Table of Contents
2011 has been a busy year for the RMC and for your Board of Directors.
We have been working hard to live within our means and have done so. Our revenues and budget have been pretty much the same for the past several years even though our expenses, mainly in the area of wages for our camps and trails crew, are inching up a bit each year. That being said, we intend to hold the line and do the best job we have with the revenue that we are able to generate, whether that is through the annual dues paid by our members, gifts or grants received, or fees charged at our camps.
The board feels that we really need to increase our membership base, which right now averages about 750 members on an annual basis. So I again ask you to invite friends, fellow hiking companions and other users of the trails and camps of the RMC to become members in the club. I would encourage you to give that first membership as a birthday, holiday or graduation present and encourage as many folks as possible to become a contributing member of the club.
During the past fifteen years we have received roughly $15,000 and sometimes upwards of $25,000 a year from grants that were dedicated to the improvements of our hiking trails. That money appears to be running out next year. So we will have to adjust accordingly, by either raising more money or cutting back on our trail maintenance activities as necessary and budgets require.
Your president and several members of the board have been focused in an area which I had not planned last year, which has been in dealing with the State Legislature on the matter of funding for Search and Rescue in the White Mountains and throughout the State. Last November a bill was introduced at the State Legislature which would have assessed a fee of $3.00 (I call it a tax) for each overnight guest at any of the camps or shelters operated by the Randolph Mountain Club or the AMC.
The board certainly felt that this was an unfair burden being placed upon a very limited group of hikers to pay for the costs of Search and Rescue throughout the state, especially in light of the fact that most likely overnight guests staying at our camps were the best prepared to be hiking in the mountains and therefore less likely to need the services of Fish and Game; and also because both clubs had historically been a part of the solution to hiker safety in the mountains and not a part of the problem. As a result we testified at several legislative hearings this past winter and successfully argued that a broader solution to this funding debate needed to be found and we offered to continue to work with the State on possible funding sources going forward.
We continue to meet on a monthly basis with our partners in the effort, which include NH Fish and Game, AMC, Mt. Washington Observatory, The NH Outdoor Council and the volunteer search and rescue groups and hope to offer solutions to the legislative committee empowered to look into this matter and report back to the full legislature and Senate at the end of the year.
RMC Trails Report
The 2011 summer season was an interesting one at Trails. We began the season with high hopes, having put together a crew with a vast amount of experience with various other trails programs. We had two returning from previous years with RMC and set our sights on banging out a series of projects on both sides of the road. Then followed some unexpected personnel changes, but Ben Lieberson, (who has demonstrated amazing leadership this year and made the trails chairs look incredibly good) helped us recover, and soon we had a response from past TC that brought our ranks up to the desired number and delivered a depth of experience that we hadnt anticipated. This creativity allowed us to complete the Diagonal project, get a great deal done on a Spur staircase (that I wouldnt mind having in my home), and beginning rehabilitation on Lowes Path. In addition weve installed more bog bridging at Randolph East, cleaning up the ugliness that has detracted from an otherwise wonderful set of trails (Randolph Path and Howker Ridge Trail) and distracted me since hiking as a youth.
The crew also managed to replace, yet again, the bog bridges on the Bee Line leading to Durand Lake, as well as other smaller projects throughout the trail system. Despite a rash of injuries, morale was high and remaining members of the crew were the best of the very best. Proof positive that the young adults interested in trail work are an outstanding group of motivated, positive and intelligent individuals.
Funding continues to be an issue, and is not unique to our organization. We have federally awarded grants that will carry us through 2012 but nothing in place beyond that. We are actively exploring multiple sources of funding as we look ahead at many more projects in coming years.
In late August, Tropical Storm Irene dumped between 7 and 10 inches of rain on RMC trails and did a significant amount of damage to the Israel Ridge Path, the Castle Ravine Trail and the Brookbank. Damage also occurred on the Brookside, the Beechwood Way, the King Ravine Trail and the Scar Trail. The Howker Ridge Trail experienced the greatest number of blow-downs; about 24 sizable trees were down over the entire trail. As you might well imagine, the crew was pretty busy cleaning up that mess. Remarkably, the trails north of Rte. 2 sustained very little damage.
