Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The 100th Anniversary of the Garfield Ridge Trail, September 1916-2016


       Afternoon hikers on top of South Twin with Mt. Garfield lower and to the right and Lafayette in the distance.
In September 1916, as summer was winding down on the high peaks of New Hampshire, a group of men, five in all, were packing up their trail-building tools and their camping utensils as they prepared to leave their idyllic campsite on Garfield Pond in the shadow of 4550 foot-high Mt. Garfield. They had been in residence at the pond for a week while they immersed themselves in making a hiking trail across Garfield Ridge. It was far from being an easy task. Nothing about it had been easy. That's mainly because nowhere on the ridge was the altitude under 3500 feet and in that sub-alpine environment the weather was not kind to vegetation. It tended to create a thick, gnarled offering of short conifers like balsam fir. It was nearly impossible to see through the trees let alone build a trail through them. The forest consisted mostly of balsam firs, but with some spruce and a few yellow birches. Mostly because of  the high altitude the forest was relegated to an average height of 9 or 10 feet. But they had done it! In three stints spread out over three summers, between 3 and 4 weeks total, they'd cut a trail from the summit of South Twin (4902 feet asl.) to the top of Mt. Lafayette (5260 feet asl). Now, as they prepared to leave, they had mixed feelings, or some did. A hot shower, a good meal and a chance to sleep in a real bed would be great, but on the other hand, they'd taken a liking to Mt. Garfield and their camping spot next to Garfield Pond. In those days, Mt. Garfield and Garfield Pond were rarely visited. It was secluded and at a fairly high elevation. At least one of the crew had fallen in love with the place.

 Mt. Garfield in the center, Garfield Ridge extending from South Twin 
all the way to the left foreground, North and South Twin hiding some
of Mt. Washington over on the far horizon. Charles like to call Garfield
"The Lump" and you can see why in this photo. A big Hershey's kiss.

When the crew began working on the trail in August, 1914, each of them was confident it would be completed in one stint of a couple of weeks. The crew consisted of  Charles Blood, Nathaniel, "Nat", Goodrich, Ed Lorenz, and George W. Blaney. They were in their late 20s and seasoned woodsman. They were, however, still learning about trail building. They got a long well together which was a plus as they were out on their own a lot. They also trusted each other to do their best work. They loved the ruggedness of the work finding it both challenging and rewarding. Working in the high mountains of New Hampshire was difficult to describe for it's beauty but a reward in itself. Finally, the fact was they were designing and building trails for trampers who would use them to come to the mountains and enjoy all of that beauty first hand helped them feel usefulIt would not embarrass any of them to say how much they loved the mountains; in foul or fair weather.

Mt. Garfield in January from the summit of Lafayette. Winter photos usually 
offer more detail and in this photo you can appreciate the rugged terrain and 
steep eastern flank of Garfield Ridge from South Twin to the west side of Mt. 
Garfield. Nat Goodrich, in 1916, wrote: "At 4,000 feet on the northwest face
of Mt. Garfield the slope hesitates in a tiny shelf, wholly invisible from the 
the valleys. Here lies Garfield Pond." In this photo the pond is just out of sight
at the edge of the photo.

The first year, 1914, they camped along Hawthorne Brook near a beautiful cascade that dropped down about 100 feet across ledges. They pitched tents in a grove of tall, lovely  spruce trees that loggers had mysteriously left uncut As soon as Nat, Charles, Ed and George got their tents up and were partially settled in their campsite, it began to pour. It was a cold rain and came down for three days. On the fourth day it was clear, a perfect mountain day, but the rain had frozen everything, even coating mountain cranberries with a veneer of clear ice.

