• The Witch’s Brew Mystery Woman Unmasked – Part II

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    >>Click to read PART ONE of this two part column <<

     

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    The results of investigative reporting may not be welcome to those who prefer that the identity of the alleged witch be kept a mystery, but even perhaps the earliest printed account of the story admits that Granny Hicks of New Hampton, though perhaps looking like a witch and having some peculiar habits and some unexplained insight, was not really a witch.
    If, however, the person(s) who identified the supposed witch as one Esther Prescott Hyde was correct the story is still full of unsolved mysteries. We still do not know how Granny Hicks (or Esther Hyde) knew who the five young masked men who destroyed her cottage were and how she could correctly prophesy how each would die. We do not know when she came to live in New Hampton and where she went after the destruction of her home. We do not know how she could live in the same town as a son and grandchildren with the townspeople not knowing of the connection. And other questions persist. Esther Prescott Hyde died in 1817 at the age of 64 and her body was buried in the New Hampton village cemetery in the Prescott family lot. This fact does not match the tale told by some that Granny Hicks was never seen or heard from again in New Hampton after her house was demolished. Some think that her death occurred in the same year that she lost the house. Her gravestone identifies her as the wife of John Hyde, but with no indication that he is buried near her.
    No mention is made of her first husband, John Prescott, but her son, John, and his wife, Elizabeth Nichols Prescott are buried beside her. Also in the lot in front of the three previously mentioned is a smaller gravestone marking the graves of two of Esther’s granddaughters, Esther and Sarah Prescott.

    The tombstone of Esther Prescott Hyde who died in 1817 at the age of 64 and her body was buried in the New Hampton village cemetery.

    Aunt “Est” and Aunt Sa, as they were called turned the Prescott house on Main Street into a Girl’s Boarding House for young ladies attending the New Hampton Literary School and developed a reputation for a high-quality housing establishment.
    These granddaughters of Esther Prescott Hyde, the alleged witch, were portrayed as follows by newspaper editor E.C. Lewis : “The Prescott girls were universally loved and admired. Shrewd, bright, quick witted, natural nurses, hard workers, sharp of tongue, and close at trade, they were generous and public spirited.” Sarah died in 1885 and what was called the “great fire” of 1887 destroyed the boarding house and two other buildings. The land was sold to Judge Stephen Gordon Nash who had a public library which was named for him built at that location; the library continues to serve the town to this day.
    It would appear that land in New Hampton given to Esther Prescott Hyde by her father on the banks of the Pemigewasset River became the home of one or more of her grandchildren.
    My investigations lead me to believe that John and Elizabeth Prescott’s oldest son Rufus, and the youngest, Perrin, settled along the river. Prescott family history records state that Perrin was “… a farmer, residing with his family of six, in New Hampton, N.H.” Indications are that Rufus was also a farmer cleared land next to his brother’s property on land previously owned by their mother, father, and grandmother (Granny Hicks).
    In finding a record of statistics concerning Granny Hicks (correctly Hyde) and her siblings (the Rollins family from Epping) with the dates of their births and deaths the date of death of Esther alone is missing, indicating that her ties with the family in her later years were not close. Moving on, though, let me mention two of “the witch” of New Hampton’s great-grandchildren who served in the Civil War. Perrin Prescott and his wife Susanah’s oldest child, Rufus, was born in 1833. It is thought that he attended a one-room school located on his father’s property, failed his Aunt Sarah’s efforts to enroll him in the N.H. Academical and Theological Institute after he told the headmaster he didn’t care for his son and became a travelling salesman. He served one hundred and nine days in the Union Army with the Sixth Volunteer Regiment of Massachusetts, fought in the battle of Winchester, Virginia in 1864, was promoted to corporal and guarded rebel prisoners in Delaware.
    Rufus’ brother, John Francis Prescott, served for three years in the 12th New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment, beginning as a private and also being promoted to corporal. According to “THE PRESCOTT MEMORIAL” he was a “brave and intrepid soldier” who participated in seven battles, including Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Fort Royal, Port Waltham, Drury’s Bluff, and at Cold Harbor on June 1 and 3 of 1864. Young John Prescott was wounded on the field of battle at Cold Harbor and “…lay on the field from 5 o’clock A.M. , to 8 P.M., when he crawled back to his own lines.” In November of 1864 Prescott was captured and spent 96 days in the awful Libby Prison. He wrote of the conditions at the prison saying that “ we suffered incredibly from cold, hungers, and filth “, and “ It is impossible to give an adequate description of our sufferings while in prison; a great many were frozen to death, being so weak from starvation that they could not walk to warm themselves. I have walked all night, many a night, to keep from freezing.”
    So there is a little of the information I have found about the brew, or maybe I should say “brood” of the witch of New Hampton, who was not really a witch at all, but is still a person of some mystery.
    Was she the quiet woman who gave the children gifts and was adored by them, or did they throw sticks and stones at her as one version of her life tells us. Was she alienated from her family? Did she and John Hyde have any children? Those and many other questions still persist if Esther Prescott Hyde really was the person called Granny Hicks and the Witch of New Hampton.


  • JOHN FARRELL …. Is GONE

    Mike Moffett by Mike Moffett
    Weirs Times Columnist

    JOHN FARRELL ….
    … is gone as Boston Red Sox manager—despite two straight first-place finishes and a memorable 2013 World Series title. His sin? Failing to advance in the post-season.
    Red Sox Nation has high expectations.
    Consider Bobby Cox. He managed the Atlanta Braves to 14 first place finishes in 15 years, between 1991 and 2005. But, like Farrell, he won but one World Series. If Cox had to work for current BoSox General Manager Dave Dombrowski, would he have lasted?
    I doubt it.
    Imagine firing someone who usually finishes first.
    I’m reminded of San Diego Charger football coach Marty Schottenheimer. The long-time NFL mentor led the Chargers to league’s best record in 2006 (14-2). But when San Diego lost its first playoff game that year—to the Patriots, in a game I attended in San Diego—Schottenheimer was fired.
    It’s about expectations.

    CHARGE “THIS!”
    Speaking of the Chargers, this NFL team which abandoned San Diego for Los Angeles has been struggling, on and off the field. They’ve been drawing around 20,000 fans per game to the StubHub Center, while they await a new L.A. stadium which they’ll share with the Rams in 2019.
    Shame on Charger owner Alex Spanos. Unlike New England’s Bob Kraft, Spanos took his team away from San Diego when the locals wouldn’t pony up a billion bucks for a new stadium. So now his lousy team is losing before sparse crowds in La-La Land. While San Diego may not have been the sports town that Boston is, the Chargers had a loyal following. Spanos could have counted on more than 20,000 fans showing up at Qualcomm Stadium—for a preseason, intra-squad scrimmage.
    Sports loyalty has value, which Spanos and his advisors apparently failed to factor in to the equation which led them to decide to move to L.A.
    Sad.

