Table of Contents
As this newsletter is reaching our membership, the summer season is almost upon us and we look forward to seeing our friends and participating in club events. Even though the Randolph Hill Road will be under construction, the Board has decided not to change the venues for the Tea and our annual square dance. Instead we are asking everyone to please bear with the inconvenience of the construction activity, and to find parking off of the main portion of the road in areas where that can be done safely.
This past winter has been a busy one for your Board, due in part to a proposal by the New Hampshire legislature to impose a $3.00 fee to be paid by overnight guests at the camps of the RMC and the AMC, above and beyond the current lodging tax. The purpose of this proposed fee would be to reimburse the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department for their portion of costs associated with search and rescue missions throughout the state.
Although both the RMC and the AMC support a system of paying for the costs of search and rescue, we felt that it was inherently unfair that the legislature would place this entire funding mechanism upon the overnight guests of the two mountain clubs, especially in light of the fact that both organizations have historically been a part of the solution to the challenge of mountain rescues, and not the creators of the problem.
Accordingly, members of your Board lobbied the NH Senate and House and testified at hearings alongside the AMC, the Mt. Washington Observatory and the NH Outdoor Council. As a result both legislative committees have agreed that a better funding source needs to be found for search and rescue.
More remains to be done, however, and the RMC continues to work with our partners to identify sources of funding for these services, which we note are not provided only in mountainous areas, nor only to hikers and campers. Search and rescue serves residents and visitors throughout the entire state, and we believe its costs can reasonably be supported by the general public.
Closer to home, the design work for the trailhead at the end of Randolph Hill Road continues, and the club has received several generous donations to support the relocation of the affected RMC trails. The Randolph Foundation is assisting with a $3,000 grant, and the Anna Stearns Foundation has awarded the club a $3,600 grant. We have also received an anonymous donation in the amount of $1,000 and several wonderful contributions dedicated to the trailhead project in the memory of club member Martha Wenk, who passed away in late 2010.
In closing, I am pleased to report that our summer employees have been interviewed and hired and all are eager to get started in their good work of maintaining our trails and camps for another hiking season.
Looking forward to a great summer -
Dear John and Mike:
We are pleased to welcome the Randolph Mountain Club to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy as a full-fledged maintaining club of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
Thus began the recent letter welcoming the RMC as the thirty-first maintaining organization for the Appalachian Trail, and formalizing our new responsibility for maintenance of a segment of the Gulfside Trail. It was the conclusion of a process that had begun four years earlier, with conversations between the ATC and then ATC board member and RMC Camps Chair, Al Sochard.
Discussions with the ATC advanced slowly up until 2010, when our centennial events brought such focus to the RMC trails, and members of the board sought to finalize this proposed last component of our hundred miles. Serendipitously, your trails co-Chair happened to bump into ATC representative Matt Stevens while skiing in Mt. Washingtons Gulf of Slides last year. I spoke at length with Matt about the process, where things stood, what the next steps should be, whom to contact and thereby began a string of e-mails that restarted the process.
Ultimately, the ATC board of directors agreed that the RMC was a good fit, and voted to transfer maintenance of a 2.2-mile section of the Gulfside Trail, between Madison Hut and Edmands Col, from the USFS to the RMC.
During the process of acquiring this section of trail and subsequent to the final approval by the ATC, some have asked: why, at a time when the RMC is scrambling for funding for our existing trails, would we actively lobby to add to our burden?
The short answer is that by attaching our name to this section of trail, the RMC gains a great deal of visibility in the eyes of a worldwide audience. This increased visibility could reasonably translate into additional members and a larger corps of volunteers to draw from. Furthermore, the above-treeline Gulfside is well built and not subject to the degradation so common to our forested trails: e.g., drainage issues, blow-downs and constant brushing and sign replacement. Also, being a partner with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy provides us with another potential source of revenue in the form of grants from the ATC. Signage will continue to be the responsibility of the USFS.
Were not quite done with the process of adding the trail to our network. There are still a few ts to dot and is to cross, but nothing to worry us. Merely signatures on a document or two and meetings to attend in order to put faces to names and formalize our new partnership.
Very soon, there might be an opportunity to visit the Gulfside Trail section of the AT as part of the RMC group hikes. I hope that some of you would take this opportunity to take a close look at this important bit of trail, and add it to your list of completed trails in the RMC 100.
This year is the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Weeks Act, which permitted the federal government to purchase private land in order to protect the headwaters of rivers and watersheds in the eastern United States and called for fire protection efforts through federal, state, and private cooperation. This landmark federal legislation led to the creation of the White Mountain National Forest in 1918, encompassing much of the public land where many of the trails and all of the camps of the RMC are located.
