Southern Presies

There’s still snow in them thar hills.

Today was a glorious day – one of those blue-sky days that makes you amazed to be part of this world, especially when you are strolling above treeline along one of the most incredible mountain ranges in the northeastern United States. Three friends and I took advantage of the Memorial Day holiday to head for the Presidential Range of the White Mountains here in New Hampshire. Centered on Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeast, most of the peaks in this range are named for U.S. Presidents and nearly the entire range is above treeline.

Jen, Lelia, Lars, David, and Karhu on Mount Monroe, with Mount Washington in the background. Presidential Range, White Mountains, NH.

Today, we left one car near the western base of Mount Washington, hiked up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to Lakes of the Clouds, where there is an AMC Hut, then followed the ridgeline south over Mounts Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce, before descending the Crawford Path to our second car in Crawford Notch. We were ably led throughout by the indomitable Karhu, who had a knack for sniffing out the right the trail and pausing whenever he reached a trail junction. We often stopped to enjoy the sunshine and nibble a snack.

We had spectacular views and occasionally crossed some of the winter’s remaining patches of snow! Check out the full photo gallery to share the views.

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Thomas Orde-Lees

In touch with the Shackleton expedition – literally.

Thomas Orde-Lees
photo by Frank Hurley – Public Domain

Although I am woefully far behind in processing and sharing images from our trip to the Falklands and South Georgia – over two months ago! – I still dream of those landscapes and the intense history behind them. Today (May 20) is celebrated in South Georgia as Shackleton Day, recognizing this day 107 years ago when Ernest Shackleton and two of his crew (Frank Worsely and Thomas Crean) stumbled into the tiny whaling station of Stromness, on the east side of South Georgia. That was their first contact with civilization since they had left South Georgia 18 months earlier, having failed in their expedition but accomplished one of the most incredible feats of survival and navigation ever recorded. (I’ve written about that story before.) I had the good fortune to walk in Shackleton’s steps during our visit in March, descending into Stromness just as he and Worsely and Crean had done a century earlier. (More on that hike to come later!) But since returning home I’ve had another amazing opportunity to connect with that incredible expedition: to read and to hold the diary of Thomas Orde-Lees, the expedition’s ski expert and storemaster. Read on!

Diary of Thomas Orde-Lees, written during the Shackleton expedition to Antarctica in 1914-16. (Collection of Rauner Library, Dartmouth College)
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Mount Cube – Mother’s Day

Today was breezy and a bit chilly, but nonetheless a spectacular spring day. I took the opportunity to head for Mount Cube, one of my favorite nearby/short hikes. The Rivendell trail ascends quickly over the span of two miles, meeting the Appalachian Trail at Mount Cube’s granite summit. From there, there is a broad view spanning the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the plains of the Connecticut River valley.

David on the summit of Mount Cube.

Today, though, the best part of the hike was the way that spring was bursting out all over, with wildflowers blooming small and large all along the trail. Below is a trillium, in a deeply maroon color. For a few more photos, see the gallery.

Wildflowers on the trail to Mount Cube.

Dartmouth Pow Wow

An annual event for more than half a century.

Every year at this time – for more than fifty years – Dartmouth hosts a Pow Wow. Native Americans from all over the region, and sometimes beyond, convene in Hanover for a day or two of traditional drumming and dancing. I always enjoy attending, in part for the beautiful nature of the event, with its colorful regalia and impressive drumming, singing and dancing. But also for the deep meaning that is conveyed by the gathering of members of so many Native American nations, coming together to celebrate their heritage, culture, and traditions.

Head dancers at the Dartmouth pow-wow.
Gitxaała headdress.

This weekend the weather has been spectacular, warm and sunny with a burst of spring flowers in sight in every direction. A huge crowd gathered on The Green to watch the opening session, which this year included an emotional ceremony in which Dartmouth’s Hood Museum repatriated a headdress to the Gitxaała Nation. Here to receive the headdress, which had long been in the Hood’s collection, was an elderly woman… whose grandfather had made this headdress decades earlier. I was honored to be part of that ceremony.

I’ve collected some of my favorite photos in a gallery. I recognize some of the dancers from 2022 and 2018!