A topographical map of area around Mt. Garfield and Garfield
Ridge that can be used to better understand several parts of 
the narrative. For instance try finding Hawthorne Fall on the
side of Mt. Garfield, and Garfield Pond. By the way Hawthorne 
Fall is named for the famous author: Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The rain and cold drained their enthusiasm, at least for accomplishing much of anything on the Garfield Ridge Trail that year. The rain was a reminder that summer was quickly leaving  leave. They were intimidated just looking at the scale of the work they had bitten off for themselves. It was going to require a lot of effort on their part. Just the first couple of miles looked hellish; steep with a dense forest cover. The plan had been to start the work by cutting out the trail on the west side of South Twin all the way down to the ridge. The ridge would be fairly level on the trip across, but then there was Mt. Garfield which would be another trial in finding a suitable route. Finally there was the dense fir cap on the ridge going up Lafayette to timberline. On the map you can see why people refer to the ridge as a horseshoe because it curved in an arc from Franconia Ridge to the ridge with South Twin. It's a high ridge. Now were it is below 3500 feet. The Twins, with summits nearly 5000 feet high were a range in themselves; there flanks heavily wooded to just below the summits. The summit of South Twin is a delight. On a clear day you can see the entire White Mountain National Forest with the exception of a few peaks in the Sandwich Range. There are a couple of other summits; Mt. Guyot (pronounced Ghee-Ooo not Guy-Ot) and Mt. Bond. Bond, with its sister summit of West Bond, is also a beautiful mountain. I think of it as the center of the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) and maybe the Universe, as well. One hundred years ago, these mountains: the Twins, Guyot and Bond, did not have either good or safe paths on them, but hikers navigated around and over those peaks anyway. I've bushwhacked over and around them as well and agree it must have been a great adventure back in the 1800s to explore all the peaks and valley before the lumber men moved in. Across the valley on the west side of the Twins and Bonds, is Franconia Ridge. Like the Twins and Bonds it's breath taking, a gorgeous group of summits along a prominent ridge crowned by Lafayette almost a mile high.  

The summit of Mt. Lafayette on a beautiful day. North is straight ahead

The Black and White photo below is looking South from Mt. Lincoln to the Knife Edge, Little Haystack, Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume. Little Haystack because Mt. Lafayette was once called Haystack.
 
Sunset on Franconia Ridge October 1967.

Looking North up the Franconia Ridge at Liberty, Haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette.

This is a reminiscence written by Charles Blood published in the December 1936 Appalachia (pg. 280), as part of the Twentieth Anniversary celebration of the completion of the Garfield Ridge Trail:

"The idea began at Waterville as has been the case with many of our trail ideas. From Osceola we had often looked north at the cone of Garfield lying between the Franconia and Twin Ranges. When we began to take trips out of the valley—we went on foot in those pre-auto days—the Twins and Franconias were about the first peaks that we climbed, and again we saw the great “horseshoe curve” which these ridges formed with the Garfield Ridge. Finally the Goodriches and George Blaney traversed the ridge from Lafayette to Garfield and learned how vile the going was on the “big lump”.

Another view, perhaps the best, of "The Lump", or Mt. Garfield, is in the center rear.
Mt. Lincoln is on the left. Taken from Mt. Liberty.   
 "With this as a background it was natural that our thoughts turned to this region in 1914 when I became Councillor of Trails. Here was a high ridge with a fine peak in the center, connecting two ridges along which the club already had trails. The idea of a series of connecting ridge trails maintained by the club across the mountains was beginning to take shape.

"We were at once faced with the problem of where to start work. The two ends were impossible camp sites and would also involve transporting camping equipment and supplies to needless elevations. Letters written on this subject in the spring of 1914 make amusing reading in the light of our present knowledge.

"A study of logging roads, however, simplified matters and on Labor Day, 1914, while the Battle of the Marne was raging, Ed Lorenz, Hubert Goodrich, Fred Crawford, and I packed into Hawthorne Fall and pitched camp in a small patch of green forest that had escaped the lumberman. We had the week at our disposal and had wonderful visions of what we should accomplish. But we had hardly made camp when the clouds settled down and it rained steadily for three days. Prospecting was useless and hopeless without views. However, we made a wonderful stone fireplace and Ed constructed a bench, using only three nails.

"Friday opened clear and cold. We found our way up Garfield by surveyors’ lines which Paul Jenks had previously prospected--Paul was always doing the dirty work for me--and strung out our trail down to the col in the east. The next day we pushed along the crest of the ridge, by the edge of the big burn over halfway to what is now Galehead, but we had begun to see the magnitude of or task and as Fred and I had to leave, Hubert and Ed merely made a recognizance to South Twin.

"In 1915, Paul R. Jenks, Nat Goodrich, Ed Lorenz, and George Blaney and I went into Hawthorne Fall again, expecting to finish the job. This time we ran the trail east to the foot of the cone of South Twin, where there was a surveyor’s line, and left it for the local woodsman to clear. To the west we cleared to Garfield Pond, but a hectic day prospecting to Lafayette proved that it was out of the question to complete the trail in that direction from our base at Hawthorne Fall.