The RMC will be assisting in the region-wide celebration of this important anniversary by hosting and participating in several events. On July 29th we will have a table at the celebration taking place at the Mount Washington Auto Road, which will give us an opportunity to let the public know who the RMC is and the important contribution the club makes in fulfilling our mission in the Northern Presidential range. On August 27th we will be hosting a trail work day to commemorate the work of the early path makers, and later in the evening Al and Judy Hudson have graciously agreed to offer a presentation at the Town Hall concentrating on hiking and trail-building in the era of the late 19th century up through the Weeks Act's passage and perhaps beyond.
Find out more at the Forest Service website: www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/white_mountain/weeks_centennial.
RMC Trails Report
As much as we enjoy winter in Randolph, it is time to transition to another season of snow-free walking and work. During my daily walks along the RMC trail system, I have noticed very little damage from winter storms. A blow down here and there, a broken bridge railing, a few washed-out bog bridges. Pretty normal stuff and not too much of it, so the crew will be able to focus on the summer projects we have planned.
First of all, we have a great lineup of individuals on the trail crew for the 2011 season. Deva Steketee and Alex Leich will return for a third and second year, respectively. Joining them as new RMC trail crew (but hardly new to trail work) will be John Tasker, Megan Carey, Camille Robertson, Riley Eusden, Anna Turcotte and Lauren Cary. Ben Lieberson will be field supervisor for his second season. Each crew member comes with a wealth of experience and enthusiasm promising a great season for RMC TC.
Among the projects we're committed to are the improvements to the Diagonal (begun in 2010 and described in the winter newsletter), which needs a few finishing touches to realize our dreams for that favorite trail and to fulfill our commitment to the state of New Hampshire grant that paid 80% of the cost. Because of time constraints placed on us by this contract, the crew will begin the season on the Diagonal, rather than with patrolling, as we normally do. Once the Diagonal project is completed, patrolling will begin. It is hoped that all trails will be in good shape prior to traditional July 4th start of the summer season.
Next, the crew will move to the upper Spur Trail to replace the wooden ladders, and to cut a short section of new trail to get around a vexing section of ledge. Then, on to the Underhill Path for some brush sawing, and to the installation of some much needed drainage and more bog bridging at Randolph East, the Link, the Cliffway and the Randolph Path. There is significant work to do on the Cliffway, but I doubt we'll get to it all this year. Also, as part of the new trailhead project on Randolph Hill road, the Carlton Notch Trail, the Cook Path and the Mount Crescent Trail will be relocated. While that work is really scheduled for fall, we could do some preliminary work towards the end of summer. Crew schedules will be posted in the Weekly during the summer season.
The crew moves in to Stearns Lodge on Memorial Day weekend and starts orientation on June 1st. Work begins on the 6th. We hope you get to meet them this summer, and remember: if you'd like to host them for a home-cooked meal, please let me know so I can schedule you. These informal gatherings at residents homes have proved to be immensely popular with the crew. The BBQ at my house has always been a high point of the summer for my family, and I hope you can make it a tradition at your home too.
At some point, we'll likely find time to hang a few new signs, cut some firewood for Gray Knob and fix up a bridge or two, along with anything else which crops up during patrolling or results from a summer storm. However, this year, we might pass along some of these small projects to our Wednesday trail volunteers, under the direction of Michele Cormier. The regularly scheduled volunteer efforts will perform some basic but very important maintenance along the hill trails. Please call Michele, and see her article elsewhere in this newsletter.
Remember, construction will begin shortly on the Hill road so it may best to utilize our great trail network to get to the library, Town Hall and the Ravine House Pool. And, with gas at $4 a gallon (as we go to press in May), you'll save a few pennies, too!
Lastly, I want to say goodbye to Brian Johnson, our U.S. Forest Service representative at the Androscoggin District. He has been a great partner and friend to the RMC over many years, and we will greatly miss him as we wish him much enjoyment and professional fulfillment at his new position at the Saco District in North Conway, NH. Brian demonstrated how truly effective, productive and enjoyable the Forest Service / RMC partnership can be.
By all accounts it was a phenomenal winter in the northern Presidentials. Ample snow provided the backdrop for many happy memories for our guests at the camps this winter. Our Caretakers Ryan Smith and Garrett Gorenski did an excellent job providing mountain hospitality, maintaining and protecting the camps, and shoveling out after each and every storm. This spring, the camps have been staffed by RMC trail crew veteran Benzo Harris and longtime RMC caretaker Jon Szalewicz.
