherry and birch grew up, it became more of a clipper job. However it was not wise to cut down the little trees for it was desirable to have the trees grow up and arch over the trail as soon as possible.10

As a board member, Blood turned the same precision to the RMC's structure. He was more than ready to whip the RMC into shape. He described the Club as:

...rather badly disorganized. The president and a large board of directors tried to run things without anyone having any particular duties. As a result, no one knew what anyone else was doing. No one knew whether any particular trail was being attended to.....The chairman of the nominating committee asked me if I would accept the office of president. The committee felt that with my experience in the A.M.C. I would know what ought to be done and that I could approach the situation more objectively than one of the cottage group could.

It was an interesting experience. At the first meeting of the directors I proposed the appointment of separate committees to be responsible for trails, camps, signs, picnics, excursions, etc. I was surprised at the opposition I encountered. I found that some directors liked the existing setup -- under which they felt free to do any particular bit of work they wanted to at any time without bothering to consult anyone else or to report to anyone what they were doing. However, most of the directors supported me and the committee system I set up has proved satsifactory.11

And so, the RMC's operation had structure imposed from above. In the annual letter written12 and sent in May 1945 by Charles Blood, he tactfully claimed that, because he was not able to be in Randolph all summer, "It is quite impossible for me to supervise everything as our former presidents have done."13

The new committee system assigned specific chairmen (or women) to the Crag Camp, Excursions, Signs, and Trails committees. The president was initially responsible for hiring the summer caretaker, but day-to-day supervision of summer workers and activities was vested in these committee chairs.

In the 1948 annual financial statement, the Club's assets and expenditures balanced at $2,174.58. Trails cost $1,097.18; Crag Camp, $195.34; the Log Cabin, $124.87. The board had 16 directors, of whom only John Boothman was a New Hampshire resident. There were 330 members: 2 Honorary; 176 Active; 63 Contributing; 19 Sustaining; 13 Juniors; and 60 "as yet unpaid." (14 of these will be "outlawed if their dues are not paid in '48"). Dues remained at $1, $2, $5 with $.50 for children.

The 1970s: Environmental Concerns. In the 1970s, hiking became incredibly popular and a steadily increasing wave of backpackers assaulted White Mountain trails. New, lightweight tents enabled hikers to camp at will; at favorite sites the vegetation was destroyed, sanitation ignored, and trash strewn around. Trail surfaces were being damaged by lug-soled boots, and paths were eroding. The RMC's solution to overuse of trails had long been relocation, but, as shown by the cutting of a new section of the Spur Trail in the early 1960s, this resulted in two eroded trails instead of one.14

Controlling the degradation by installing waterbars or steps, as the AMC then did, was a labor-intensive activity, requiring far greater skills with tools and engineering know-how than the RMC crew had previously commanded. Klaus Goetze, the benevolent despot who had run the trail crew for many years, lobbied to have the RMC crew trained by the AMC before they started their work. In the summer of 1974 Bill Arnold was hired to construct more than 100 waterbars on the Spur Trail, a path that was being heavily damaged from overuse.

In 1974, President John Eusden's annual letter contained the first mention of environmental concerns in a "spring newsletter," which was almost completely devoted to conservation matters. Two years later Jack Stewart wrote the membership in his 1976 presidential letter:

Perhaps the single most important item of news this year is that the WMNF plans to release a preliminary draft of its Presidential Range Unit Study at the end of May. Much of this will be of vital concern to our Club and its activities for the next decade or longer.

USFS supervisors controlled everything that happened on federal land. They mandated that RMC trails be rebuilt, and if not, they threatened to close paths.15 By 1979, the RMC had signed a co-operator's contract with the National Forest, agreeing to maintain trails to minimum USFS standards and to hold annual consultations with the USFS. All of this activity demanded much more involvement by the Club's board members.

At the same time, RMC camps were often abused by hikers when summer caretakers were not present. Winter use burgeoned, aided also by improvements in cold-weather equipment, and in the fall of 1971, a weekend caretaker was deemed necessary. By 1975 a full-time winter caretaker was in place at Gray Knob.16 The RMC had become a year-round operation. The Club needed a board that could support their staff year-round, a task that fell heavily upon the few board members who were winter residents -- Bill Arnold, Jack Boothman's daughters Sally and Becky, Sandy Harris, and Barbara and Don Wilson. Within a few years, winter caretakers had assumed positions on the board, and with the guidance of Jeff Tirey, Mikes Johnson and Pelchat, John Tremblay, and Peter Rowan, the RMC had successfully weathered the transition to a year-round Club.

