Table of Contents
Plans for a Base Camp to house RMC trail crews and caretakers on days off are proceeding quietly. An excellent building committee under the leadership of Paul Cormier is working to develop a design and a construction method that will give the club this much-needed facility at a lower cost than the original plan. Besides Paul, the committee now includes three other members with a lot of building experience: Dave Salisbury, Jeff Tirey, and John Tremblay. Board members Doug Mayer, Guy Stever, and Lydia Goetze are also on the committee, as are recent Field Supervisor Dan Rubchinuk and trail crew members Laura Conchelos and Roz Stever. Each has prepared their own plan to meet the program requirements and soon they will distill them into one plan that satisfies all. This plan will then be brought to a modular construction company, a log builder, a conventional builder, and the Timber Framers Guild for cost estimates. We hope to have the results to review at our next board meeting on January 30.
Another committee is working up an array of options for financing the maintenance and operating costs of a base camp, including raising dues and camp fees.
These steps are being taken in response to feedback we have received from members, both in personal conversations and at the Annual Meeting this August. About 10 families in individual interviews and 100 members at the Annual Meeting expressed strong support for the clubs activities. They understand our need to provide housing for our employees. They all have heard that our present marvelous arrangement with the Jones Cottage and tent platforms on Dan and Edith Tuckers field is not a long-run solution, as the Tuckers will need to reclaim their cottage and field within the next several years. They know the Tuckers have offered the club a parcel of land on the west side of their property, near the clubs tool shed. They would like to see the club be able to build on this site. But they have all said the cost of the first sketch we came up with was too expensive. Many also expressed concerns about covering the maintenance and operating costs of a base camp through an endowment only, and said camps fees and dues should contribute towards those costs. We thank all those members for their involvement and consideration of the clubs proposal.
We will keep you all posted on our progress as we make it.
Meanwhile, the ordinary activities of the club continue. We have a strong Board of Directors, with three new members as you can read elsewhere in this newsletter. We have about 800 adult members from all over the country. The camps and trails are in good shape. The traditional social events were held once again this summer. Many members went on hikes organized by the Trips Chairs. We continue to stretch a few dollars a long way in our finances. Our web site brings in new members and helps us sell merchandise to a broader group. We have a new edition of Randolph Paths in the works, as well as an updated RMC map. Look for them at the Fourth of July Tea next summer.
Looking forward, the board intends to renew its efforts to secure some kind of protection for its trails on private lands, whether by easements or simple agreements with land owners. Dave Willcox and John Scarinza have agreed to head up this effort. Doug Mayer, as Trails Chair, will be their liaison with the board.
The club gives a big thank you to the Penney family for protecting the trailhead and lower section of the Howker Ridge Trail, as well as part of the Randolph Path, north of the boundary of the National Forest. The Penneys recently gave an easement on a 158-acre portion of their Broadacres Farm, which included these sections of RMC trails, hitherto unprotected. RMC board members Al Sochard, Marie Beringer, and Gail Scott attended a ceremony honoring the family, as well as the Potter / Arbree family for a large conservation easement they also executed on nearby land. Jim Penneys grandfather, Francis Wood, must be smiling down from heaven now, as he was one of the founders of the RMC.
Wishing you all happy holidays,
During the last quarter of the 19th century, the small village of Randolph burgeoned into an active summer community centered about the towns three major inns. City dwellers from the Northeast and Midwest traveled to spend their vacations in the clear mountain air. The Ravine House, beginning around 1877, attracted a group of energetic hikers who turned their talents to exploring the northern peaks and carving a network of paths that made the high mountains more easily accessible. Hotel guests devoted their days to guided hikes on the high peaks, walks to waterfalls and scenic viewpoints, and wagon or carriage excursions (with elaborate picnics) to more distant attractions, while the less energetic watched the activity from the comfort of the rocking chairs on the front piazza.
Evening was the time for indoor amusements. George N. Cross recreated the delights of the Ravine House parlor (around 1877) in a short article in the 1916 Appalachia. He introduces the early pathmakers (Cook, Peek, the Pychowskas, Edmands and Sargent), who in the parlor circle,...reported and enlarged upon our works, discussed and named our discoveries. 1 Mountain adventures were not the only focus; Cross describes Eugene B. Cook as an old man whose antics belied his seemingly elderly and infirm demeanor:
By the 1890's, Victorian parlor games were played by the guests, particularly:
In the early years of the RMC, charades were not yet the centerpiece of the Clubs August picnic. The annual picnics began soon after the Clubs founding in August 1910, developing from Club excursions to distant locations. 4 Louis F. Cutter, writing for George Cross 1924 volume, Randolph Old and New, mentions picnics held in at least five easily accessible locations (Cascade Camp, Pine Mountain, Triple Falls, Rollo Fall and Bumpus Basin). The picnic at Rollo Fall was notable for the beginning of Professor Hincks chronicle of Rollo in Randolph, 5 though it is not clear if this was a story or a dramatic production. Picnics were held at Cascade Camp in September 1912, and August 1913, the only early events for which I have written evidence of both place and date. 6
The first RMC charades seem to have occurred at a Club camp-fire on August 27, 1913, 7 held by E. H. Blood on a stage constructed behind his cottage, The Spruces (now the Grants):
The performances on this occasion included dramatic groups from the three hotels: the Green-enoughs from the Ravine House 9 enacted a fairy play; the Mountain View people a charade, Paw-queue-pine; and the Mt. Crescent House (and nearby cottages) an opera entitled Laugh-an-grin. Todays three charade groups still follow this early division, with participation determined by the hotel from which summer cottagers once collected their mail: Ravine (Valley), Mountain View (Midlands), or Mt. Crescent (Hill) houses.
