• Right To Try

    Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    “Thousands of terminally ill Americans will finally have hope, and the fighting chance…that they will be helped…,” Trump said while signing the “Right to Try” bill giving terminally ill patients access to experimental treatments not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (May, 2018)

    “Millions of young Americans will finally have hope, and the fighting chance…that they will be educated…,” Trump said while signing the “Education Right to Try” bill giving students in terminally-underperforming school districts access to education programs not yet approved by the Department of Education (DoED). (May, 2019)

    I can’t predict the future, but if I could write it, I would have President Trump signing an education “Right to Try” bill next year. Just as terminally-ill patients should have access to unconventional treatments that might improve their lives, so too should parents, school districts, and states be able to try unconventional education methods to improve lives.
    Every year millions of American students either don’t graduate from high school or graduate functionally-illiterate and innumerate. These young adults suffer, society suffers, and taxpayers suffer when public funds are spent without generating a reasonable return on investment.
    Yet each school year we continue down the same path, usually with the same excuse for not getting where we expected to be: If only we had spent more…
    The drama in Franklin over the past few weeks provides a perfect local example. Franklin has a tax cap that limits spending. It also has a failing school system. To allocate additional funding requested by the school district, the city council voted to override the tax cap. The mayor vetoed to measure. The council overrode the veto, but days later reconsidered the override, deciding to live within tax-cap spending limits.
    How bad is the education situation in Franklin? According to the state Department of Education website, district enrollment has been trending down for more than a decade. Barely half of the city’s 11th-graders were proficient in reading; only a quarter were proficient in mathematics; and Franklin students qualify for free/reduced lunch at twice the state average. Franklin’s per-pupil spending is $2,300 below state average, but at $13,003 it is above the average in 34 states.
    From media reports and social media postings, it seems that many Franklin residents firmly believe that more money – from breaking the tax-cap and increasing state aid – will fix what ails them. Of course, “more” has never fixed any school system anywhere.
    Franklin has been on a typical 19th-century-mill-town trajectory for a very long time. Unless Jeff Bezos builds an Amazon facility on Industrial Park Drive or gold is discovered at the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee rivers, that trajectory isn’t changing.
    What can change – what must change – is how the people of Franklin (and similar towns across the state) deal with their reality. The irony is that the same factory model that failed Franklin’s economy decades ago is being defended even as it fails its schools. Franklin is trying to save an education factory that produces damaged goods at high cost. No amount of subsidy can save it.
    This is why an education “Right to Try” approach is crucial. And the political planets have aligned perfectly to support change: At the state and federal levels, we may never again have leaders more open to new ideas, more willing to find new paths.
    Here are a few things Franklin could try to solve its education expenditure and return-on-investment dilemma:
    – Disband the SAU. Reduce overhead by empowering principals, the school board, or outside vendors to meet requirements the superintendent’s office fulfilled. Work with the state to adjust mandates as needed.
    – Focus more resources on elementary education, ensuring that all capable students are at grade-level in reading and math before starting middle school. This will save money in later years. Students entering middle school behind in reading ability fall behind in other subject areas, necessitating costly interventions.
    – Replace intermural sports with intramural teams that include all students.
    – Shift to a district-wide charter model. Charters cost much less and deliver more. We already have VLACS, a free online charter school that meets all requirements for middle and high school. VLACS could provide most Franklin students with all classes needed for graduation. – Encourage home schooling and other school choice options to reduce student population and the fixed costs associated with operating a school district. Offer unused facility space to start-up public charter or private schools.
    Turning Franklin into a district charter would provide financial and educational advantages. Salary and benefit costs could be cut dramatically by changing the faculty model to having a few on-site “master teachers” supported by classroom managers, with most instruction provided by online educators. It would also support truly individualized education plans, replacing grade level advancement by allowing students to proceed at their own pace in each class even when in the same classroom.
    Thinking outside the proverbial box is relatively easy. What’s hard is implementing ideas that chafe status quo minds. Curing what ails school districts like Franklin requires courage and the right to try something new.

    Ken can be reached at kengorrell@gmail.com

     

     


  • Hot – Humid – Hiking… Hale, Zealand, Guyot, South & North Twin

     

    Hot, humid and hazy on top of Mount Hale, Bryan Cuddihee stands on top of Hale’s summit cairn.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Rain hammered down most of the night and by morning it was clear. I had no doubt that the heat and humidity would slow us down but we’d deal with it. I had done six hours of trail work with the Randolph Mountain Club the day before and it certainly could not be any hotter!
    Bryan and I met just before 7 am at the North Twin Trail at the end of Haystack Road. I wore my lightweight hiking pants to keep me from scratching my legs up, but I was envious of Bryan’s cooler shorts. Before we hit the trail I drank heartily and guzzled a liter of water. I had three more liters in my pack and I think Bryan carried the same.
    At the first Little River crossing on the North Twin Trail we followed the herd path that continues straight ahead on the east bank of the River. The left hand turn for the abandoned Fire Warden’s Trail to Mount Hale is easy to recognize because the path’s foot bed is well worn.

    The view from the Zeacliff outlook offers a fine view of Carrigain Notch across the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

     

    We beat the heat volunteering for the Randolph Mountain Club! (RandolphMountainClub.Org). On the Maple Walk Trail we built this fine bog bridge that we’re all standing on–rt to lt- Danille Normad, Yours Truly, Benzo Harris, Rick Beard, Jeff Wilson, and Bob Drescher. You can beat the heat too by volunteering. Contact your local club and check out NH Trail Workers Group on Facebook.

    After hiking uphill only a few minutes I was wet from head to toe. I was drenched in sweat as my body tried to keep cool.
    On Hale’s foggy summit there was a man and his dog hanging out. Even if the fire tower still stood here there would be no views. We stood on the summit cairn and marveled how tall the trees have grown.
    Down the Lend-a-Hand Trail we went. The first half of this trail is nice and then it turns into rock hop and bog bridge dance to keep from walking in water and mud. The forest was pretty and it was quiet.
    At the intersection of the Twinway we topped off our water bottles at the crossing of Whitewall Brook. Bryan has a new water filter and he was able to fill our bottles quickly.
    The trail up to Zeacliff is steep and rocky and the sun was starting to break through the clouds. This was where our hike became a sizzling and continued for the rest of the day.
    The first backpackers we met coming down the trail had AT tags on their packs. The Appalachian Trail Northbound hikers from Georgia are now crossing New Hampshire on their odyssey to Maine.
    Just before reaching the spur to Zeacliff outlook we started meeting more and more backpackers. Most had come from the Guyot Shelter/tent sites. Several people mentioned that 90 people had spent the night there. Imagine hiking over mountains and a minimum of 9 miles to get away into the forest just to spend a Saturday night with 90 people!
    The view from Zeacliff was hazy. Tom, Field and Willey’s ridgeline stood out to the west and Carrigain Notch was the prominent feature to see towards the south. With the company of about a dozen others we took a break to eat and drink.
    Between Zeacliff and Guyot we met dozens more people.
    Out and back on the short spur trail we tagged Zealand’s flat and tree covered summit. The only thing to see there is its decorative summit sign.

     

     

    Yours truly on Zealand Mountain! Its summit is among the least interesting in the Whites but it has the most decorative summit sign.

    Near the Bondcliff Trail junction we met two men doing the same loop we were doing but in the opposite direction and faster. They were carrying very little and were out for a run. We decided to take a break and soak in the view across Guyot’s open summit to the Bonds and since there was no breeze we soaked in our perspiration.
    The 2 miles between Guyot and South Twin was more pleasant in the shade and offered nice views into the Pemigewasset Wilderness. We didn’t meet any more people until we arrived at South Twin’s summit.
    A gentle breeze greeted us on top of South Twin. We lingered here in the sun and watched the Franconia Ridge come into to view through the hazy clouds. Mount Washington still was cloaked and never made an appearance.
    Bryan gave directions when asked. A man wanted to know which trail led to the Bonds. Another women asked which peak was North Twin. I think she was hopeful that a closer bump on the ridge to North Twin was it.

    Bryan crosses the Little River closely followed by two backpackers. The North Twin Trail crosses the Little River three times because it follows an old railroad bed. The lower two crossings can be avoided by staying on the east bank of the river on a well used herd path. There are plenty of amazingly large boulders in the river bed that are fun to look see.

     

    The open view looking south to the Bonds from the northeast summit of Mount Guyot on the Twinway. The Guyot Campsite is about a mile away tucked in between Guyot and the Bonds and it was reported that 90 people camped there last Saturday night.