    USA SOCCER
    Also sad—really sad—is the fact that the USA men’s soccer team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. A 2-1 USA loss to Trinidad-Tobago sealed the Americans’ fate.
    Ay carumba!
    If John Farrell and Marty Schottenheimer deserved to be fired, then what fate should await USA men’s soccer coach Bruce Arena?
    Trinidad-Tobago??? (Did I say “Ay Carumba!” ???)
    Following a headline stating that the USA soccer team would not be appearing in the World Cup Tournament, a soccer fan asked a very fair question.
    “Men’s or women’s team?”
    The USA women have won several World Cup and Olympic titles.
    Sports editors should make sure the headlines state that it was the MEN’S team that failed to qualify.
    Ay carumba!

    Sports Quiz
    What manager was fired after taking his team to the World Series during his first year in charge? (Answer follows)

    Born Today …
    That is to say, sports standouts born on October 19 include former NBA star—and Kobe’s dad—Joe Bryant (1954) as well as former boxing champion Evander Holyfield (1962).

    Sportsquote
    “Being fired has some of the advantages of dying without its supreme disadvantages. People say extra-nice things about you, and you get to hear them.” ― Howard Zinn

    Sportsquiz Answer
    Yogi Berra’s 1964 New York Yankees won 99 games and the American League pennant. Berra was fired after losing a seven-game World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals.

    State Representative Michael Moffett was a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord and currently teaches on-line for New England College. He co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.


  • The Iron Lady

    Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Had she lived, Margaret Thatcher would have celebrated her 92nd birthday last week. I wonder how many in the U.K. would prefer the Iron Lady’s ghost to their current prime minister, the hapless Theresa May. When it comes to female prime ministers, the Brits are batting .500.
    The 1980’s triad of Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II changed the course of history in ways I’m afraid most Millennials fail to appreciate. America would be a very different place today if, instead of pointless inquiries into “Russian meddling” in an election, we were still facing the very real threats from the Soviet Union. Thanks in large part to Mrs. Thatcher, in 1991 the Evil Empire crumbled in the face of Western resolve, ending the Cold War in a win for the West.
    In my favorite photo of Mrs. Thatcher (which I have in a small frame on my deck), she and President Reagan are walking purposefully at Camp David, deep in discussion. She’s wearing a broad-shouldered coat in style at the time, and sensible shoes. He’s in a leather flight jacket and cowboy boots. When I think of the 1980s, that’s the picture that comes to mind.


    This anniversary of her passing didn’t end in a zero or a five, but it still deserved more media attention than it received. When we lose our connection to history, we lose ourselves. As Mrs. Thatcher said, “If… many influential people have failed to understand, or have just forgotten, what we were up against in the Cold War and how we overcame it, they are not going to be capable of securing, let alone enlarging, the gains that liberty has made.” She could have been speaking directly to former President Obama and his fecklessness in the fight against our Islamic enemy.
    Betsy Pearson, writing at Independent Women’s Forum, supplied us with the “Top Five Reasons Margaret Thatcher is Still an Inspiration to Women Today”. The article is worth reading in its entirety – and passing along to young women you care about.
    Pearson’s top five: She didn’t use her sex to influence her career; she was principled; she challenged the status quo, not caring about being popular (earning her the nickname “Iron Lady”); she had to work for her success; and she was a modern feminist, but not of the Left-leaning variety, which shunned her.
    So much of what she said and did transcends her time. Addressing the Conservative Party conference in 1983, she said: “Let us never forget this fundamental truth. The state has no source of money other the money people earn themselves. If the state wishes to spend more, it can do so only by borrowing your savings or by taxing you more. There is no such thing as public money, there is only taxpayers’ money.” I hope Republicans in the House and Senate keep those words in mind as they debate tax cuts and tax reform.
    So, too, they should hear Mrs. Thatcher’s voice saying “It is a very fundamental truth that is frequently and almost universally forgotten. Any time you see the terms ‘public funding,’ ‘public funds,’ ‘government funding,’ or ‘government funds’ be sure to substitute ‘taxpayer funding’ and ‘taxpayer funds.’” as they reform government health insurance and craft the next budget.
    A few other quotes from the Iron Lady that should resonate in the halls of Congress, as well as on college campuses and in our homes:
    “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
    “Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction.”
    “The spirit of envy can destroy; it can never build.”
    “Nothing is more obstinate than a fashionable consensus.”
    “Every family should have the right to spend their money, after tax, as they wish, and not as the government dictates. Let us extend choice, extend the will to choose and the chance to choose.”
    “There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty.”
    “There are still people in my party who believe in consensus politics. I regard them as Quislings, as traitors… I mean it.”
    “To wear your heart on your sleeve isn’t a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best.”
    And finally, “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.” We should remember Margaret Thatcher not just because of her intentions, but because of her achievements and her effect on our lives.

    Ken can be reached at kengorrell@gmail.com


  • Life Goes On

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    Some columns are difficult to write.
    Two weeks ago, my wife, Kim, and I took a trip to the neighborhood I grew up in on Long Island, New York.
    It wasn’t a trip we had planned, but we were expecting to take it soon all the same.
    You see, my mom passed away after being ill for awhile. Though no one in our family had lived in that town for many years, including mom, it was her wish to have her funeral there.
    No matter how well mentally prepared you think you are for the imminent death of a loved one, when the time arrives, you realize you aren’t prepared at all.
    People ask “How old was your mom?” When I say she was ninety-three there are the “Well, she lived a good life” responses. And she did live a great life. Still, she was an important constant and stable influence through my own sixty-one years of life.
    It is very sad, no matter what age.

    My mom, Gloria Smith, in the 1960s.

    Of course, traveling back to Long Island after living here in Central New Hampshire for the last thirty-two years was as expected. There was traffic everywhere. There was even a traffic jam at the cemetery.
    Before the day of the funeral I got the chance to take Kim around to show her some of the places that were part of my stories about my childhood. We even took a drive to see the house where I grew up; the place where my mom always was waiting with a smile when I came home from grammar school, which was only a few blocks away.
    The Catholic Church we attended as a family was right next to the school. It was where my mom wanted her service. I hadn’t been up its many stone steps and into its grand hall since my Dad had passed away in 1981.
    The service was beautiful and my niece gave a wonderful eulogy that, in just a few minutes, summed up perfectly the essence of who my mom was: a caring and unselfish person whose greatest happiness was her own family.
    All of us, my three brothers, two sisters and myself, had said our goodbyes to mom just the week before as she lay breathing her last breaths in a nursing home. Now here we were, all gathered together, just a few days later, to say one more goodbye. All of her kids in one place, twice in one week. She would have loved that.
    The trip to the cemetery, nine or so cars, blinkers flashing, following behind the hearse which was wending its way along the never-ending curves of the Southern State Parkway, had its New York moments. A couple of impatient drivers trying to wend their way through our memorial procession that wasn’t moving quite fast enough to their liking. Some humans will just never understand certain things.
    The cemetery was not only massive with thousands of gravesites, but was also very busy as there were numerous other burials that morning. As I mentioned before, we were stuck there in a traffic jam. Still, there was no honking of horns or rude gestures. We were all together in the same mindset of what is truly important at times like these.
    My mom was to be buried with my dad and as we drove to the familiar spot at the cemetery that I hadn’t been to in years, the sunshine we were enjoying began to be overtaken by ominous looking clouds. There was still time for the final prayers and goodbyes before the imminent rain moved in.
    Still, we sat in our cars and waited. We had no choice.
    Nothing could be done until the crew of union cemetery workers arrived and moved the casket from the hearse to the gravesite. Even with more than enough able bodies in our group to do the deed, we could do nothing but sit and wait until the crew arrived about fifteen minutes later to do their one minute of work.
    By now cold rain was falling at a good clip and my anger was rising at the situation.
    But my anger quickly gave way to sadness again as we gathered around mom’s casket for final prayers. I couldn’t feel the cold rain as much as I felt the warm tears against my face.
    As everyone began the procession from the cemetery, I waited behind for a few extra seconds. Watching the rain falling on mom’s casket, hoping she was okay. Hoping she wasn’t feeling alone. But I knew better. She wasn’t really in that box, she was already with other loved ones who had passed. I know she was welcomed with open arms.
    None of us will ever know what the minutes of our final send-off will bring; what the weather will be like. Who will be around to say goodbye. We have no control over that. But we can control the way we live, the way we act, the happiness we can bring to others while we are here. The memories we leave for the living who must carry on regardless. Those things are what really count when all is said and done.
    Well done, Mom!
    Back here in New Hampshire, things are just a little different now for me. If you know me, you might not notice it. A memory will bring a sudden tear or a smile.
    Life goes on.