Charades were introduced into the picnic sometime in the late teens. This feature, as well as group singing, seems firmly established by around 1920, when the picnic site was moved to Cold Brook, where, ...nearby, a natural amphitheatre, a little withdrawn from the noise of the brook, is available for charades, stories and singing in the afternoon. 10
Almost all older Randolphians have childhood memories of charades in which their ordinarily sedate parents cavorted in odd costumes. Louise Davis remembers Uncle Peter [Percy Bridgman] in his nightshirt, though not what the word had been. Nancy Frueh told us of her father Charles C. Torrey and Roger Hubbard impersonating boxers. Before beginning their charade match, both men removed enormous wooden false teeth from their mouths and hung them on the rings ropes.
The Hincks family was a driving force in early charade productions. They held charades or other theatrical events at their house Uplook, 11 using the balcony or performing in front of the Suprisery, a small cabin then located behind the Hincks house. Hersh Cross recalls having been a complete flop at a Hincks gala when, at age 5 or 6, he couldnt execute a headstand as part of the event. Caroline Hincks described George Foot Moores brother (a minister himself) giving a wonderful parody of a preacher, He said in a sonorous voice, My text is from the book about dogs: Beware of dogs, beware of little dogs, medium-sized dogs and big dogs. Beware of dogs. 12
Dramatic productions other than charades were frequent pastimes for Randolphs cottagers who invented much of their own entertainment. In 1915 at Spur Cabin, Charles Torrey created The Porcupine, A Moral Play in One Act to welcome his niece Mabel, whose family had sent her from England to flee the hardships of World War I. A sneaky weasel claims that he didnt steal the Torrey familys meat, but his voracious brood sings, O, mice and chicks are juicy prey,/ As up and down the ridge we roam;/ But best of all the glorious day/ When papa brings the cutlets home! The weasels get their just desserts from the Barred Owl, while the Porcupine murmurs, I always did believe in capital punishment!
Other productions have included a 1934 production of H. M. S. Pinafore in the Mt. Crescent House barn, starring Eleanor Keach as Josephine, Roger Hubbard as Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B., and Bob Hatch as Dick Dead-eye. 13 The performance was Klaus Goetze's idea: he selected the cast, scheduled rehearsals, conducted, and directed the whole operation. His brand-new bride, Erika, was the "orchestra" on the piano. Fred Hubbards purchase of a new tape recorder around 1946 led to Thirteen on the Range, A Radio Melodrama by Barbara Wilson, Nancy Frueh, and Fred Hubbard in which Barbara played Miss Upansnoot, a lady from Boston, whose total part consisted of different inflections of the single word Well...
In 1964 a version of The Reluctant Dragon was staged in the Alexanders barn as a fundraiser for the renovation of Gray Knob. Directed by Nancy Frueh, the play involved most of the children of Randolph so that their parents would contribute some money, according to Nancy. St. Georges helmet was passed for donations, and the proceeds somehow got dumped into the punch bowl.
The Midlands enactment of Pie-on-ear, a charade probably from the late 1920's, was famous. The word was performed in two acts (the first three syllables and then the whole word), and, at the climax of both scenes, Mrs. Page smashed a lemon meringue pie in Percy Bridgmans face. The Midlands has perfected the slapstick pie scene down through the ages: I remember an early 1970's portrayal set in a fancy restaurant. Klaus Goetze played a particularly demanding, obnoxious diner. At the denouement, Erika Goetze, as the much abused waitress, threw a whipped cream confection in Klaus face (a role she played with apparent glee). 14 At the dawn of the twenty-first century (2002), in the opening act of pie-row-tech-nix, Bill Knight (judiciously clad in a rain poncho) was plastered with whipped cream by many capering kids.
The early charades were less elaborate insofar as costumes and sets. A photo taken by Guy Shorey at the 1934 picnic (made available by Marian Woodruff) shows nine children (and three dogs) standing in front of the rough bleachers built in the Cold Brook glade. Nancy Frueh recalls that the Midlands adults said they werent going to do a charade that year, and we Midlands kids took on the job ourselves...Our word was perpetuate, done in three acts: (1) purr pet (with a cat, maybe the Hubbards Purr Box; (2) chew eight (in which eight of us pulled out sticks of gum, and, directed by our ninth member as conductor, chewed eight times); and the whole word (we went on a hike and discovered a new mountain peak, which we named NRA - Never Roosevelt Again because all our parents were staunch Republicans.)
A Conant family home movie also documents the simpler style of the 1935 charades at Cold Brook honoring the 25th anniversary of the RMC. In the characteristically jerky manner of silent film, we see (but of course cannot hear) the stars of yesteryear (James Conant, Bert Malcolm, Douglas Horton) as they strut upon the stage. Conant plays Gordon Lowe, manning his gas pumps for a parade of vehicles, among which were a classy Mercedes impersonated by Jane Bridgman. An act portraying reporter, one of the whole words, is conveyed by a fashionable journalist with elegant hat and very high heels who tries to interview the medical team caring for the Dionne quintuplets.
