Table of Contents
As you are receiving this newsletter, things at the RMC are already humming along at full speed for the summer hiking season. Our summer staff have arrived and begun their orientation and preparation for work on the trails and at the camps. You can read about them below.
I hope you
will join me at the Annual Meeting in August. Following our
business meeting we will have a presentation from Randolph resident and
hiking guide Paul Cormier on his experiences trekking in the high
country in Bolivia, South America and working with the local residents
to build a sorely needed medical center.
Trails Report - and Meet the
2012 Trail Crew
Never a quiet moment over here at Trails. After last Fall and our encounter with Tropical Storm Irene, the RMC crew and a detail from the US Forest Service assessed our trails and determined our course of action. First, a $15,000.00 award from the USFS to repair the damage came and with assessments in hand, we’ll begin work in summer 2012 to repair Israel Ridge Path, King Ravine Trail and the Brookbank as well as the Howker Ridge Trail, Scar Trail, the Brookside, the Link, the Short Line and the Sylvan Way.
Among the 2012 trail crew will be four returning members – Matty Zane, Megan Carey, Anders Krauss and Deva Steketee, who will be Field Supervisor this year. Joining these veterans will be Ethan Denny (a 2011 AMC employee), Joe Murad (who also spent time with AMC at Camp Dodge), Hannah Marshall (well familiar with the White Mountains from time spent at Wildcat), Hart Minifie (her Randolph connection prepares her for this summer of work), and Jordan Cargill (coming to us through past crew member Alex Leich).
The crew will move into Stearns Lodge the 26 -27th of May, and begin orientation on the evening of the 27th. Be sure to look for them at work on any of the above-mentioned trails, and don’t be shy about packing some cookies or ice cream up to them!
A big effort is underway to replace a large number of trail signs. My basement is full of routed sign boards awaiting another coat of paint and, as always, we would welcome a volunteer to step up and help with this important project, for which patience and a steady hand are the only requirements. In the coming years, the RMC will conform to new sign standards being mandated by the Forest Service. Fortunately, it will not be required to replace all of the signs at one time – Yikes! Rather we’ll replace signs with conforming signs as they wear out. Unfortunately, the new standards remove the unique RMC signs and will make the forest trail system look as one, without the individuality that so many hikers have appreciated. Protests are ongoing and will be until the sign resolution is officially accepted through signature of the forest supervisor.
From what I’ve seen during my rambles along the trails, winter was kind to us with very few trees down. Nevertheless, you will likely notice lots of trees missing as you walk the Howker Ridge Trail and the Randolph Path. A large cutting took place there during early Spring, and while the trails suffered little if any damage, it no longer feels like a walk in the woods as there is now so much more open space along the lower portions of these popular trails. Logging is one of the natural processes here in the Randolph Valley and we should be used to it by now and look forward to plentiful blackberries in the near future in the clear cut.
And, while we await the warmth of a true and proper spring, we wish you the best and Happy Trails.
Like the rest of New England, the RMC Camps experienced a wild mixed bag of weather this spring. A March heat wave was followed by a return to winter conditions that lingered on and off well into May. The camps staff and guests bore it well, and it served as a fine example of how one needs to be prepared for all weather conditions no matter the month when travelling in the mountains.
The camps this spring were ably staffed by returning caretaker Jon Szalewicz and new caretaker John Paul (JP) Krol. JP most recently worked as a winter caretaker at LeConte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Winter caretaker Garrett Gorenski helped to fill in for a few shifts as well. Our thanks to them all for a job well done preparing the camps for the busy summer months ahead.
The 2012 summer camps staff are new to RMC but not to the backcountry. Will Tourtellot is a multi-season veteran of the AMC hut system, and he will serve as Lead Caretaker based at Gray Knob. He’ll also assist our Field Supervisor Deva Steketee with implementing capital improvements and general maintenance and repairs of the facilities. Over at Crag Camp, RMC welcomes Jack Markoski, who is new to caretaking but comes to RMC with extensive backcountry travel skills. More about Will and Jack in the box on this page.
2012 will see some moderate activity in the general improvements and upkeep of the camps. A very exciting upgrade at Gray Knob will be a new EPA-approved soapstone woodstove and a back-up propane fired heater. These improvements are being made possible by a very generous anonymous donation.
The units are being purchased to solve the perennial problem of high indoor humidity in the winter time and the subsequent rotting of the camp from the inside out. Last season saw the replacement of windows and interior framing in response to this same problem. The high humidity and rot is a direct result of the input of moisture from visitors coupled with the wild swings in temperature during the cold months. With a new, more efficient wood stove backed up by a small propane heater we should see the problem greatly reduced. Since the goal of the stove and propane heater are humidity reduction, not guest comfort, visitors should still prepare for a winter camping experience when visiting the camps from October through May. Other projects related to the humidity issue will include evaluating the addition of energy-conserving vestibules on Gray Knob as well as vent hoods for the guest and caretaker kitchens.