Garfield on the left and the Twins to the right. South Twin has shadow on its summit. Mt. Washington far right.
 "A rainy day, however, provided the opportunity for a game of “freeze out” with flapjacks. In this game as each cake (fry pan size) is fried it is divided equally between the participants. When a man reaches his capacity and drops out the portion becomes correspondingly larger. To hasten matters, Ed had the bright idea of seasoning the cakes with cinnamon and finally, as we were running low on flour, he lengthened out the batter by adding uncooked malt breakfast food. Paul and Ed were the “survivors” of the contest, but I have forgotten which of them won.

"In 1916, Paul, Nat, George, and I established camp at Garfield Pond, determined to stay until the job was completed. One of the major problems was to work out a satisfactory route over the “big lump”. I believe Nat crawled twelve times through one particularly bad stretch before he found a line that suited him. Indeed, I’m not sure that he was satisfied then, but he had got tired of being a rabbit. The story of that camp, however--with such liberties as to fact as the writers of historical novels usually take—has been preserved by Nat in his characteristic sketch, 'The Attraction and Rewards of Trail Making.'

"During those three years I doubt whether any of us dreamed of this trail becoming part of a through route from Katahdin to Oglethorpe. We were concerned with a trail which seemed to us worth while in itself.'" (from Appalachia December 1936, pg. 280). [Ed: This last statement is interesting because it was at the first New England Trails Conference that the concept of an Appalachian Trail similar in context as the AT of today was brought up--November 1916. Charles was in attendance.


Remnant of a logging road in the vicinity of Mt. Garfield and Hawthorne
Fall that's part of the Gale River Trail and that climbs to Garfield Ridge. 
Charles Blood, Nat Goodrich and rest of the Trail Crew used this "road" 
 to get supplies up to the Hawthorne Fall campsite in 1914.

The summer of 1915, was not a lot different from the summer of 1914. The crew had a change up and consisted of Paul Jenks, Ed Lorenz, George Blaney, Charles Blood and Nat, and, as Charles wrote in the reminiscence above, they went back to Hawthorne Fall to camp though logistically in increased problems with their work. It was a difficult place to get out of time wise. Each day they had to go up to the ridge then hike west past Garfield feeling like the extra long haul was a waste of time. The best thing that happened the second summer was Garfield Pond. As they were cutting their way down the gentler side of Garfield one of them saw sunlight glistening from the water. It was an ideal place to camp and base their work. They were not sure how much work the ridge was going to be after they worked past Garfield. On the next to last day they received a practical demonstration of how far when three burly men with big packs came by saying it had taken them 7-8 hours to get there from the summit of Lafayette. It wasn't good news. On the last day they tried to string a route to Lafayette and perhaps put up markers such as some cairns on the ledges below the summit of Lafayette. Charles later wrote that running it was too hectic and it was clear they would have to come back again to finish the trail.

So in the middle of September 1916 the crew finally put the last cairn on top of Lafayette with sighs of relief--a wonderful sense of accomplishment and reminder of their great love for their work. Nat's lovely essay: "The Attraction and Rewards of Trail Making" (Appalachia, June 1918) printed here, says it much better than I or anyone could. It speaks to what it is like, the pleasures of a trail crew that works well together, a certain level of rhythm, has a sixth sense for what each is doing and thinking. This crew was not like other crews just by its makeup. They arrived from academia, from libraries and schools and law offices. They were held by similar traditions and felt the same bonds with each other and with the mountains that surrounded them.  They enjoyed the work, the camaraderie, the enormous freedom and independence they had, the physical challenges, but as much or more they enjoyed figuring it all out, interweaving knowledge with practice. Garfield Ridge was proof to them of what they were capable of. Preparing to leave Garfield Pond the next morning for the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, they were still mulling over their definition of what they, in the wake of finishing the Garfield Ridge Trail would accept as a Standardized Trail. This is how Nat wrote it down:

 "A trail is marked when its route has been made plain by blazes, cairns, markers, target or arrow.

"A trail is signed when its ends, junctions, and crossings have been marked by lettered signs.

"A trail is cleared when it has been made so passable by removal of growth of all sorts that a tramper with pack and horizontal blanket roll, proceeding steadily, upright, will encounter no obstructions with any part of himself or his pack, and will be able to see the footing a few steps ahead.