The relocation of Route 2 in 1965 obliterated the traditional Cold Brook picnic site and amphitheatre. In 1965 the picnic was held in the Donnells meadow near the original Hincks house, a site that had not enough slope to create seating that focused on a natural stage. The following year the Horton family invited the RMC to use the hillside adjoining Mossy Glen. Over the years improvements have been made to its terraced seating in an attempt to eliminate erosion of the slope. Inclement weather traditionally led to the postponement of the picnic to the next good day, as the wording reads on an early poster. In 1999 the RMC Board decided instead to offer a rain site, the Beringers barn, an alternative that was used in 1999, 2003 and 2004.
Traditionally the RMC picnic occured at noon on the Tuesday following the annual business meeting of the Club, which is held in accordance with the By-Laws on the second Saturday of August. The 1952 edition of Randolph Paths even specifies its location, on the banks of Coldbrook near Coldbrook Lodge. In 1977, the picnic was moved to the third Saturday in August so that working people could attend.
Although the parlor game of charades is often played in mime, Randolphs rules seem always to have allowed elaborate scripts as well as ever more fanciful props and scenery. The Midlands, taking advantage of Tim Sappingtons architectural skills, has produced carriages, buildings, gondolas (combining Venice and Wildcat) and ocean liners. The Lusitania sank before our eyes as lifeboats were launched, although most of the action was incidental to the torpedos transsub portrayal.
Literary allusions abound: scenes from Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass, complete with the Chesire cat, dormouse, the Red Queen and playing cards; The Tempest, Oedipus Rex; Biblical or mythological extravaganzas (a Valley specialty). Timely satires of political events have been popular, especially in years of presidential elections or national scandals. There is nearly always reference to some local event -- rising taxes, development schemes, the vandalous acts of bears.
Rare is the year that a charlatan/mountebank has not been present. A role played variously by the likes of Guy Stever, Sr., Bill Muehl, and Jim Baldwin, the quintessential con-man was Phil Scott, whose unctuous voice convinced the unwary that his scheme was legit. Would you buy a con-do-miniyum from this guy?
Klaus Goetze has been the most unforgetable charade actor in my memory. From musical roles like Nanki-poo to impersonating himself, asking his chorus to give him a mini yum, Klaus was always funny. For me the height of his art was achieved in a non-speaking part, his portrayal of Queen Victoria in 1987. The scene was set with a large appliance box, bearing the legend, W.C. A few women in obvious need vied for use of the facility, when an elegant carriage was brought on stage. The Queen, waving and bowing to her loyal subjects, descended, and entered the lavatory. She reemerged, waving and bowing, and was borne away. The word was loo-brie-quay-shun.
Come back with me to the Mossy Glen hillside and lets close with some rounds. Scotlands Burning, Chairs to Mend, and Little Jack Horner give way to Dona Nobis Pacem. We all stand, clasp hands, and sing Should old acquaintance be forgot...
Many thanks to Marian Davis Woodruff and Nancy Torrey Frueh for their contributions to this article. I am actively seeking 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; 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 Clubs Archivist, and Judy is working on a history of the RMC.
1. George Nelson Cross, Randolph Yesterdays, Appalachia: 14; 57 (Dec. 1916).
2. Ibid., p. 55.
3. Hazel de Berard, Memories of Randolph, Appalachia: 31; 197 (Dec.1956).
4. Arthur Stanley Pease, Early Trailmakers at Randolph and the Founding of the R.M.C., Appalachia: 33; 192 (Dec.1960).
5. Described by Louis F. Cutter in The Randolph Mountain Club, in George N. Cross, Randolph Old and New, Boston: Pinkham Press, 1924, p.188.
6. Cutter, op.cit., pp.188-193, quotes letters describing the picnics in great detail.
7. This was a birthday celebration, but I have conflicting evidence if the event was to celebrate the birthday of E. Y. Hincks or that of E. H.Blood himself. Both men were founding members and subsequently officers of the RMC.
8. Cutter, p. 192.
9. Hazel de Berard in Memories, p. 197, described this as a group of Ravine House extroverts who delighted in dressing up and making fools of themselves as pleasantly as possible.
10. Cutter, p. 192.
11. Subsequently owned by Nelson Smith, the Woodwards, the Donnells, the Finnegans, and again Bill Woodward.
12. July 13, 1983 - Homer Gregory Talking with Caroline Hincks, Part 1, transcribed by Gail Scott in Mountain View: 14; 2 (April 2004), p. 3.
13. See the Mountain View: 5:1 (1994).
14. I had always remembered this scene as a whole-word portrayal of pie-us, but in checking the Archives list of charades find that in 1972 the Hill used that word, not the Midlands. Perhaps it was the second syllable of amor-fuss in 1975, or boo-meringue in 1981?
The alpine zone is home to a delicate ecosystem that has to endure impacts from two primary factors weather and humans. A lot of research has been conducted on these two factors. However, it has been done largely during the summer season.
With this knowledge, I approached the Randolph Mountain Club and the White Mountain National Forest and asked if they would be interested in having me conduct a winter impact assessment of the Northern Presidential Range. The partnership was mutually beneficial as it provided an avenue for me to improve my environmental research and winter alpine skills, while helping the RMC and the WMNF determine what types of individuals were visiting the alpine zone, the extent of their knowledge, and the degree of their impact. And so, more than a dozen times the winter of 2002-2003, I made the trek from my home in New Bedford, MA, up Lowe's Path to Gray Knob and the Northern Presidentials, to work on this thesis topic.
