Table of Contents
My aunt, Judy Hudson, wrote her exposé in the last newsletter on my family's penchant for taking our offspring on long forced marches across mountain ridges. This year being no exception, we headed off one beautiful August morning to traverse the Presidentials. Different groups I have hiked with have several interpretations of what constitutes a Presidential traverse. Our Maddock family definition is to start at the Pine Link off the Pinkham B Road, the farthest north and highest one can start. One then climbs Madison and proceeds down the range. All summits must be climbed, with no dodging around on the Gulfside. At the end of the day one cannot merely bail out onto the Crawford path, but must continue down the range to go over Clinton, Jackson, and the dreaded Webster Cliffs.
By the time you reach Webster Cliffs, you have done twenty miles or so, your feet are aching from walking above tree line on the rocks all day, and your body is quite ready to call it a day. It does not help that you have just recently passed Mizpah Hut, smelled dinner on the stove and seen all the guests relaxing outside. Once on Webster Cliffs you can see the Willey house site right underneath you. It looks as if with a good running start you could dive into the pond out front, have a nice swim and call it a day. However, from previous hikes, I know there is a paradox at this point. The more you hike, the farther you seem to get from the sharp left turn off the top of the cliffs. Once you are finally at this turn, the worst is over and it is only a quick run down to the trailhead. The trail across the cliffs is quite rugged, and compared to the previous couple of miles, this section takes forever. However, by putting one foot in front of the other, and with lots of bribes in the form of food for the kids, the end of the trail finally comes into sight.
I feel like we are at now at this stage with the Stearns Lodge. We have gone very nearly the whole distance. There is only the last mile or so to go, but we need to keep at it. The lot has been cleared, the foundation excavated and poured, the well drilled, and now the building is rising. If you would like to see the Stearns Lodge being built, just visit the RMC website at www.randolphmountainclub.org, and click on "construction update." There are weekly updates and pictures of the construction. There will also be posted opportunities for people to volunteer their time, later next spring. We still need plenty of help moving and installing tent platforms, landscaping and many other tasks. We are also looking for donated furnishings. (See the article on that topic, elsewhere in this newsletter.) Please lend a hand if you can.
In this newsletter there is a list of every donor to the project. Once again, I thank you each and all very much. It is very impressive that a club the size of ours has been able successfully to conclude a campaign of this magnitude, raising over $360,000! It is truly a tribute to how much we care about these mountains. We are planning to have a dedication for the Stearns Lodge on Sunday, July 15, 2007. Please save the date! It will be a full day of RMC events. We hope you can drop by to check out the new Lodge, and meet all the other people responsible for making this happen along with other RMC members and friends. In addition, we are hoping to have an RMC history display on the walls of the Lodge, perhaps even an RMC trail crew-caretaker alumni softball game and other events!
In other news, I would like to welcome our new board members, Mike Micucci, Sue Wemyss, Bill Parlett, and Derek Schott. Mike has been on the RMC board before, and is well known to many of us as a former caretaker and the owner of Moriah Sports in Gorham. Sue, one of the managers of Great Glen Trails at the base of Mount Washington, brings a zeal for outdoors activities and plenty of energy. Bill Parlett worked for AMC many years ago, and has recently moved to Randolph. A three-year caretaker of Blackburn Lodge on the Appalachian Trail along with his wife Sarah and daughter Kai, Bill has already assumed the role of Treasurer in club. Finally, many of us who have visited Gray Knob in winter are well acquainted with Derek "Storm" Schott, a former Gray Knob winter caretaker. Derek currently works for AMC on their construction crew, and brings a wealth of backcountry maintenance knowledge to RMC. This new contingent brings a lot of experience and know-how to the board, and they have already been put to work! Our longtime treasurer Michele Cormier is going off the board, but is picking up the membership chair. Both John Eusden and Mike Pelchat will be stepping down, but continue to help with trips and camps respectively. Gail Scott is also stepping down, due to conflicts with her new reporting job. Her skill at taking our minutes will be missed. Lydia Goetze has graciously volunteered to take over the role of secretary. We thank Michele, John, Mike, and Gail for their years of service to RMC and their continuing efforts.