  • Separatist Fault Line Stretches From Spain to Ukraine

    John Metzler

    by John J. Metzler
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    UNITED NATIONS – A dangerous and potentially riveting political fault line stretches from Spain across Europe to Ukraine as smoldering separatist movements have gained new strength and standing.
    From Catalonia in Spain to the eastern regions of Ukraine with Corsica in between, the nationalist rift runs through the European Union to Russia. Deep cultural and linguistic divides are prevalent. Equally the political populism which triggered Britain’s BREXIT vote to leave the European Union has fueled separatist sentiments.
    But like Spain’s Basque regions, Catalonia already has autonomy within the central government in Madrid. Culturally and linguistically Catalonia’s moves are rooted in centuries of a proud identity and reflect a reality that the small northeast region of 7.5 million people centered in Barcelona remains of hub of prosperity. Yet despite its wealth, Catalonia remains the most indebted autonomous region in Spain.
    On October 1st, Catalonia held a independence referendum in which the regional government claimed an epic victory; while 90 percent of voters backed independence, only 43 percent of those eligible even cast a ballot! The vote moreover was illegal under the Spanish constitution.
    Yet the brash referendum move by the left wing regional government in Barcelona, while also igniting a constitutional crisis, deliberately gave the false impression of a Catalan David facing down a Spanish Goliath in the central government in Madrid.
    The Spanish daily ABC asserted editorially that Catalans had been brainwashed by a ‘radicalized and intransigent minority.”
    All was set for the next act by the region’s pugnacious president Charles Puigdemont; a full declaration of independence! Happily at least for the moment reality intervened.
    Massive popular marches across Spain and in Barcelona itself, rallied to Spanish unity. El Pais, the national newspaper headlined, “Historic Manifestations against Separatism and for the Constitution.”
    Spain’s conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy launched a political counteroffensive underscoring that the regional government had acted outside the Law and the Constitution. He warned that “Catalonia is a battle for Europe.” Soon even the Socialists and the leftist mayor of Barcelona opposed independence.
    Catalonia’s delirium soon turned to disappointment when Puigdemont pulled back from the brink and delayed his planned formal call for independence. Whether the populists reverse this stand is open to question as many far Left elements in the regions have turned the issue from pro Catalan independence to anti-Spain sentiment.
    “A romantic framing of foreign crises where self-determination is involved is a common trap. The imagery of ‘oppressors” vs ‘freedom fighters’ is appealing and, to their credit, the leaders of Catalonia have been successful in promoting their agenda abroad in just such terms …
    Combined with the soft power appeal of cosmopolitan Barcelona, there is much confusion abroad on the nature of the current crisis in Catalonia, and myths and stereotypes abound,”according to Spanish political observer Francisco de Borja Lasheras of the European Council on Foreign Relations in Madrid.
    Britain’s Spectator magazine opined, “So the illegal referendum in Catalonia last week was a long-meditated revenge by the left and an attempted coup d’état. It affected the rights not only of all Catalans, but of all Spaniards.”
    Moreover what of the European Union angle? An independent Catalonia would be outside the European Union much as would an independent Scotland. The idea that after unilaterally breaking with Madrid, an independent Catalonia would automatically be admitted into the EU with its trade and political benefits is simply nonsense.
    During this giddy but worrying episode, neighboring France was particularly critical of the Catalan independence gambit. Why? The Mediterranean island of Corsica (birthplace of Napoleon ), has long been a hotbed of militant separatism. The French government knows that a spark from nearby Spain can easily revive the smoldering Corsican debate.
    Moreover Ukraine which equally has a cultural/ethnic fault line in the eastern regions, has endured violent manipulation by Russia over the past few years.
    Though some of the nationalist cultural aspirations are valid, they threaten the wider European Union not to mention established democratic nation states such as Spain.
    Lessons of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s not to mind the bloody Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s where Catalonia had become an epicenter of the conflict, serve as somber signposts to the often ultimate consequence of untamed separatism.
    Many of these issues are rooted in an affair of the heart more than of the mind; in other words what would be the viability of an unrecognized Catalan micro state the size of Belgium?
    Catalans must open dialogue within Spain to sort out the widening rifts before they become entrenched divisions. As Mariano Rajoy asserted, “It is urgent to put an end to the situation that Catalonia is living.”

    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.


  • Salted Caramel Stout by Southern Tier Brewing Co.

    Heading_WickedBrew

    We are approaching that time of year again where more is better; flavor and bigness that is. With colder months upon us, our winter coat needs to be built up. A few extra pounds just may help in staying warmer this winter. And, with holidays fast approaching, desserts will abound. So, with our focus beer today and in this holiday mindset, we examine Southern Tier’s Salted Caramel Stout.
    Southern Tier Brewing Company, located in Lakewood, NY, has produced finely crafted and bigger beers since 2002. Phineas DeMink and Allen Yahn started Southern Tier in 2002. By 2005, they were in full brewing mode. In 2009, the demand for their rapidly growing fan base of great craft recipes made it necessary to expand beyond the yearly offerings of pilsner, IPA and golden ale styles into seasonals that grew their notoriety. Today they are distributed among 30 states and beyond. Southern Tiers’ 110-barrel brewing capacity just barely keeps up with their distribution so more growth is projected. Their facility also ventured into distilling spirits in the spring of 2016. Find out more about Southern Tier at stbcbeer.com.