As part of the study, I conducted a survey at Gray Knob, to determine a profile of those who are venturing above treeline, their winter experience, and their knowledge of alpine recommendations and regulations. The winter use survey contained 16 questions, which were developed jointly with RMC and WMNF. The questions were broken into four sections user profile, use of the alpine zone, usage of cellular phones and walkie-talkies, and knowledge of the White Mountains National Forest hiking/camping regulations. The survey took place at Gray Knob and Crag Camp from the first week of December 2002 to the last week of March 2003. During that period, there were a total of 651 overnight guests at Gray Knob and Crag Camp. Approximately 10% of guests participated in the survey.
Results of the study indicate that impact to alpine areas does occur during the winter months. I recorded damaged krummholz, due to several winter-only hiking routes, as well as human solid waste next to Madison Hut. What's the reason for these winter impacts? Observed reasons include poor cairn availability or location, hikers' desire to head directly to vista locations and summits, and travel in straight lines, rather than following the established, summer route as it arches from one cairn to the next. The human waste around Madison Hut simply reflected either a lack of knowledge about proper backcountry protocol, or, more likely, simple laziness in the face of the environmental adversity of winter camping in the Presidentials.
Other key findings include:
* 73% of the visitors were male, 27% female.
* The youngest visitor was 18, the oldest was 55.
* About 70 percent of people venturing above treeline have little or no experience in the alpine zone.
* The states or provinces most represented were Massachusetts (22%), New Hampshire (20%), Maine (17%) and Quebec (10%).
* 55% belonged to an outdoors organization. The most popular groups were AMC (53% of those who belonged to a group), RMC (39%), GMC (21%) and ATC (14%).
* 71% of the guests were out for two or three nights. The most popular locations to tent were near Madison Hut, Sphinx Col and near Lakes of the Clouds hut. This indicates the popularity of the winter Presidential traverse, a litmus test for the winter hiker. The most used trails were Lowe's Path (97% of all respondents), Gray Knob Trail to Edmands Col (36%), Gulfside Trail (33%) and Spur Trail (28%).
* 47% of hikers carried a cell phone or walkie-talkie. 90% of those respondents said the primary purpose of having such a device was in case of emergency. There was about one call made for every two cell phones. Interestingly, the vast majority of calls were deemed to be "emergency" in nature. With very few rescues per winter season in the northern Presidentials over the past few decades, and with cell phone use rising only in the last several years, it's difficult to believe that there has been a sudden increase in true emergencies. It's possible that users were relying on the phone instead of being more self-reliant, or were answering the survey in the way they thought was most socially acceptable, perceiving a sentiment against cell use in the backcountry.
* 48% had been above treeline in winter on five or fewer occasions. 10% said they had been above treeline in winter 30 or more time.
* 58% knew that two feet of snow is the current minimum depth required for camping above treeline in the winter. 100% knew that they were not to camp on a frozen body of water, such as Star Lake or Lakes of the Clouds.
The final report has been submitted to the RMC and the White Mountains National Forest. By providing some basic information on the level of knowledge of our winter visitors to the alpine zone, and by analyzing winter trail use and impact above treeline, I hope the information provided will help protect these fragile areas. A simple crampon step, ice axe point or metal ski edge can destroy alpine flora, so every possible effort taken to lessen the impact will help maintain the area for its own sake and for future enjoyment.
At nine months into the year, the RMC should be at around 75% of budget. In fact, thats exactly where the club is in terms of total income. Some categories are slightly over or under. A few more fundraisers are planned for fall and the final grant money has been received, so those two categories will meet budget expectations. The camps continue to earn income throughout the fall and winter, and some large contributions come at the end of the year.
The club is slightly over 75% of budget for expenses. However, expenditures for both Events and Special Projects are finished for the year. Inventory replacement is over 100% of budget due to a decision to try a new type of T-shirt made of Coolmax fabric, but no more will be spent this year and this item has turned out to be very popular, so sales are also over 100% of budget. Radios is over budget due to a timing difference: we decided to purchase a replacement radio last year (2003) but the bill was not paid until 2004. Furthermore, this is the time of year when expenses drop off considerably, so I expect that we will end the year on budget.
When the board set the budget for 2004, we put in $2,000 for a fall trail crew even though we realized we might not be able to field it, as our projected budget was showing a shortfall of $3,000. Upon reviewing projected earnings and expenses, the board voted to partially fund ($1,000) a fall crew and rely on supplementary volunteer labor for the rest of the work as we have in the past. Our trails chairmen strongly encourage us to fund the fall crew because work in the fall greatly diminishes winter and early spring trail damage. This saves the summer crew time and effort.
Increasingly, RMCs trail efforts are a year-round endeavor, reflecting a change in the pattern of use of the trails and the increased complexities and demands of trails maintenance, especially on our more heavily used trails on the White Mountain National Forest.
Highlights of the past season include:
* Two excellent crews were fielded and hired. They worked under the able leadership of Field Supervisor Dan Rubchinuk. Key projects this year included erosion control work on Randolph Path, replacement of three log ladders on Israel Ridge Path, erosion control work on Mount Crescent Trail, and the usual miles of brushing, blowdown removal and spring drainage cleaning.
Heartfelt thanks go to our eight fine crew members who have done a splendid job this year! The State of New Hampshires Bureau of Trails Supervisor called our work on Mount Crescent really impressive and said, The crew is doing a great job on the trail.
* Establishment of a committee to investigate the possibility of building a short accessible trail in town to accommodate the needs of younger and walkers and hikers, and those with disabilities. The RMC received a generous $1,000 grant from the Randolph Foundation to fund the evaluation of options. We will have more to report next spring after the evaluation process is complete.
