Happy new year!

The past year included many exciting travels and outings; check out my photographic tour of 2015.

Highlights include

I’m excited to see what 2016 brings!

Safari group photo: Peggy, Amy, Erin, Doe, Pam, Mara, Isabel, Andy, John, David; with guides Robert and Freddy in back. At Serengeti East nyumba, Enashiva Reserve, last morning of the safari.
Safari group photo: Peggy, Amy, Erin, Doe, Pam, Mara, Isabel, Andy, John, David; with guides Robert and Freddy in back. At Serengeti East nyumba, Enashiva Reserve, last morning of the safari.

Moosilauke 2015 grid

I’ve probably hiked Moosilauke over 60 times – I just love this mountain.  For 2015 I decided to “grid” Moosilauke by climbing it at least once per month (some people are crazy enough to climb all of the 48 of the NH 4,000-foot mountains every month of the year, aka, “The Grid“).  To avoid too much repetition, I also decided to “redline” the mountain by traveling all of its trails at least once.  I had not visited some of these trails in over 20 years!  It was fun to get up there in all seasons and in a huge range of conditions from nasty winter white-outs to glorious sunshine.  Today I finished, on one of those gorgeous blue-sky days on which you can see all of the Vermont and New Hampshire peaks.  See all 12 months and more photos here.

Moosilauke summit on a beautiful, sunny, warm(!) December day.
Moosilauke summit on a beautiful, sunny, warm(!) December day.

Timberframe workshop

Dave uses an antique boring machine to drill mortises in one of the king posts.
Using an antique boring machine to drill mortises in one of the king posts.

I spent six beautiful days at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge with a team of wonderful chubbers & friends who were there for the timber-framing workshop hosted by Dave Hooke ’84 and his TimberHomes crew.  In the span of six days we learned how to lay out, cut, and raise timber posts, bents, braces, struts, and all manner of heavy wooden contraptions.  Amazing that Dave et al. actually entrusted us with a variety of sharp tools and valuable timbers!  We were guided by a team of excellent instructors, and managed to put up the main part of the frame (porches to be added later) and lay down the first course of roofing.  It looks like a bunkhouse!  It is located in a new clearing beyond Bicentennial and behind the ’74 Bunkhouse.

Thanks to the Class of ’66 for their generous donation, to the Lodge Crew for the amazing food, and to Dave, Josh, Skip, Shannon, Andrew, and Helen for their outstanding instruction.

Check out the photo gallery and the timelapse video.

Timberframe workshop at Moosilauke - Class of 1966 bunkhouse. (Photo by David Kotz '86.)
Timberframe workshop at Moosilauke – Class of 1966 bunkhouse. (Photo by David Kotz ’86.)

 

Paddling home

Eastman Brook wetlands, Underhill Campsite.
Eastman Brook wetlands, Underhill Campsite.

We are fortunate to live on the banks of Connecticut River, in Lyme NH.  Our kids grew up on these shores, swimming and boating in the summer and poking at the river’s icy crust in the winter.  So, three years ago I thought it would be interesting to visit the source of the river, and do a little paddling in its wild upper reaches.  We thus found ourselves walking along the Canadian Border in early September 2012, and visiting each of the Four Connecticut Lakes before paddling through the shallow swift waters near North Stratford NH.  This trip inspired us!  read on. Continue reading “Paddling home”

Safari wrap-up

Our final safari dinner, at the Enashiva nyumba, was Tanzania style food. Finally! although the food at all the restaurants and nyumbas was wonderful, it was basically western-style food.  I was pleased to finally have a chance to sample some of the local food, including ugali and stew.

Safari group photo: Peggy, Amy, Erin, Doe, Pam, Mara, Isabel, Andy, John, David; with guides Robert and Freddy in back. At Serengeti East nyumba, Enashiva Reserve, last morning of the safari.
Safari group photo: Peggy, Amy, Erin, Doe, Pam, Mara, Isabel, Andy, John, David; with guides Robert and Freddy in back. At Serengeti East nyumba, Enashiva Reserve, last morning of the safari.

Continue reading “Safari wrap-up”

Maasai

The waistbelt of a modern Maasai warrior/ranger includes a wooden club, a machete, and a cellphone. Enashiva reserve, Tanzania.
The waistbelt of a modern Maasai warrior/ranger includes a wooden club, a machete, and a cellphone. Enashiva reserve, Tanzania.