Through Irene, I came to further appreciate our partnership with the USFS. The Androscoggin District, led by Assistant District Ranger Jacob Lubera, immediately mobilized a task force to assist in damage assessment, actually repaired and stabilized some trails, including a portion of the Brookside, and found some money from another district to help fund RMCs clean up. This additional funding will help keep the RMC crew going next summer to rebuild the most seriously damaged trails on the National Forest. The operative word in that last sentence is help. The RMC is on the hook for half of the money needed to repair the damage, so this would be a great time to earmark some of that 2011 tax return to the RMC Irene Cleanup Fund. Most, if not all, of next season will be devoted to cleaning up after Irene.
Additional anticipated work will include more bog bridging and step stones on the Randolph Path below the Sylvan Way and at Randolph East, and some day we hope to find the time and money to do a big project on the Cliffway. In the meantime, were hoping for a pleasant and snowy winter so we can ski and snowshoe on our favorite trails.
In September and early October the Fall Crew was working on a few special projects, and of course cleaning drainages as every fall crew does.
RMC was most fortunate with the crew members this fall. Benzo Harris returned for another season and brings his wealth of RMC and trails knowledge with him. Stephanie Oleksyk joined us from Woods Hole, MA where she worked at Marine Biological Laboratories. Prior to that she had worked four seasons with AMCs trail crew. Leslie Ruster is originally near Rochester, New York. She has worked several consecutive months performing trail work in backcountry scenarios in California and done similar work leading teens in Montana. Anders Krauss also joined us for a few weeks when he could depart from his homestead in Vermont. He worked RMC Trail Crew in 2002 and also Green Mountain Club, among many other trail related work projects. I also came back after a couple years but I had never really left.
It was really amazing to see everyone bond so well and get so much work done. An experienced, ambitious and quick crew has been great both on and off the job. Thanks so much to the community for supporting the crew and caretakersit adds an element of texture and character not many crews in other locations receive. Thank you especially for the tickets that were purchased by some town folks for the Mount Crescent House dinner! We had a fantastic time and feed. Lots of great food and company and general atmosphere were enjoyed by all.
Our season started off a bit unusually, having to do blowdown patrol because of Tropical Storm Irene. We took detailed trail reports, noted so the Forest Service would have a handle on the amount of damage that had been done. Most trails fared fine, and only those trails adjacent to brooks sustained damage, most notably the Israel Ridge Path.
Some of the work completed in fall 2011 includes relocating a section of the Spur Trail around the highest ladder, closest to Crag Camp. The ladder was removed and new trail was laid out in a switch-back fashion around the exposed bedrock. This complements the summer crews work further below, where a wooden ladder was replaced with stone steps.
The crew also continued work on Lowes Path that the summer crew had started. You will find some new rock staircases, water bars and check steps. All of these help manage water flow and keep the trail surface in good, stable condition.
This season the RMC Camps enjoyed another great year of hard work, happy guests, and the kind of fun only found in the northern Presidentials.
In the past year, our camps staff remained dedicated to the many projects required of them, both big and small. We continue to support search and rescue, perform basic trail and shelter maintenance, cut and stack fire wood, and protect high elevation water supplies by composting nearly a thousand gallons of sewage among the four camps. Additional duties include welcoming and registering guests and, when needed, teaching them Leave No Trace outdoor ethics in a low-key way to help them reduce their impact on the environment and the experiences of other visitors.
The 2010-2011 Camps Staff were as follows: Winter: Ryan Smith and Garrett Gorenski; Spring: John Szalewicz and Benzo Harris; Summer: Jenny Baxter (Lead Caretaker) and Becca Loeb. From August 2010 to July 2011 the Camps hosted 2,658 guests.
The fall of 2010 had included the completion of the Perch historic renovation project when former Field Supervisor Dan Healey (Rubchinuk) and former Trail Crew leader Aaron Parcak returned to the Perch in October to install a new metal roof and stain the logs. The Perch Project was a heavy lift for a little trail club like RMC, but thanks to the leadership of Dan and Aaron and the support of many RMC volunteers including Al Sochard, Mike Pelchat, and Paul Cormier, we got the job done and the Perch is ready for another century of service to our guests. The Perch project was made possible thanks to the financial support of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), the USDA Forest Service, The National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park Office, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy of which the RMC is now officially the 31st trail maintaining club of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail as of 2010.