* Establishment of a committee to edit a new edition of Randolph Paths. The new edition should be out in time for the summer 2005 hiking season and will coincide with a new edition of the RMC map.
* Relocation of the Vyron D. Lowe Trail. Last fall, all landowner permissions were obtained and the new route marked using GPS technology, thanks to RMC cartographer Jon Hall. We hope to have the new route open in time for the hiking season next year.
* Finally, a word of thanks. Maintaining RMCs trails is absolutely a case of many hands making for light work. Thanks to our hardworking trails volunteers, most notably sign makers Tami Hartley and Regina Ferreria, able Trails Chair Assistants Matt Schomburg and Al Sochard, and all of you who gave an hour, a morning, or a day or more to join us for a work trip this past season.
The RMC camps had yet another successful summer. Our summer caretakers, Matt McEttrick and Jeremy Loeb, did an outstanding job. The fall caretaker, Alex Perkins, also enjoyed a fun and productive season at Gray Knob. Derek Schott is the current winter caretaker and can proudly say that he is living and working at New Englands highest backcountry facility (until next summer, of course).
Former RMC winter caretaker, Pete Ketcham, has volunteered to take on the project of converting the Log Cabins current pit toilet into a functional composting toilet. Thanks Pete! The project will be completed in 2005.
As a reminder, we are always accepting applications for seasonal caretaker positions. Generally, the RMC hires one spring caretaker (April 1 to June 1), two summer caretakers (June 1 to September 1), one fall caretaker (September 1 to November 1), and one winter caretaker (November 1 to April 1). We also hire fill-in caretakers to cover days-off and transition periods. If you are interested in applying for a job, please visit the Mountain Jobs area of our web site.
Our most recent trail sign auction ended this past September and the club ended up raising a record $1,016.00 for trails maintenance. Thank you to everyone who participated!
The web site has undergone some changes over the past few months, including a new home page, the addition of the RMC newsletter archive, and posting of volunteer work trips and weekly summer hikes. More new content is on the way!
Weather conditions at Gray Knob are back online! The page is updated weekly on Thursday.
Your archivist had a busy summer. Although the constant rain inhibited climbing through much of July and August, the opportunities to expand the Club's photographic holdings kept me busy. Due to the generous access to family materials given to me by a number of Randolphians, I was able to complete more than 570 photographic scans with the aid of my new digital equipment. Among those I'd like to thank on behalf of the Club are: Lydia Goetze (17 scans of photos taken by Chris Goetze in the 1950's and '60's), Peggy Grant (31 scans from the Horton archive), Alan Lowe (108 scans covering about 150 years of family and town history), Jamie Maddock (31 scans of photos from the Anna Stearns archive), Doug Mayer (65 new scans from the George Foot Moore photo albums to go along with the 33 scans that I made last winter), Carol Sandin (63 scans from the valuable collection of photos and sketches in the Flagg family archive), Edie Tucker (32 scans from the Cutter family archive, including a copy of the earliest known Louis F. Cutter map of trails on Mts. Madison and Adams, dating from c. 1885), Marian Davis Woodruff (more than 62 scans of photos from 1934 to the present; I'm still scanning as this goes to press). The above scans were made from materials lent for the purpose. New materials given outright to the Club include gifts from: Tom and Julie Barrow (early copies of Randolph Paths); Nancy Torrey Frueh (early maps and AMC guides from the Charles C. Torrey collection); Gail Scott (the Ann Furness collection of over 300 photos (1952-1999); Edie Tucker (a set of RMC annual letters starting in 1925); Howard and Martha Wenk (a file of materials from Miriam Sanders, long-time treasurer of the RMC): Mike Pelchat (his presidential papers); and Jeff Tirey (papers relating to the rebuilding of Crag Camp).
I have made a set of contact prints and list of descriptions for all the scans made; the scans will be copied to CD disks. Copies of everything will be placed in the Club's archive.
Next summer. Since the RMC archive is not easily accessible, I plan to put together a couple of notebooks of selected scanned photos for display in the Randolph Library. In the summer of 2005 I will, once again, bring my scanning equipment to Randolph. I invite anyone who would like to give materials to or share them with the RMC, to get in touch with me to discuss details or arrange a scanning session. I can be reached in a variety of ways: email; Randolph phone [603-466-5509]; winter phone [413-256-6950]; winter address [111 Amherst Road/Pelham, MA 01002].
To be noted. Copies of Spur Cabin Registers ($25) and Randolph in Appalachia ($10) are still available and may be ordered from the RMC website [http://www.randolphmountainclub.org].
Carol Sandin is planning to use materials from the Flagg collection in producing the 2006 Calendar for the Randolph Library. This will be a must-see introduction to this valuable collection.
Editor's note: the following interesting story appeared in the Coös County Democrat and is reprinted by permission.
For nine months Barbara Rosendahl of Bristol has missed wearing the wedding band and diamond engagement ring given her by her husband Eric, whom she married in 1996.
The two rings fell out of her pants pocket on Sept. 13, 2003, when she was peak-bagging on Mt. Waumbek, one of the 48 4,000-foot White Mountain summits required to be climbed for those aiming to be members of the Four Thousand Footer Club. Distraught at losing her rings, she said in a telephone interview on Friday evening, that she had returned that weekend to climb halfway up the Starr King Trail in the rain with her husband. And on another day had lugged a metal detector up the three-and-a-half-mile mountain trail, scanning both sides of the pathway in a desperate search for her sentimentally valuable rings. Ms. Rosendahl said she had tucked her rings in her pocket when she was making piecrusts and found that the dough was sticking into the curved crevasses that make up the setting of her Marquis-cut diamond ring. Apparently, she said, her rings and her trail map were tucked in the same pocket.