In 1978, income and assets totaled $14,288.91, although only $9,040.95 was spent. Camps cost $5,115.71, and trails, $3,277.11. There was over $5,000 in the bank. The board had 15 directors, 4 4 of whom were year-round residents. The RMC had 351 members (a total including only those who had paid dues). Dues were $10 adult, $15 a couple, $3 student, and $1 junior.

The 1990s: Rebuilding for the Future. The decade from 1985 to 1995 saw an enormous increase in RMC activity. The camps, all nearing physical collapse, were thoroughly rebuilt: the Log Cabin with memorial funds for Jack Boothman, at a cost of $3,926 (1985); Gray Knob at a cost of $63,800 (1989); and Crag Camp at $84,400 (1993). With the installation of continuous composting toilets between 1994 and 1998, costing about $12,000 apiece,17 the camp system was ready for the 21st century.

A similar surge occurred for trails. The need for major erosion control demanded a larger crew of skilled workers capable of engineering trail reconstruction. To attract these crew members, salaries needed to be competitive. While dues and member contributions continued to fund trail work, much of the funding for erosion control now came from contracts with the WMNF, which inspected the construction to ensure that it met Forest Service standards. By 1995, the 4-person crew had doubled, providing a second crew from the Student Conservation Association who performed more of the routine maintenance on the paths.

How did the board manage the Club's growth? By spending hours and hours as volunteers.18 The rebuilding projects were organized by Burt Dempster (Log Cabin), Jeff Tirey (designer for Gray Knob, and co-designer for Crag), with John Tremblay as principal builder for both Gray Knob and Crag. Helicopters were first used extensively for reconstructing Gray Knob. Behind the scenes were board members who raised funds, sought foundation grants, and ran the show. For trails Doug Mayer (both singly and together with co-chairs Steve Snook, and Mike Micucci) worked to upgrade the trail crew to a new level of professionalism, as well as raising funds through new sources.

By 1998, the RMC's finances had taken a quantum leap upwards. Income was $137,094; expenses, $111,764. It was, of course, the year of the great ice-storm, which stimulated $18,000 in additional funds through contributions and grants. Many hours of volunteer labor had kept expenses for the emergency trail clearing down to about $16,000. The total expended for trails in 1998 was $51,000; for camps, $33,500. Board membership held steady at 15, as specified in the by-laws. Eight directors were year-round North Country residents. Club members numbered about 550, more than 100 of whom had yet to pay their dues. Membership was set at $20 for an individual, and $40 for a family.

The beginning of the new century saw the Randolph Mountain Club strong and active, and ready to meet the management challenges as it approached its own centennial in 2010.

I am interested in any additional comments, corrections, anecdotal materials, or relevant photographs that my readers might have. Please contact me at 111 Amherst Road, Pelham, MA 01002; (413)256-6950; in the summer at 603-466-5509; or by E-mail.

Judith Hudson has been coming to Randolph since the age of four or five. Her parents, the Drs. Stephen and Charlotte Maddock, first visited Randolph in 1923 or 1924 at the invitation of the Cutter family. Active members of the RMC, Judy and her husband Al have served in a variety of RMC jobs, including the presidency. Al is currently the Club’s Archivist, and Judy is working on a history of the RMC.


1 This excludes the more than $300,000, raised by 2006 and expended in 2006-07, for the construction of Stearns Lodge.

2 Louis F. Cutter, quoting a letter written on September 4, 1912, in his "The Randolph Mountain Club,” in George F. Cross, Randolph Old & New, pp.188-9.

3 This notebook also contains membership lists from 1910 through 1925.

4 The signature of the secretary, Miss E. E. Jones, the fifth officer of the Club, is missing, perhaps because women did not generally participate in legal matters at this time.

5 Tom Barrow, in an interview some years ago, recalled that his father and Anna B. Stearns were assigned to the Beechwood Way.