For the summer we are fortunate to have Jenny Baxter returning for her second season. She will serve as Lead Caretaker from her home base at Gray Knob. She will be joined by first year Caretaker Becca Loeb (sister of Jeremy Loeb, Crag Caretaker 2004) who will be at Crag Camp.
After a big summer last year with The Perch renovation we are looking forward to a lower-key summer of more basic projects. These include continuing to improve and upgrade our composting toilet systems, replacing rotting window systems at Gray Knob and Crag Camp, replacing the stove in Gray Knob with a new energy efficient stove, and of course staying on top of basic camp and trail maintenance.
As always we encourage RMC members
and anyone else interested to come up to the Camps for day trip
or to spend the night. If you are interested in volunteering
on Camps projects, please contact the Camps Chairs.
RMC Social Events for Summer
Monday July 4: The annual RMC Fourth of July Tea will take place at the Kenyons barn, Sky Meadow, 260 Randolph Hill Road from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. Dont miss this kick-off of the summer season with punch, iced tea, and mouth-watering baked goods from Becky Boothman. Catch up on the latest RMC news, meet the trail crew and caretakers, and reconnect with old friends.
Wednesday August 3: The summer RMC Gourmet Dinner will be held at Libbys Bistro at 6:00 PM. Many thanks to owner/chef Liz Jackson who continues to extend her generosity and talent in support of the RMC. Reservations must be made please contact one of the Social Events Co-Chairs (see below).
Thursday August 4: The RMC Gourmet Hike will take place on the Pine Mountain ledges. We will meet at Randolph East at 9:30 AM. This is a wonderful community tradition that never disappoints in the culinary and fellowship departments. Thanks to the Horton Center, a shorter route will be available for those who wish to take it.
Saturday August 20: The Annual RMC Picnic and Charades will be held at the Mossy Glen Amphitheater off of Durand Road from 12:00 to 2:00 PM. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this traditional summer event. In the event of rain, the picnic and charades will be moved to the Town Hall. In the evening, a Square Dance to Benefit the RMC will be held at Beringers barn, Sugar Plum Farm, 232 Randolph Hill Road, from 7:30 to 9:30 PM. Come dance and enjoy the music of fiddlers Jacqueline & Dudley Laufman. Dudley Laufman has received the nations highest honor in the folk and traditional arts: the National Heritage Fellowship, presented by the National Endowment for the Arts. Many thanks to Marie Beringer for her annual sponsorship of this event.
We need volunteers, especially for the Tea and Charades (particularly if you would be willing to organize your own charades). If you would like to help out, please contact RMC Social Events Co-Chairs: Sarah Gallop (seg at mit.edu) or Barb Phinney (cooper448 at me.com).
See you this summer!
Bill Knight, along with Chips Muehl, was one of our most constant hiking companions from the early 1980s through the early 2000s. He first appears in our family's hiking logbook in August 1981, when we led a trip into Castle Ravine. Most of the party bailed out over Emerald Bluff, but Bill was among the intrepid few who climbed the headwall into increasingly rainy weather to share a lunch in the dismal Quonset hut then in Edmands Col.
Bill was game (as we all were then) for long hikes and for exploring new territory (the Evans Notch region from the north and Mt. Tremont were a couple trips he led)swinging along with his wooden staff in hand. Bushwhacks were part of the fun, particularly a trip that Sandy Malcolm led down the then-recent slide on Mt. Liberty into the Pemi and out via Franconia Brook.
A devotee of the gourmet hike, he was with us one day when we climbed Mount Success and discovered what a great place the cliffs on Success would be as a "luncheon spot." In 1985, he led the first of many gourmet hikes to the Ledges.
But what I remember most are the conversations we had as we hiked, covering a great range of subjects, from experiences abroad to current politics, and the constant exchange of banter. The miles flew by.
My last extensive hike with Bill, together with Chips and Marie Beringer, was an RMC trip in 2002 to Grafton Notch, where our goal was Mt. Baldpate. Part of the AT, the trail meanders downhill, steeply up to the smaller west summit, descending yet again to open ledges. The summit was now apparent, but rather distant. Bill decided he would have his lunch short of the peak, and then take a nap, while the rest of us toiled on to the top (where we had to huddle out of the wind for warmth). When we reconnected with him as we headed back to the Notch, we were pretty sure that he had made the best decisionwe were freezing; he was his usual cheery self, and warm and rested besides.
This summer, in addition to the weekly Tuesday and Thursday hikes, the RMC will hold a volunteer trail day every Wednesday in July and August, to do seasonal maintenance on the town side trails (in Randolph, north of U.S. Route 2).