    I like the North Twin spur from South Twin. The 1.3 miles always feels to go by very quickly for me. The descent from South ends in a pretty col and then it is not a long steep up with a brief difficult scramble along the way to reach North Twin.
    The highpoint of North Twin is on the way to the west view spur. Again we lingered. We weren’t in a hurry. We looked down on the AMC Galehead Hut and beyond. Garfield looks mighty from this vantage where you can clearly see its steep face.
    As we descended North Twin we didn’t stop but a minute on the view ledge looking east. I guess we got our fill gazing east on South Twin.
    The four miles down North Twin is down, down and down—it often has an endless feel to it. We met three backpackers coming up that desperately wanted us to tell them they were almost to the top.
    When we finally reached the Little River (it isn’t little), there were two backpackers standing there staring at the river. They were unsure about crossing the river. I went ahead and hopped over the big rocks only one step required stepping in an inch of water. Bryan followed me after he explained to them how to avoid the next two water crossings. The backpackers followed closely on Bryan’s heels.
    The herd path on the east side of the bank of the Little River is well used but it too has been beat up by the floods. There are paths heading in all directions and we had to crawl over some blow downs but sure beats wading the river.
    We had a fun day completing a loop that we’d been thinking of doing for some time. We felt great taking it easy and drinking lots of water. I drank 6 liters! Stay hydrated.
    Have Fun.


  • World Cup Football and Politics

    John Metzler

    by John J. Metzler
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    HAMBURG—Witnessing the early stages of the World Cup Football extravaganza offers an amazing sporting experience. Indeed the enthusiasm is palpable and contagious as the early matches kicked off in a near carnival atmosphere. For a full month, soccer games across Russia will lead to the coveted World Cup to be decided in Moscow on July 15th.
    As the German business daily Handelsblatt headlined, Football: Money and Games. I would add politics too. Given that Russia is hosting these global games, there’s naturally a political context, as there certainly was with the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.
    The FIFA World Cup, held every four years, is a bit like the Olympics of football or soccer if you prefer; it encourages nationalism, camaraderie, and generally good cheer in a series of matches between teams as geographically diverse as Germany/Mexico, Costa Rica/Serbia, South Korea/Sweden and Russia/Egypt.
    The tournament started with 32 teams divided into eight groups.
    For this World Cup such notable contenders did not even qualify for play; Italy, Netherlands, and the USA are not on the pitch this time round. Other qualifiers such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iceland are not part of the long football tradition. And then there are the perennial heavyweights, Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay.
    Russia, the host, has played surprisingly well early in the series.
    Pundits aside, most of the early matches were not as predictable as planned. Germany’s initial match against Mexico, headlined as “High Noon in Moscow” ended in a humiliating loss to Mexico 1-0, jolting the reigning World Cup champion.
    As the tournament reaches quarter finals, the levity and good nature of the earlier contests recedes into a more dour do or die atmosphere to edge your team and country into the next coveted round. Upsets abound amid the ballet of intricate footwork and strategy which characterize “the beautiful Game.”
    National flags hang from apartment windows, illustrating the multinational nature of this prosperous seaport city. Flags draped on car hoods or sprouting from car windows. Postgame car honking and driving round with national colors. Even marzipan candy makers have football themes!
    An early match between Portugal and Spain saw a whole neighborhood draped in Portuguese flags and wildly cheering fans even as the contest ended in a draw.
    Germany who won the coveted World Cup in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014 faced a surprisingly early and lethal challenge to its crown. The German team, known as the Die Mannshaft has long set the standard for top notch play. Nonetheless Germany narrowly grasped a win over Sweden in a second match 2-1.
    In the highest scoring match thus far, England pummeled Panama 6-1.
    Teams already out of contention include a favorite Argentina, as well as Costa Rica and Poland.
    In many ways, the game of football reflects the ebb and flow of International politics; there are
    recognized powers around which much revolves. Yet nothing is really certain. There are many new upstart teams and players and unexpected outcomes which jolt and challenge conventional wisdom. Yet all is determined in ninety minutes of intense play.
    But beyond the football field, Russia the host, pushes for a soft power victory on the political
    pitch with a carefully choreographed charm offensive aimed especially at the Europeans and South Americans.
    Vladimir Putin’s Political sixth sense has been energized by this international sporting venue held inside a dozen stadiums across European Russia. The tournament staging, thus far, has been a political win for Russia.
    As the World Cup approaches its decisive quarter final and semi final stages there maybe be room for an unexpected outcome.

    John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism The Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany,Korea,China.


  • A Little Child Shall (Mis)lead Them

    Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    To be fair, it’s not the children who are doing the misleading. It’s the adults who are using them as props. Children are being used as tools to game (and beat) our immigration laws and to advance a pro-illegal alien political position. It’s a disgusting spectacle, brought to you by Democrats and their media overlords.
    If that sounds harsh, stop reading now; it’s going to get rougher from here. What we’ve witnessed over the past few weeks, from the national border to the halls of power, has been the opening of a new front in the un-Civil War raging since the election of Donald Trump.
    Today it’s nearly impossible to have a civil conversation on any topic of importance. The Left has corrupted our language, worked hard to make some subjects radioactive, and made once-unthinkable comparisons the norm so that we end up either speaking in euphemisms or risk our friendships and livelihoods when speaking our minds. It’s the stuff of totalitarian states, which is the direction Democrat partisans have been pushing us for decades. They are a cancer in the body politic.
    When “illegal alien” morphed into “undocumented migrant,” the Left won a key victory. When enforcement of eminently-reasonable US laws governing immigration is compared to the Holocaust and the depravity of German Nazis, the Left wins. When threats or acts of violence succeed in cowing citizens from expressing non-Leftist-approved opinions, the Left wins. The common theme: The Left wins by denigrating our nation, encouraging lawlessness, and menacing law-abiding people who disagree with them. That’s their playbook, and God help us if we ever again give Democrats a majority.
    Boston Celtics-great Kevin McHale learned this lesson last week. McHale attended a Trump rally in Duluth – not as a speaker or even on stage – but some freakish fanatic found his face in the crowd and “outed” him on social media. Outrage and threats followed. His wife was harassed. People called for his dismissal as an NBA announcer. (At least no one has called for his removal from the NBA Hall of Fame – yet.) All because he attended an event featuring the President of the United States.
    For the Left, no behavior is out of bounds. A washed-up actor targets the First Family’s 12-year-old son with this gem: “We should rip Barron Trump from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles.” After 78 years on this planet, you’d think a man would know better. Well, a man would; I can’t identify the creature Peter Fonda has become, but for him there is a special place in Hell. Fonda vents mindless rage on an adolescent simply because he objects to his father’s “zero tolerance” policy protecting our borders.
    “Zero tolerance” = “100% enforcement” (and it’s another semantic victory by the Left to make “100% enforcement” appear to be what’s wrong here). For 8 years Obama used his “phone and pen” to run roughshod over his Constitutional duty to faithfully-execute the laws as passed by the legislature. I am grateful that we now have a president who understands his obligations. Which brings us back to the children. Simply put, the only people separating children from families are the ones using them as props to game the immigration system.
    One particularly egregious example: A Getty photographer’s viral photo of a crying child standing next to her mother as she was being arrested by federal agents. The mother had taken the 2-year-old on a perilous journey from Honduras and illegally crossed the Rio Grande. The Instagram caption began, “A Honduran asylum seeker, 2, and her mother…” Wait. What?
    A two-year-old is not an asylum seeker. Her mother isn’t either, since she purposely failed to follow rules we have established for asylum seekers. The rules are a high bar to cross; higher than the waters of the Rio Grande. So she took the path of least resistance, and for good reason: She was a previously-deported economic migrant, here to jump the line and steal a job.
    Despite what media initially reported, mother and daughter were never separated by federal agents. In fact, mother separated father from daughter in Honduras without permission; the father said he wasn’t even allowed a proper goodbye.
    By entering the US illegally, this Honduran woman committed a crime on US soil. What happens to US citizen parents who break the law? They are separated from their kids, sometimes permanently. Why should foreigners get a break?
    Our social services net frays and American families suffer, yet Democrats look beyond our borders to add to our problems. Prioritizing foreign law-breakers over our neighbors should disqualify any person running for office. While the Left uses social media and anti-social behavior to advance its political interests, the Right needs to be resolute and settle the issue at the ballot box.

    Ken Gorrell welcomes yoir comments at kengorrell@gmail.com


  • Amy Goes Hiking At Maine Mountains In Baxter State Park

    Weirs Times’ Outdoor Columnist Amy Patenaude “Wow-ed” on Doubletop Mountain, elevation 3489 feet. Doubletop’s summit ridge is 2/10th of a mile long and the south end is extremely open and exposed. The panorama was truly grand filled with Baxter State Park’s mountains and the distant blue waters of Millinocket Lake.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Baxter State Park is way up there. I made it to the Big Moose Inn & Cabins in Millinocket from Franconia in about five hours. After I checked in, I drove a couple miles to find a big view across Millinocket Lake of Mount Kathadin and Baxter State Park’s many other mountains. The sight across the Lake filled me with excitement and anticipation for the day ahead.
    I had satisfying and delicious meatloaf in their Loose Moose Bar & Grill and I wondered what Bryan and Zachary were having for supper. They were already camping in the park and they would be for the week, but I decided I’d spend a night in a nice bed and just one night sharing their campsite.
    Laurie owns the Big Moose. It has been in her family more than 40 years. Laurie was already up when I walked into the breakfast room at 5:15 am. She made me a yummy Big Moose breakfast sandwich and along with hot coffee and a banana I was set for the day.
    The south gate at Baxter State Park (BSP) opens at 6 am and there were a few cars ahead of me as I rolled through the gate around 6:30 am after paying $15 dollars. Maine residents get in for free. It is their park.