    Firstly, Salted Caramel is not a beer of which you would drink more than two or more. Salted is a bit boozy but hides the full 10% ABV pretty well until you have gone after a second one. Southern’s web page for Salted proclaims, “We brewed Salted Caramel to pay tribute to one of our favorite sweets. In the same vein as salted caramel chocolates and truffles, our Salted Caramel stout is the perfect balance of sweet decadence and savory salt. Perfect alone, or enjoyed as a float.” Of their own volition, they announce Salted as a dessert beer. One sip of this dark caramel, almost black liquid with quickly disappearing khaki head gives you the sweetness and smooth flavor you might expect in dessert. The salt peaks through at the end of your sipping experience. Notes of butterscotch and toffee bounce around your tastebuds, supporting a medium, but rich, mouthfeel, giving way to bitterness at the end.
    Although I am not a fruit beer, nor insultingly hot and spicy beer lover, I tend to like good hop quality with freshness served up straight. And I tend, in these cooler months, to lean on porters and stouts more often. So the timing and inquisitive blending of this brew makes it intriguing. Again, it is not for everyone. Try a single bottle purchase if you can to help you decide about the full 6 pack destination.
    BeerAdvocate.com has officially awards it a 4.13 out of 5 and followers, rating it as high as 4.75 out of a 5.0 scale.
    You can find Salted Caramel Stout at Case-n-Keg in Meredith as well as other fine beer providers.
    Cheers!

    Jim MacMillan is the owner of WonByOne Design of Meredith, NH, and is an avid imbiber of craft brews and a home brewer as well. Send him your recommendations and brew news to wickedbrews@weirs.com


  • The Games Hikers Play

    Charlie on the summit of Mount Abraham in Maine last weekend. Mount Abraham is ranked #10 of the 14 peaks in Maine that are over 4,000 feet. Vermont has 5 peaks and New Hampshire 48 and together they add up to 67 Mountains that are on the AMC New England 4,000 Footer list.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    I know you don’t want to admit it but the days are getting shorter, the end is in sight and winter is fast approaching. Before it gets too cold and snowy hikers are out there trying to finish up their lists. Finishing all kinds of lists are the games hikers play.
    We are all still excited that the Golfing Gals finished the AMC’s 4,000 Footers Club list— summiting and returning from all New Hampshire’s 48 peaks with elevations greater than 4,000 feet. Sarah and Sharon already sent in their application for membership. They really do study every application. They received a question back from the reviewer asking exactly which Kinsman Peak did they finish on the list. Along with the inquiry was the comment that finishing on the North Kinsman was unusual.
    North Kinsman. Well, I confess I rarely led them up the easiest way but instead I attempted to choose the most wonderful and perhaps it may have been an unusual route.

    Big FINISH on West Plymouth Mountain! On October 1st Nancy and Charlie Foote of Glencliff finished the New Hampshire Highest 500 list. As part of the celebration all the finishers of the list present posed together for a photo–Yours Truly, Nancy & Charlie Foote, Bryan Cuddihee and Zachary Porter. Visit on-line at 48×12.com to learn about this list and more games hikers play.

    The following week I was present for another big finish of a less known peak bagging list. Nancy and Charlie Foote of Glencliff completed the New Hampshire Highest 500 list on West Plymouth Mountain. This is a trail-less tree covered bump just over 2,000 feet in elevation. To complete this list one must travel to peaks located in southern NH and peaks reaching all the way to the Canadian border and most don’t have trails. There is plenty of map and compass work to do and just figuring out where the peak is hiding is part of the challenge.

    Charlie Gunn, Henniker and Fran Leyman, Mt Desert, Maine near the summit of Gorham Mountain overlooking the Beehive. A couple years ago Fran made her own hiking game. Fran redlined, hiked every trail, in Acadia National Park. It might take Charlie and Yours Truly another twenty years to redline Acadia’s trails but with Fran’s help we just might do it.

    Nancy and Charlie invited friends to join them for the bushwhack to their finish peak. Friends included others that have completed the NHH500–Bryan Cuddihee, Zachary Porter and yours truly. We enjoyed the not so long walk in the woods together. Afterwards we celebrated and enjoyed a hotdog barbeque while we shared stories of our adventures.
    Oh there are many games hikers play. Some are well known and I know hikers that make up their own games.
    Around here the most popular is the AMC’s 4,000 Footer list. The reward is a simple embroidered path. Other 4k AMC patches can be earned for completing this feat in calendar winter. There is also a new patch for completing the list in each of the four seasons along with a requirement of doing trail maintenance.

    My first guide, the 1976, 21st edition and the brand new 30th edition AMC White Mountain Guide! For 110 years the Appalachian Mountain Club has been publishing the White Mountain Guide. The 30th edition is a boxed set with six pull-out topographic maps. This is a must-have guide! Compiled and edited by Steven D. Smith of Lincoln, NH, the guide and maps are thoroughly updated and revised. Red-liners will find trail descriptions for over 1,450 miles of trails and paths!

    The AMC also recognizes and awards a patch for the New England 4,000 Footer List—67 mountains in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine and another patch for the New England Hundred Highest.
    For more information visit on-line at amc4000footer.org or better yet get your hands on the new 30th edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide and all your questions will be answered in Appendix B.
    More games that New Hampshire hikers play are explained and a list of finishers for each challenge can be found at the website 48×12.com. The website is supported by Ed Hawkins and friends. Finishers of the lists found here may apply for recognition and received a special award patch.
    The website started by Gridders—people that have hiked every 4,000 footer in each and every month of the year—48×12 equals 576 summits. There are a handful that have completed the Grid more than once. Ed Hawkins and Tim Muskat are multiple finishers and have completed this feat an amazing 6 times.
    The 48×12.com website also provides information and tracks finishers for White Mountain Red-lining—hiking every trail and path in the White Mountain Guide, visiting proposed, past and present New Hampshire Fire Tower sites, hiking a 4k mountain on every calendar day, including leap day and more challenges.
    Another website tracks finishers of the 4,000 Footer list in a single winter, 48in1winter.com. Over 100 people that have completed this feat.
    I know two other hikers that share my passion of collecting town highpoints and sometimes town highpoints are found on the side of a hill on a town line and not on a summit. There are others out there collecting state highpoints. I have another friend that hikes to the highest summit of every country he visits and his most recent prize was collected in the Czech Republic.
    One thing that is true hikers love to hike and the only thing that limits the games hikers play are our imaginations.
    Congratulations to all those that finished their game this fall.
    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.


  • Columbus, Indigenous People, And Sports Nicknames

    Mike Moffett by Mike Moffett
    Weirs Times Columnist

    Happy October 12th.
    Columbus Day!
    Or at least it used to be, before it was changed to an October Monday to make a long holiday weekend. And now in many places it’s being changed to “Indigenous People’s Day,” ostensibly to honor those who lived in America before they were decimated by European colonialists in the wake of Columbus’ voyages.
    I like the idea of an “Indigenous People’s Day.” But does it have to replace a day that’s special to so many millions of Italian-Americans? While not Italian, I recently visited beautiful Italy. And while Native Americans were certainly brutalized after 1492, do activists really need to stick their thumbs in the eyes of Italians?
    Columbus was a brave sailor and a visionary explorer—even if he died not realizing he’d never made it to Asia. He certainly influenced history, for better or worse.