With the Perch behind us we crafted a lighter schedule of work for the 2011 field season. We continued to tweak, refine, and modify the composting toilet systems. We oiled floors, and RMC President John Scarinza and Camps Committee member Bill Arnold contracted former caretaker and camps builder John Tremblay to begin work on replacing rotted windows at Gray Knob. Work continues on finding a new EPA-certified wood stove for Gray Knob that will reduce wood consumption and greatly aid in reducing interior humidity levels in the winter.
Thanks to the combined efforts of John Tremblay (former RMC Caretaker and Gray Knob builder) and Camps Committee member Bill Arnold, the Club purchased, airlifted, and installed several new windows in Gray Knob in fall of 2011. The original windows had developed serious rot in their frames. With the helicopter present (we piggy-backed on AMCs annual fall fly to Madison Hut), we were able to fly out non-biodegradable and non-burnable garbage that was too large or too heavy to be packed out by the caretakers.
For winter 2011-12 we are fortunate to have Garrett Gorenski returning for second winter as caretaker at Gray Knob. A former AMC caretaker, he spent summer 2011 on an AT thru hike. He will be joined by Megan Norris, also a former employee of the AMC Hut System including winter and spring caretaking at Zealand, Carter, and Lonesome Lake. She will return to AMCs construction crew in spring 2012. The two will work one-week-on, one-week-off schedules at Gray Knob.
Let the RMC Merchandise Elves help you with your shopping for Christmas and the winter season. Here are five great ways to learn about RMC history, stay comfortable on the trails and support the club. You can order directly from www.randolphmountainclub.org (click on Stuff We Sell).
1. Back by popular demand, we are re-issuing a limited number of the long sleeved performance T-shirt of the Randolph Valley and Northern Presidentials. Printed on COOLMAX ® fabric, this shirt features a Tim Sappington sketch on the back, and our updated RMC logo on the front pocket area, white lettering on navy blue. The effect is very striking! The shirts will also be available at Crag Camp and Gray Knob. $30.00.
2. Our fleece hat features the newly designed embroidered patch and it comes in green. One size fits most! Our supply is limited. We will be re-ordering soon so order now! $20.
3. High quality color reprints of Roy Woodards Randolph Poster take you back in time to a vision of King Ravine in 1938. Unframed 12 X 15 $ 20.00.
4. Peaks and Paths: A Century of the Randolph Mountain Club. This book, published to celebrate our 2010 centennial, was written by Club historian Judy Hudson. Its an indispensable item for outdoor enthusiasts, regional historians and wilderness lovers everywhere. $29.95.
5. Our newly designed RMC window stickers ($1.50) and sew-on embroidered patches ($3.00) are the perfect stocking stuffers.
The RMCs web site will be 13 years old this February! If you havent visited lately, be sure to check-in for all the latest Club news, Gray Knob weather updates, trail sign auctions, and more.
If youre a Facebook user, please like our page and post on our wall! Scan the QR Code below with your smartphone or visit m.randolphmountainclub.org for our new mobile web site!
At the clubs annual meeting this past summer, the RMC took an important step towards securing the long-term health of our club, by establishing a Planned Giving Committee.
While eyes may glaze over at the sound of a new committee with a fiscal bent, the committees origin is grounded in some very practical considerations. Simply put, the RMCs members and Board of Directors hope to give the organization the financial stability and health to weather both current trends and inevitable surprises over the generations to come.
There is good reason to have a concerned eye on the future. The club faces a number of long-term challenges, foremost among them the loss of state and federal funding for protecting our trails. It's an often-overlooked fact, but no less than half of our trails budget comes from grants from the State of New Hampshire and the U.S. Forest Service. That's nearly $15,000 a year. It now appears almost certain that much of that funding will be disappearing. (For the first time in a generation, 2012 will be the first year without New Hampshires popular Recreational Trails grant program, which was funded by a percentage of national gasoline taxes.) Loss of those sources of income will have a dramatic impact on the club's ability to manage its trails as it has for nearly the last two decades.
Aside from the funding risks for our trails network, the club will invariably face other challenges in the years ahead at its camps and elsewhere. A secure financial footing will allow the club to ably address these challenges with confidence. Unlike past fundraising projects, no public campaign is planned. Instead, it will be the job of the Committee to provide information to interested RMC members who want to include the club in their estate plans.