When her own efforts at finding her two rings failed, Ms. Rosendahl turned to the Internet and posted news of her loss on hiking club websites, including that of the Randolph Mountain Club whicht maintains the Starr King Trail, north of the Waumbek Golf Course on Route 2 in Jefferson Village.
Once the colorful leaves of autumn had fallen from the maples and beeches on the south-facing slopes, Ms. Rosendahl said she gave up any hope that her rings would ever be found.
And, with the demands of both a two-and-a-half-year-old son and a banking career, she had little time to devote to fretting over the winter months when snow piled up on the two mountains and then later melted, washing down the treadway and spilling over water bars.
I felt awfully guilty and, yes, stupid, she recalled.
But on Sunday, June 20, Julie George of Fryeburg, Me., who works in the accounting department at Settlers Green in North Conway, and her sister Joyce Layne of Osterville, Mass., hiked the Starr King Trail. Although Ms. George and another sister have already earned membership in the coveted Four Thousand Footer Club, Ms. Layne has not yet achieved this goal.
We were hiking on the Starr King Trail on Sunday, Ms. George posted to the RMC message board.
My sister, watching where she steps, found a wedding band and diamond lying in the trail (between the 3,900-foot summit of Mount Starr King and the wooded summit of Mount Waumbek). It is obvious they slipped off someones finger.
Alerted by RMC trails chair Doug Mayer of Randolph that this message had been posted on Monday morning, June 21, this reporter telephoned Ms. George on Friday morning, shortly after she arrived at work. It turned out she had not yet looked at the site.
Later that day Ms. George finally reached Ms. Rosendahl.
I just got off the phone with a very excited Barbara Rosendahl, she e-mailed. They are definitely her rings, and she is going to connect with my sister and meet her somewhere to get them back. It is unbelievable that they sat in the trail for nine months! Leave it to my sister who loves flowers and scat and is always on the lookout for both!
Meanwhile, the two sisters, both in their 40s, are already planning another hike, up Mount Cabot, which tops out at 4,170 feet, via The Horn in the Kilkenny.
Ms. Rosendahl was profuse in her appreciation of the honesty within the hiking community as well as its close-knit and helpful nature. Members of hiking clubs other than the RMC, she said, suggested additional sites where she could post the news of her losing her rings, with some forwarding on her pleas for assistance without even being asked to.
Mountain Club Jeopardy
1. Intermezzo Rusticana was:
A. a brief opera written by
one of Randolph's early musical residents to be performed at
one of the annual dramatic sessions that preceded the modern
2. Mt. Sawdust, a large pile of sawdust left by a woodland sawmill in the late 1800s was:
A. near the foot of the Ice
A. Bumpus Basin
A. Each had a major storm that
seriously damaged the trails,
A. Each served as President
of the Club.
6. An ambitious New Deal government proposal put forth in the 1930s, which was vigorously and successfully opposed by many prominent Randolphians was:
A. a tramway (similar to the
one in Franconia Notch) up Pine Mountain from the vicinity of
7. Which one of the following former RMC trails was abandoned most recently?
A. Cascade Ravine Trail
8. The proportion of the total mileage of Randolph Mountain Club trails that lies above treeline is approximately
A. 9 %
9. The four soldiers, for whom the R.M.C.'s new Four Soldiers Path is named, participated in the:
A. French and Indian War,
A. John Quincy Adams
One of my fondest memories of hiking above treeline in the White Mountains has always been the plaintive song of the white-throated sparrow -- Poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.
In 2003 and 2004, I had the opportunity to participate in the Vermont Institute of Natural Science-sponsored survey of the Bicknells thrush. In New England, the Bicknells thrush breeds only in high mountain fir forests and is considered a high priority for conservation.
On over 100 survey routes in New England, volunteers observed Bicknells thrush as well as other birds, especially white-throated sparrow, blackpoll warbler, winter wren, and Swainsons thrush. Other mountains surveyed in New Hampshire included Cannon, Dixville Peak, Starr King, and Clay.
Making this survey a particular challenge was the timing: start between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. on a morning between June 1 and 21. My two companions and I were not very fond of rising in the middle of the night and dodging swarms of mosquitoes and black flies. This was where the sense of humor on the official equipment list put out by the institute comes in handy.
I hadnt been to Randolph since October, so I was looking forward to this spring adventure. The weather forecast was unsettled, but it looked like we could sneak in our survey the weekend of June 5.
On Sunday, June 6, Jill Wassong and I set out from our friends house on Randolph Hill Road at 2:40 a.m. after about three hours of sleep (having driven up from Boston on Saturday night). It was dark out and far too early. We picked our way up the Carlton Notch Trail by the light of a just-past-full moon and our headlamps. Ladyslippers shone white in the moonlight in the middle of the trail in the same place as last year. We passed hobblebush and painted trillium, and violets were blooming on stream banks.
We gained the ridge at 4 a.m. and marveled at the quiet. Our survey route was 1 kilometer of the Crescent Ridge Trail, so we took a left and continued through the lush foliage and muddy spots. We encountered several blow downs that hadnt been cleared yet. There was even bear scat, which I found a little creepy at that early hour.