 "A standard trail is one which has been cleared, marked and signed according to the above definitions" (New England Trail Conference Publications Nos. 6 and 19.)

Later, Paul Jenks would add this postscript to Nat's  definition:

"During those early years, the standards of trail-clearing  were extremely vague and the definition of a standard trail by Nat Goodrich did more than any other single influence to produce better amateur trails in New England. The work of the trail crew became more systematic. The trail master began to keep  a record of the condition of each trail and of the character and man-days of work probably required for next season. Clearing was divided into two categories: patrol (repeated each year on every trail) to cut cross-logs and make the route clear; and standardization (about once every three or four seasons) to eliminate small growth that had sprung up in the trail or grown in from the sides." Jenks, Paul, Twenty Five Years of the A.M.C. Trail Crew" Appalachia, December 1943, p. 441.

Franconia Ridge from Mt. Guyot. Mt. Lafayette with cloud cap.
Paul was defining both the task and what was needed to complete it--to set a standard that all trail designers and builders could use that would make linking trails easier and a "trail system" possible. Completing the Garfield Ridge Trail the trail crew was improving knowledge, skills, and openly looking for places where "connector" trails  might be helpful in terms of linking other trails with each other or with the long "trunk" lines as the first step in building the broader more functional "trail system".  It would complete paths of accessibility as both Charles and Paul mentioned before: how the Garfield Ridge Trail will facilitate a connection that will create other connections and so on. By standardizing all existing trails which included documenting trails for top efficiency they were saving a huge amount of time and, for the moment, some money. They hoped that the savings would increase from year to year.

Paul took over this department feeling it was his responsibility to write everything down the way he did with the signs. It all went hand in hand. Eventually, within a year, or two, he would be able to keep track of each trail within categories and on a mile to mile basis. His goal was to have an index card kept in a box with basic information about each trail such as which ones were standardized, when they were last standardized, and which ones were not, and which ones needed standardization this year or next. The documentation included all signs which, to everyone's amazement, increased each year. Paul estimated that the number of signs increased to around 5,000 that he had data on: where it was located, when it needed fresh paint, etc.

The concept was that standardized trails would allow them to link easily to other trail systems, even their own. The A.M.C. and the crews from other clubs across the region saw a valuable use in the conference for "trading" trails and they began doing so almost like children with baseball cards. For instance the A.M.C. traded Moat mountain in North Conway to a local group that wanted it. They gave the RMC (Randolph Mountain Club) back the Upper Bruin in exchange for trails around Arethusa Falls and Ethan Pond that could conceivably connect trails in the Pemi with Webster Cliffs Trails and the Forest Service's trails on Mt. Washington. The purpose of these trades was consolidation; to cut down the inefficiency in distance and travel time: to save money--the largest issues for the trail crew was being creative financing their work on a shoe string.

Work they'd completed the previous season including the work on the Garfield Ridge Trail put the A.M.C. trail crew in a position to say they were close to having a through trail from Gorham,  to Lost River and Mt. Moosilaukee. In 1916 a lot of ground was gained on the Kinsman Ridge Trail with the work of Karl Harrington with a lot of help from some Dartmouth College students who Nat was able to secure for the summer. In addition to Kinsman Ridge there was a drive underway to complete the Mahoosuc Range Trail by the next season.  (Ed. They were actually three seasons away from finishing the Mahoosuc Range Trail due to shortage of workers caused by the War in Europe.  The drive to link trails was personal for Charles, Nat and Paul. It was not, according to Charles, so much about a drive to make an Appalachian Trail as it was to untangle the existing system and organize it as well as they could. They were dedicated, decisive, creative, lovers of woods and mountains, and you could add perfectionists as well.