    From Mount Coe a lovely view of Doubletop Mountain. Baxter State Park has hundreds of miles of hiking trails over more than 200,000 acres of wilderness.

     

    The view across Millinocket Lake reaches from Doubletop Mountain to Mount Katahdin.

    The maximum speed limit in BSP is 20 mph and it was about 13 miles to reach the Marston Trailhead. I drove slowly down the narrow gravel Tote Road and I saw two moose along the way.
    My plan was to hike Mount Coe, South and North Brother and Fort Mountain. These peaks are on the New England Highest Hundred List and North Brother is also on the New England 4,000 Footer List. I have visited Baxter State Park just twice before each time to hike Kathadin along its Hamlin Peak.
    In my backpack I carry the essentials and a personal locator beacon my mother bought for me. Bryan and Zachary knew my plan and I would be meeting them at their Nesowadnehunk campsite at the end of the day.
    All the brook crossings were easy and the open ledges on Coe’s slide were dry and grippy. I hiked steady and I was on top of Mount Coe soon. I was lucky the sky was blue and the panorama was grand completely filled with forest and mountains. The trail along Coe’s summit is open and its exposed steep flank is impressive.
    The hike over to South Brother was pleasant in the trees but the spur up to its summit is rather rugged. I scrambled up the big rocks and I was thrilled to stand on top and look back at Coe.

    The summit sign, “North Brother, elevation 4143 ft SP” and a good view of Fort Mountain in the background.

    I was happy and felt lucky that the Marston Trail between the Brothers had dried out. A week ago I had seen photos posted by another hiker that made this section look like a full brook. I kept my feet dry hopping on rocks on the steep washed out trail section that had water running down the middle of the trail.
    Much of North Brother is above tree line and it was windy. The bigger peaks of Hamlin and Kathadin looked mighty fierce. It was much like looking at Mount Washington but Baxter is wild, there is no abundance of mankind anywhere.
    From here I could look right down on Fort Mountain and its summit’s rocky ridge. There is no maintained trail to Fort. To get there I followed the herd path or what we jokingly call the Bushwhack Trail. From North Brother’s summit the herd path is easy to follow above tree line but once I entered the woods the trees got tight quickly. I would push the spruce branches away and follow the worn tread way. Several times I had to circle around some fallen trees to find the path past them. Occasionally there would be a piece of orange flagging that someone had left behind to mark their way. Rock cairns began to appear as I neared and led me to the summit.
    I pulled out my map and I enjoyed a long lunch while I tried to name all the nearby peaks. At the time I didn’t know it but Bryan and Zachary were on nearby Mullen Mountain, this was one of a half dozen peaks they would reach via difficult bushwhacks during their stay in the Park.
    On my return from Fort, I could hear something in the woods. I stood still. Then I saw a man wearing a UNH ball cap. I surprised him. He was the only person I saw the whole day while hiking.
    Back on top of North Brother I could see the man was now standing on top of Fort.
    I retraced my way down to the intersection of the Mount Coe and Marston Trails and then I continued down the Marston Trail. My track would look like a lollypop with two sticks.
    Unlike the terrible trails we have in the Wilderness Areas in New Hampshire, the trails in BSP are well cared for and are blazed so that they are not too difficult to follow. Doing trail maintenance doesn’t just make for a better trail but it protects the forest by keeping people on the trail. The forest along the trail was lovely. I found myself wishing that the folks who control the Federally designated wilderness areas would learn a thing or two from BSP.
    I had a splendid time visiting four mountains, I hiked about 12 miles and climbed nearly 4 thousand vertical feet. What a day!
    I found the boys’ campsite and the blackflies were terrible and I was grubby. So I jumped in my car and drove about a mile to Ledge Falls in the Nesowadnehunk Stream. The sign warned me that the rocks were slippery and when I waded into its cold water to scrub up I slipped and landed right on my butt! I got a good dunking. The ledge was warm in the sun and there was a nice breeze that kept the black flies at bay.

    View from the summit of Doubletop, South Brother, Mount Coe, OJI and far is Maine’s highest peak Mount Katahdin
    At the Nesowadnehunk campsite, Zachary whipped up supper inside the screen tent that Bryan set-up to save us from the black flies.

    I wasn’t back long before Bryan and Zachary returned from their adventure. Thankfully Bryan had set up a screen tent over the picnic table. When not protected by its screen we all wore head nets. I presented supper—a jumbo bag of tortellini, a jar of sauce, bricks of cheese and Mom’s strawberry rhubarb pie. Zachary boiled the water, cooked the pasta and mixed up the sauce. We ate it all and there was not one crumb of the delicious pie left behind.
    The next morning we rose at 4:30 am for breakfast. I caught a ride when they did a car drop for their bushwhacking up OJI to Barren Mountain to The Owl. Zachary dropped me off at Kidney Pond Road and I hiked point to point over Doubletop Mountain.
    Again I appreciated the well blazed trails and I could tell by the fresh sawdust that the blow-downs had been recently removed. The last half mile of the trail to reach the summit was steep and rugged. I had to use all my rock climbing skills to carry myself up and over some of the large blocks of rock. The trail popped me up on the south end of the summit ridge and it was extremely exposed and windy. I didn’t venture too close to the edge. The trail follows the open ledge along a cliff face.
    Doubletop’s summit has a “Wow” factor of a perfect 10. I was totally Wowed. I was on top by 8 am and it was another perfect clear day and I could see the peaks I had reached the day before. I sat on top and enjoyed a snack but I didn’t linger too long.
    I continued to follow the Doubletop Mountain Trail down and I hiked back to my car parked at our Nesowadnehunk campsite.
    The drive home was long. I even stopped at a rest area along I-95 and took a 20 minute nap.
    The new Maine Mountain Guide is coming out in July. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and visit Maine again soon.
    Have fun.

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.

     

     


  • More Scratch

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    As biennial candidate for governor of New Hampshire representing the Flatlander Party, I am as committed to the education of our children just as much as the next guy…uh person.
    Of course, there is no better way to take care of the ever growing problem of funding a proper education than to come up with new ideas for scratch tickets.
    As you may or may not know, scratch tickets and the lottery in general, has been the way New Hampshire has been funding education for years (but don’t tell the kids that, we are trying to set a good example after all).
    Ever since “American Idol” has ended, I have found myself with a lot of free time in the evenings. I have been using that time productively and I have come up with what I think are really great ideas for new scratch tickets that will help our kids.

    “Instant” Instant Winner. This ticket is $20 and can pay a grand prize up to $500,000 (as if). You don’t even have to bring it back to your car in the parking lot of the convenience or liquor store and get that annoying metallic dust all over your new pants and leather seats. With the “Instant” Instant winner you just give the clerk at the counter your twenty dollars, tell them you want the “Instant” Instant ticket and they will scan the next bar code on a long sheet of bar codes distributed by the Lottery Commission and tell you right away if you have won or lost. No muss, no fuss and then you can be on your way.
    If it becomes popular, this ticket might also have the benefit of creating jobs as a sole employee would need to be hired to just stand there and collect twenties and scan the sheet all day long. Really a win-win (unless, of course, you lose, which is likely).

    “Getting Along” is a scratch ticket that not only funds education, at five dollars a pop, but also has the higher purpose of trying to bring us together as a state.
    It seems that over the past decade those on the right and those on the left have split further and further apart. I feel with a modestly priced scratch ticket we can overcome the hatred and division.
    For a mere five dollars you can buy either the Right Scratch or the Left Scratch, depending on your preferences. But if you get one of the Million dollar possible winners, the only way to possibly get the big prize is to buy, and match, a ticket from, literally, the other side of the aisle. In order to sell you the tickets, the convenience store clerk must first read a paragraph from the platform of the other party’s issues. The hope is that this ticket will help at least foster a small understanding of why the other side thinks as it does and help us all realize that we are on this planet as one and really only want the best for all. (No really, I’m serious. I’m not kidding. Please stop laughing.)

    In keeping up with the times I thought a ticket aptly named “Fake News” might be a big hit and help draw loose dollar bills from unsuspecting consumers.
    With “Fake News” you will spend five dollars for a scratch ticket, many of which will reveal a significant cash prize of a few thousand dollars or more. The only catch is that some of the prizes will be real and some will be fake (well, most will be fake actually).
    This ticket will need to be verified at the Lottery Office in Concord no earlier than five days after purchase. This way the possible “winner” will have to decide to brag around town and on social media that they just scored ten grand on a scratch ticket and then possibly be called out for “Fake News” a few days later, or to keep their mouth shut until they are in possession of all of the facts.
    I have a feeling this ticket may really be a big hit and really bring in the bucks for our kids (as well as the salaries of the people at the Lottery Commission, goodness knows they could use a raise).