This summer was very successful for the club as a whole. The Fourth of July Tea was a vibrant event. All ages were represented in the festive crowd. The Board and I had the honor of accepting the deed for the Stearns Lodge land from the Tuckers. The weather was less cooperative for a number of RMC hikes this year, and the gourmet hike ended up indoors. However, the rain held off for the annual picnic - we were able to hold the charades at Mossy Glen this year! It was great to see so many members there. The day continued with the annual softball game and then a benefit square dance at the Beringer's barn on Randolph Hill.
A number of club members have approached me and asked that the annual picnic be moved from the third weekend to the second weekend in August. Schools are starting classes earlier and earlier in recent years, and many members are on their way home by the traditional date. Your Board talked this over briefly at its fall meeting and would like to hear what the membership thinks. Please email me your thoughts via the RMC web site.
I wish you well this winter, and hope your schedule allows time for you to find yourself on RMC's paths and in the camps.
From the Archivist
This has been a year of mostly routine archiving activity. However, I am happy to inform interested readers that that Guy Waterman's An Outline of Trail Development in the White Mountains, 1840-1980 (64 pp, with 15 maps) has been reprinted. This monograph is based on a manuscript supplied by Laura Waterman and edited by Al and Judith Hudson, who added an introduction and an index to White Mountain Trails. It was originally published by the RMC in 2005, but it quickly went out of print. Copies may now be ordered on line from the RMC's web site at a cost of $25.00 plus shipping and handling.
Anyone wishing to contact the
archivist may use e-mail (email@example.com), USPS (Al
Hudson / 111 Amherst Road / Pelham, MA 01002), or telephone (Randolph:
603/466-5509; Pelham: 413/256-6950).
This past Columbus Day weekend I had the privilege of being up at the camps with our fall caretaker. The weather was fantastic, a beautiful sunset was followed by a nearly full moon rising over the flanks of Madison, and the camps were full. It was great as Camps Chair to integrate myself however briefly into the caretaker life. Sharing the joys of the mountains with all the different families, groups and solo hikers, along with an invigorating hike to Adams summit on our wonderfully maintained trails, reminded me of why the RMC exists and why we strive for excellence in all our RMC programs.
This summer we had two capable and experienced RMC caretakers, both also former members of our Trail Crew -- Aaron Parcak and Rachel Biggs. The summer started off with lots of rainy days, but undampened in spirit, our caretakers provided TLC to guests and visitors. Our fall caretaker Cameron Martindell has made a big impression on our camp visitors and the RMC community. His web site is an ode to having fun in everything he does, and his reflections have been published weekly on his web site and the RMC site.
This winter we have two caretakers on tap to provide full time coverage. Matt McEttrick, a seasoned caretaker and trail crew member, returns to RMC along with someone new to RMC, Chad McLean. Matt worked at Canyonlands National Park as a river guide this past summer, and has recently been guiding at Ancient Pathways Bushcraft School in Arizona. On Matt's weeks off this winter, he will return to his job at REI. Matt comes with great hopes for a snowy winter up at the Knob. Chad has recently worked on a Forest Service crew out of Conway and was previously leading students in outdoor programs at the Howard Gardner Transitional School. On his off week, Chad will be working on a rustic cabin he is building himself.
The RMC Camps committee welcomes a new member - our 2004-05 former winter caretaker Derek "Storm" Schott. Storm already has been very helpful getting the camps ready for winter and with the hiring of winter caretakers. Mike Pelchat will also serve on the committee again this year.
I encourage all of you to make
a trip up to Gray Knob this winter and stop in to say hello --
or perhaps bring your warm sleeping bag and spend the night.
One day in the middle of this past summer, I found myself visiting with Field Supervisor Chris Fithian, reviewing the work to date. It was a whirlwind of activity, reflecting both the spirit of this summers trail crew and the wealth and diversity of RMCs trail system. Their work covered quiet community paths, busy mountain thoroughfares, and high-elevation alpine projects.