The Conference for Charles, Paul and Nat, was exciting. It gave a glimpse of how much support there was in the New England for building sustainable trails in the region. Everyone who attended felt it was a success. They went to work addressing ideas that had been brought up by first formalizing the attendance list. The attendees worked on definitions, clarification and objectives towards the future of the conference. A lot of time was spent discussing trail designing and standardizing and maintenance. Some were looking at Paul's suggestion regarding the development of hiking "centres"(sic), in which each one would belong to a group and that group would make and maintain their own trails that would eventually link to other centers where feasible. This idea of linking up with other organization's systems that Paul had described generated interest from the group. Discussions about an "Appalachian Trail" as a concept that might become a reality at some  point in the not to distant future and that might develop using the "centers" that Paul described. Members of the A.M.C. Trail Crew, again, articulated their hopes, as mentioned above, of finishing the Mahoosuc Range Trail in the coming season that would add a large link to the concept of a much longer trail. Forever practical, Paul saw the idea of the Appalachian Trail's becoming a reality from the perspective of money and the cost of such a long trail. By the end of the conference, however, Paul said he was pleased to see the concept of an "Appalachian Trail" motivating the other hiking clubs and trail associations attending the conference to hear them being to think about their own trails as part of a larger system. Paul was also beginning to look at the political strength of an"Appalachian Trail". After dinner Nat read his "The Attraction and Rewards of Trail Making" to a roaring round of applause. Paul was elected Director of New England Trail Conference (NETC). The first official business was to create by-laws stipulating a conference every year to be held by rotating host states. 


[Ed note: This wonderful creation, "The Attractions" by Nat is like the Garfield Ridge Trail itself. It has been around for 100 years as of this month (I'm writing this in mid-September). It's extraordinary. For anyone who loves the mountains it is a work of great beauty every bit as evocative as an essay by Henry Thoreau, John Muir, Sally Carrighar, Rachel Carson, and others. I hope you enjoy it.] 

From S. Twin towards Garfield, on the right, and Mt. Lafayette, towards the left.
"The Attraction and Rewards of Trail Making" by Nathaniel Lewis Goodrich, 1916

Part I

“I shall talk only about that sort of trail making I have done myself. Otherwise I could not hold your interest. If the work that any of you have done, or would like to do, lies in a different forest, at other levels, you will know that such work has its own peculiar pleasures and trials; yet perhaps what I say will be enough suggestive power, sufficient in generality, to excite your imagination, to arouse memories.

Like many greater things, a trail begins at a chance remark. Looking at distant ridges through the haze of the noon-halt pipe—or dreaming over the map in idle winter moments—the word slips out: “There ought to be a trail on that ridge.”  Months, or years later, later one who heard, and scoffed, summons his friends to help make that trail, his trail, the trail he is surprised no one ever thought of making before.

Then are grub lists about, and equipment underfoot and argument; plans, and shifted plans, and disappointments—at last a date. Then at some cheerless station old friends meet and sit on duffel bags—awaiting a car or putting off the shouldering of packs. Always there is more weight than planned to get into camp. There follows the sweating grind under fifty pounds, a plodding, dragging grind, and camp to make at the end. Camp is made sketchily, in a weary, chilly daze. Something hasty is dug from a duffle bag, cooked doggedly, eaten with increasing interest and reviving energy. Someone, finds loose stuff for a camp fire. Pipes are lit. It is not so cold. Then it is colder. There is the wakefulness of hasty beds, of the first night in camp, but morning comes soon.

Of trail making there are three stages. There is dreaming the trail, there is prospecting the trail, there is making the trail. Of the first one can say nothing—dreams are fragile, intangible. Prospecting the trail—there lies perhaps the greatest of the joys of trail work. It has a suggestion of the thrill of exploration. No one of us but loves still to play explorer. And here there is just a bit of the real thing to keep play going. Picking the trial route over forested ridges calls for every bit of the skill gained in our years of tramping. There is never time to go it slow, to explore every possibility. Usually there is one hasty day to lay out the line for a week’s work. For a basis there is the look of the region, from some distant point, from a summit climbed last year, perhaps. For a help, there is the compass, but in our hill country we use it little. Partly we go by imperfect glimpses from trees climbed, from blow-down edges, from small cliffs—but chiefly we feel the run of the land, its lift and slope and direction. The string from the grocer’s cone unwinds behind—an easy way of marking and readily obliterated when we go wrong. We pay little heed to small difficulties; those are for the trail makers to solve. Only a wide blow-down, a bad ledge, a mistake in general direction, causes us to double back a bit and star afresh. There is an edge, tenseness, about this work. The day is a long strain of keen concentration, of quick decisions, of driving through scrub and blow-downs. The unexpected may appear at any minute—an outlook, a spring, a trail. It gets done at length and so back to camp.
 