6 Annual Letters to the membership sent in the springs of 1944 through1947 list Blood as a Director during 1943-44, President for the following two years, and then again as a Director for 1946-47.

7 Howard M. Goff, "Charles W. Blood, 1878-1966," Appalachia: 36;545-7 (June 1967).

8 Charles W. Blood, "The Evolution of a Trailman," Appalachia: 35;438 (June 1965).

9 Blood, p. 440.

10 Blood, p. 441.

11 Blood, p. 442.

12 Annual letters had heretofore been sent by the secretary and/or treasurer. From 1929-1939, both offices were vested in the person of Miss Lizzie Jones. Only in 1942 had a short note been included from President Bert Malcolm together with a statement from the secretary, Miggy Arnold.

13 When the new highway forced relocation of trailheads at Appalachia and Randolph East in 1965-6, Charles Blood, at age 88, is credited with having helped relocate and cut the new connecting trails.

14 The "New" Spur Trail, on the east side of Spur Brook, was closed in 1974.

15 In 1977 the WMNF's unit plan contained one alternative which was to close specific "redundant" trails, among them the upper Howker Ridge, Brookside, King Ravine Trail, part of the Spur Trail, and the upper Amphibrach. After much protest by the RMC, this alternative was discarded.

16 I've discussed the management of camps much more extensively in earlier articles in this Newsletter. See the RMC website for more details.

17 The fourth of these facilities was installed at the Log Cabin in 2005.

18 It is impossible to give credit to everyone who participated in these projects. Their numbers are legion.

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Formalizing Handshakes: First RMC Trails Easement
By Samarjit Shankar

Randolph has had a long and proud tradition of trail stewardship dating back to the nineteenth century when the Town’s year-round and summer residents joined together to begin construction of a trail system. The network of trails developed and maintained by the RMC over the years is an important part of the town’s appeal. Looking ahead, we see new challenges to the very existence of the trails network.

While a majority of RMC trails are on public lands such as the White Mountain National Forest and the Randolph Community Forest, about one-third of RMC trails traverse private land. Trails on public lands are more easily protected because the land manager’s mandate often includes public use for purposes including recreation. Moreover, the probability of changes in ownership of public land is very low, thus allowing the long-term maintenance of trails. In contrast, private ownership presents different challenges.

Today a significant proportion of RMC trails crossing private lands lack adequate legal protection. Why would they require legal protection, one may ask? Having allowed their construction in the first place, why wouldn’t Randolph landowners continue to allow the RMC to maintain trails on their properties?

Even though present-day private landowners in Randolph may intend to maintain access to trails on their property, future generations may not. History reveals that long-term socio-economic dynamics have inevitably led to land ownership changes amid development pressure and/or community expansion across America. Furthermore, land fragmentation may occur over time as ownership is passed on to successive generations. We see evidence of these trends in and around our town as well. The continued existence of RMC trails crossing private lands is not guaranteed.

The best long-term measure to guard against this is to formalize the unwritten “handshake” agreement between willing landowners and the RMC via a protective trail conservation easement. A trail easement helps record the landowner’s commitment to allowing the RMC trail on the land in perpetuity. At the same time, there is absolutely no ceding of rights to the RMC and the land still remains the property of the owner. The written agreement becomes part of the property title and will pass from one owner to the other, thus ensuring the RMC trail network remains intact without impacting landowner rights.

The contributions of New Hampshire law toward encouraging the public enjoyment of nature are also helpful when considering the pros and cons of conservation. There are two important points to keep in mind:

1. The willing landowner allowing public use of trails on his/her property is protected from liability from any accidents that may take place on his/her land.

2. By the same token, the law also protects the willing landowner from any loss of rights.

There is a popular misconception that preserving trails is not necessary because these trails have been used for so many years – in other words, the RMC may already have an “established usage” right to trail conservation that might make formal easements redundant. This is simply not true because the law protects the landowner’s rights (see #2 above). All Randolph landowners with RMC trails on their land have not ceded any rights and retain full ownership of their land. Looking ahead, it is far more efficient for the RMC to pro-actively enter into trail easement agreements with willing landowners today, rather than to potentially lose trails if a future landowner suddenly decides to bar access.