    I have other ideas as well, but I am going to save them for the Campaign Trail. (One involves special scratch tickets sold by the local police during traffic stops. You’ll love it.)
    I’ll keep you posted.

     


  • Mr. Negron Goes to Washington

    Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    If the voters of the 2nd Congressional District are smart, we’ll send Steve Negron to Washington, D.C. next year.
    While any of the declared Republican challengers to Rep. Ann McLane Kuster would be preferable to the incumbent, I believe Mr. Negron is the best candidate for the office. Goodness knows, we deserve better than what we’ve got. Or rather, what we’ve done to ourselves.
    A Navy officer I met years ago had a sign on his stateroom door: You Deserve What You Tolerate. I think that’s largely true. But getting what you deserve can be painful. We’ve elected and re-elected an extreme liberal, attorney, and lobbyist to represent us in the Federal government, and she has done what extreme liberals do: Fought to drain away power and responsibility from our state and communities, in favor of the bureaucrats in Washington. The time for toleration is over.
    I don’t expect a Democrat to score well on the American Conservative Union’s rankings, but Rep. Kuster’s lifetime score is closer to former Speaker of House and California uber-liberal Nancy Pelosi’s than to her CD1 counterpart, outgoing Democrat Shea-Porter. In CD2, we have a California-liberal who would be a reliable vote for every hairbrained bill Pelosi would support if as a nation we are foolish enough to give control of the House to Democrats.
    Kuster voted to close Guantanamo and bring terrorists to US soil. She continues to support ObamaCare, opposing the bill to repeal major provisions over time. (For those of you who lost the insurance plan you liked, the doctor you preferred, and really expected $2,500 back from “bending the cost curve down,” Rep. Kuster thinks she knows your wants and needs better than you do.) She aligned with special interests against the best interests of NH’s students, opposing a measure to reduce federal mandates in education and return power to the states. And of course, being a Pelosian, she supported sanctuary cites over the rule of immigration law enforcement. Naturally, she also supports chain migration and the visa lottery, but opposes any measure to wrest control of our borders from lawless gangs and those whose first act on stepping on US soil is to violate our law.
    Perhaps part of Rep. Kuster’s success as a politician lies in her relative anonymity. In a St. Anslem’s College poll conducted in April, 4.7% of respondents had “No Opinion” of the three other Democrats in our Washington delegation. But nearly a quarter of those polled – 23% – had no opinion of Rep. Kuster. That’s an astonishingly high number for a multi-term incumbent.
    It would be in our best interests to send Rep. Kuster back to lobbying or lawyering or whatever else she’d like to do instead of putting the interests of the Democrat National Committee ahead of the interests of New Hampshire. We aren’t California and we shouldn’t have a “representative” who could easily be part of the CA delegation. The issue is to whom should we entrust the responsibility of representing New Hampshire values in swampy DC?
    Enter Steve Negron. I’ve heard him speak – along with some of the other Republican candidates vying for the honor of unseating the incumbent. I am impressed with his command of the issues, his easy manner, and his obvious honesty and good character. His stump speech and answers to questions from the crowd lacked the Washington polish – thank goodness. He clearly hasn’t memorized lines honed by focus-groups and political puppet masters.
    As befitting a former military officer and current business owner, he calls them as he sees them. And he sees them the way New Hampshire’s working families see them. Unlike the incumbent, he supports tax policies that allow workers to keep more of their earnings. He’s experienced the damage and drag on our economy from over-regulation and the DC-knows-best mentality. He understands the challenges of leadership, the difficulties of making payroll and predicting the economic future when making business decisions that affect other people’s lives.
    The “Vision & Priorities” section of his campaign website (negron4congress.com) provides a list of issues that could easily have come from any of us: Border Security; Veterans’ Care; Public Safety; Debt. He also includes “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” and “Restoring American Confidence,” both touchstone issues for those of us who believe we’ve strayed too far from our nation’s founding principles.
    Candidate Negron is also Rep. Negron. In representing Nashua Ward 5, he has shown himself to be a thoughtful conservative with a strong moral foundation. He is also very approachable, both in-person as he travels the length of CD-2, and in online forums. If you haven’t yet, I urge you to attend one of his campaign events, and then to vote to send Mr. Negron to Washington.

     


  • Volunteer Trail Work— We Can Do It!

    Nancy and Zachary “Cold River Camp Cook” made sure we were all well fed! The Chatham Trails Association work weekends are based out of the AMC’s Cold River Camp and volunteers are provided meals and a place to sleep for working on the trails all weekend.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Chatham Trails Assoc. & Wonalancet Out Door Club

    There are thousands of miles of trails described in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain and Southern New Hampshire Guides. There are thousands more all over New England. There are trails to the mountaintops, waterfalls, big rocks and through forests everywhere.
    Wicked weather happens. Storms can knock down branches and rip trees up by their roots and can make a trail difficult to follow or even impassable. Rushing water will erode a path and cause deep ruts and washouts. Rascal porcupines can chew up an important trail sign or a vandal might remove one or point it in the wrong direction. Blazes wear and fade.
    Do you have any idea who maintains these thousands of miles of trails? Volunteers do much of the work; people just like you.
    There are many hiking clubs and associations all over New Hampshire, along with the National Forest Service that care for “their” trails and organize volunteers to do the work. They are more than happy to teach you how to help and provide the tools. No experience is required, a good attitude and a pair of work gloves are what you need to get started.
    Appendix A of the AMC White Mountain Guide has helpful information and contacts for many of the organizations. Contact the group that maintains your favorite trail or one that is near you about volunteering. They have websites and Facebook pages and there is a new NH Trail Workers Facebook page too.

    Andrew, an often returning volunteer and Mike Zlogar, Trail Master of the Chatham Trails Association gives yours truly a volunteer patch in recognition of my first weekend of trail work. Since 1922 the CTA volunteers continue the tradition of stewardship of nearly 40 miles of trails on National Forest and private land in the Evans Notch. The CTA volunteers provide regular maintenance of trails and trail improvements.

    My first time volunteering I tagged along with friends joining the volunteer workday hosted by the BRATTS—Belknap Range Trail Tenders. We worked improving the Red Trail; moving rocks, constructing water bars and hardening the path. I watched the experienced trail builders move big rocks into place and grade the path. I did what I was asked. I collected rocks and filled and carried sacks of gravel. I learned a lot and I gained a greater appreciation of what it takes to make a good trail.
    My friends are trail adopters too. They care for their trail by cleaning water bars, removing brush and small blow-down trees, checking trail signs, paint blazes and even remove litter.
    Hikers are really fortunate that trails have adopters to care for them. Otherwise who would do it?
    The Appalachian Mountain Club, the Randolph Mountain Club, the Wonalancet Out Door Club and others utilize professional trail crews that do the heavy lifting of removing large trees and re-routing trails. Only volunteers that have had special training and certification are permitted to use axes and chainsaws. They do a lot but it isn’t possible for the professional crews to do it all.
    The last two weekends I volunteered with the Chatham Trails Association (CTA) and the Wonalancet Out Door Club (WODC). I’m busy, I play hard but I try to volunteer a few days a year because I care about our trails and because it is fun.
    Saturday I left my house at 5 am and drove to the AMC Cold River Camp in Chatham, that’s near NH/Maine border at the bottom of Evans Notch. I volunteered for the Chatham Trails Association work weekend. At 8 am we met at the shed and assignments and tools were distributed. We were instructed to hike to the top of our trail and work our way down.

    Everyone working together to clear the Cabin Trail. The Cabin Trail is just 2.6 miles of the more than 50 miles of trails that the WODC maintains. Trail Maintenance has been one of the core activities of the Wonalancet Out Door Club since its formation in 1892.
    Andrew and yours truly cleared the Eagle Cascade Trail just off the Baldface Circle Trail while volunteering for the Chatham Trails Association. One of the best parts of doing trail maintenance is getting outside to enjoy nature’s waterfalls and mountains.