During the course of their eleven-week season, this seasons RMC trail crew did it all. Their accomplishments include:
- Annual patrolling in early June, including chainsaw and axe removal of blowdowns, and cleaning of many hundreds of waterbars and ditches.
- Erosion control work on Randolph Path between Sylvan Way and Valley Way, and along Amphibrach. Fifty percent of the cost of this work was reimbursed by the White Mountain National Forest.
- Erosion control work on Bee Line and Diagonal. The Diagonal also received new cedar and tamarack bog bridges, as well as a short relocation between Burnbrae Path and EZ Way. The Bee Line now sports a short, new relocation to avoid a driveway walk at the top of the Bee Line. Thanks to Sandy Treddenick, who graciously gave permission for this short section of trail.
- Brushing on many miles of trails, most notably Sylvan Way, Israel Ridge Path, Castle Ravine Trail, Perch Path, Gray Knob Trail, Randolph Path, Cook Path, Ice Gulch Path, Owls Head, many of the trails on Randolph Hill and shorter sections of other paths too numerous to mention here.
For the third year in a row, several RMC crew members received their US Forest Service chainsaw certification. The three-day course covers important maintenance, operation and safety issues, and finishes with a practical chainsaw felling test.
Volunteers added to our accomplishments this summer, leading brushing efforts on trails from Four Soldiers to the Lowes Path. Thanks go to work trip leaders Peter Behling, Chris Bishop, Irene Garvey, Mary Krueger, and Aaron Schomburg.
This past fall, RMC once again hired a part-time fall trail crew, to reclear our drainages after the leaves had fallen. Joining RMC for three weeks of trail work in October and early November were Chad McLean and Mike Finnegan. Chad joined RMC from the Green Mountain Club, where he served as a caretaker. Mike comes to RMC from the Forest Service, where he worked on their trail crew.
Many other volunteers spend considerable time on RMCs trails endeavors, most notably Co-Chair Dave Salisbury, indisputably one of the regions most experienced trail experts. Tami Hartley and Regina Ferreria stencil our new trail signs, and board member Matt Schomburg organizes our work trips. Thanks to all of you, and to plenty of others who lend a hand at various times throughout the year!
One question that often gets asked of RMC, is who can apply for trail crew? The answer is... almost anyone. We do ask that prospective applicants be at least 18 years of age, because the crew uses power brush saws, chainsaws and operates complex rigging systems for building rock staircases and waterbars. No previous experience is needed... just a willingness to spend the summer working hard in the Northern Presidentials -- which, as most of us know, often means a healthy dose of bugs, rain and mud, along with cool mountain breezes, sunny days and great comraderie. For more information on RMC trail crew, visit www.randolphmountainclub.org.
One of the nicest aspects of
RMCs trails is that they are open year-round! Though a
mantle of ice and snow may be covering them as you read this
report, we hope youll find time to leave the workaday world
behind and enjoy the serene beauty of our mountains in winter.
Sales and interest in the new long sleeve T-shirt and the patch seem fairly strong. Mike presented a check for the past few months' sales through Moriah Sports to the club Treasurer. Our arrangement with Moriah Sports, new this year, seems to be working well and gives our merchandise increased exposure. (RMC items are also available by mail, using the membership/order form in this Newsletter, and from our web site www.randolphmountainclub.org.)
We are considering additional
RMC products, including water bottles, a map of short hikes in
and around Randolph, and a commemorative shirt or sweatshirt
for the Stearns Lodge. We are also continuing efforts to find
an attractive and reasonably priced winter hat. By the time you
read this, the hat should be available for $15.
Web Site News
When we first started to design and plan for RMCs web site in 1998, the web site committee made a promise always to add new content and never let the site become stale. I believe that we have definitely kept that promise! New additions to the site from the past summer/fall include:
- The Stearns Lodge construction update page, with weekly news and photo updates.
- The addition of RMCs new Duo Dri Long Sleeve Crews and new RMC patches to the online store.
- A new RMC public message board, hosted by Google Groups.
- New caretaker journal entries from our fall and winter caretakers.
- Pictures from the trail crews summer project in the Town of Randolph.