Making a trail is the more plodding work; yet it has reliefs and pleasures of its own. Each day, as the gang works along the string line, problems of detail arise. Outs is no gang of uninterested hirelings. If the line makes a suspicious bend, the prospectors have to explain or correct. If it plunges through a blow-down, their intelligence and motives receive pungent criticism, and someone is likely to take a vacation for exploration of his own.

So there is scouting ahead and shouting back, running of trial lines in doubtful places, argument, decision. If we go through the blow-down, we lose much of the limited time in slow cutting; if around we lengthen the trail. If we go over a hump in the ridge instead of slabbing around, we keep a straighter line, but cause posterity to climb up and then climb down again. And all is complicated by the requirement that the footing shall not be too rough for men under heavy packs.
 
Decision made, the gang scatters along the line, each to rod or two, for we find working together is not efficient. [Ed. A “rod” is 16.5 feet— measurement used in surveying]. Each then finds that he has in little the problems of the general line. He casts ahead over his section, picks up his line over a bit of ledge, decides whether to loop around a small snarl of down timber or drive through aware that few will ever know the difference whatever he decides, but thinking always of the future trail crank who might inspect his work with critical eye. In thick growth where it is impossible to see ahead it is sometime necessary to break, head down, through a rod or two of country four of five times before the line is right. Then he settles to the job, and the odor of fresh cut fir arises. He works in a remote little world of his own , a way through lengthening behind him, happy, intent, and oblivious, until quite suddenly he finds a fresh-cut way ahead—and that stint is done. He looks back and sees that it is good, looks forward up the next man’s job and sees that it is very bad, shoulders tools and disappears up the line to start another section.

Most of my trail work has been in what we call “the high level forest,” forest with a marked character of its own. It lies at an altitude of from 3500 to 4200 feet, above the big timber and below the low scrub. After working in it a while, one comes to speculate about some of its peculiarities and to form theories. The blow-down seems to be the conditioning factor in the history of this sort of forest. As thus: a tract of old trees is blown down. The light is let in, and a thick reproduction of young fir takes place. Ten years later the down trunks are still there and fairly solid, the branches mostly rotted, with a dense growth of your fir head-high between, half hiding the fallen trunks and making slow and risky going for the climber. Another ten years and the old trunks have rotten a good deal,  but are still very much in evidence, the young firs are ten feet or more in height, their lower branches largely dead and stiff. Standing often less that two feet apart they make an entanglement worth of a military engineer. Another ten years of time, m and many of the young first have dies and fallen, killed in the struggle for light and for root nourishment, the dead lower branches of the survivors have rotten off and the old down trunks are punky and sagging or fallen entirely to the ground. One can now travel rather easily. Still later only a few large trees are left, spaced widely. Light is getting through to the ground again, which is covered with fern and raspberry, and tiny young firs are starting—the cycle beginning once more. These old trees, unsupported by close neighbors, are an easy prey to the next violent wind. All these different sorts of growth are found close together in this high-level forest, in sharply defined patches and swaths; hence the theory that blow-downs cause them rather that the natural deaths of old trees.

Cutting trail through a patch of the thicker sort is suggestive of tunnel operations. One has to clear space to swing the axe. The stuff cannot be tossed or kicked out of the way; it has to be forced into the scrub piece by piece, or thrown up and over. We accused one of  our gang of losing his directions in one of these juggles, of cutting his trail round a circle and doing so bad a job that he didn’t know it for a trail when he crossed it again!

I would not seem to imply that we work as hard or as long as we might. After all, we are paid only in the fun we have. We take long and luxurious noon hours, smoke our pipes out in peace, and begin again when we are ready. We stop at times and look across the world from a chance found outlook, or drop on the fir needles for a respite—and another pipe. Yet we always pretty well work ourselves out, and drag very wearily into camp at the day’s end.
Thunderstorm over Lafayette from the summit of Mt. Garfield.

Once a thunderstorm gave us a useful half holiday. Ordinarily showers did not interrupt the work; we cut many hours in soaking woods. But his storm developed an intimate violence which got on our nerves. We eyed our tools with distrust, and, after an especially startling and immediate lightning flash, parted from them with haste and ludicrous unanimity. When we stopped a mile back on the trail, behold we were at camp, and the sun was coming out. That afternoon we variously loafed or worked, according to our dispositions, as for example: one improved his pantry arrangements, one chopped wood, another washed himself, while I observed nature—sitting in a blueberry bush by the pond, considering the curious ways of dragon flies.