    Osceola and Renegade are the official mascots of the Florida State University Seminoles. Osceola, representing the historical Seminole leader Osceola, and his Appaloosa horse Renegade introduce home football games by riding to midfield with a burning spear and planting it in the turf.

    While the conquistadors and other explorers were brutal, they had no monopoly on violence. Many indigenous tribes were constantly at war with each other. Erasing memories of Columbus hurts not only Italian-Americans, but also anyone who cares about comprehensive history—including Native Americans.
    The activists seeking to denigrate Columbus are largely the same ones seeking to ban Indian sports nicknames. These activists—mostly non-Indian—seek to define nicknames on their terms (“demeaning”) while emotionalizing the issue and implying bigotry on the part of those who disagree.
    But most Native Americans embrace the nicknames and understand that they’re intended to honor, not demean. For example, the Seminole Indians savor their connection with Florida State, and work with the University to promote their relationship—even as non-Indians try to take away FSU’s nickname.
    Anyway, while I AM a Fighting Irish and Celtics fan, to honor Columbus and Italian-Americans my new favorite European soccer team is now Juventus, also known as Vecchia Signora—Italian for “Old Lady.”
    Evviva Vecchia Signora!

    LEGISLATIVE SOFTBALL CLASSIC
    The first annual Legislative Softball Classic will be played on Saturday, Oct. 14 at noon in Merrimack at the Anheuser-Busch athletic complex. Sponsored by the N.H. House of Representatives’ Veterans Interest Caucus, this game pits Democrat legislators against their Republican counterparts. Proceeds go to support Manchester’s Liberty House, which assists homeless and transitioning veterans. Over $8000 has already been raised for the cause, through legislator donations and sponsor program ads, with much more to come on Oct. 14—General Dwight Eisenhower’s birthday.
    Many find it inspiring to see legislators—red and blue—working together for a common cause. And while we don’t know who’ll win, we do know that there will be a fun post-game celebration at the brewery’s Biergarten, in the best tradition of bipartisanship—and Oktoberfest.
    So in the best tradition of the Granite State’s adult softball leagues, there WILL be beer—and maybe some Clydesdales!
    All are welcome.

    Sports Quiz
    What major pro sports team plays in Columbus, Ohio? (Answer follows)

    Born Today …
    That is to say, sports standouts born on October 12 include former Red Sox player, manager, and Hall-of-Fame executive Joe Cronin (1906) and Italian-American boxing trainer and manager Goody Petronelli (1923).

    Sportsquote
    “Riches don’t make a man rich, they only make him busier.”
    — Christopher Columbus

    Sportsquiz Answer
    The Blue Jackets are Columbus’ pro hockey team. Founded in 2000, they’re members of the Metropolitan Division of the NHL’s Eastern Conference.

     

    State Representative Michael Moffett was a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord and currently teaches on-line for New England College. He co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.


  • Hungary Helps Embattled Mid-East Christians

    John Metzler

    by John J. Metzler
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    UNITED NATIONS – One of the silent tragedies among the conflicts raging in the Middle East, concerns the fate of the ancient and now persecuted Christian communities. Concerns for the forgotten and once vibrant Christian minorities especially in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are often politely air brushed out of political discussions.
    Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has taken special care to underline the plight of persecuted minorities in the Middle East who are facing attacks by Islamic terrorist groups.
    In an exclusive interview with this writer, Minister Szijjarto conceded, “Unfortunately the West-ern World suffers hypocrisy and political correctness. It is strange but many of us are not brave enough to speak about the necessity of protecting Christians.”
    Indeed political gatherings “usually speak about ‘religious groups’ which I don’t like the term for example. I like to be straightforward and honest. And if I mean we have to protect the Christians, I will say we have to protect the Christians.”


    He added enthusiastically, “Whenever I speak about the necessity to protect Christians in the foreign affairs councils of the European Union, I’m warned, ‘Peter be more balanced and say protection of religious groups’ which I totally deny because if we Christians don’t speak about the necessity to protect Christians, Who will speak about this? No one!”
    Although Christian believers form the largest religious community worldwide, “that should not keep us from speaking about brothers and sisters living in those areas where they are not the ma-jority.”
    Significantly, the Budapest government has established a State Secretariat which only deals with the cases of the persecuted Christian communities around the world. Continue reading  Post ID 3038


  • The Witch’s Brew Mystery Woman Unmasked – Part 1

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    I have read several versions of the story about the so-called witch of New Hampton, New Hampshire and have written about her, but my curiosity concerning this reportedly reclusive and mysterious woman who lived in the 1700’s and early 1800’s led me to a search for more information about her. So I use the word “brew” here in the sense of what she brought about. She was commonly called Granny Hicks, though that was reportedly not her real name.
    She lived in a house near the Pemigewasset River in a cottage which some authors claimed she built herself. Supposedly nothing was known about her family or where she came from before living in New Hampton. Her appearance, habits, and anti-social behavior , along with unusual events that took place in town led some to label this lonely woman as a witch. When the wife in a neighboring home who was asked for some yarn by Granny Hicks so she could finish darning her sock refused to comply, she thought she detected a look of revenge in Granny’s eyes. The next morning a woodchuck appeared on the neighbor’s doorstep or in the hallway of the home, depending on which version of the story you read. Anyway, there was speculation that Granny Hicks had turned herself into a woodchuck by the means of witchcraft..

    Picture of Esther Hyde’s granddaughter’s (Esther and Sarah) gravestones.

    Continue reading  Post ID 3038


  • Getting What They Paid For

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Using public polling as a political weapon is nothing new. A recent bought-and-paid-for-by-the-AFT poll simply lowers the bar.
    The leaders of the American Federation of Teachers, a public-sector union representing employees of an education system where nearly two-thirds of its graduates lack proficiency in reading, want you to know that “Parents Prefer Good Neighborhood Schools Over More Choice.” Surprising result? Of course not. They got what they paid for.
    The survey by Hart Research Associates is available online, so you can see for yourself how to craft questions to elicit a client’s desired responses. The claims that “five central themes emerge clearly and consistently” and that “choice” isn’t among parental priorities sound impressive – until one wades into the devilish details armed with an inquisitive mind.
    The five themes are nicely constructed, at least as seen from a distance. But like that North Korean “Peace Village” in the DMZ, when examined more closely, the nice-looking buildings are revealed to be nothing more than empty shells.
    Based on loaded questions, the poll purportedly shows: Parents believe public schools are helping their children achieve their full potential; they want access to a good neighborhood public school much more than increased choice of schools; their top priorities include ensuring a safe and secure environment and equal opportunity for all; they believe public schools are inadequately funded and oppose shifting resources from regular schools to charters and vouchers; they disapprove of Betsy DeVos’ performance as Secretary of Education; and they want more investment in traditional public schools, with particular emphasis on supporting art and music curriculums and providing health and nutrition services. Continue reading  Post ID 3038


  • Hiking Companions Tackle NH’s 4,000-Footers Together

    Where they started their journey 7 years ago. Columnist Amy Patenaude (left) and her ‘golfing gal friends’ Sharon (center) and Sarah on their first hike together in the Belknap Mountains Whiteface, Piper and Swett.