The new RMC Planned Giving Committee is an outgrowth of recommendations from an exploratory committee that was established in 2010, and whose recommendations the Board adopted this past July. The new Committee will be tasked with establishing simple, clear systems to facilitate bequests and other planned gifts, to set guidelines for the prudent investment management of those funds, and to devise commonsense protocols for the wise use of the funds.
In many respectsfrom the global right down to the local levelwe are in an era of great change. In keeping with a long tradition of fiscal prudence, we hope the establishment of this Committee and its ensuing work will enable the RMC to continue its great shared tradition of camps and trails, and to keep alive the opportunities for those same great experiences for generations yet to come.
During the coming year, RMC members will hear a bit more about these opportunities as they take shape. In the interim, members who are interested in more information should feel free to drop a note or call one of the Committee members: Ben Phinney (phinneyben at me.com), Doug Mayer (dmayer at cartalk.com), Jamie Maddock (smaddock at xcplanet.com), or Jim Shannon (jshannon at NFPA.org).
Below is the complete text of the by-law establishing the Committee, approved at the 2011 Annual Meeting.
If there is one word that defines the Randolph Mountain Club, that would be volunteerism. From the all-volunteer board to the multitude of folks who give their time and energy, our Club really functions due to volunteerism.
This summer we put this concept to the test and scheduled eight volunteer work trips, every Wednesday beginning after the Fourth of July. The largest turnout was thirteen people with three volunteer dogs, and the smallest group was three. Although there were many who showed up every week, we saw lots of new faces as well. As an incentive, each attendee got his or her name placed into a raffle drawing which took place after the final work trip on August 24. Just to prove that the more times you enter, the more chances you have to win, George Dunham was our grand prize winner. He joined us on seven of the eight trips! As a special prize, he was presented with a retail item of his choice.
Because Randolph Hill Road was under construction all summer, we encouraged folks to show up on foot to the work day meeting locations. This prompted yet another contest of those who traveled the farthest on foot (and sometimes on bike) to perform trail work. That award went to Brian Roberts and Barbara Cutter who hiked up from the Jones Cottage to work on the Church Path.
The intent of the project was to train volunteers in basic trail maintenance and to report special conditions to the Trails Committee co-chairs. We concentrated our work on the hill trails between Randolph Hill Road and Durand Road, mainly because these are the paths nearest to our residences and the ones we use in all seasons to get together with our neighbors. Most of the work involved brushing, which widens the visual pathway and keeps encroachment away. The recommended opening is four feet wide and eight feet high. The extra height is valuable in winter when snowfall causes branches to hang low, dropping snow down our collars as we ski past! From time to time we came across downed trees or logs and removed them if possible. It was great to see six people get on either side of an enormous fallen treek trunk and heave it off the trail. The final and very important part of our work day was to keep a log to report back to the Trails Committee what we had accomplished, and to advise them any items which needed their attention, such as broken bog bridges, wet areas better suited for professional teams, or very large downed trees.
One unexpected result of the eight work trips was the amazing spirit of camaraderie which developed between participants. Whether it was someone who came every week or someone who showed up only once, there was always time for getting acquainted with new folks and general visiting amongst everyone. It was always a pleasure to get out in the woods and get together with friends.
By the end of summer, we had patrolled and brushed the following trails: Church Path, Short Circuit, Pasture Path, the Diagonal, Wood Path, E-Z Way, Beeline, Burnbrae, the Mossy Glen paths, Notchway and Ledge Trail. And by the end of summer, we had trained twenty-three volunteers in routine trail maintenance. We have created a pool of new trail maintainers who found out how much fun you can have working together for a common goal. In future years, we hope to continue these work trips, expanding the range to include paths a little farther afield. With this number of trained volunteers, we also have new potential work trip leaders. And perhaps some individuals or families might wish to adopt trails or parts of trails that are special to them.
RMC members elected Chris Campbell and Ryan Smith as new directors at the August 2011 Annual Meeting, replacing Sally Manikian and Samarjit Shankar who had completed their terms. Michele Cormier, Sarah Gallop and John Scarinza were also elected to second three-year terms.
Chris is a longtime seasonal resident of Randolph and has hiked in the mountains here his entire life. He and Jon Frueh were the RMC trail crew in 1962-63, and the two of them were camp caretakers in 1964-65, as well as Freeman Holdens carpenter helpers during construction work at the camps. More recently Chris filled in as a winter caretaker in 2003 and 2004. Currently he is a botanist at the University of Maine, with a research focus on the evolution of the group of shrubs and small trees known as shadbushes, found at high elevations in the White Mountains and other areas.