     

    For the next eight hours, along with my new friends Andrew, Dave, Francine and Jay, we worked our way down the Slippery Brook Trail cleaning water bars, removing debris and lopping off brush. Sometimes the black flies were fierce and I wore a head net to keep the dang things out of my eyes and ears.
    Cleaning a water bar requires removing the leaves and debris with a rake and a hoe. The purpose of a water bar is to send the water off the trail before the water can cause erosion. If it is full of leaves and silt it can’t do its job and the water will run down the trail and washout the trail.
    When we got back to the camp I was tired and dirty. I went straight to the showers. On the wall of the bathroom hanging in a frame was a copy of instructions for “Three Steps to Beautiful Water Bars.”
    After I was all cleaned up, with a little help I found and moved into Fernbank, my own little cabin complete with a working fireplace and kerosene lantern which I used later in the evening. There are many of these cute little cabins and volunteers filled them all for the weekend.
    Before dinner we enjoyed a social hour and sharing tales about our adventures. Dinner was yummy and prepared by my friend Zachary the Cold River Camp Cook. Oh I especially loved the brownie with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream we had for dessert!
    It was really easy to fall asleep. And Sunday we did it all over again; Andrew and I worked Eagle Cascade Trail. The next work weekend will be in September. I hope to make it.
    On National Trails Day, the Wonalancet Out Door Club hosted a trail work day on the Cabin Trail. My friend Ellen and I decided to make the trip to give a hand. Ellen’s mother is the person that mails out the orders for the WODC shirts.
    We met at the Ferncroft parking lot. The original plan was to clean up the Dicey Mills Trail but the trail had been cleared earlier in the week. A dozen volunteers showed up and we jumped in our cars and drove down the road to the Cabin Trailhead.
    Tools were passed out–rakes, hoes and loppers. There are a lot of water bars and ditches on the Cabin Trail. Thankfully the beech leaves were dry and raked out easily. Many hands made light work. After we cleaned one out we headed up the trail to find another leap-frogging our way up to the next that needed cleaning.
    While I was raking I found an old chain used by a logging crew long ago. It was rusty and stiff. It’s still hiding someplace along the trail.

    A dozen volunteers worked on the Wonalancet Out Door Club’s Cabin Trail on National Trails Day. Many hands make light work.

     

    Jack Waldrow, President and Trails Chair of the Wonalancet Out Door Club and volunteer Fred Head spend many hours working the trails. New Hampshire Trails Day is July 21st and many organizations, including the WODC, are hosting volunteer trail work to celebrate NH’s trails.

    Shortly after noon we reached the Wilderness boundary and that was it for the water bars. Half of our group finished here for the day. Ellen left too since she needed to rest up to run a half marathon the next day and her mother was waiting for her too. The rest of us continued up the trail removing a few blow downs and brushing the trail in the places where it was needed.
    Trail work is satisfying and getting together to work and meet new people that also enjoy hiking and caring for the trails is fun. We took a good break at the Whitin Brook Trail intersection. Many stories were exchanged and the folks that have been working these trails for decades passed on the history of the area.

    Steve, Angel and myself decided we’d work our way to the end of the Cabin Trail where it intersects with the Lawrence Trail. It was just another 4/10th of a mile further up. We were told that there was some much needed brushing to do there.
    I learned that Steve had recently become the trail adopter for the Rollins Trail. He and Angel live about an hour and half away in Maine. I asked him why he adopted a trail here and he told me he loves the area and enjoys the maintaining trails.
    Near the top of the Cabin Trail we enjoyed the views of Mount Paugus’ bare ledges. Cutting back the branches of the spruce trees took a little more time than we thought it might but we got the job done. It would have been fun to continue hiking but it was getting late into the afternoon and I was feeling tuckered out.
    Yes it was fun to admire all our work as we descended the Cabin Trail. The efforts of a dozen volunteers made the Cabin Trail clear and will help preserve if for another season.
    New Hampshire Trails Day is July 21st and there are numerous opportunities to volunteer on this day! Sign-up and
    Have fun.


  • Appropriate This!

    Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    An old Scottish proverb holds that open confession is good for the soul. To honor my Scottish ancestors, I have a confession to make: In middle school, I was a drug-pushing pimp.
    Well, I played a drug-pushing pimp on stage. In 1977, I played the role of Sportin’ Life in what was likely New Hampshire’s only all-White middle school production of Porgy and Bess. It might have been America’s only such staging of Gershwin’s operatic-musical that year. Or any year.
    So here is my real confession: At the tender age of 14, I was a cultural appropriator. Never mind that I played the villainous pimp (a character made famous by Sammy Davis, Jr.) who enticed drug-addled Bess to leave her lover, Porgy, and join him for the “high life in New York.” Ignore the fact that seventh- and eighth-graders were dramatizing for our parents, teachers, and community a saga that included drugs, rape, blasphemy, and murder. No, the real sin – though we wouldn’t recognize it as such for decades – was that we were appropriating a culture utterly foreign to us.
    The opera’s setting is a Black fishing village near Charleston, SC, in the early 1900s. The only White characters are the police investigating the murder. In our version, every character was White. Our show went on without protest, but forty years later a dramatization with a similar “defect” was a national controversy in Hungary. The enlightened keepers of culture insisted that productions of Porgy and Bess be true to the race of the characters as written. That’s as difficult to do in today’s Hungary as it was impossible to do in a small NH middle school in the ‘70s.
    The student thespians at Ithaca High School in NY weren’t so lucky. Their production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame was cancelled after students protested the awarding of the role of Esmerelda to a White student. Even though Victor Hugo’s novel describes the character as half Roma, half French, the musical version based on the novel reframed her as “an outcast racially and culturally.” Today, that means no Whites allowed.
    When did the charge of “cultural appropriation” become an arrow in the quiver of the ever-petulant, race-consumed Left? Like so many loony ideas, it seems to have come out of nowhere (a.k.a. liberal arts colleges).
    What anyone with more than an ounce of historical knowledge recognizes as the cultural synthesis that has been improving the human condition for millennia, lefty academics and the students they indoctrinate see as a “power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.”
    To the Left, everything is a power dynamic. Those who lack power are excused everything (which is why it’s okay for them to take advantage of social, governmental, and technological structures they didn’t and couldn’t create). But individuals racially connected to the dominant culture are condemned for everything. Even making sandwiches.
    At Oberlin College a few years ago, a student of Vietnamese descent forced the dining hall to stop serving its version of Banh Mi – a traditional Vietnamese sandwich. It seems that bad imitation is not a form of flattery. As told in The Atlantic earlier this month, the dining hall used pulled pork instead of grilled pork; ciabatta bread instead of crusty baguette; coleslaw instead of pickled veggies. And they left off the pâté.
    “It was ridiculous,” the student complained. “How could they just throw out something completely different and label it as another country’s traditional food?” The Atlantic journalist pointed out the obvious flaw in the student’s rant: How traditionally-Vietnamese could that sandwich be if it uses baguettes and pâté, foods associated with the French colonizers of the nation now known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam? I guess that’s where the power dynamic kicks in, except that the French were defeated in Indochina…
    From sandwiches to prom dresses, nothing is beyond the rage of the cultural appropriation police. A Utah high school student was slammed on social media a few weeks ago for wearing a cheongsam – a traditional Chinese dress – to her prom. One Chinese-American student critic posted “My culture is not your g*ddam prom dress.”
    But, funnily enough, actual Chinese citizens were overwhelmingly supportive. And the Chinese-American grievance-monger seems both well-assimilated into his appropriated Western culture and ignorant of the cultural history of that particular garment.
    Will this latest line of attack on personal freedoms by so-called social justice warriors (SJW) succeed? Only if we let it. Cultural freedom fighters need to appropriate Rule #5 from that master of the totalitarian Left, Saul Alinsky: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
    When plays, sandwiches, and prom dresses spark political outrage, ridicule is the correct response.


  • Las Vegas! My Best Bet? Hiking!

    Local resident David Gray, my new hiking partner and friend, is also a trip leader for the Around the Bend Friends hiking meet-up group in Las Vegas. David signs the register on top Griffith Peak, elevation 11,060 feet. Mount Charleston, seen in the background is about five miles away. On Griffith Peak’s summit are scattered Bristlecone Pines.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    I lost a dollar in a slot machine and I thought I had my fill of gambling. But soon I was tempted again. I played a blackjack machine. I bet a five dollar bill since I didn’t have a dollar. I said goodbye to Mr. Lincoln as the bill quickly slid into the bandit. I played at least a dozen hands ,winning some and losing some when I noticed that my credits read $6.50 I decided to escape and quit while still 50 cents ahead for my efforts.
    We went west to visit family and to have some outdoor fun. While Charlie was rock climbing “Dream of Wild Turkeys” in Black Velvet Canyon. I went hiking.
    Before we left on our trip I sent an email to a group I had met a couple years ago when I was out hiking by myself in the Las Vegas area. After a few emails back and forth, I was invited to be a guest by one of the leaders.

    Mummy Mountain as seen from Lee Canyon Road (Rte 156). Do you see why it is called Mummy Mountain? It looks like a Mummy lying in state, left to right, Toe, belly, neck, nose, forehead!

    David took a bet on me and let me join his hike to the South Sister Overlook. The day was cool with lots of high clouds for the five mile out and back hike. While I waited at the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead a couple of wild horses showed up.
    David led Rick and me up the trail and then at the fallen tree headed into the woods and past the foundation of an old sawmill. Soon a well-worn footpath was easy to follow up and then it disappeared again as we followed the ridge to the outlook.
    The vista didn’t disappoint. Big Mount Charleston still had snow on its flanks, the Mummy’s head was across the way and the rest of the Spring Mountains just dazzled me. Southern Nevada has lots of mountains and ranges.
    This was a good morning hike and it got me excited for our next day’s hike.
    A couple of years ago Charlie and I did a long hike on the North Loop Trail to Mount Charleston’s summit and it was one of my favorite hikes ever. So when David offered to go with me to the 11 thousand foot summit of Griffith Peak via the South Loop Trail of course I said yes. I was happy not to hike alone and to have someone willing to share their wealth of knowledge about the area was a huge bonus.
    We met at 8 am at the Cathedral Rock Trailhead; about an hour northwest of Vegas, up Kyle Canyon Road to the town of Mount Charleston.
    In the parking lot we met a man who was all excited to tell us all about his new cellphone map/trail app and we headed up the trail behind him. At the intersection we turned left and headed up the South Loop Trail. In a few minutes we met the same man walking back down the trail and he sheepishly said he missed the turn for Cathedral Rock. Nothing beats a good map or better yet a friend that knows the way.