Weekly updates of weather conditions and snow depth from Gray Knob will return to the web site in November, as usual.
Ive noticed that many people have been searching for the words trail sign and auction from our home page. Yes, I did say that a trail auction was supposed to start in June, but due to low production of new signs it was delayed. However, the auction has just started! All the proceeds go to the RMC trails system, and help us pay for the materials for new signs.
If you have any suggestions
or ideas for the web site, please feel free to e-mail
Michele Cormier now faces the greatest challenge of her tenure as RMC Treasurertraining me to replace her. We recently upgraded our bookkeeping software and Michele is providing me with copious amounts of technical and other support. Thank you! The bottom line is that club remains financially stable and operationally is slightly ahead of where it was last year at this time. At the end of the 3rd Quarter 2005 we were awaiting trail work payments of $15,394; this year $7,102 remains outstanding. Plugging these figures into the attached income statement puts 2006 1st-3rd Quarter adjusted net income $890 ahead of 1st-3rd Quarter 2005.
Pledges for the Stearns Lodge now total $368,715. With construction is underway, the board recently approved, if needed, obtaining a bridge loan of up to $100K. However, assuming a normal construction schedule and slightly accelerated pledge payments, we may be able to forgo having to borrow.
Please note that for continuity and confidentiality, Michele Cormier will continue to serve as the point of contact for Stearns Lodge pledge and pledge payment matters.
The earliest camps on the Northern Peaks were constructed for private owners. Built between 1888 and 1909, they were designed for summer use. The Perch and Cascade Camp were open birchbark shelters; the closed shelters - Log Cabin and Spur Cabin - were sometimes used in the off-season. Gray Knob and Crag Camp were not used in winter during the early years.
Perhaps during a hunting expedition in late November 1902, Randolphian John H. Boothman (who had constructed Spur Cabin), together with E. S. Brown (a teenager from Randolph) and J. W. Wright signed the Spur Cabin register. The cabin's owner George Moore or occasional parties of snowshoers, often AMC members, signed in between 1903 and 1915. On a visit in December 1903 Moore reported the cabin's lock frozen, the inside inaccessible. John Boothman was able to repair the damage on February 2, 1904:
While none of these parties seems to have spent the night, both cabins did serve as refuges for hikers and woodsmen. The register from 1906 documents a lost soul who was able to find shelter at Spur Cabin for several days.
By the teens, Laban Watson's hotel in Randolph, the Ravine House, was hosting AMC snowshoeing expeditions:
White Mountain photographer Guy Shorey captured many of these groups on film, including a Ravine House Party, 1916" with four men and three long-skirted ladies on their snowshoes. These trampers too would return to the warmth and comfort of the Ravine House for the night.
In the 1920s and 1930s winter use was common, the principal guests being college outing clubs, some of whose members knew the owners and, like Thornton Page from Yale (and Randolph summers), could borrow the keys for Crag or Gray Knob. The Log Cabin (owned by the RMC) and, until it was razed in 1929, Spur Cabin, were kept unlocked and open for use.
A major change occurred in 1939, when the Forest Service's leases to the private owners of Crag and Gray Knob expired, and the cabins were opened to the public. The Randolph Mountain Club (new owners of Crag and operators of Gray Knob) became heir to a whole new set of problems. The unsupervised cabins, especially in the winter, suffered frequent abuse from unidentified people (who of course never signed the log books). The earliest account from Crag that I have is dated 2/19/49:
During this period, the Log Cabin welcomed many groups, often Boy Scouts or members of collegiate clubs in fall, winter and spring, like the 13 climbers from the International Student Center of Boston, who huddled around the Cabin's wood stove to keep warm after their hike on December 13, 1952 through "3 feet of snow." One hiker, on February 28, 1953 complained that
The original Log Cabin had a seasonal stream that often produced a flood inside, a condition that led to the re-siting of the shelter when it was rebuilt in 1985.
Another climber, writing at length on March 8, 1958, described
Before the 1970s, hikers usually had to break trail, whereas today most paths receive intense winter use so that losing the trail is an infrequent complaint.