    The Last Two Peaks: Kinsman Mountain South & North

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Seven years ago I can easily recall how this all started. My golfing gal friends, Sharon and Sarah thought it would be fun to hike with me. We did a hike together in the Belknap Mountains over Piper, Whiteface and Swett. They seemed to like climbing up and over rocks and they kept on hiking with me.
    We dropped Sharon’s car off at the Mount Kinsman Trailhead in Easton and then we drove a few minutes further south on Route 116 before taking a left up the Reel Brook Road to reach the Trailhead.
    This wasn’t the easiest way to hike South and North Kinsman but I assured them it was the most beautiful route and the extra miles of hiking would be well worth it.

    Sharon hauls herself up yet another steep pitch as she nears the summit of North Kinsman. South Kinsman looms in the distance a mile away.

    We shouldered our packs and headed up the trail. The trail follows old logging roads through the forest as it gradually climbs up to the Kinsman Ridge Trail. The trail adopter has taken good care of this trail and I felt badly that a big tree had fallen on the trail just above the powerline swath. The Reel Brook crossings were easily rock hop-able since the water was low. Even the usually wet flat section near the top of the trail was dry. We made good time.
    The Kinsman Ridge Trail is the Appalachian Trail and we followed the white blazed trail north. When we crossed the open powerline swath the morning fog and low clouds had not dried up. We could just barely see down to Bog Pond and no further.
    We descended to Eliza Brook and took the path to the campsite. The shelter is relatively new, built in 2010 to replace an old one. If we had come this way the first year they started hiking in the Whites we may have seen them piecing it together. We sat on the big log on the edge of the front of the open shelter and enjoyed a rest and a snack.
    The Nobos (north bound) AT hikers have already passed by this way and in fact if they hope to make it to Katahdin this season they better be well into Maine. We took the path back to the trail and sitting at the intersection was a round man with a large backpack. We chatted a few minutes and we learned he was headed south on a flip-flop AT hike. He started in Georgia and hiked to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia and then traveled to Kathadin, Maine and is now hiking back to Harper’s Ferry.
    I looked it up: Eliza Brook Shelter to Katahdin is 382 miles and Eliza Brook to the Harpers Ferry is about 780 miles.
    For most of the next mile the trail follows along the bank of Eliza Brook. The sound and sight of its cascading water is a delight to experience and helps make the rugged trail feel less rough. Here we ran into a speedy young man with a much smaller pack than the fellow we had just met. He was headed south from Kathadin too and he didn’t have spare time to talk.
    We crossed the brook and climbed. Soon we were near Harrington Pond, the trail was muddy and the bog bridges are either missing or underwater. I used my hiking pole to poke around to find them in a few places. The area of the pond was already in full fall scenery—the trees were colorful and the grasses had turned gold.

    The AMC White Mountain Guide (the new 30th edition is now available) notes that the section of trail between Harrington Pond and South Kinsman may require extra time. Yes it does! Here the trail is steep and ledgy and requires tricky scrambling. Sharon and Sarah discussed what trails had climbs as difficult as this one. As we were nearing the top two young gals flew by us and we exchanged cheery hellos as they left us behind.
    Once over the steep pitch the trail gradually climbed through scrubby trees to the open south knob of the South Peak. Here there is a big rock cairn. The map has a spot elevation on the north end of the summit but the cairn is on the south end. I guess it doesn’t really matter since we’d be going over to the north end on our way to the North Peak.
    The sun was hotter and the skies were mostly clear except the Franconia Range Mountains were hidden by white clouds.
    The mile between the two peaks went by quickly. Several times the phrase I can’t believe this is our last mountain on the list was spoken by Sarah and Sharon. I agreed with them. The scrambles up to the North Peak were much easier and shorter. We dropped our packs at the intersection of the path to the outlook and walked another minute up the trail where I showed them the actual North Kinsman highpoint—it’s the top of a pointy boulder on the east side of the trail. They reached up and touched it and whacked it with their hiking poles.
    Triumphantly we went back and down to the outlook. They stayed on the upper ledge while I climbed down to the lower ledge to get the view down to Kinsman Pond.
    We stayed here a good long time wishing the clouds would free up the vista of the nearby Franconia Ridge. Thankfully the view to Cannon Mountain was clear.
    To get back it was 4 miles of downhill and of course more scrambling over big rocks and ledges. But now we were on our way home and we would celebrate when we were really done back at the car. In less than a half of a mile we turned left off the Kinsman Ridge and onto the Mt Kinsman Trail.
    I don’t think we stopped once on the way down. We were slow and steady higher up and our pace quickened as the trail became more gradual down low. Below the Kendall Brook crossing there are new water bars and stone steps. We appreciate the hard work performed by the volunteer trail adopters.
    Hooray! We had hiked 11.5 miles through lovely forests, along cascading brooks and over open ledges and mountaintops and now they’ve stood on top of all 48 peaks on the NH 4,000 footer list.
    Sharon and Sarah posed beside the Mt Kinsman Trail sign holding a sign I had made for them and I snapped their photo. I am no artist but I did my best with colored pencils to draw an AMC 4000 footer patch for them.
    I asked them why they did it.
    “Because it was 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.


  • Single Day Bonds-Zealand Traverse

    The Golfing Gals–Sharon LaVigne and Sarah McCann, New London and Bria O’Neil, Ashland and yours truly at 6:30 am, on the suspension bridge at Lincoln Woods and on our way to hike the Bonds-Zealand Traverse. The adventure took us over 4 peaks on the New Hampshire 4,000 footer list and we hiked nearly 20 miles and 4,600 vertical feet to complete the feat.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    There are 48 peaks on the New Hampshire 4,000 Footer list and the most remote are the Bonds. The three Bond peaks are far in the federally designated Pemigewasset Wilderness and a long hike is required to reach them.
    The traverse from Lincoln Woods on the Kancamagus Highway to the end of Zealand Road (near the backside of the Bretton Woods Ski Resort) is just shy of 20 miles and up 4,600 vertical feet.
    There are a few ways to hike the Bonds and Zealand Mountains and none of them are easy. Many people will do the trip over two or three days by camping along the way. My friends Sarah and Sharon, the golfing gals, had no interest in camping and they nervously opted to do it in a single day.
    I knew they could do it but it would be a long day. This summer they’ve hiked Owls Head, the Twins and a good number of rounds of golf on hilly courses. I estimated they would do it in 12 or 13 hours if all went well and we’d do it on a day with a good weather forecast.
    I’ve led other family and friends on this route and this past winter I did it—I knew these mountains stunning vistas would keep them energized for their longest hike ever.
    I also invited another hiking friend to join us. This would be Bria’s first visit to these peaks too.
    At 6:30 am, we posed for a photo on the suspension bridge and we quick-stepped up the Lincoln Woods Trail that follows upstream the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. For 4. 7 miles we hiked on the old logging railroad bed before I walked us off the trail and right up to someone’s tent. We had not quite reached the turn for the Bondcliff Trail and I had mistaken a camping herd path for the trail. Thankfully it was an easy backtrack to find the trail; I must have been sleep walking.