Day 9 was an opportunity to experience a tiny slice of the local culture, at least, of the Maasai culture. We started with an early-morning walk, before breakfast, strolling through the nearby meadows to see wildlife during this particularly active time of day.  I was particularly interested in our Maasai guide, one of the rangers hired by Thomson to patrol the reserve.  On his waistband he wore two items traditional for every Maasai warrior – a wooden club and a large machete-like knife, along with a cellphone. The old meets the new; the three essentials of any warrior strolling the hills of Maasai country!  The knife has many practical uses, of course, and the cellphone provides connectivity even in these remote locations. The wooden club was a bit of a mystery; it had a natural bulb-shaped head, a burl or knot selected carefully from just the right stick.  The shaft was whittled to a point.  He explained that this club was important for self-defense, during his patrols, if he needed to protect himself he could swing or throw the club at an animal. Continue reading “Maasai”

Enashiva

Our guide, Freddy, describes an impala scull we found during our nature walk at Enashiva wildlife reserve, Tanzania. Photo by Amy Jenkins.
Our guide, Freddy, describes an impala scull we found during our nature walk at Enashiva wildlife reserve, Tanzania. Photo by Amy Jenkins.

Before lunch on Day 8 we passed through a couple of Maasai villages and turned left at the school (built for the community by Thomson) before entering the Enashiva wildlife conservation area. Formerly owned by one of Tanzania’s largest beer manufacturers, this land had failed as a farm. Fields of hops and barley were trampled and grazed by migrating wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, and all manner of wildlife. It was a losing battle, and the company auctioned the land with the understanding that the buyer would put the land into conservation. Thomson Safaris bought the land, hired local Maasai as rangers to patrol the land, and established a nyumba for use by its safari guests. More recently, Thomson’s non-profit affiliate built a school and a health clinic nearby, on land provided by the town, in support of the local community. We now had the opportunity to experience the wildlife in this reserve, and to meet the local community. Continue reading “Enashiva”

Serengeti

Maasai boma in the Ngorogoro conservation area on the way to Serengeti, Tanzania.

We knew Day 6 was going to be a long drive. From Gibbs Farm we had to climb back up to the rim of Ngorogoro crater, around the rim, and through the dry highlands of the extended Ngorogoro Conservation Area (where the Maasai graze their herds and live in isolated boma, clusters of mud/stick homes) to reach the grasslands of Serengeti. Although the map indeed indicates this is a main road, and signs refer to it as a highway, it is a dusty two-lane dirt road that treats you to 100km of washboards. I was glad to have skilled drivers at the wheel; Robert and Freddy zipped along at a steady pace as we rounded steep corners and avoided oncoming overstuffed public buses or transport trucks, skillfully avoiding the worst of the potholes and boulders that pop-up in the road from place to place. The sight of four dejected men sitting beside a new rover that had, perhaps an hour before, rolled over and over after they had misjudged a turn, reaffirmed the challenges one could face if one attempted to self-drive a safari through this countryside. Continue reading “Serengeti”

Ngorogoro

Sunrise at Gibbs Farm hotel, near Ngorogoro.
Sunrise at Gibbs Farm hotel, near Ngorogoro.

After another stop at a souvenir shop we ended our day at Gibbs Farm, a working coffee plantation with a delightful bed-and-breakfast nestled in the lush greenery along the hillside. Like the RiverTrees, it is structured as a set of individual cottages, each sleeping two or four, each with large sitting areas, luxurious porches, and individual fireplaces. Lush gardens of greenery and flowers line the paths and bushbabies scamper among the trees overhead. The main lodge houses an outstanding restaurant – easily the best food we had on the whole trip, and that’s really saying something because we had delicious food at every meal. More than 90% of the food they serve is grown on their own farm, from the vegetables to the eggs and meat, and the chef is outstanding. This was our base for exploring Ngorogoro crater, although Gibbs has its own series of activities (watch the bread-making operation, tour the farms, help pick the vegies for the evening dinner, or listen to a local church choir sing) that made the place a truly fun place to stay. Continue reading “Ngorogoro”