And lastly, no camps report would be complete without mentioning our toilets. This summer, work will continue to finalize the construction of the composting toilet work platforms as well as increase our stock piles of hardwood bark mulch to facilitate better composting of sewage. At the camps we currently compost 800-1200 gallons of sewage a season. This behind-the-scenes work is one of the many important ways RMC helps to protect the fragile high-elevation environment of the Northern Presidentials.
As always, we encourage all members to come up and visit the camps this summer, spend a night (or two), meet the caretakers, and experience RMC mountain hospitality in one of the finest backcountry settings in the Northeast.
Meet the 2012 Summer Caretakers
WILL: I grew up in a rural community in the upstate of South Carolina. When I was younger, my family was fortunate enough to spend every summer in our cottages on Mark Island, Lake Winnipesaukee. During those summers, my father and I would backpack and hike all through the White Mountains. As a result, I came to realize that New Hampshire and its mountains were my home away from home.
While attending Clemson University, I studied Environmental Science and Chemistry. During many of those summers, as well as after college, I was a Croo member, Caretaker and Naturalist in four different AMC Huts (Lakes of the Clouds, Greenleaf, Lonesome Lake, and Carter Notch). During the fall of 2009 I was also the summit intern at the Mount Washington Observatory. My interests are wide and varied including photography, contra-dancing, rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, tele-skiing, and playing bluegrass music. Through my time in the White Mountains, I've been fortunate enough to have many incredible experiences and meet hundreds of amazing people, many of whom love this unique place just as much as I do. I'm incredibly excited to return to the Whites and work at Gray Knob.
JACK: As a kid, I grew up in western Massachusetts but spent almost every weekend exploring the Berkshires, Vermont, and New Hampshire with my family. After I turned fifteen, my family moved to Pittsford, Vermont, and I have since found my true home to be the Green Mountain State. After attending high school here, I chose to stay and study at the University of Vermont where I will have completed my sophomore year in May 2012. My studies revolve around conservation and wildlife ecology and I lead trips with the Outing Club to locations all across northern New England and New York.
Besides my studies, I have a passion for local history of New England, learning primitive outdoor skills, reading, writing, cycling, and above all exploring the world by foot--reflecting and listening and telling stories along the way. I am extremely excited to spend the summer out in the Whites at Crag Camp and to channel my passions through the work of the Randolph Mountain Club.
Mark your calendars — we look forward to seeing you!
Wednesday, 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. Don’t 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 news of the RMC and other Randolph organizations, meet the 2012 trail crew and caretakers, and reconnect with old friends.
Thursday, August 2: 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 fellow-ship departments. Thanks to the Horton Center, a shorter route will be available for those who wish to take it.
Wednesday, August 8: The summer RMC Gourmet Dinner will be held at Libby’s Bistro at 6:00 PM. This is a fun evening not to be missed. Many thanks to owner/chef Liz Jackson who continues to extend her generosity and gastronomical talent in support of the RMC. Reservations must be made — please contact one of the RMC Social Events Co-Chairs.
Saturday, August 18: 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.
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. Mr. Laufman has received the nation’s 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 great 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 one of us: Sarah Gallop or Barb Phinney.
See you this summer!
The 2012 Annual Meeting of the Randolph Mountain Club will be held at the Randolph Town Hall on Saturday, August 11th at 7:00 PM.
Note that the time of the meeting is 7:00 PM. Within the memory of certain members, the customary time has been 7:30, which was the hour that, in years past, accommodated those attending the first seating of the Saturday evening buffet at the Mt. Crescent House. To those familiar with the hotel’s importance to past and present members of the Club and to the Randolph community, it is perhaps unsurprising that the RMC continued to schedule the Annual Meeting at 7:30 PM after the Mt. Crescent House closed and the building was razed in 1971.
In October 2011 the board of directors—after some careful consideration—agreed that the Club had done the right thing in respecting this tradition for forty years, and then acceded to recurring requests to move the start time of the Annual Meeting to 7:00 PM until further notice.
During the fall of 2008 the Workgroup of Cave and Subway Climatology of the Department of Geography of the Ruhr-University of Bochum (Germany) started a microclimatic analysis of a perennial ice carrying gulch in the White Mountains.
What started as a student on a field trip became a ritual. Since my first visit in 2007, I’ve had the opportunity to visit New England once or twice a year and got to know the area on a summer field trip guided by Professor Andreas Pflitsch. Many people linked to the Mount Washington Observatory are also familiar with his winter field trips for students to the summit or his scientific work. The professor also introduced me to another special place—the Ice Gulch. At 2300 feet, it is a place where ice is found year-round.