Since being appointed the Chair of the Trails Stewardship Committee in 2005, I have approached and received several queries from many interested landowners who are seriously considering signing a trail easement with the RMC. The responses and enthusiasm have been very encouraging.

We are delighted to announce the finalization of RMC’s first ever trail easement agreement – for the Short Circuit Trail. The present landowners of the property that the Short Circuit traverses, Sue and Howie Wemyss, wholeheartedly supported the conservation effort – something they had agreed to in principle when they purchased the property from Joan Rising last year. Joan had worked with the RMC in recent years toward making the easement a reality.

This, we hope, is the first of many more easement agreements to follow whereby a growing proportion of the RMC network of trails is protected in the coming years.

I cannot emphasize enough that participation in trails easements is purely voluntary. The trails stewardship effort will continue only with willing landowners and will respect the wishes of others who choose to not participate. Any interested landowner can contact me directly for further information and I can share the trail easement draft with you. Please note this draft is not set in stone – it is merely a starting point. The Trails Stewardship Committee realizes that easement circumstances differ from landowner to landowner and we welcome an opportunity to engage in active dialogue about concerns and issues specific to each property and the RMC trail(s) on it.

In sum, Randolph has a unique heritage in the RMC trails network that has afforded generations of residents and visitors enjoyment of the outdoors. If we do not act today to meet evolving challenges, this enjoyment may be in jeopardy for future generations. An easement is a non-intrusive instrument that ensures the existence and maintenance of RMC trails in perpetuity while respecting the rights of the private landowner.

Going forward, I hope more landowners will join us in helping preserve RMC trails. Landowners who are interested in finding out more about trails stewardship are welcome to e-mail me.

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Two Lives Saved by Search and Rescue Effort
By Edith Tucker
(from the 01/17/07 Coös County Democrat, with permission)

RANDOLPH — The lives of two middle-aged hikers who became disoriented while descending Mt. Adams on January 10, 2007 in whiteout conditions above treeline were saved by the combined efforts of two volunteers from the Randolph Mountain Club and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue (AVSAR), and four state Fish and Game Department conservation officers.

Al Sochard and Mike Pelchat. Photo by Ray Cotnoir.The search and rescue team located Janis Doubleday, 55, of Hiram, Me., and Wayne Rodriguez, 50, of Westfield, Mass., at 12:52 a.m. on Thursday, huddled together in a sleeping bag that was rated as adequate to 20-degrees. "It was 14 degrees below zero with winds in the low 70s (m.p.h.)," said Fish and Game Lt. Doug Gralenski. The two hikers were found below and to the east of Thunderstorm Junction, where the Gulfside, Lowe's Path, and the Great Gully Trail intersect at nearly 5,500 feet in elevation. "It was a life-threatening situation," Lt. Gralenski explained. "They probably would have survived the night, but we'll never know whether or not they would have survived the descent down the Great Gully into King Ravine to the valley below because they would likely have had to deal with both frostbite and hypothermia." He said that although there was nothing wrong with the two hikers' winter gear, they "were over their heads" as far as experience in tough winter conditions goes.

Ms. Doubleday and Mr. Rodriguez had spent Tuesday night at Gray Knob cabin. On Wednesday morning they hiked 1.7 miles up Mt. Adams and had reached the 5,799-foot summit at about 1 p.m. However, as they started down, the trail became shrouded in blowing snow, Lt. Gralenski said. At 3:30 p.m. the two hikers reached a stone cairn on the trail and they could not see how to safely proceed from there. Mr. Rodriguez called 911 on his cell phone. In piecing together the sequence of events, Lt. Gralenski said the pair thought they were on the Lowe's Path, but they were actually about a quarter of a mile northeast of Thunderstorm Junction at the top of the Great Gully. He told them to stay where they were.

Lt. Gralenski said that, given the very severe conditions, he then decided to call out members of the Department's search and rescue team: Brian Abrams; Greg Jellison; Brad Morse, who is also a paramedic; and Sam Sprague. As he called around for additional help, he learned that Al Sochard of Randolph was already dressed in winter gear and readying himself to hike up the Lowe's Path to check on Gray Knob in the absence of the regular winter caretaker. Longtime AVSAR volunteer Mike Pelchat of Gorham also volunteered his services.