As camping equipment improved (becoming warmer and lighter weight), winter parties, especially over New Year's, became more frequent. Many of these groups filled the logs with accounts of their drinking and the cabin with empty bottles and cans that had to be carried out by others. By December 1958, RMC president Klaus Goetze was reporting:
The problem of cleanliness persisted, however. In March 1969, when the Goddard Alpine Society reached Crag after struggling up the mountain, they complained:
Still, the sheer beauty of the high altitudes and the challenges presented by winter dominate many log entries. Let's continue with those of Steve Jacob, our Goddard diarist:
Throughout the 1960's, climbers made increasing use of the camps. Crag, Gray Knob and the Log Cabin all had wood stoves, and Crag also had a working fireplace. In the winter months, hikers often cut nearby trees, both live and dead, in an effort to keep warm. Crag, still nestled in the trees in a photo from 1964, was now exposed on all sides. Sometime after August 1970 even Crags second pump organ that had been installed in 1957 was burned. In 1972 the Forest Service responded to the indiscriminate cutting of wood, decreeing that stoves were to be removed from all the cabins, although wood fires were still allowed at the Perch.v Because Gray Knob was heavily used in the winter, RMC Board members pleaded for maintaining the stove at Gray Knob. The Forest Service agreed but insisted that green trees not be cut, and the RMC tried to enforce this. The absence of stoves at Crag and the Log Cabin changed the patterns of usage, establishing Gray Knob as the favorite winter camp.
Gray Knob, which had been insulated by 1964, became noted for the groups who often left bottles, beer cans, and other detritus from their parties. And many ignored mailing in the listed fees in the envelopes provided at the camps. By the fall of 1971 the Board authorized Jeff Bean to hike to Gray Knob on weekends (for a salary of $5 per weekend) as well as during Christmas and spring vacation ($20 per week). Weekend caretaking improved the conditions in the camps, and by 1975 it was evident that the caretaker collected substantially more than his/her salary: $438 was collected that year, more than double the previous years take.
In the fall of 1976 the RMC was ready to employ a full-time winter caretaker. Mike Johnson was hired at a salary of $66 per week. Thus began a new era in Club history, as energetic winter hikers Mike Pelchat and Kathy Mitchell (Johnson), Paul Flanagan, Mike Pratt, Jeff Tirey, Pete Wallace and John Tremblay assumed caretaking responsibilities. The RMC absorbed these new mountain lovers into its organization. Former caretakers soon became active participants in managing and guiding the Club as it was transformed into a year-round operation.
Life as a winter caretaker at the highest manned hut in the Whites is a challenging existence. Many caretakers at Gray Knob started their winter climbing careers as neophytes but soon acquired all the tricks of winter mountain travel that Mt. Adams had to offer. Winter caretaking became a training ground for subsequent successful expeditions in the world's higher mountain ranges. Tragedy occasionally struck as climbers pushed themselves in order to learn how to master severe weather. In February 1979, during -25° F temperatures, winter caretakers David Shoemaker and Paul Flanagan climbed O'Dell's Gully in Huntington Ravine. After they had completed the ascent, a horrendous winter storm made it impossible for them to cross the Alpine Garden, and they chose an emergency escape, rappelling down from the Pinnacle. Their ropes jammed, and they both died. They were training for a new route in the Mount St. Elias range.
The next year on a suddenly warm Easter Sunday, Jeff Tirey and a companion had completed an ice climb in the Great Gully, and as they were headed back up to Nowell Ridge, the treacherous wind slab they were standing on broke loose, tumbling them a great distance down into King Ravine. Despite serious injuries, two years later Jeff, together with Mike Pelchat, made the season's first ascent of Mt. McKinley in early April, 1985.
The winter caretaker had a lot of worries: cutting his wood supply for the winter, monitoring his guests and protecting the cabin from pressure stoves:
Snow and ice presented special challenges. Winter storms often covered the Knob, obscuring the windows. The snow was often heaviest in April:
The next week, taking advantage of all the snow and trying to do something to fill his lonely hours, John Tremblay spent three days creating
Maintenance of the outhouses, especially with very low temperatures and high winds, presented difficulties. With the rebuilding of Gray Knob in 1989, the standard outhouse was replaced with a Shasta bin system, meant to dehydrate the solids while draining the liquids. Since cold temperatures forestalled any dehydration or composting action, by early spring the level of waste in the toilet climbed to unmanageable heights, requiring caretakers to "knock down the cone," an unpleasant task at best.