We plan to systematically cruise the trails (breaking down the long ones into segments of manageable length) and, by the end of summer, complete routine brushing and water bar maintenance of all them. We will start small with our first event on July 6 and work on the Church Path and Short Circuit. Bring nippers, loppers or pruning shears and garden gloves. (Depending on what the Clubs professional trail crew is up to, we may be able to provide some loaner loppers, so if youd like to join the fun but dont have any tools of your own, please call in advance.)
Each trail day will start with a short explanation of the days expectations and a preview of what we will be doing. At the end of the day, we will prepare, for the Trails co-Chairs, a brief report of work performed, distance covered and extra projects that may require professional attention. After that we can relax with snacks and refreshments.
The non-technical work well perform is vital routine maintenance that ensures our continued enjoyment of the trail system. It also protects the trails from erosion and ravages of time for future generations to enjoy. If volunteers cannot do this work, we have to pay the professional crew at significantly greater expense. And when the hired crew is performing basic maintenance, they cannot also accomplish the more technical work they are especially good at, such as replacing ladders, staircases, step stones and water bars. Volunteers can play a key role in our trail maintenance program.
Below is the tentative schedule. All work days begin at 9:00 AM, and because of the Randolph Hill Road reconstruction, we have chosen to start each day at a trailhead that local participants can get to either by trail or by road.
If anyone would like to volunteer to lead or co-lead any of the trail work days, please contact me at 466-5841.
This is a great way for us to give back to the Club and meet friends and neighbors. These are the paths we use the most, to travel to the library, to visit our friends and to avoid Hill Road construction! In addition, every Wednesday volunteers will qualify for a drawing at seasons end to win a copy of Peaks and Paths, or another RMC item of your choice. The more Wednesdays you show up, the more times youre entered in the drawing and the better will be your chances to win.
So take your loppers for a walk, have a snack, meet some friends and maybe win a great prize at the end of the season. I hope you all consider giving a day (or more) to help maintain these paths in our back yards.
The RMC is delighted to announce the finalization of our second trail easement agreement, for a portion of The Link situated south of U.S. Route 2. The present landowner, Louis Cutter, has wholeheartedly supported the conservation effort and has, over the past couple of years, worked closely with the RMC Stewardship Committee towards a mutually acceptable arrangement. The easement protects an 872-foot section of the Link, starting from a point 1022 feet from the west end of the Memorial Bridge over Cold Brook.
Readers of this newsletter may recall that the RMCs first-ever trail easement was agreed upon in 2007 for the Short Circuit. Landowner Joan Rising had worked with the Club toward making the easement a reality, while Sue and Howie Wemyss, the subsequent owners, had supported the conservation effort.
As of spring 2011, I am in active discussions with several other individuals and families in Randolph as they consider conservation easements on the RMC trails traversing their properties.
I am frequently asked why RMC trails crossing private lands need to be conserved, or require any legal protection. Having allowed their construction in the first place, why wouldnt Randolph landowners continue to allow the RMC to maintain trails on their properties?
Even though present-day private landowners in Randolph may intend to allow access to trails on their property, future generations may not. History has shown that long-term socio-economic dynamics have inevitably led to land ownership changes amid development pressure and/or community expansion across America. This is very likely to continue. Further, 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. Thus, the continued existence of RMC trails crossing private lands is not guaranteed.
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 landowners rights. All Randolph landowners with RMC trails on their land have not ceded any rights and retain full ownership of their land. Looking ahead, it will be 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.
What does an RMC easement achieve?
A trail easement helps record the landowners 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:
a. 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.
b. By the same token, the law also protects the willing landowner from any loss of rights.
What is the process?
In the past several years, during my tenure as the Chair of the Stewardship Committee, I have been approached by Randolph residents curious to understand their options in preserving the RMCs trails network. Indeed, Randolph has had a long and proud tradition of trail stewardship dating back to the nineteenth century when the Towns year-round and summer residents joined together to begin construction of a trail system that the RMC continues to maintain. On other occasions, I have broached the subject with individuals and families whose properties have one or more RMC trails passing through.
In most instances, the conversation begins with communicating and understanding the basics of trails conservation. These informal discussions are held with a flexible mindset as circumstances differ.
In this spirit of flexibility, I worked together with the help of legal counsel of the Trust for Public Lands in 2007 to put together a simple document that can translate the landowners intent into a legal framework. I share this document with the landowner. It is not set in stone, but is simply a starting point. The beauty of the document is its malleability we recognize that landowner preferences or wishes differ and circumstances may warrant modifications to the language of the agreement. The fact that customization of the easement agreement is possible has been welcomed by landowners.