In what Lt. Gralenski described as a "pivotal" decision, he gave the hikers' cell phone number to Mr. Sochard, which ultimately helped him to locate the pair. "I talked with Wayne Rodriguez three times, and it was a great comfort to him to know we were on our way," Mr. Sochard said in a telephone interview.

When the rescuers found the two hikers in their sleeping bag tucked in among some boulders, yet still relatively exposed, they first fed them hot liquid Jell-O and some food. Then they outfitted them with dry outer jackets and hats, placed heat warmers in their boots, and then got them back up on their feet to walk with them to Gray Knob, arriving at nearly 3 a.m. The two hikers and their six-man rescue crew slept at Gray Knob until morning and then started at 8:15 a.m. to hike down to Lowe's Gas Station. Mr. Sochard reached the general store and gas station at about 9:45 a.m. and the rest at about 11:30 a.m.

Late on the previous afternoon, Lt. Gralenski said he and Lt. Todd Bogardus had set up a command post at the home of Bill and Barbara Arnold. Mr. Arnold, a longtime member of both RMC and AVSAR, maintains radio contact between Gray Knob and his house every evening in the winter, and each rescuer carried a radio tuned to the RMC's frequency. After all the members of the hiking party had reached the safety of Gray Knob, the two lieutenants headed home and Mr. Arnold also turned in.

"The role played by RMC and AVSAR volunteers who are very familiar with the local trails in what we think of as 'our' part of the forest, working with the professional team, provides us all the ability to help save lives," explained Mr. Sochard. "Mike (Pelchat) and I have a familiarity with these trails that made it possible for us to figure out where these two 'lost' hikers were."

Editor’s note: Edith Tucker’s article gives the basic information, but the following excerpt from Mike Pelchat’s report gives the flavor of what it feels like to be up there in the howling wind and confronting the challenges of helping others without getting into trouble oneself.

“…Not too long after I arrived at the Knob, the F & G rescue team arrived and the six of us were ready to leave Gray Knob to start our search by 11 PM. I asked Fish & Game officer Brian Abrams if he would like Al and me to go on ahead and they could follow us at their own pace. Given the weather conditions, which at that time on the summit of Mt. Washington were 70 mph winds gusting to 100 mph, the temp was now -18 F and visibility zero, Brain insisted that we all stay together. Al is a very fast hiker and was highly motivated to get to these hikers quickly so I could see he didn’t like that answer. But Al, like a good team player, understood that this was safer for our whole team. If anything untoward happened to one of us up there we would need everyone’s help. So we stayed together and headed up into the storm.

[Here Mike lists what he wore and carried in his pack for the rescue]

The strong NW wind was thankfully to our backs as we ascended the ridge. As we got closer to the summit of Adams Four, Al was actively searching nooks and crannies on each side of the trail where someone could possibly hole up. It was all the rest of us could do to keep following the ice-encrusted line of cairns while Al was circling us with his unbounded energy and determination. Wherever the snow was soft the trail was drifted over, quickly hiding any recent tracks. However, in the old icy snow, recently made crampon marks did remain. We could barely see from one cairn to the next, but having those crampon marks visible helped keep us on track. At Adams Four we all started actively searching, fanning out a little as we continued our ascent to Thunderstorm Junction. I blew my whistle every now and then, but the ball in the whistle eventually froze. I made a mental note to buy a whistle without a ball for wintertime. I was also trying a small red glow stick on the back of my backpack for the first time. I was told it was a great help to my teammates who could identify me much more easily, especially at times when they stayed at a cairn while I searched for next.

We passed Spur Trail and there were a couple of old up-bound crampon marks. At Thunderstorm Junction I was really hoping to find our missing hikers hunkered down in the lee of that big cairn, but they weren’t there. The trail signs were all encased in thick ice and useless. There was no way one was going to get out a map in those winds either. This is where having a mental map of the lay of the land and the five trails that branch off from Thunderstorm was an invaluable asset.

By searching a couple of cairns at a time in each direction we eventfully found a set of crampon marks going down the Great Gully. No one in their right mind would be descending the mountain via that treacherous route in these conditions, so we deduced we had found the trail of our lost hikers! Al was really charged up and quickly followed their trail yelling all along. It was all Brian Abrams and I could do to keep up with Al. The other three F&G officers were left in the dust, but these Great Gully cairns were big and we knew they would have no trouble following us down. In a few minutes we heard shouts answering Al’s calls. I dug out my radio and transmitted that “we have audio.” Lt Gralenski acknowledged and I could hear the relief in his voice.