    Fire isn’t funny. Charred dead trees still standing where a forest fire ravaged the mountain.

    The trail has good footing and rises steeply from the canyon floor. We didn’t see water in the drainage but we could hear it running below the rocks. Everything is so open here, this is desert hiking. The area had been nearly completely burned in a raging fire five years ago and the trail was closed for a few years. Signs of the fire still abound.
    There are some super overlooks along the way that would make a nice outing by themselves if you’re looking for a shorter hike.
    Again the mountains dazzled me and the higher we climbed the more we could see. This time the Mummy’s toe was across the way and we could see the white streaks of snow on Mount Charleston.
    We couldn’t have asked for better weather. We enjoyed the cool temperature and the blue sky above us.
    As we followed the trail’s switchbacks up the mountain we had to make our way over snow covered sections of the trail as we neared the ridge. The Ponderosa Pines that had escaped the fire towered over us. I appreciated the many interesting things David pointed out along the way. He told me the names of the trees, identified the Charleston Woodpecker and hummingbirds and of course he named the mountains we could see in the distance. He poured water on what looked like a gray rock and magically the fossils of seashells appeared! All these mountains and Death Valley were once under the sea.

    David poured water on the plain looking gray rock and magically seashell fossils appeared.

    On the crest at the saddle there is a small windbreak shelter that campers sometimes use. The South Loop Trail turned right and its terminus is on the summit of Mount Charleston just 4.5 miles away. We turned left and hiked a short distance down before we climbed steeply to reach Griffith Peak’s summit.
    On top the wind was gusty but not too cold. Two other hikers were sitting on top and were preparing to leave when we arrived. From our 11,064 foot perch the grand panorama reached far and wide. We signed the summit register and took a short break to eat a snack.

    David on one of the outlooks along the South Loop Trail with Mummy Mountain’s big toe sticking up across Kyle Canyon.
    Your truly and just one of the many large Ponderosa Pine that tower over the South Loop Trail.

    Descending the switchbacks was this hiker’s dream. I joked to David that if this trail was in the East it would have led us straight down the drainage and been all washout and rocky. This trail was well graded and smooth, rarely ever too steep and ever so nice on my knees.
    The temperature increased greatly as we descended and the sun was hot. While we were up high the leaves of the quaking Aspens had just popped wide open and were a fresh light green. What a treat to see the changes as spring settles in while summer is pounding at the door.
    I can’t wait to go back to Las Vegas.
    Thanks David!
    Have Fun.

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.


  • BSA, RIP

    Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    We must depend upon the Boy Scout Movement to produce the MEN of the future.

    – Daniel Carter Beard

    It’s never easy to lose something close to our hearts. It’s especially hard when the loss was preventable and the result of pure malevolence.
    The Boy Scouts of America is dead. The cowed leadership of an organization founded by greater men has rebranded itself as Scouts BSA, a name that reeks of focus-grouping and social fashion. They dropped “Boys” because the group is now co-ed.
    The spirit of Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting in Britain, and Daniel Carter Beard, founder of the Sons of Daniel Boone, which later merged with the Boy Scouts in America, has been trashed by the radical feminist movement corroding its way through society. Feminists aren’t finished, but the organization long dedicated to helping boys become good men is. Whatever Scouts BSA does, it cannot live up to the high calling of its founders.
    I’ve written about my involvement with Boy Scouts as an adult volunteer, my high regard for the organization’s purpose, and the quality of Troop leaders with whom I served. These accomplished men dedicated much time and effort to provide boys with adventure and character-building opportunities they would not otherwise have, in an all-male setting that was ideal for the purpose.
    A few of our Troop’s boys lacked male role-models outside of Scouting, though as a group we beat the national averages. In America’s homes, a quarter of children live in female-headed households. Nearly four-in-ten do not live with their biological fathers. In school, three-quarters of teachers are women. At the places where kids spend most of their waking hours, many boys never receive the constructive and undivided attention from the types of men they should aspire to become. Boy Scouts filled a crucial gap.
    Feminists attack beneficial all-male institutions (and even the idea of maleness – see the October 2016 Cover”girl,” James Charles), even as more boys are growing into troubled men. Compared to girls, boys perform poorly in school. More girls than boys go to college and complete advanced degrees. Young men are more likely to be victims of homicide and drug overdose. They have higher rates of suicide and incarceration. It should surprise no one that growing up without positive male role-models in female-dominated homes and schools has negative consequences for boys.
    In a 2014 article, Atlantic Monthly quoted a teacher positing that “[G]irls work best when sitting in a circle facing each other and find it more comfortable to learn in a group setting. Instead, boys often excel in a traditional class structure with desks lined in rows, which could support their more competitive energies and attention getting behaviors.”
    The article noted that in school, girls “are more apt to plan ahead, set academic goals, and put effort into achieving those goals. They also are more likely than boys to feel intrinsically satisfied with the whole enterprise of organizing their work, and more invested in impressing themselves and their teachers with their efforts.” By statistics and observation, boys and girls do better in different settings and respond to authority differently.
    Our classrooms are aligned more to the needs of girls than boys. And “boys being boys” isn’t tolerated. In Maryland, a judge upheld the suspension of an elementary school boy who chewed a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun and “disrupted” his class. In North Carolina, a middle school student was suspended for doodling a sword-wielding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Our feminized school system is alienating boys at alarming rates, and when many of these boys go home, there’s no one there with a shared perspective and experience.
    What’s wrong with having an organization dedicated to boys’ unique needs and learning styles? What’s wrong with helping to fill the blank spaces that exist in too many boys’ lives? There are plenty of co-ed activity-focused organizations – including Venturing and Sea Scout programs operated by the former Boy Scouts of America. Girls still have Girl Scouts, which will probably remain dedicated to girls only. Why destroy the all-male focus of Boy Scouts?
    Scouts BSA gave many reasons for the change, but none focused on meeting the unique needs of boys. The simple fact is that modern feminism is a powerful force that has infiltrated all parts of society. It won’t tolerate the literal or figurative “old boys network” in any manifestation, and it has no sense of humor or humility. It also won’t engage in the hard work of building up its own organizations; it’s easier and more emotionally-rewarding for them to destroy the creations of others.
    The war on boys continues. Boy Scouts of America is simply the latest casualty. But it won’t be the last.


  • Finding Snow on Pico, Killington, Mendon, Sugarloaf & Mt. Ellen

    Our Outdoor Columnist Amy Patenaude doesn’t let the warm weather of May stop her in her pursuit to ski until the last drop of snow has melted. This week she takes us on a mid-Spring quest to find where the skiing is still alive. Pictured here is Mount Ellen’s Rim Run Trail in May! At an elevation of 4,083 feet it is tied for third highest peak in Vermont with Camel’s Hump and they share the 48th ranking on the NEHH list.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    The New England Highest Hundred Peaks include some that are the home to a ski resort. I made it up Pico, Killington, Sugarloaf and Mt. Ellen while there was still enough snow to be able to ski.
    Pico closed for the season many weeks ago. I skinned up and tagged the summit and skied down. There was so much snow that they easily could have remained open like its sister resort next door, Killington. But as one friend in the ski biz said to me, “This time of year we run out of skiers before we run out of snow.”

    The Cooper Lodge, built in 1938 is the highest shelter on the Long Trail. The the four walled stone shelter sits near the summit of Killington. Killington Peak, elevation 4,235’ is the second highest mountain in Vermont (Mount Mansfield is the highest) and it is ranked 36th on the NEHH list.

    When I left home it was sunny and clear but when I arrived at Pico it was cloudy and then I realized it was melting snow fog. I had hoped it would clear but it didn’t. As I was headed up the trail I met a man skiing down with a baby on his back.
    On the summit the fog swirled and I had a brief view of the top of the Killington. Just as I was heading down another fellow reached the summit. I wasn’t even aware he was behind me since I could only see a short distance in the fog—about the distance between one set of lift towers. The ski down I had fun making big wide turns
    Just a couple weeks ago I headed up to Killington early and there was still plenty of snow in the woods. I skied past the Cooper Lodge on the Long Trail. I sat on the summit for a good spell and two snowshoers that had come up the Bucklin Trail arrived while I was enjoying the view.

    Sugarloaf Mountain’s rocky high point had no snow but it rained hard while we were there.