One dismal noon of wind and intermittent rain found us cutting high on the should of Lafayette, in the scrub belt below timber line. The trees were little more than head high and drenching wet. The cold gusts of wind swept through, but little broken by the low growth. The most strenuous exertions hardly kept us warm. Each as he finished his section turned to the next man’s until all were together on the final stretch. The last tree fell, the last branch was tossed aside. “All done above?” said one. “All done, she’s through to timber line.”


 Summit of Lafayette with the sign post on a perfect mountain day. 10/23/14

The next day dawned brilliant and still, a mountain day, a day of days for the last of our work, cairning the line up the ledges beyond timber line. High on the shoulder of the world, our gaze sweeping a crystal horizon reveling in the incommunicable joy of the great sunlit hills, the hours passed unnoticed. We picked our line up ledges and around low cliffs, carried rocks and build our cairns. The old tall cairn at the summit drew near. “One more will do it,” we said. Then we dug from the pack the sign, long since painted for this very spot, and wedged it into the summit cairn. We gathered there—“Garfield Ridge Trail”, it read, “to Garfield and S. Twin.” Our work was done. We were all professional men, dealers with books and papers, with the abstract and the intangible. Here, at least, was one concrete thing done, a visible result of labor, not unlikely to endure. So we sat in the sunlight on Lafayette, and were happy. 
 
Part II
 
Nat Goodrich continues: "I wish I could recall for you the human side of trail work, especially of camp life. We all remember how much of character crops out in that close association, how much of sympathy, helpfulness, enthusiasm. We all remember the bad jokes, the old stories, the language so much stronger than we dare use at home. There are small annoyances, and real hardships and many ways of standing them. I cannot do justice to this. It is difficult: how difficult, the many horrible failures have made plain. I pass it up. Failure in the other side of the story is perhaps less obvious. So I turn again to the descriptive.

It has been our fortune twice to camp on the shore of mountains ponds, those small high level ponds 3500 to 4000 feet up, which have a charm, an individuality among ponds.

At 4000 feet on the northwest face of Mt. Garfield the slope hesitates in a tiny shelf, wholly invisible from the valleys. Here lies Garfield Pond. It is a dying water, shallow over depths of black, impalpable ooze. Year by year this sediment, the waste of the forest, gains imperceptibly on the water, and year by year sphagnum creeps from the bank and shrubs and trees follow after. The shore is varied, partly sphagnum bog, partly firm earth,  with trees growing, partly rocky. Everywhere about trees stand thick: fir spruce, and a little birch. They are the stunted trees of high altitudes or of the far north, a few rising more than 15 feet above their roots, thick in the trunk, and dwindling suddenly into sparse crowns, often misshapen by accident. Looking across the tiny pond, these low tress deceive, seem much taller than they are, and the pond, in proportion, larger.

Here, in the late summer of 1916, we camped many days cutting trail, and, in the infrequent idle moments allowed by the tasks of this strenuous form of play, I observed, in-expert but interested. I stood on the shore after sunset and the passing of a shower. Wisps of mist trailed along the water and drew in blue atmosphere among the trees. Against the fading light the firs of the farther shore showed dark, shifting gently to a slow wind. The western light faded, died, then brightened in fitful pulsations of low lightning, quivering faintly behind the black points of the firs.

By day the place is a feeling of openness and light, of height, and of far vision barely frustrated by the rim of firs. After these impressions pass to use and wont details stand out—the gray and twisted rampikes of dead firs, the lichen-gray, the spruce green, the fir blue and that fir blue which is not of a fir but of mis-named black spruce. The odd plant colonies of the sphagnum attract notice. Rooted in the soil the moss makes, or holds grow sedge, fly trap, goldthread, violet—doubtless more, the long since faded and withered into obscurity. Shrubs also, of the healthy type, grow where where the trees have not too soon followed the moss—blueberry, Labrador Tea and others unknown to me.