Soon the dawn chorus began, first with the Sam Peabody of the white-throated sparrow, followed by Swainsons and hermit thrush. We enjoyed a beautiful red sunrise, with the moon setting in the west.
We must have been making better time than I thought, as we crossed a small brook and started to climb towards Mt. Randolph. I told Jill that I thought wed gone too far and I pulled out my paperwork. Another challenge of this survey was finding the five points (unmarked and only described), separated by 250 meters, in the dark. Point 1 was described as S. of Crescent Ridge summit at elv 2910 ft. uphill from brook, pass over 3 sets of rock steps on R side of trail. Boulder the size of washing machine, moss covered. Descend from lookout, mossy boulder is before 2nd water bar.
I could hear someone whooping in the distance. Our friend BabZ Schilke appeared, a much better navigator than me, and said, It looked like you were going to climb Mt. Randolph!
The first survey point was just the other side of the stream, so we hadnt gone too far out of our way. We were all famished, so BabZ pulled out a large bag of cheese popcorn and we munched while we listened for birds for ten minutes. It was a little past 5 in the morning.
We stopped to listen at each of the next four points, and still no Bicknells thrush. The study protocol calls for revisiting the points to play a 1-minute tape of Bicknells thrush vocalizations in the hope of enticing any birds in hiding to respond. So we needed to negotiate that big blowdown a third time. BabZ pointed out that our popcorn crumbs would make it easy to find the survey points again.
Well, we didnt hear any Bicknells that day so BabZ and I returned for an evening follow-up survey on June 27. We set off a little after 6 p.m., after spending the day at the Stark Fiddlers Contest. On this second trip, three weeks later, we encountered white bunchberry blossoms and daisies reflecting our headlamps along the trail, and we surprised a young moose (who quickly disappeared into the forest) up on Crescent Ridge.
While I took notes BabZ worked with my new GPS and was able to get readings, which should make finding the survey points next year a snap.
As we sat up at Lafayette View, BabZ thought she might have heard our bird, but I didnt think so. Better luck next year, I guess.
It drizzled a bit on the way down. We took the Jimtown road, where fireflies twinkled in the valley close to the ground.
I submitted my data, albeit negative, and look forward to participating again in 2005. I still havent seen or heard the elusive Bicknells thrush, but I intend to keep trying.
Mountain Birdwatch welcomes new volunteers. For more information, please visit their Web site at www.vinsweb.org/cbd/mtn_birdwatch.html.
Mary does most of her bird-watching near her home in Concord, Mass. but has enjoyed tramping in Randolph for the last twenty years or so.
A funny thing happened on the trail (in retrospect, anyway!) or Wild Dogs as told by former RMC caretaker John Tremblay.
I was 17 years old, and had recently come to love Randolph and the trails. I would hitchhike from Nashua on every weekend I could just to hike up to the camps and spend the weekend in the woods.
It was already dark by the time I got up to Randolph one November evening. Undaunted, I started up Lowes Path. By this time, I knew the trail well enough plus I had a disposable flashlight. What else could I need?
Before long, I got the distinct feeling I wasnt alone. I attributed it to the jitters after all, Id never hiked in the dark before. Soon, however, I knew I wasnt alone. I heard footsteps a lot of them very stealthily moving on either side of the trail. Dogs. Not just any dogs but aggressive dogs in the woods, in the dark at least three dogs maybe more. These were gang dogs. Dogs that would make most junk-yard dogs slink away whining and quivering.
I didnt know what to do. They were actually beginning to circle, and yip, yap and growl. To say I was scared was a total understatement. Im gonna die, I just know it, went through my mind. So I turned and screamed at the top of my lungs, which scattered them. Temporarily.
Weapons. Thats what I needed. I took stock of what I had a butter knife, fork, and disposable flashlight. Great. With knife in one hand, fork and flashlight in the other, I screamed again, lunging toward the dogs from every angle. This time, they slunk away for a few minutes. I moved as fast as my adrenaline would carry me up the trail and then they were back.
Again and again I lunged at the pack all the while slashing the air with the knife and fork/flashlight combo. And so it went until around the junction with the Link, when they seemed to disappear maybe they caught the scent of prey that wouldnt take as much work to bring down.
A bit further up the trail, I slipped on some ice, and lost my flashlight. Now I was scared. I was terrified that Id have to deal with the dogs again and to do so in the dark was just too much. But, I got on my hands and knees, and scrambled around looking for my flashlight, using the only pack of matches I had for light. Its hard to believe and maybe the years have altered my memory but I clearly recall finding that flashlight with the last match I had.
John was a two-time winter caretaker and two-season trail crew member with the RMC in the early 1980s. He is currently a carpenter and rare book dealer. He enjoys rock & ice climbing and camping. Kathy is a writer and career counselor. She enjoys folk singing and hiking. They live in Randolph.
Readers! If you have amusing or memorable Tales from the Trails that youd like to share, we'd love to print it in an upcoming newsletter. Jot your tale down, and send it to Kathy Tremblay.
The music is not an hallucination. Hikers trekking up the Spur Trail on the side of King Ravine on Mount Adams can sometimes hear the tones of a century-old pump organ being played from a mountain hut.
"I've been hiking down the other side of the ridge and have heard it come across," said Bill Arnold, Vice-President of the Randolph Mountain Club, a northern New Hampshire hiking organization which oversees over 100 miles of trails in the northern Presidential and Crescent Ranges around Randolph.