    Bria, Sarah and Sharon on Mt Bond’s summit with the Franconia Range seen in the distance.

     

    Bria and yours truly dancing on Bondcliff!

    Then the Bondcliff Trail follows old logging roads and crosses Black Brook four times. The lower water crossings were easily rock hop-able and the upper two were dry. The rock staircase was in good condition and it is nice that erosion is being kept under control here. But it is sad that the trail just below is muddy and getting washed out.
    Up the trail the four of us went and as we were scrambling up a short but steep ledge a backpacker caught up to us. We offered to let him go by but he declined. He respectfully held back and didn’t push us; he passed us later on the summit.
    After hauling ourselves up the ledge we were close to the summit and we were standing above the scrubby trees and looking out at the big view. I pointed to the clouds and noted that they were covering the Franconia Range but everything else was in the clear.
    In a couple minutes we were above tree-line and the trail parallels the steep edge of Bondcliff’s cliff! Sarah is no fan of heights and bravely and calmly kept her eyes to the east far from the edge. Bria and I were excited to run ahead and out onto the piece of Bondcliff that abruptly sticks out and appears to be hanging off the side. Sarah and Sharon watched us and told us we were crazy as they snapped our photo.
    As we hiked off of Bondcliff and towards Mt Bond the clouds started to lift from south to north on the Franconia Ridge and the sun got brighter in the sky. We enjoyed the rugged mile of open trail before we headed back into scrubby trees. We climbed up and over big rocks and an extra slippery ledge before popping out on Bond’s bare summit.
    We had hiked 10.3 miles and reached the summit of the highest peak of our traverse by noon. We sat on Mt Bond and enjoyed a good long lunch along with the mountain panorama. We could see where we had been and we could see where we were headed. Mountains and forest filled our eyes. From Bondcliff, Mt Bond blocked our view but on Mt Bond we had a clear view north and Mt Washington and the Presidentials were visible and everything in between.

    On the trail leaving Bondcliff on our way to Mt Bond. The trail stretches 1.2 miles and almost 500 vertical feet between the two peaks and a good mile of it is above treeline. Bondcliff, Mt Bond and West Bond are ranked #30, #14 and #16 of the 48 peaks on the New Hampshire Four Thousand Footer list.

    The trip off of Bond to the intersection of the spur trail to the West Bond spur went quickly. We dropped our packs at the intersection and walked the half mile to West Bond’s summit. Walking without the weight of our packs on our backs felt like we were floating. On the summit the fellow that passed us on Bondcliff was enjoying a leisurely moment. He was in no hurry because he was spending the night at nearby Guyot Shelter. We took a short rest and soaked in the view and especially of where we just hiked.
    Again we shouldered our packs and it was a short distance to reach the Bond-Guyot col and the path to the shelter. Bria wanted to hike the path and go down to see the shelter and I went with her. Sharon and Sarah decided to continue and would meet us on bare summit of Guyot.
    Bria and I dropped our packs and hustled. The path is almost a quarter of mile and drops a couple hundred feet to the campsite. We did enjoy the fresh spring water at the shelter.
    We caught up with our friends and together we hiked over Guyot’s higher north peak before going down and then back up to Zealand Mt.
    On Zealand we followed the 1/10th of a mile path to the viewless heavily wooded summit. The summit sign was what we came to see.
    With 14 miles behind us we still had work to do to get down to the Zealand Falls Hut. We all made it down the steep section with the widely spaced rung ladder “built for a giant.” I promised that view from Zeacliff would be super and a good place to take a break before our tough descent.
    On the way Bria and I took a short detour down to visit the little Zeacliff Pond and looked back up at the steep mountain.
    The view from the top of the Zeacliff’s ledges was worth the effort to keep moving and we enjoyed our last big vista—yah another view with all the big mountains! The pointy peaks of Anderson and Lowell along side of Mount Carrigain’s bumps is my favorite. My friends appreciated seeing Mts Willey, Field and Tom and memories of our wintery traverse came flooding back to us.
    The next mile down to the hut was the longest mile—steep, slippery, rocky and wet. That mile took us almost an hour.

    Sarah enjoyed crossing Whitewall Brook just above the Zealand Falls Hut.

    We were very happy to cross the White Wall Brook because we knew we’d be at the hut soon. We took a short stop and checked out the hut, chatted with some hut guests and looked at the falls and back on the trail we went together.
    Just like in the morning we quick-stepped down the trail. The Zealand Trail’s extensive board walks and the tree’s leaves rapidly turning colors around the ponds made the trail lovely and interesting. These last miles felt like the shortest miles of our adventure. All the tough terrain and climbs were far behind us.
    At 6:30 pm we tossed our packs into the back of my car that my husband Charlie had helped me drop off the previous evening. Now all that was left to do was to drive back to Lincoln to retrieve the cars and to plan our next outing during a celebration supper at Gordi’s.
    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.


  • You Might Not Like This

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    It seems like everybody is angry about something nowadays.
    Either a few people are on television yelling back and forth about something or other or there are crowds of folks marching down avenues and boulevards holding signs protesting this or that.
    Even on the Internet, on so-called “social” media sites like Facebook and Twitter, no one is being very social. Some people are risking carpal tunnel syndrome just to belabor a point of view about something they aren’t pleased about to a bunch of other potential carpal tunnel victims who will never agree with them no matter how clever they think they are.
    Many of us have been there, myself included.
    People arguing with each other about something or other or this and that has been going on since the beginning of time. It’s just that nowadays, I feel, we quickly jump into the argument because it is so much easier.
    I’m sure the cavemen thought carefully about their response to a disagreement. After all, sketching your reply on cave walls with dull instruments took time. A response was a thoughtful process.
    Back in the days before the telegraph, it took days and weeks for responses to an argument to travel back and forth between two parties. You wanted to deeply reflect on your reply before you put pen to paper.
    Today, no one thinks for more than a few seconds before responding to someone with a point of view different than theirs. You can get into dozens of arguments before breakfast.
    All of this has forced, in my opinion, a lot of knee jerk reactions to things that quickly escalate as tens of thousands of people can join in the argument in a matter of minutes. Many of these arguments are not long-lived as today’s short attention spans have people forgetting what they were mad about in the morning since it has already been replaced by a new outrage by lunchtime.
    Yes, some outrages last a little longer, depending on how much news coverage they generate. The more coverage, the more people who become outraged.
    There is never a lack of things to protest. If you wait long enough, one will appeal to you.
    It seems that more people are spending their time and energy following the crowd in the latest protests than following their own passion; the thing they were born to do. Individualism seems to be fading and that’s sad.
    The latest trend in outrage has to do with holidays. The “cause of the moment” has some wanting to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People Day.
    It has already happened in some places.
    It seems some folks don’t like some things that Columbus did. He has become offensive to the protestors who have themselves lived perfect, unsullied lives.
    It’s not the first, nor will it be the last, hypocritical stone that will be cast in this mad, mad world of political correctness.
    As one thing must lead to another, soon people will be taking to the streets in order to protest to eliminate other holidays or to add new ones.
    Maybe the next stop will be banning Thanksgiving. After all, the pilgrims must have done some things that weren’t so nice. It’s time to shut that one down as well. Labor Day? Isn’t that offensive to some who might be out of work at the moment? We must end it.
    I am only one man (sometimes two after a couple of beers, but that’s another story) and I can only do so much. I can’t stop all the protests. Still, I would like to offer this compromise to at least try to put the brakes on what this holiday nonsense might soon turn out to become.
    I propose a holiday that isn’t designated for anything in particular so people can choose to celebrate an occasion or honor a person of their choosing.
    We should make it fall on a Wednesday so people can’t use it simply as an excuse for a long weekend.
    You can celebrate whatever you want: a famous person, fresh fruit, Star Wars, bologna and peppermint sandwiches, toenail fungus – it’s wide open and totally up to you and no one can stop you from your particular celebration.
    The only restriction is that you have to do it on your own property. You can’t take it to the streets and you can’t complain about what someone else might use the day to designate.
    So, you might ask, what would I use this day to celebrate? I haven’t figured it out yet, but I know one thing for sure. No one will be invited.
    People have a tendency to ruin everything.