A guest suggested that it would be good to change the sign in the outhouse to "Please take seat" instead of close lid. The consequences could be disastrous despite the wood seat.--Jinx & Jesus & Noah, 12/26/92
More drastic was the overturning of the Gray Knob outhouse:
A new system, the Bio-Sun composter, was installed between 1994 (Crag) and 1997 (Gray Knob), which actually "sort of works year round" because they were sized to accommodate winter waste. High levels of snow can conceal the outhouse entirely, making it necessary for the caretaker to excavate the entrance so it can be used. And then there are the unthinking users of the cabins to be dealt with:
Although the cabin was packed at times, a caretaker could go for some days without company, even as late as May:
Guests were not always human, and various creatures often provided the caretaker's only company. Mice invade the cabin, getting into everything and creating wild ruckuses in the small hours of the morning.
Wildlife abounds: a bear, a fisher, and hares. The weasel was a visitor from the first, as documented by Charles C. Torrey on September 21, 1905, at Spur Cabin:
Dubbed "Herman the Ermine" by generations of caretakers, weasels have subsequently been welcomed for their mousing prowess.
Even an occasional moose wandered by Crag Camp!
Caretakers spend considerable time hiking to the peaks. They also indulge in other outdoor activities: skiing the Great Gully or down brooks, "bumbogganing," and wild sliding down the Spur Path on a plastic toboggan, as recounted by Albie Pokrob in 1986:
Today's caretakers still engage in such exploits, though technology has improved:
Caretakers and guests alike savor the beauty of the heights, from glorious sunsets and moonrises to philosophical musings:
Thanksgiving Day - November 25, 1993
Winter caretakers experience an intense relationship with the mountains and Gray Knob. Among themselves a spirit of camaraderie is developed. For years an annual reunion of former caretakers (and friends) at the Knob resulted in a real party.
The coming of spring encouraged many caretakers take the time to write about their feelings upon departing:
Pete was the first of a number of caretakers to spend two years in the job. Another caretaker who returned many times was Albie Pokrob. A huge bear of a man, Albie was a legend in his time, who wandered the hills, often with a volume of Thoreau. His log entries encompass a wide range of subjects, and he paid special attention to flora and fauna:
Craig Jolly also spent two years, 1991-2 and 1992-3:
In Jolly's second year as caretaker (1992-93), the RMC hired two people to share the job, a system which has been used off and on in the years since then. The great advantage was that the regular rotation provided days off for each caretaker. In 1993-5, Paul Neubauer spent two years - the first together with Guy Waterman, and the second solo. He composed his farewell to Gray Knob twice:
The RMC's winter caretakers have set high standards for winter hospitality at 4,400 feet. Guests are constantly impressed with our operation, though they may complain that the stove should be lit when the temperature is still above freezing. (More than one caretaker has suggested that these folks carry up wood for their personal use. Some do!) Caretakers love the mountain environment, and communicate their enthusiasm to others; they advise hikers on conditions; they bake bread which they share; they join the parties, story-telling, and various games their guests use to pass the time. Caretakers have made sure that the camps are properly cared for (although occasional abuse still occurs) and are largely responsible for the safety of the many winter hikers who pass through Gray Knob.
i The materials for this article are drawn almost entirely from RMC camp logs in the Club's archive. I'd like to thank Doug Mayer, Jeff Smith and Mike Pelchat for their help with photos and comments.
ii Guy Shorey, Looking back on a half-century, Appalachia:32;167 (December 1958).
iii Klaus Goetze, note in Appalachia:32;275 (December 1958).
iv John Mudge, The White Mountains, p. 4 mentions that Mt Adams is revered as one "of ten holy mountains of the world by a group that calls themselves 'Atherians.' They believe this mountain is 'charged with an alien force.'"
v That summer the RMC removed all the stoves and the following year closed up Crag's fireplace. The Perch received much less winter use, not only because it was an open-faced shelter, but also because it was typically buried in deep snow for much of the season.