Those were in the days when the organ could be played outside on the porch. Today, it's housed under lock and key in Crag Camp, a hiker's cabin on the Spur Trail near the edge of the ravine at 4,247 feet. But if one asks the caretaker, a key can be used to unleash melodies in the mountains.
"I've played it a number of times, Gilbert and Sullivan, waltzes and marches," said RMC member Mike Bromberg of Mason. "Boston Pops fare seems to work well."
Organs have been an instrumental part of the Crag experience. The one Bromberg found, and helped transport to its perch, is the third one housed at Crag. The other two are gone to the winds of history with the help of mice and men.
The Crag Camp organ isn't the only keyboard to have graced a White Mountain hut. The Appalachian Mountain Club's Mizpah Spring Hut has a pump organ. Madison Huts once had an upright piano.
Like all alpine huts, Crag Camp is a storied place. Club history tells of the original Crag Camp being built in 1909 and used for many years as a private summer camp by Harvard graduate Nelson H. Smith who traveled up from Boston. In 1939, the RMC took over. After 84 years, the rotting and rickety camp was razed and a new one built in 1994.
References to an organ - and a wind up record player - are made in a 1934 essay by Nancy Torrey Frueh in the book Remembrances of Crag Camp: 1909-1993.
The first one, I believe, sort of was finally eaten up by mice and who knows what else," said club historian Judy Hudson of Pelham, Massachusetts.
Hikers aren't the only creatures seeking shelter at Crag. Hudson has a nephew who was once a caretaker at the hut. He would trap mice and tally the score. She says he stopped counting after he got up to 100.
As for the second organ, Hudson has a black and white 1957 photo showing three semi-smiling hikers with huge pieces of organ strapped to their backs. One can assume they were at the start of the haul.
Arnold, who was a one-time Crag caretaker, has childhood memories of witnessing a square dance at the cabin, music supplied by former club president and musician Klaus Goetze. "He and a bunch of friends moved the organ out on the front porch and had a square dance out there. The place was jumping," Arnold recalled.
Like the first organ, it succumbed to the elements.
"The second one was vandalized and burned," said Hudson.
The organ tradition didn't die with number two. Bromberg first visited Crag Camp in 1972 and by then, the second organ had been reduced to nearly nothing, he recalled. So when the camp was rebuilt, he found an organ that needed some work and approached the RMC board with the idea of housing it at Crag.
Using huge wooden pack boards ("torture boards" as they are called by hut crew members), the organ was carried up in sections weighing around 100 pounds each and dedicated on July 9, 1994.
One of the organ haulers was Randolph's Doug Mayer, now the club Trails Chair and a former Crag caretaker. A photo of him, organ on his back on the steep and rocky Spur Trail, graces the wall by the organ. He is not smiling.
"The load was unyielding," he said one night at Crag having carried a pizza up in his backpack for dinner. Even with toppings, it was lighter than the organ. "I couldn't see anything. We needed spotters to give us directions."
Nowadays, Bromberg, also known as the "Organ Donor" in the world of hut culture, visits Crag and plays the refurbished organ. He maintains the instrument, cleaning the reeds and changing the box of mothballs placed nearby to ward off scurrying rodents who might find the organ a tasty chew.
The organ is fodder for entries in the hut log, the thoughts and musings of hikers visiting the camp. One entry, from June 20, 1999, makes reference to Bromberg. It says: "I witnessed the Legend of the Organ working his craft, playing, checking keys, etc. and enjoyed the beautiful sunset.
So the tradition continues.
RMC member Marty Basch lives in Conway, N.H. This article appeared in his syndicated column, and is reprinted with permission.
Answers to RMC Jeopardy:
1. C. Named facetiously by Cook for the rusty can which he found and used as a marker (Waterman, Forest and Crag, p. 225)
2. D. "Mt. Sawdust" was conspicuous for many years in the view from the Northern Presidentials near the wild tarn known as the Pond of Safety. (Early editions of AMC Guides)
3. B. Only Cascade Ravine is a V-shaped valley rather than a U-shaped basin with a relatively flat floor and steep walls.
4. A. 1927, November flood, 1938, September hurricane, 1969, record snowfalls, especially in February, seasonal total in Randolph about 350 inches, 1998, January ice storm played havoc with forests and power lines.
5. C. Bridges:
6. D. WPA-CCC proposed to build a road along the crest of the Presidentials. Economics probably played as large a role in the abandonment of this project as did the fierce opposition, which included my father. (JWS personal recollection)
7. B. The Moosebank was overrun by the relocation of US 2 (1966). The Cascade Ravine Trail and Tip-o-the-Tongue Loop (Israel Ridge) were destroyed by the 1938 hurricane; the Bridge Route, one of the network of trails near the lower course of Snyder Brook, was abandoned for lack of use in the 1940s. (JWS personal recollection)
8. A. The above-treeline portions of the Howker Ridge, Watson, Upper Bruin, Chemin des Dames, Great Gully, King Ravine, Spur, Lowe's, Gray Knob, Israel Ridge, Randolph, Castle Ravine, Edmands Col Cutoff, Cornice total: about 9 miles of the R.M.C.'s total of 100 miles. (Randolph Paths)
9. B. (Randolph Paths)
10. A. Adams 4 is crossed by Lowe's Path, Durand Scar is on the Scar Loop, and the second Howk is on the Howker Ridge Trail. To reach John Quincy Adams, you have to walk over the rocks from the Air Line.