I’ve climbed Mount Cardigan at least a dozen times over nearly four decades… and yet my records show I have not been back since 2016. Its bald granite dome (the result of a wildfire years ago) grants visitors grand views in all directions, so it is a very popular destination for hikers young and old.
Today was a cool and windy day, as I wound my way up the familiar West Ridge Trail. I arrived early to beat the holiday-weekend crowds and the forecasted rain, and enjoyed a quiet hike through the damp woods to the windy summit.
And windy it was! After a brief stay in the shadow of the summit firetower, I returned via the South Ridge Trail, which provided some fine views of the peak.
A visit to the famous Bomber crash site on Mount Moosilauke.
On the afternoon of January 14, 1942, a Douglas B18-A bomber with a crew of seven took off from Westover Air Field, Massachussetts. Hours later, fighting darkness and bad weather on their return to base, the crew became seriously disoriented… thinking they were approaching Westover when in fact they were over central New Hampshire. Moments later, they crashed into the side of Mount Waternomee, one of the peaks on the shoulder of Mount Moosilauke. The crew scrambled out of the wreckage, but the plane caught fire and exploded. Five survived, standing in the dark in the deep snow. The story of the crash – and the mid-night mid-winter rescue – has become the stuff of legend.
More than thirty years ago, as an undergraduate we often heard rumors of the “bomber site” on Moosilauke; it was known to be difficult to find and a challenging bushwhack. I’ve been meaning to visit the site ever since. Today I finally made it. Read on…
The smaller towns of New Hampshire and Vermont have a wonderful tradition: once a year, all the townspeople gather for Town Meeting, to discuss and vote on the important matters of the town. Although Town Meeting is usually held in March, the pandemic postponed the 2021 meeting to May… when we could meet outdoors. The weather today was lovely, with blue skies and a warm breeze wafting the scent of blooming trees through the tent set up on the Lyme Green.
The assembled townsfolk voted on the town’s operating budget for the coming year, with amendments proposed and approved (or denied) regarding the addition of lifeguards for the beach on the town pond; on the withdrawal of reserve funds to make payments on the new town fire truck, or to replace that aging police cruiser; to withdraw a few thousand dollars to support the annual July 4th celebration and the maintenance of the town cemetery; discussion of the paving of a road (and those portions not to be paved), and so forth. Most of these items passed with a modicum of debate. In keeping with the moderator’s opening remarks, it was “ok to disagree, but not to be disagreeable or disrespectful.” Each person who stood to speak introduced herself or himself by name and by home location, often by naming the prior resident of that home… recognizing that town history goes back centuries (and collective memory goes back decades).
The big issue of the year was in regards to our road – River Road – which runs along the Connecticut River. Indeed, it runs so close to the river that, in some places, it is at risk of washing away as the river eats into its banks. Without repeating a long story, today’s heated debate was about whether to abandon a section of River Road and to turn its roadbed into a “Class A trail”, allowing continued public access. Ultimately, by a very close vote, the town decided to do so. Again, the details are complex, and omitted here, but what struck me today was the degree of engagement and decorum by which the townspeople conducted their business. Town residents were there, in respectful conversation with the Select Board, with the Police Chief, with the Road Agent, and with the affected landowners, … and despite the tension and import of the issue to many, the debate proceeded with respect. I am proud of our little town.
Today was my second visit to a vernal pool in three days. These small empheral pools appear for only a few weeks in the spring (hence the name), typically in shallow depressions that capture snowmelt and early spring rains. They serve as an important breeding ground for frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians… and then disappear for the summer.
Today, as I strolled along the fading skidder trails that lace the patch of forest above my home – an area I tend to explore when under winter’s deep snowpack, as I did back at the beginning of February – I was surprised to see I was not the first to visit this pool today.
Let’s take a closer look. This tree stump was covered in feathers – very fresh feathers. I’m assuming some carnivore – a fox, perhaps? – had used the stump as a dining table for consuming an unlucky member of the local avian population.