In a few more minutes, at the last cairn before the lip of the King Ravine headwall, we meet the objects of our search, Wayne and Jesse -- very cold but conscious, alert and excited that we had found them. The next challenge that faced us was to get them warmed up, boots put back on, and add some more clothing for the hike out -- no easy trick in sub-zero temperatures at night in gale force winds. This is where my tent fly worked as a quick shelter. One of the Fish & Game officers had his crampons off so I called for him to get under the tent fly with us. Al and the others stood out in the storm, helped to pin the tent fly down, and passed us clothing when requested. Underneath the tent fly the storm was transformed to instant calm and in a few minutes it was warm enough to remove our gloves, assess our patients, get some warm Jell-O into them, and bundle them up in fresh socks and outerwear. Even though they looked like they had good shell gear on and many insulating layers, the high winds and blowing snow had entered their clothing, melted and froze their jackets, mittens and hats into stiff icy blobs. We swapped their frozen clothing and in about 20 minutes we were ready to go….”

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Bradford Washburn, 1910-2007
By Lydia Goetze

The world knows Brad Washburn as a mountaineer, aerial photographer, cartographer, and Director of the Boston Museum of Science. Less known is that Brad spent some childhood summers in and around Randolph. So we also remember Brad (an honorary RMC member, with his wife Barbara) in more personal ways. One winter’s day while I was skiing the old trail down the backside of Wildcat, Brad suddenly popped into view, a slim and energetic older man (then in his late 70s) on snowshoes, placing a marker to be used in his map of Mt. Washington. Hersh Cross remembers, “When Brad undertook to survey Mt. Washington, he didn't take long in deciding that Highacres with extensive lawns, open fields and fully buried power cables would be ideal for helicopter operations. So for one fascinating summer, Highacres became a landing pad for Brad's helicopter flights. To expedite the placing of the reflectors for Brad's surveying theodolite, grandson Andy Cross was charged with the responsibility of exiting the helicopter at critical points, securing the reflectors, and then making a mad dash to the helicopter for the next leg of the flight. It was amazing to see how many neighbors visited Highacres to see what was going on."

Brad was known for his aerial photographs of Alaska, originally used for mapping but works of beauty in themselves, and Randolph climbers remember Brad’s hospitality in his office at the Museum of Science, ready to find just the right photos (among thousands) for studying a new Alaskan route and giving indispensable practical suggestions. When a Harvard expedition was putting a new route up Mt. McKinley’s Wickersham Wall in 1963, the Boston Globe ran a front page story about the group’s death by avalanche. Brad was on the phone before it came out, reassuring the Goetzes (whose son Chris was part of the group) that the quick fly-by on which the report was based was not definitive evidence, and they should wait for more news. Sure enough, the group was spotted two days later, safe and far higher on the mountain than expected. Several Randophians have used Brad’s accurate and beautiful photographs to dream of summer climbs in Alaska and pick routes that looked feasible.

Brad Washburn’s love of mountains, his continued lively interest in technology as a way to get things done – in the museum, in mapping, or in expressing his artistic vision – and his energetic pursuit of his enthusiasms were an inspiration to us all. We will miss him.

Bradford Washburn ready to photograph mountains in Alaska c. 1941? Photo courtesy of the Boston Museum of Science.

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Memories of Trail Crew, 1951
By Christopher Harris

In the spring of 1951, I was hired by Jack Boothman to be the RMC trail crew (all by myself), the first student-aged person to hold that job. My stepmother, Caroline Cutter Harris (Stevens), had convincingly vouched for my skills with axe and bucksaw and boots-on-the-ground, though I was still just a skinny kid and would be entering my freshman year at Yale that fall.