I am interested in any additional comments, corrections, anecdotal materials, or relevant photographs that my readers might have. Please contact me at 111 Amherst Road, Pelham, MA 01002; (413)256-6950; 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.
Editor's note: At the RMC Annual Meeting this past summer, longtime RMC members Bill and Paula Bradley received lifetime memberships in the club for their decades of service in numerous capacities. Active, generous and friendly volunteers, Bill and Paula received a standing ovation. Al Hudson wrote the following tribute, which we share here.
In recognition of their long service to the RMC and to the Randolph community, the Board of Directors wishes to appoint Bill and Paula Bradley as lifetime members of the club.
Over the years Bill and Paula have done it all: Board member, secretary, treasurer, trips chair, vice-president, president. From 1967 to 1974 Paula and her son Paul provided the RMC with its trail and "path" signs, and in 1972 began producing RMC-style signs for sale. Encouraged by the success of sign sales, in 1986 Paula, abetted by Barbara Wilson, began the production of RMC T-shirts, a product line that continues to this day.
Of course, for those of us who have known them over the years, the Bradleys have offered much more beyond the organizational life of the RMC. I remember wonderful conversations that developed on hikes and elsewhere with Paula and Bill. And for those present, who will ever forget the riotous evening, not too many years ago, of "Off Mossy Glen - Underground Charades". Class, wit, humor, brevity of expression and a sense of style are hallmarks of the Bradley personae.
In conclusion, I offer a brief, but representative example of the Bradley style, Paula's "Report on signs" at the 1968 RMC annual meeting:
Barb'ra Wilson, with card file
This report is concluded.
Editor's note: This is the first in what we hope will be a regular series of brief profiles on the many hardworking volunteers behind the scenes at the RMC.
Michele Cormier has served for the past 6 years on the Board of Directors as RMC's stalwart treasurer. Recently she passed that responsibility to new board member Bill Parlett. Not quite ready to give up all her obligations, Michele decided to take on the significant role of membership director, as well as continuing to oversee the contributions to the Stearns Lodge project.
Along with her husband Paul, a builder, cabinetmaker and Senior Guide for International Mountain Climbing School in North Conway, Michele has lived in Randolph for the past 3 years.
You spend a lot of time as a volunteer on RMC projects. Why?
Living in Randolph means identifying with the community. One way is to volunteer for RMC. The Club is an integral part of Randolph. It gives us common ground.
What do you do when you're not watching RMC's bills, dues or donations?
My alter ego is an accountant. I practice with a local CPA firm out of Berlin. Away from the office my true love is hiking. So, I am out on the trails year round. Paul and I like to travel as well, so most of our traveling takes us to foreign lands where we climb mountains, explore the back- country and experience other cultures.
Anything else we should know about you?
I just can't get enough of volunteering, so I also serve on many boards and assist other organizations. These include the new cooperative school board in Gorham, Randolph and Shelburne; Weeks State Park Association; NH Outdoor Council; Friends of the Randolph Public Library; Androscoggin Valley Search & Rescue. One of my favorite groups is a local book club, which meets about once a month to discuss a book. If the book is less than captivating, we move directly to gossiping!
What's your favorite RMC trail? Least favorite? Why?
I have a lot of favorites, mainly based on my mood. If I want to go up above tree line, I love the upper Randolph Path. A favorite springtime flower walk is up to Mount Crescent. For a quick run after work, I like the Diagonal and Pasture Paths. My least favorite is easy: Howker Ridge! What an endless slog!
If you could change one thing about RMC, what would it be?
I'd like to see more turnover in the board and volunteer positions. None of us is indispensable and we really need to cross train. It would be great if several people could step into the treasurer's shoes at the drop of a hat, or serve as the Trails Coordinator or the Camps Coordinator.
What's your favorite RMC moment in the past year?