Most of us are in agreement that the network of trails developed and maintained by the RMC over the years is an important part of the towns appeal. The best long-term measure to preserve RMC trails crossing private lands is to formalize the unwritten handshake agreement between willing landowners and the RMC via a protective trail conservation easement.
I would like to emphasize that preserving 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 and I can share the trail easement draft with you.
The interview with Mr. Louis Cutter (on the opposite page) provides insights into his decision to preserve the portion of The Link passing through his property, and his thoughts on the RMCs trails conservation effort.
E-mail: samarjitshankar at yahoo.com
In the Newsletter Archive:
Stewardship Committee chair Samarjit Shankar interviewed Louis Cutter in April 2011, after the completion of the easement for The Link.
Could you briefly describe your familys connections with Randolph and the RMC?
My grandfather Louis F. Cutter made a map of King Ravine as part of his B.S. thesis in 1885. In 1903, after his marriage and the arrival of my father, Ammi Cutter, he bought the farm below King Ravine including the parcel the easement runs through. He was one of the founding members of the RMC in 1910. I have been coming to Randolph in the summer all my life.
Why do you think RMC trails preservation is important?
Preservation of trails has always been the main purpose of the RMC, particularly in the face of lumbering, which had obliterated many on the trails in 1910. It still can be a problem; easements can help preserve trails running across land where trees are being cut.
When/how did you first consider signing a trails easement for the RMC? Did you discuss it with other family members and what were their thoughts?
Well before his death in 1993, my father was actively pursuing a conservation easement on the parcel The Link runs through. The willingness of the RMC to accept trail conservation easements and to help in their preparation was extremely helpful. The Stewardship Committee provided draft forms which together we have adapted for this property.
What is your message to other landowners with RMC trails on their property?
My suggestion to other landowners with trails on their property is to carefully consider granting an easement, making sure that the location does not interfere with current and future uses of the surrounding land. A trail relocation may facilitate the process if considered necessary. Some flexibility on both sides is essential. The importance of the trail section in question should certainly be a consideration. The process requires considerable time and effort on both sides, but I believe it is worthwhile and hope it becomes more prevalent.
Any general comments/suggestions about ownership/management of land in Randolph?
As Randolph becomes more crowded, keeping the network of trails intact is obviously going to become more difficult. Forethought and flexibility should be the watchwords.
This summer the RMC will be featuring several new items for sale. 2011 is yet another Centennial year, this time celebrating the Weeks Act of 1911. In this spirit, we offer a new 2011 T-shirt commemorating the reconstruction of The Perch, for $15 each.
Also new will be Stearns Lodge pillows. These are being made from the unsold special T-shirts that were printed for the dedication of the Stearns Lodge, and they too will sell for $15 each. Every couch in Randolph should sport one of these once-in-a-lifetime purchases. Never let it be said that New England thrift and inventiveness has deserted us.
Thirdly, our stock RMC shirt with the updated logo will return to the marketplace. This shirt - also for $15 - has been out of production for several years, so your wait is over!
Finally, we are reprinting the RMC car window stickers (shown on this page) with the new logo. These ever popular items will be available for $1.50 each, which is a steal!
All these items and more will be for sale at the Randolph Mountain Club Fourth of July Tea and the various RMC events throughout the summer.
Are you a former RMC trail crew member or caretaker? If so, RMC wants to hear what you've been up to! We've just launched a new alumni section of the RMC web site, and were looking for your news.
The new alumni section of the web site is an outgrowth of last summer's RMC reunion, which was successful beyond anyone's dreams. Over 150 RMC alumni, family and friends attended the festivities, which took place as part of the club's Centennial celebration. Looking around the Tuckers field that afternoon, it was easy to see what how much our little club means to so many of its past employees. It was equally easy to see how unique and fascinating are our many alums. Interests in mountain ranges and wild places remain a strong bond. Our jobs and recreation take us from Alaska to Antarctica, from glaciers to national forests and parks, and many wild and challenging places in between. More than a few of us have made the White Mountains home as well, and are happy to work away on wilderness matters in this familiar backyard.
Both the club and its alums have expressed interest in continuing to foster the bond between the club and its former staff.
For the RMC, an informal connection to its alumni means an opportunity to tap into their wide array of skills and resources, their energy, ideas and enthusiasm.
For us RMC alums, an informal network allows us to stay in touch with old pals, reconnect with those long-lost, and enjoy hearing the far-ranging and interesting activities of our ambitious gang. If you're an alum, please take a moment to drop by the web site, at randolphmountainclub.org/alumni. You'll find the very first of our updates from Jeff Smith, Tad Pfeffer, Steve Chase and several other notable former caretakers and trail crew members.
Find the RMC alumni roster and bios on the Alumni page of the club website.