Saturday, August 29, 2020

North Road C-19 Escape



Italian sandwich from Sam's... and a Whoopie Pie. :-)

With life closed down, I've found my almost daily escapes in the mountains. Usually, we hike, but not this time. Yesterday at 1:00pm, after stopping at Sam's Italian Sandwich Shop, we drove up through the Mahoosuc Range past Grafton Notch State Park. I took a left-hand turn onto the North Road and drove a mile to a small rise with a view of Old Speck. 

Once organized, I walked Bailey down the gravel road for a mile and a half and then back. It was one of those days that felt like a precursor to fall: Windex blue skies, a steady wind, cool but not cold. After the walk ("hike"), Bailey got a treat and I grabbed a small bottle of wine and finished the book Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde. I've read about 10 of her books over the past 6 months--my all-time favorite by Hyde has been Have You Seen Luis Velez?  Worthy has all the right ingredients for a great read, but one section took the wind out of my reader's sails. Nevertheless, I finished and enjoyed the overall story.   

After the book, I took a power nap and then prepared dinner: I pulled out an Italian sandwich form the refrigerator. I topped off the meal with a Whoopie Pie (that I did not earn with my lackluster 3-miler). About 5:00pm we headed back to Rumford. The Rig's new tires and Sumo bump stops handled the gravel road well. I still wish The Rig were a bit higher off the ground, but you can't have everything. Right? 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Whitecap Ramble


Whitecap western view

We did the loop on Whitecap in less than 2 hours. We've been consistently hiking the 4.6 miles in 2 hours or less. This hike, we stopped and chatted with fellow hikers several times. Bailey was a friendly visitor. We met one family who'd had a Berner and they delighted in seeing Bailey's smiling face. At one point he stopped and just stared up at me and the mom in the family said, "Oh, look how devoted he is to you." To which I quipped, "No, I think that's obsession." 

After the Whitecap hike

GPS mapping of the hike up yellow and down red/orange. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Streaked Mountain

I had my iPhone GoogleMaps on full throttle and my car's GPS going strong, too. Still, I only had a glimmer of an idea where I was as I drove from home to Streaked Mountain near Buckfield, Hebron, and Paris Hill. Obviously, we found it, but while driving I went past views and farms and side roads that I'd never seen before. Pretty cool to discover new places within 25 miles of home. Streaked is a quick, straight up hike that took us 20 minutes to summit and 15 minutes down. On top, we toured around for 15+- minutes looking for just the right view of the White Mountains and any view of Mt. Blue. 
Click on photos to enlarge. 

A new app I have that identifies mountains from the summit. Pretty cool when I can get it to work. 


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Mt. Eustis Ski Area, Littleton NH


When my brother Rob and I worked on the Cog Railway, we'd drive over from Mount Washington to Littleton to do our laundry. I remember the place being a tiny town. It's much bigger than I remember. 

Mt. Eustis is yet another small community ski area that gives local families a place to learn to ski and hone their skills. Bailey and I visited today and took the short climb to the top. There's a rope tow, one snow gun, a used snow cat from Bretton Woods (savvy promotional move), a little hut, and a freestyle terrain park.  Their website gives a glimpse of their history: 

Mt. Eustis Ski Hill opened in 1939 but shut down in the early 1980’s. A group of dedicated locals came together to bring back the olden days of skiing at Mt. Eustis. After two years plus of hard work, we opened for the 2016-2017 season in December. We could not have made this happen without our dedicated Board Members, volunteers and the outpouring support from the community.

Right across the street from the ski area's parking lot is the coolest remembrance: Wallace's Horse Cemetery. More on that below, but finding this cemetery is part of what I like about these journeys. There's always something around the corner... or across the road. 

Remember to click on the photos to enlarge. 

                         The big one is Mount Washington among the White Mountains. 

                  I just love that this Wallace fellow cared so much for his wife and her horses...   



Nansen Ski Jump, Milan, New Hampshire

On Route 16 heading north out of Berlin, New Hampshire, is the Big Nansen. If you've not been around skiing and ski jumping, this sucker will impress. One family story: none of us ever went off this monster, but brother Fred went over for a championship meet with friends and carried the large jumping skis of one of his Rumford teammates. Somewhere on the climb up, Fred fell and injured (broke?) his coccyx (a.k.a., his tailbone). 

On this summer's day, I hadn't planned on climbing the thing, but one step led to the next, and off we trekked up what used to be the landing hill's staircase. Steep, smooth dirt, crisscrossed with thorn bushes, the pathway had a few spots that were tricky for Bailey. But, he managed. At the top, there's a road way that I opted to take back down figuring it would land somewhere not too far from the outrun of the jump. It did, maybe .8 of a mile south.

Three years back, US Ski Jumper Sarah Hendrickson went off the jump to celebrate Nansen and to bring attention to the fundraising needed to restore and maintain the historic jump. Hendrickson, the first female jumper to compete in the Olympics, became the first jumper in decades to soar off the iconic hill where the first-ever US Olympic Jumping Trials were held in 1937.  A recent news article states that the jump is being prepared for a competition in 2021, but looking at the structural issues, I'm not sure how that will happen. Time will tell. 

Back in 1981, Don Towle and I held what proved to be the final high school ski jumping meet in Maine at Pettengill Park in Auburn. I was Rumford's last high school ski jumping coach. The sport died at the school level, and became a sport of selected clubs around the US because of insurance costs, lack of interest, and time to maintain the hills. At the time, I wrote an article for Maine Life magazine titled "The Death of Ski Jumping" c. 1982. In 1980-81, I wrote a poem titled, "Summer Jump," that landed in several publications including my book, Words for a Mountain. I've included that poem below.