I think I was most afraid last fall when we announced the fundraiser for the new Stearns Lodge. But what I didn't expect was the incredible outpouring of gifts from the extended RMC community. When I started opening envelopes and saw that kind of generosity, I was overwhelmed. From the $10 gifts to the multiple thousands, each one was a gift from the heart. What affirmation for the Club!
Hump over 100 pounds up the mountain, while salty well-worn leather packboard straps dig in to my shoulders. Throngs of blood-thirsty insects. Exposure to harsh weather. Shoveling giant mounds of human refuse. Putrid stench that other trail crew members can emit from the mix of many days sweat and dirt. Why would I continually submit myself to such physical hardships?
These are only a few of my favorite things that reinforce some of the more sublime reasons why I have worked for the RMC for eight consecutive summers. I truly appreciate the lovely view from the Jones Cottage front yard and ambling through these rugged white hills. Trail-work has stirred a great passion in my heart. RMC's trail work has a long and prestigious past, and will continue to preserve, protect, and provide education about our cherished natural resources here in the White Mountains.
Even as a young lad, I always enjoyed hiking, getting dirty, and moving large heavy things. Trail work allows one to accomplish all of these things on a daily basis. But working for RMC has become so much more than something only to enjoy. It has afforded me the opportunity to be a part of something bigger and more enduring than myself. I am grateful to be a part of such a caring network of selfless volunteers and friends.
The work itself is always a learning process and always grueling. I know my body can't take this abuse forever, so I'm glad to be in a position teach others about the work I dearly love. I feel it is a personal duty of any caring steward to make a contribution, however they can. In that, I hope to pass on a good work ethic and quality of skills that will continue the RMC's high work standards. As Laura Waterman has written, "the age of stewardship has dawned".
The RMC breeds a sense of comraderie that is difficult to find in other parts of life. And trail crew provides a place to be myself, feel accepted, and be of some use. The closeness and strong bonds I've made with crew members over the years is a feeling not often encountered in every day society.
This place we call Randolph has it all: great hiking, sweeping views, majestic water falls, fantastic, energetic, giving people and lots of good times. That's why I can't get enough of the RMC.
Editor's note: Aaron Parcak worked on RMC's trail crew from 1999 through 2005. He was also on the fall trail crew in 2002 that constructed the new Four Soldiers and Underhill Paths to the Pond of Safety. This past summer, he worked as Crag Camp caretaker for the club. We thank Aaron for his many years of very hard work and leadership by example.
28 July 2006
I recently completed a presidential traverse and had the opportunity to have customer service interactions with RMC. I was impressed with the high-quality customer service skills and local hiking knowledge demonstrated by the caretaker from Crag Camp, Aaron.
This young man introduced himself, sure that our basic needs were addressed, was inquisitive concerning our hike of that day and what our plans were. He was able to offer up valuable and accurate information concerning our goals for the next day.
He was obviously very knowledgeable, but not demeaning in his efforts to further our knowledge. He acted like someone most people would enjoy hiking with. He was actually looking forward to his 1.6-mile hike back to Crag.
Over the 20 years that I have hiked on RMC trails and stayed at their shelters, I have never had a poor experience or issue with the staff. I have had the pleasure of meeting some extraordinary young men and women, excited to do all they could to aid their fellow hikers.
If the Randolph Mountain Club does employee evaluations, and customer service is as much of the role as being a resource/educator, than the young man at Crag deserves high praise.
Thanks for your continue efforts on the Northern slopes.
A new book has been published about Ned Green, who served on RMC's trail crew in 2000. Ned died the following winter, in an ice climbing accident in Huntington Ravine on the side of Mount Washington. Compiled by his mother Clare, Cutting A Bond with the Long Trail is a collection of Ned's outdoors journals.
Ned was truly one of those rare, larger-than-life characters, who was well known in the New England mountains. While caretaking Gray Knob after his summer on the RMC trail crew, Ned penned the following entry:
Proceeds will go towards a Ned Green scholarship at his local high school, and to the Green Mountain Club, where Ned spent a number of years. Copies can be ordered for $18 from Clare Green, 71 Athol Road, Warwick MA 01378.