I don’t remember the amount of my wages, but one of the benefits of the job was the privilege of taking my supper in the kitchen of the late-lamented Ravine House for 50 cents a meal. There were two alternating chefs: one thin and generous with the portions; one who was large and miserly with my fare. Another feature for me in that kitchen was a waitress from Gorham who was married to a soldier in training on Mt. Washington. For some reason she felt that she could unburden herself to me about her marital problems, which she regularly did between her trips to and from the dining room. I was scarcely qualified to advise her as she seemed to want, nor did I find her problems in the least palatable. For this reason, I took to avoiding the Ravine House kitchen on any regular basis, fending for myself in the (also late-lamented) “Ski Room” in “Cutterville” on then-Route 2, which my stepbrother Andy McMillan (also later an RMC trail crew member) and I had equipped the previous summer with running water, an electric stove, and a chemical toilet.

In addition, Andy and I constructed a couple of new concrete footings to better prop up the front of the structure. As we were pouring the concrete into the form at the southeast corner, Bliss Woodruff, a talented practicing architect, happened by and opined that we had not set it deep enough to survive. When I looked at the site some 50 years later, about the only thing still standing intact was the concrete footing at the southeast corner of the ruins.

For the RMC, I cleared trails up the Israel Ridge and down the Howker Ridge and as much as I could manage in between. One day when I was hacking briars on the Pasture Path, along came James Bryant Conant, then president of Harvard. When he asked me what I was doing, I replied that I was hacking briars out of the path. “Ah,” he said and went away.

Mostly it was hard work, but I came to love it, though I’m sure my efforts were much inferior to what present-day crews perform. In the evenings there were square dances, some at the old Waumbek Hotel in Jefferson where I learned the rowdy “Randolph Swing” from an adept dancer, the vigorous and muscular Carolyn Lowe. I had workouts day and night.

Early in the summer it was learned that the arrival of the Crag Camp caretaker would be delayed, and I was instructed to get the hut ready for visitors in his stead. Up the Spur Trail I went with what gear and provisions I could carry, feeling quite ill-equipped for the task. In hooking up the water supply from the nearby spring, I discovered that a section of pipe had burst during the winter, and I sent word of this problem to the valley via a passing hiker. The next day, up came Mrs. Furness, lugging a heavy pipe-threader — something I had never used before. Somehow I cut out the burst section of pipe, made threads on the cut ends of the good pipe, cut a new piece and threaded it to replace the burst part and, with nuts that came from somewhere, joined the whole thing together again — all done in the dense boulder-studded krummholz uphill and west of the hut. Luckily, somehow it all worked, and I was elated.

A couple of days later, two Boy Scout leaders arrived from across the range, having shed their troop as well as their shirts, which gave them magnificent sunburns. The next morning they were so painfully immobilized that I broke the rules and offered to make them a breakfast of pancakes. With good reason, they were not thrilled with the cakes which turned out to be very stiff and undelicious but ideal for scaling, Frisbee-like, off the front porch and down into King Ravine. I often wonder if any hikers were down there and mystified by a rain of in-coming pancakes.

It was a grand summer. I had learned a multitude of new skills and even a little, though reluctantly, about marital problems. I was also in fine physical shape -- so much so that when I entered college that fall I was one of a very few in my class who passed the physical fitness tests and was excused from the otherwise mandated bodybuilding course.

Thanks, RMC!


Editor’s note: Harris was on the RMC trail crew in 1951 and 1952. We thought readers might enjoy the following excerpt from Instructions to the 1952 Trail Crew now in the RMC archives.

Excerpts from Randolph Mountain Club Trail Clearing: 1952

“In clearing trails for the first time in a season, the primary object is to remove all blowdowns and fallen branches from the trail so that one can go through without climbing under or over trees, or tripping over loose branches….”

“So far as I know, there are no absolutely indispensable bridges on any of our trails. Hence, do not take time to rebuild broken or missing bridges at present….”

“If you find a tree that is too big to cut with the tools you have, and it is possible to crawl under or over it without too much trouble, simply leave it. And remember that it is sometimes easier to relocate around a bad windfall than to cut it out (there is one on the lower part of the Short Line where this is true). Don’t hesitate to relocate where you feel it is less work than to cut through. And, finally, please note in your notebook any places where the trail seems obscure so that we may post arrow signs. Don’t be afraid to blaze liberally, but always remember that you must always blaze both sides of a tree, not just one!”

Former members of Trail Crew and Caretakers are invited to share their memories for the RMC Fall Newsletter and the website. Send them to Randy Meiklejohn by e-mail.

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