In Fall 2008 the first temperature data logger started to take measurements using Talus & Gorge Glacier Monitoring. I have returned ever since, always in search of new year-round ice deposits.
One characteristic of the Ice Gulch is permanent ice between rocks that once topped an altitude of just 1985 feet; in contrast, Mount Washington with an altitude of 6288 feet is usually ice-free from May to September. The study is based on measurements of temperature loggers placed in various places within the gulch and field work at the potential ice minima and maxima. During those times additional ice stock measurements on the ice bodies were conducted to assess the extent, thickness and variation of those ice bodies (see Fig. 1).
Due to their change from the ice buildup phase to the ice-depletion phase during the year, ice caves, like the Schellenberger ice cave in Bavaria, Germany, can be seen as an outstanding climate indicator for short-term and long-term changes of their respective region’s climate. Alongside the frequently well-known and often enlarged show caves are so-called ice gulches, in which ice-bearing parts are found during the whole year. The significant feature of these ice holes or little cave-like formations often situated in the talus is that the ice can persist at altitudes far below the summery snow line.
The Ice Gulch is located 10 miles north of the Mount Washington summit in the Randolph Hill area on the eastern flank of Mount Crescent between 1985 and 2526 feet in elevation. The site is a gulch with an east-southeast alignment and an average hillside of 14 percent. The .73 mile long gulch has steep towering cliffs about 280 to 330 feet on the northeastern and southwestern sides (Fig 2), which limit the insolation conditions throughout the year. Additionally, the width of the gulch—about 180 feet—reduces insolation. On the ground of the Ice Gulch, the debris (Fig. 2) is made up of blocks of granite with boulders of a diameter up to 10 feet which forms an accumulation called talus pseudokarst. Every year new debris blocks fall into the Ice Gulch due to the frost wedging and building up on the ground. The irregular frost wedging doesn’t construct a smooth slope, rather more of a wavy slope with several steps called chambers, named by Edwin Swift Balch who in 1898 became one of the first scientists to visit the gulch.
Results of research
A hiker’s first visit to the Ice Gulch is a special experience, especially in summer when the stark differences between the Ice Gulch and the surrounding area are readily evident. Some people describe this experience as like entering a cold storage house. The Ice Gulch is a cold place, even colder than the station on the Mount Washington Auto Road at 2300 feet. The mean Ice Gulch temperature was 28.11 degrees F from October 20, 2008 to October 19, 2009 while it was 38.16 degrees F during the same time period at the station. In summer, the temperature difference between those two stations is higher than in winter (see Fig. 3). In winter colder air masses with a higher density can infiltrate into the accumulation and push the lighter warm air masses out of the accumulation much easier than in summer. This contrasts with the summer situation, when the warm air masses with a lower density can’t reach into the debris. Only at a situation with high wind speeds faced to the slope can warmer air masses infiltrate the accumulation.
In the Ice Gulch, various factors influence the thermal conditions and the ice volume variations—specifiable in variable and fixed factors. The fixed factors include location, position and topography of the Ice Gulch. The variable factors (climate of the surrounding area, snow cover, melt and rain water) are changing year by year. For example the amount of the ice build-up phase depends on the input of rain/melt water in spring.
The data loggers in the hollow spaces of the Ice Gulch assess the phases of increase and decrease of ice volume on the basis of the temperature regimes. Atmospheric conditions influence the region, depending on various factors (e.g. presence and thickness of the snow cover). Furthermore, the strength of the influence of the atmospheric conditions on the Ice Gulch is different at various places and positions.
The first year of measuring in the Ice Gulch was a very informative year. The numbers of ice carrying holes increased about 22 per-cent from October 2008 to October 2009. Furthermore the ice bodies grew in height between 2.4 and 7.8 inches. A first quick view on the newest data shows that the following years of measuring were totally different.
After the first year of measuring in the Ice Gulch, the Workgroup of Cave and Subway Climatology started to expand the monitoring network. Data loggers are now recording the temperature regimes in Talus & Gorge Glaciers at three sites in New Hampshire and Maine. In the future, the monitoring network should observe more of those unique and rare ecosystems across the country in the Northeast. Further-more, this research is supposed to offer hints about the climate change in New England.
For an expanding monitoring network, we are always searching for new sites with seasonal or perennial ice bodies, especially in the Northeast. Please feel free to contact us for more information: david.holmgren at rub.de or andreas.pflitsch at rub.de.
We appreciate that very much!
David Holmgren is a student of the University of Bochum in Germany. The topic of his bachelor thesis was the microclimatic survey of the Ice Gulch in the White Mountains. Prof. Dr. Andreas Pflitsch is a climatologist of the University of Bochum (Germany). His passion is the climatology of caves and subways.