Ryan, a recent winter caretaker for the RMC, is the Mahoosuc Rover for the Appalachian Mountain Club, maintaining campsites in the North Country. He has also been an AMC caretaker, in the Carter Range, and a Group Outreach Coordinator, helping visiting groups to reduce their impact on the fragile mountain environment. Ryan studied art in college, and has already been contributing creatively to the RMC by designing t-shirts and shooting photography for the website. He is an avid recreational hiker and biker, and this year traveled the John Muir Trail in California.
For over 10 years, a lively group of North Country/RMC folks have gathered together for a fun-filled two day outing featuring unlimited downhill and cross-country skiing, fabulous dining and great camaraderie at the venerable Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Notch, all at a super discounted rate. We very much hope to continue the tradition on Sunday and Monday March 4-5, 2012. If you have never been to The Balsams, you should go! The website is : www.thebalsams.com.
There is one little glitch - the sale of The Balsams has, since this summer, been on - off - on - off. As this newsletter goes to press, its unofficially on. In speaking to the management, it sounds as though the new owners have a desire to keep the hotel open during winter. We are waiting - and hoping - to hear the good news that the final P&S will go through, the resort will be open and well have another wonderful weekend.
We wanted to give you a heads up to save the date. As soon as we get the word, we will send an email blast with the news - one way or another. If it is a go, we will give you booking details. By the way, the Balsams Grand Resort generously allows our RMC group to waive the 2 night minimum and the 7 day advance notice for the discount.
For any questions, please email Barb Phinney (cooper448 at me.com) or Sarah Gallop (seg at mit.edu) of RMC Social Events.
Signs. Walk anywhere along the RMC trail system and before long youll see one. Great Gully Trail to Thunderstorm Junction, Emerald Trail to Bowman via Castle Ravine Trail, or Castleview Rock, to mention just a few.
Without these signs, you could conceivably miss the Short Line back to Appalachia and wind up at Randolph East instead. Without them, you might never know that youre looking at and admiringfor exampleTama Fall. Signs are informative and thus helpful and very often taken for granted. Unless of course, your RMC mission is to see to it that 400 + signs are inspected, made and replaced as needed.
Just what is the process? Well, it goes something like this. During early-season patrolling, reports with sign information (as well as specific trail information) are produced and collected and reviewed. Signs that are determined to need replacement are put into the queue by first notifying Jamie Maddock. Jamie (past president of the RMC) pulls the sign information from the database, verifies the information, prints it out, complete with arrows and distances, and sends over to Regina Ferreira and Tami Hartley, who then stencil the sign information onto an appropriate size board which is then sent to either Dave Salisbury, Jamie Maddock, Curtis Moore or me for routing and sanding. Signs are then primed and painted by one of us and then passed back to our official RMC Hangman Jamie Maddock, for hanging.
During the season, the RMC trail crew and/or the field supervisor, and sometimes caretakers and hikers, will provide me with updates on signs in trouble. I will frequently hike, notebook in hand, to the Cornice, up the Great Gully, across the Randolph Path or out on the Four Soldiers Path or some other trail to verify information on a sign and the necessity of replacement.
Now, just where does the wood come from? Well, Im glad you asked. When the RMC was looking for a source for sign wood, we wanted someone with experience, so we went with a company a little older even than us. Wilkins Lumber, in Milford, NH was started in 1808, so they know a little bit about wood. Owner Tom Wilkins, his wife Sally and son Isaac, along with a talented and hardworking crew, donate the wood the RMC needs for the signs you depend on. Thats right. They donate it. Just one of many reasons I love this Club.
As you can imagine, it can take a while from the moment a sign is flagged to the day it is actually hung. Nothing we can take for granted, and certainly you can see the reason for my pique when I come across a sign proclaiming Rich hearts Lisa!
So, the next time you see the trail sign that confirms you have only a half mile back to the car, stop and take a sip of water and say thanks to Jamie, Regina, Tami, Curtis, Dave and especially Wilkins Lumber! Oh, and me too, if you want!
Member Brian Roberts of Cedar Falls, Iowa began his RMC 100 hike challenge on July 2, 2010 and completed it exactly one year later. Heres Brian at the Quay on Lowes Path, with his dog Moss. Photo by Barbara Cutter.