    A couple days later I saw a post on the NEHH’s group Facebook page that a fellow had left his glasses on the summit of Mendon Peak. Mendon is a trail-less peak that is just south of Killington. I decided I should ski up and fetch them. But when I arrived at the Bucklin Trailhead to access the camp road that would bring me near the start of the bushwhack I discovered that the snow had all melted away on the road.
    I left my skis in the car and I tied my snowshoes to my backpack and I hiked up the mud and ice covered road. To start the whack to the Mendon Peak required crossing a roaring brook. I was able to hop across on submerged rocks that kept the top of my boots above the water. On the top of the bank I put on my snowshoes; the north side of the mountain was covered with lots of snow. The snowshoes kept me on top of the soft snow and their crampons made it easier to climb up the steep slippery mountainside. Bushwhacking through wide open hardwoods was nice and the snow was more than a foot deep.
    On the summit Joe’s glasses were hanging on a spruce tree branch just like I saw in the photo he had posted. I put them in my pack and then headed over to the open ledge. I ate an orange and then I let gravity help me scoot down the peak while bounding down making new snowshoe tracks. This was the next best thing to skiing.
    I mailed Joe his glasses and he is quite pleased to be able to see again.

    Yours truly on Mendon Peak’s summit wearing Joe’s glasses. I found his glasses right where he left them when he bushwhacked to the Peak earlier in the week. He was excited to get them back. Mendon Peak is ranked 85th on the New England Highest Hundred List.

    Marylou was game to join me skinning up Sugarloaf and then maybe snowshoe over to Spaulding. I spent the night at her camp on Cupsuptic Lake in Maine and there was still ice on the Lake. We heard Loons! The weather forecast forewarned that there was a good chance of rain in late afternoon but the day looked promising.
    We skinned up the Tote Road and the ski slope was still covered edge to edge. We had a big view of the nearby Bigelow Mountains but to the west we could see dark clouds. Half way up we could see that the dark clouds were coming right for us.
    Just as we neared the top it began to rain hard. We tagged Sugarloaf’s highpoint that was bare rock and mud. Thankfully soon the hard rain turned into a light sprinkle and then it got foggy. We made the smart decision that visiting Spaulding could wait and we hastily descended. Marylou was on snowshoes and I skied. We stayed together until we were half way down then I took off. I didn’t have to wait long for her to join me back at the car. It felt great to change out of our wet clothes.
    Marylou and I had a delicious lunch at the Thai restaurant in Rangeley.

    Yours truly and Marylou on our way up Sugarloaf Mountain before it began to rain. Sugarloaf is Maine’s third highest peak (and the highest not in Baxter State Park) is ranked 35th on the NEHH list.

     

    Mt. Ellen’s bottom third had little to no snow. Here’s Charlie getting in an additional 100 feet of skiing before having to take off his skis to walk to the next patch of “skiable” snow.

    Charlie was hot to ski one more time so we went off to Sugarbush on Saturday on their last weekend to be open. We didn’t quite make the first chair but our friend Jeremy did. We skied on nice groomed snow and Stein’s Run was quite good too. We finally caught up with Jeremy for a couple of runs before the crowd showed up and a lift line formed. We skied straight without taking a break until 11 am.
    We left and drove around to Sugarbush’s other mountain. Mt. Ellen was closed but its trails had snow and was open for skinning. The bottom third of Mt. Ellen was mostly bare and we all hiked up until we reached the good snow.
    Charlie and I put on our skins and skis and Jeremy snowshoed. The sun was hot and bright and we wore short sleeve shirts and sunglasses. Nearing the summit from the Rim Run Trail the clear panorama wound around from the White Mountains, up the spine of the Green Mountains and to New York’s Adirondacks. It was an excellent day to be on top of a mountain.
    Going back down was a blast. Charlie and I skied and Jeremy ran down on his snowshoes. We passed a few more people skinning up the mountain as we descended. When Charlie and I reached the bottom third we did our best to connect the patches of snow. I bet we took off and on our skis at least a dozen times.
    Jeremy joined us in the parking lot just ten minutes later than us; he ran fast. Maybe after he saw how much fun we had skinning and skiing that he will leave his snowshoes at home next time and join us on skis.
    I can’t promise I won’t write another column about skiing this year since I hear that Tuckerman Ravine could be skiable maybe into July.
    Have fun.


  • Making Schoolhouse Rock

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Bob Dorough died last week, but his music lives on. It lives on not just in his jazz recordings, but also in the minds of millions of kids who grew up watching “Schoolhouse Rock,” the animated series of educational cartoon shorts that first hit the air on Saturday mornings back in ’73.
    Dorough’s ditties engaged kids with lessons in language (“Conjunction Junction”), math (“Three is a Magic Number”), and civics (“I’m Just a Bill”). They were clever, educational, and memorable. It’s been more than 40 years, but just writing those titles put the tunes in my head and a smile on my face.
    Few of us have his jazz chops (Dorough co-wrote “Comin’ Home Baby”, a Top 40 hit for Mel Tormé), but many of us can put smiles on the faces of students across the Granite State. Instead of penning catchy songs, we can pen contributions to a scholarship organization that empowers lower-income New Hampshire families to choose the right educational path for their children.
    For New Hampshire businesses, funding scholarships through the state’s Education Tax Credit (ETC) program spreads smiles all around. Their donations provide low- and middle-income children the education opportunities wealthier families take for granted, and businesses receive an 85% tax credit from the state against business profits tax (BPT) and/or business enterprise tax (BET). Companies can, of course, also take the federal tax deduction for their entire charitable contribution. Imagine writing a check that goes to a student instead of the state.
    Who are the current recipients helped by generous business donors? They are families who could not otherwise afford educational alternatives but knew the right alternative existed. They are kids who didn’t fit the mold, and whose frustrations interfered with their learning. Of the students awarded scholarships this school year, 77% are eligible for free and reduced lunch and 11% have special needs. All have parents who made the necessary sacrifices to contribute at least 25% towards their tuition.
    What do these scholarships mean for local kids? Children’s Scholarship Fund New Hampshire (CSF-NH), the largest scholarship program in the state, works with thousands of parents searching for education options. They see their children struggling in their assigned public schools and want to provide them with a different educational environment. Whether the challenge is academic, social, or behavioral, these parents are striving to help their children reach their full potential but lack the financial resources to do it alone. These scholarships make the difference.
    Since I can’t put it to music, I’ll let parents tell their stories:
    “Changing schools has been a lifesaver for my child. She is noticeably different and has improved both socially and academically. This school has been a miracle for our family.”
    “It broke my heart when my wonderful, smart daughter started dreading school in only the fourth grade because she was being bullied. By sixth grade, I knew I had to do something…As a low-income family, our choices are limited. CSF’s scholarships are so important! They allow families like mine the freedom to help their children excel in safe and nurturing environments.”
    “This program has been a miracle for us.”
    As a member of the CSF-NH Advisory Board, I’ve attended donor-parent events and heard directly from parents, students, and business leaders. Some of the family stories are heartbreaking, but all are life-affirming. In a world with too much unwelcome news, these parents and students have refreshing news to tell. What had seemed like a dead-end to them became a door opening to a world of possibilities.
    “Making a difference” is an overworked phrase, but it accurately describes what businesses across the state are doing right now for NH families. This school year, CSF-NH has awarded more than half-a-million dollars in tuition scholarships to help 260 New Hampshire families provide their kids with the educational option that fits each one – whether that’s public, private, virtual, homeschool, or blended learning. While doing that, businesses also gain a measure of control over their tax liability. The ETC turns that liability into the ability to change how a child sees the future.
    But the race is on. There are more applications each year as the program gains popularity through word-of-mouth and the accomplishments of the children awarded these scholarships. Businesses have until June to apply for the tax credit that changes lives. Please consider assisting underprivileged children for the 2018-2019 school year with your 2018 NH Education Tax Credit contribution.. NH Education Tax Credit Applications are submitted to the NH Department of Revenue. The process is surprisingly easy and described step-by-step at www.csfnewhampshire.org. It’s not too late to help more New Hampshire children succeed!


  • Red Hill

    Yours truly and Danielle on the summit of Red Hill in Moultonborough. Red Hill summit, elevation 2,020 feet has splendid views and from its fire tower there is a grand panoramic vista that rivals peaks more than twice its height. Trail descriptions for Red Hill can be found in the AMC White Mountain Guide and a map is available on-line at LRCT.org.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    The Red Hill Fire Tower rises high above the shores of Squam Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee. Visitors that climb the steps up the tower will behold a grand vista over the Lakes to the White Mountains, the Squam Range and the Belknaps. The Ossipee Mountains and the Sandwich Range are near. On a clear day the panorama grows wide and many far away peaks can be seen from the tower.
    The Lakes Region Conservation Trust has conserved nearly 24,000 acres and the Red Hill Conservation Area is more than 2,650 acres. Henry David Thoreau hiked to the top of Red Hill in July of 1858 and I trust he would still find it quite enjoyable since much of the view has stayed wild.

    The Teedie Trail had no snow lower down along the interesting old stone walls.