Editor’s note: This article is reprinted with permission of the authors and of the editors of Windswept, the journal of the Mt. Washington Observatory, where it appeared in the winter 2011-12 issue. The authors request that hikers not disturb any of the data logging devices that they might observe while traveling through the Ice Gulch.
As we move ahead into the next
trail work season, our eyes, feet and hands are moving toward the
upcoming relocation of the Mt. Crescent Trail, the Cook Path and the
closing of the lower portion of the Boothman Spring Cut-off. All
of this is in anticipation of construction of the new trailhead at the
very end of Randolph Hill Road, near the Jimtown Logging road.
The diagram of the new layout below shows that the Mt. Crescent Trail
and the Cook Path will coincide from their start at the new trailhead,
and then the Cook Path will diverge to the northeast before the
intersection with the Castleview Loop. Ultimately, the Carlton
Notch Trail will be tied in to the trailhead also, to eliminate a
possible road walk and passage through a house lot and storage area.
The Trips Committee extends spring greetings to all club members, and especially to all past and aspiring Trip Leaders! We're excited to offer up this FIRST CALL for leaders of our twice-weekly club excursion, and to shed some light on the work of the committee and the duties of trip leaders.
As most readers know, Club trips take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays commencing with The Tea (July 4) and concluding at the end of August. Traditionally, Tuesday outings are of a less strenuous caliber, and are designed to accommodate and encourage the younger and older members of the Club. The Club's Directors Manual includes the following statement on the longstanding tradition of regular guided trips:
"Trips serve several important functions: introducing climbers to a variety of hike locations; providing participating hikers with a set of walking companions; adding sociability to the community; and inculcating the next generation into the joys of hiking and appropriate ways of interacting with our forest environment."
All of us who've participated in Club trips can attest to these pleasures, and recall special moments of our own--an introduction to a new trail or destination; the opportunity for in-depth conversations with those ahead or behind on the trail; a convivial lunch with good company and a spectacular view; the added insight of leaders with perspective in fields such as history or geology.
The Trips Committee strives to organize the 17-or-so opportunities for these outings that our summer season provides, and especially, to secure leadership for each trip. The Committee encourages the leadership of at least one canoe trip as an offering during the season; bicycle, bird watching, and artistic outings are also welcome. The duties of leadership are not onerous, and basically include selection of an outing with which the leader is familiar, publicity on the RMC website and in the Randolph Weekly, basic organization and management of the trip, and a brief summary of the trip for the Club's records. Leaders find that most participants are already well-versed in protocol and procedure.
If you are interested in leading a trip, please contact Trips Chair Keith Dempster (keith at keithdempster.com). You'll receive a spreadsheet of available dates to choose from, and more detail on what to do as leader. Your Trips Committee (Keith, Dave Forsyth, Renee Dunham, and Michele Cormier as distinguished advisor) are available to answer any questions and we extend our thanks in advance for contributing to yet another GREAT hiking season.
After the amazing turnout last summer we have decided to both enlarge and focus work parties on everyone’s favorite summit, Mt. Crescent. We will hold four sessions, on Saturdays, in July and August to brush and clear the major trails on Mt. Crescent, the Carlton Notch Trail, the Mt. Crescent Trail and the Crescent Ridge Trail. These will be held on consecutive Saturdays, beginning July 21 and running through August 11, concluding with the Annual Meeting that evening. We should be able to make a great report to the membership of our accomplishments. The schedule will be as follows:
July 21 - Mt.
Crescent Trail: starting at end of Randolph Hill Road to junction
of Crescent Ridge Trail, where north and south view trails diverge (1.1
This is a great opportunity
for anyone who wishes to play a part in the long history of Mt.
Crescent trails and their maintenance. Parts of the Crescent
Ridge Trail were originally opened by Laban Watson and E.B. Cook in the
1880’s, and the trail was completed in the 1930’s by the Dadourians
with help from John Boothman, proprietor of the Mt. Crescent
House. The Mt. Crescent Trail was first blazed by E.B. Cook in
1884, destroyed by subsequent logging and fires and then reopened by
him in 1892.
Summertime, Summertime, Sum... Sum... Summertime!! Time to think of what's new this year with RMC merchandise... We eagerly await the arrival of our new 2012 T-shirt design celebrating the heritage of our mountains embodied in Judy Hudson’s wonderful book Peaks and Paths, available at our 4th of July Tea. We are stocking up on supplies of our Performance Camp shirts and will be offering framed posters of our classic picture of Leroy Woodard's Randolph in the early 20th century. You'll want to grab a Stearns Lodge pillow before they are all gone. Every couch in Randolph should have one!
Of course, our most popular items (Peaks and Paths, trail maps, stickers for your car windows, and hats) will be at the sale as well as at various RMC events throughout the summer. Most of our items are also available at the Tuckers’ vestibule again this season, and on our website at www.randolphmountainclub.org.