  • Up To The Summits Of The Twin Mountains

    “I have to jump to that rock?!” The third crossing of the Little River can’t be avoided. The North Twin Trail begins at the end of Haystack Road and follows the banks of the Little River before heading steeply up the mountain and reaching the summit in 4.3 miles and climbing 2,950 vertical feet. North Twin, elevation 4,761 feet is ranked #12/48 in height on the New Hampshire 4,000 footer list.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    We met at the New Hampton Park and Ride lot at 6:30 am and in one car we continued north on I-93. The sky was grey but the clouds were high above the mountains. As we drove through Franconia Notch, I pointed out that Mount Liberty looked like George Washington lying in state, the summit of Liberty is certainly a good likeness of our first President’s nose.
    The weather forecast called for cool weather with the clouds clearing by mid-day. We all wanted a clear day on top of the Twin Mountains. The peaks are in the middle of the White Mountains and high above the designated Pemigewasset Wilderness.
    The North Twin Trailhead is west of the Village of Twin Mountain and from Route 3 turn south on Haystack Road and drive straight to its dead-end. There are about a dozen campsites on Haystack Road and they all appeared to be occupied. No surprise since these Federal camping sites are free for public use.

    A hiker from Vermont and her dog Maggie on the bare summit of South Twin, elevation 4,902 feet and ranked #8/48 on the New Hampshire 4,000 footer list. The Appalachian Trail passes over South Twin.

     

    The col between North and South Twin is covered with fern and there is a surprisingly fine view through the thin forest.

    Sharon, Sarah and I headed up the trail. I reminded them we had hiked the first mile of this trail a few years ago to reach Mount Hale’s abandoned Fire Warden’s Trail.
    The North Twin Trail starts out nicely on an old logging railroad grade and the official trail crosses the Little River three times before heading steeply up the mountain. The river is a pretty sight and its water is loud as it cascades over its rocky bed.
    A hike to the first river crossing, 8/10ths of a mile, would make a nice short walk for nature lovers visiting the area.
    The new 30th edition of the AMC’s White Mountain Guide explains that the first two water crossings can be avoided by staying on the east bank, bearing left at the first crossing and following a well-beaten path along the river. And that is just what we did!
    All the “well-beaten path” needs is a trail sign. It is easy to follow and even when the Little River is little it is not easy to cross without getting wet feet (during times of high water all the crossings can be impassable). The third crossing cannot be avoided and it is the narrowest and least difficult. We were able to rock hop across successfully but one step was tricky.
    The trail led away from the river and we headed up the mountain. We easily hopped across a low flowing brook and as we hiked we walked over a few dry stream beds. The trail got steeper and steeper and the footing of the trail got worse with lots of loose rock. We had a view through the trees of Mount Washington and we could see the black puffs of smoke from the old coal Cog Railway train that they run first in the morning.

    Sharon and Sarah enjoying North Twin’s east facing ledges and the grand vista. On the right side of the photo is nearby Zealand Mountain and its large open scree field.

     

    The trail passes under a huge silver birch “widow maker”, a handing limb that looks like a soft breeze might cause it to fall. The first miles of the North Twin Trail follow along an old logging railroad grade on the bank of the Little River.

    We met a group of about a dozen Dartmouth students out for their freshmen camping trip. They were loaded down with heavy backpacks and they zipped by us.
    The last half mile got steeper but when the trail leveled out we were rewarded with an open ledge with wide views ranging from Mount Washington and the Presidentials to Mount Carrigain and every peak in between and more farther away. This east view ledge is a nice place to hang out and we ate half a sandwich and enjoyed a good rest. The clouds were higher and the sun was fighting to come out and was winning.
    We continued on and reached the short side path that travels over the wooded actual highpoint and pops out at North Twin’s fine west facing outlook. We decided we’d linger here on our way back and we headed to South Twin.
    The distance between North and South Twin is just 1.3 miles but it sure looks a lot further. As we hiked, I joked just wait until we get to South Twin, it looks even further away from North Twin. It really does, maybe because South Twin is higher?
    The hike between the peaks went pleasantly quick. We made it to South Twin before noon and so did a couple dozen other hikers via the Twinway, aka The Appalachian Trail.
    South Twin’s summit is above tree line and the mountain filled panorama is among the grandest. The close by Franconia Ridge was dazzling.
    The Thru-Hikers were chatting and asking about the weather. The words “snow” kept coming up, would it or wouldn’t it in the next few days?
    A gal from Vermont told us she had gotten up at 4 am and only planned to hike Galehead but since the sun came out she decided to peak-bag South Twin too. She was trying to decide if she should visit North Twin but it looked so far away. Sharon and Sarah did their best to talk her into doing it.

    Yours truly, Sarah and Sharon on the North Twin’s east outlook.

    Sharon and Sarah recalled adding Mt. Jackson at the end of their Southern Presi Traverse and because a hiker on the Mt Pierce had told them you don’t want to hike all the way back up here just to get Jackson! We enjoyed the light moment and the mountain vista before heading back to North Twin. The Vermont gal didn’t join us. We really liked her dog and hoped she’d join us.
    The trip back to North Twin felt even quicker and we went back to settle in for more time on the east outlook. The sun was warm and we sat on the rocks. We pointed out the Galehead AMC hut down below and at all the peaks we had hiked together. We once again had North Twin all to ourselves.
    But not for long. Maggie, the Vermont gal’s dog appeared and then she did too. “I am so glad you talked me into this!” She now was more than half done completing the 4,000 footer list.
    We ambled down the mountain and the Little River water crossing seemed easier because the tricky rock step was down not up this time. We covered the 11.2 round trip in less than 8 hours and we felt great.
    I’ve been hiking with Sharon and Sarah for seven years helping them collect the mountains on the 4,000 footer list. They can check off two more peaks and now they have summited 42 of the 48 peaks on the list.
    We’re headed out for big hike soon.
    Have fun.