     

    Danielle looking up the icy rock scramble up Eagle Cliff. There is an easier bypass path around this difficult section of trail.

    We needed a hike not too far north since we had an event in Exeter to attend later in the day. We’ve both been to the fire tower before but Danielle had not hiked the Eagle Cliff Trail. The Red Hill Trails are described in the AMC’s White Mountain Guide and this would count for redlining for her. We both desired a peak with a big view and Red Hill fit the bill perfectly.
    The Eagle Cliff trail is the more difficult route to the summit–it is longer, steeper and rockier. The trail begins 4/10th of a mile north of the Moultonborough/Squam town line on Bean Road. The shoulder is wide at the trailhead and there is room for just 5 or 6 cars to park.
    We only hiked a short distance before seeing patches of snow and the higher we hiked the more frequently the snow appeared. Eagle Cliff is only 6/10th of a mile up trail but just before reaching the top of the cliff the trail has a rocky rugged scramble. Here the bypass path leaves to the right and it is clearly marked and avoids the rock climb. Some ice still covered the rocks and we carefully climbed. At the top we jogged back down the bypass for redlining purposes and we scrambled back up the slippery section again.

     

     

    From Red Hill the view across Lake Winnipesaukee we could see the snow on Gunstock Mountain’s ski trails.

     

    Congratulations to everyone that received an award at the annual Four Thousand Footer Club 2018 Annual Meeting, Awards and Dinner. Three cheers for Danielle for completing the 4,000 footer list in Winter! Her finishing peak was Mount Adams.

    There’s a sweet view of Squam Lake and the Squam Range from the top of the Eagle Cliff’s ledges that would make an excellent short hike on its own. From here it’s another 2.1 miles to the top of Red Hill.
    We descended a short distance to where the Teedie Trail meets the trail. We continued on and soon we were walking on well consolidated snow. Danielle put on her micro-spikes to be more surefooted and I decided that the snow was soft enough so I could make my boot’s treads work. I did fall down once and Danielle didn’t.
    The trail crossed a small knoll and then descended again before we climbed a much bigger knoll. This was a good climb and now we could see the fire tower. We descended a short distance and then we made the final gentle climb to reach the summit.
    Snow and wind made the warm day down below feel downright chilly on the summit. We put on our down puffy jackets. There were a few other people on top but no one was on the fire tower as we headed up the steps. The viewing platform below the tower’s locked cabin is fabulous and there are view finding signs that are a big help for pointing out the mountains.
    Moosilauke was bright white and so was the top of Sandwich Dome. We could see Mount Cardigan, Mount Kearsarge and the snow on the Gunstock’s ski trails.
    By the time we came down the tower we had the summit to ourselves. We enjoyed our sandwiches on the ledge at the foot of the tower.

    I ran up the tower one more time to take in the grand vista. I felt satisfied when I realized I could see South Kinsman way up north. Danielle went over to the picnic table to get another photo of Big Lake.
    The trip back down went quickly and we passed by a few small groups on their way up.
    This time we turned down the Teedie Trail and avoided the rugged sections of the Eagle Cliff Trail. The Teedie trail doesn’t have open views but it passes by some interesting stone walls. The trail popped us out right at the town line, there is no parking here. We walked north on the road back to our car.

    Mount Moosilauke was bright white and was certainly an eye-filler.

    We made it to Exeter High School on time to meet our friends for the AMC’s Four Thousand Footer Club Annual Meeting, Awards and Dinner. People and dogs were recognized for completing the 4,000 footer list. Danielle and I received our parchment for finishing the list in winter. We had much fun cheering for our friends receiving their awards too.
    Happy Spring.

     


  • Utah – Rain, Snow & Sunshine!

    On top of Snowbird on a Bluebird day!

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Turns out that I did not need to leave New Hampshire to find new snow. I don’t know why but every time I head west it snows like crazy at home.
    I thought going to Utah for some fine spring skiing would be just the thing to do. But after my second day of skiing in the rain I was having second thoughts.
    Inside Alta’s Goldminer’s Daughter day lodge I looked at my cellphone. Becca Snowboarder sent me photos of riding in the new fluff at Cannon and of her skin tracks up Tenney Mountain. Bria posted photos of Waterville Valley and Loon and reported packed powder conditions. Charlie was at Black Mountain for the Wild Corn Festival and he successfully competed in the uphill race.

    Barb, Chuck, Tracy and Sylvia at Alta testing and comparing DPS skis. The Salt Lake based ski company, DPS, designs and manufactures high-tech and light-weight high performance skis. DPS has introduced Phantom, a one application permanent base coating that eliminates waxing for glide for skis and snowboards that is easy to apply and better for the environment.
    1. I should have left my phone in the car. All this good news from home made me a little homesick.
      No complaints, OK except the rain and the lifts that didn’t run because of the bad weather.
      My long weekend started on Thursday night. I flew into Salt Lake City after flying the JetBlue redeye from Boston and I didn’t make it to my room at the airport hotel until 1:30 in the morning. That’s the same as 3:30 am in the East, it was a long day. In the morning I ate breakfast in the lobby and then took the shuttle back to the airport to pick up a rental car.
      I drove north in light rain to Snowbasin and once I arrived at the ski resort it really started to downpour. I was the only person in the lift line and I asked the attendant if it was possible for her to give me a garbage bag. She did. In the Gondola I took off my helmet and poked my head through the bag and did the same for both my arms. I looked goofy but the garbage bag kept me dry. The ski area was a ghost town, very few were crazy enough to ski in this kind of weather.
    Day 1 of 2 skiing in the Utah rain. In the gondola at Snowbasin are Barb and yours truly wearing a garbage bag. Snowbasin hosted the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Downhill races.

    Up high the rain was snow and sleet. This made for some fine mid-mountain skiing and for some interesting snow pinwheels (snowballs rolling down the slope beside me) and sliding blankets of wet snow. Many slopes were closed due to avalanche danger.
    Barb, from Montana, met me for the last hour of skiing and then we both drove to Salt Lake City.
    Chuck invited Barb, Tracy and Sylvia; and Sylvia invited me to come to Alta for the weekend to test DPS skis and to have fun. We zoomed back to Salt Lake and met the rest of our friends at the AirBnB just in time to all ride up to Alta for a meet and greet and a showing of DPS Skis Cinematic short films. The ski flicks were outstanding and made us all excited to ski.
    Overnight the rain didn’t stop. I felt badly for the ski reps, it rained sideways and it down poured. Alta shut down all the lifts at 1:30. New snow, heavy rain and high avalanche danger are not the best conditions to try out new skis.
    Sunday morning we returned to Alta and the rain had changed over to snow flurries and dark clouds surrounded the mountain. Ski conditions were interesting. We found good soft creamy snow and sometimes firm icy stuff. Still not the best conditions to try out skis but my hats off to my friends they kept on trying different skis.

    Yours truly, Chuck, Tracy and Sylvia on the lift at Snowbird. We sure ended the ski trip on a high note. The day was warm and sunny and evaporated any memory of the previous bad weather.

    I confess it was all I could do to stay on my feet on my own skis in the varying conditions. My goggles didn’t dry out completely overnight and they steamed up between the lenses. I skied a couple runs by feel before I smartened up and borrowed a pair of lost and found goggles. Skiing was much easier when I could see.

    Snowbird’s Tram car is packed with skiers and snowboarders on a nice day. Where’s Sylvia? Sylvia wears a pink helmet and somehow always manages to wiggle her way up to the door’s window

    I knew what we were missing. Last year I went to Alta and the snow was deep and the sun was bright in the sky. A great deal of terrain was closed due to avalanche danger. But we still had a lot of fun skiing together and hunting for the good soft snow.
    The next day, Monday morning, was the day I was dreaming of—blue sky and sunshine.
    We packed up and cleared out of our rented house and drove up the canyon to Snowbird. We all met at the Tram plaza and skied on fresh new snow. I put sunscreen on my face and wore sunglasses. The conditions were the best where the sun warmed it first. Nearing mid-day more terrain opened and Mineral Basin was ours to make first tracks. The resort was busy, lots of skiers and snowboarders joined us (no Snowboarders allowed at Alta). A lot of pent up energy was being released. We skied all over and enjoyed the big mountain vista that had been hiding from us all weekend.
    On our last run Sylvia stopped and flopped down on the snow and stretched out on her back and we all joined her and did the same. We looked down the canyon at Salt Lake City and up the canyon at the sharp mountaintops. The last Tram ride was now long gone and this last pitch was our final ski together. We savored the moment—the cold snow against our body, the warm sun on our face and that magical combination of the thrill of skiing and comradery.
    Everyone made it home safe, back to Bozeman, MT and to Fort Collins, Colorado. These are long drives especially after a full day of skiing. I am still tired, exhausted really. I flew a redeye back to Boston and arrived at 6 am and in time for me to take the earliest Concord Coach Bus north to Concord.
    By the weekend I’ll be raring to go skiing. I hope the snow holds until May.
    Have fun.