Mt. Lafayette from the summit of South Twin. Mt. Galehead in front.
The pond itself is disconcertingly shallow. A careless motion while washing hands stirs up tourbillions of black ooze. Nowhere is it deeper; small water plants grow even to the middle. Rocks ringed by the rusty water line of thaw-level show will out from shore. Over this still water bubble-footed skaters shuttle. Around it large flies buzz, and small flies bite, while dragonflies is superb turquoise and blue pursue them. In the water lived nothing obvious to the casual observer—except a lone frog, who spoke at infrequent intervals. He was a problem of sorts. His kind, I suppose, breeds only in stillist water, and the nearest down the outlet is distant five miles of falling brook. Unless some of his recent ancestors did gradually breed their way to the stream, he must either have climbed all the way himself or be the last survivor from far ages, before the carving of the valleys.

Five migrating sandpiper appeared one morning, and titled day long in the shallows, finding life or some sort in plenty. Clouds shut down the next day. When dusk was almost night their plaintive cry was heard circling the pond, rising in wide spirals, and fading into the night. So they passed southward, I suppose. The rattle and splash of a kingfisher was heard next morning. There were no fish in that pond I am sure, be he splashed and rattled occasionally all day. He too passed sout in the night, and with him went the lone frog of Garfield Pond.

Other trails, other scenes. What well recall to each of you the best days on the trail? Camps by the pulsing, insistent rushing of a brook, nights in the open, with moonlight in the firs, drumming rain on the tent; noon halts by a spring; monotonous hours of blazing, chopping, sawing; the smells that work so strongly in our memories—wood smoke, balsam, fly-dope, wet clothes drying. Each to his own woods. If mine are the low firs of the high levels, yours may be the great hardwoods, the old growth spruce, the second growth country of old logging roads, the oak scrub of the Massachusetts hills, with rustling leaves under foot and a riot of autumn color.

Some of us have been blessed of the Gods, permitted to make a trail in the timber line country of the Mt. Washington range. Everyone who has tried it is unhappy till he is doing it again. That is why there are so many trails there. I came rather late; my experience in that fascinating country has been little more than that of the common or idiotic tramper, scuttling from hut to hut on schedule. Always summer or winter, I am glad to be starting for timberline, and content when there. When, after the long climb, I suddenly realize that the trees are lowering fast, that underbrush has vanished, that a sensation of altitude and space is pressing for conscious recognition, I feel a lift and urge—timberline again!

And what is timberline? It is the level at which the mean annual temperature—yes, but it is the sweep of vast spaces, the drift of cloud shadows, the infinite gradations of distant color. It is the hiss of wind in the firs, the strain against bitter gusts, the keen concentration to hold the trail through dense and drifting fog. It is the plod and life under the pack, the crunch of creepers, the slow struggle through tangled scrub.
 
 Tangled scrub on Garfield Ridge floundering towards Mt. Lafayette.

To spend a week of trail-work there is a great privilege. Not many of us can get a chance to do it now-a-days. Out predecessors did too thorough a job. But even on shorter trips we might appreciate its beauties and its curious problems a bit more keenly.  It is a region of unsolved problems. Just how to do the stunted trees adapt themselves, physiologically? What is their average age? Why are forest feather of a substance like old ivory? What is the function, what are the habits of that harmless blue-bottle which haunts timberline, gathers when we lunch, and does nothing apparent but buzz erratically to and fro. His sudden whining buzz, slicing into the stillness of a sunny mountain day, is an intimately characteristic sound of timberline. Can you photograph a nesting Bicknell Thrush? Do you even know the song—that dim, haunting melody, always near, yet seeming far, drifting by with the mist, tinkling out of the sunny scrub? Have you seen the Canada jay? Have you studied the wonderful color harmony of waxwings at cones in a fir to—rich green and sleek olive, dashes of scarlet and  yellow? Have you watched a fox play to and fro in the Alpine Garden, or a northern hare at the Lakes of the Clouds? Have you ever learned how to build a cairn, or how to set signs above the tree line?

And what of the trail itself, of the pleasure of tramping it? Any trail is a delight, sometimes; one’s own trail is an enthusiasm. In closing let me recall to you the joy of the trail, in so far as the describing of one may suggest all.  The one I choose is and old, old trail, but some here may have helped re-open it, not long ago.

We settled under packs at the doors of the Clouds Hut and straightway vanished into mist. By cast slopes of gray-green boulders the trail climbed to the levels above the eastern ravines, where brown grasses among the rocks bent and rustled to the slow wet wind. We moved in a close stillness, footing fast and watchfully over uneven rocks. Low crags loomed dimly to right and left; then one larger, and a tall cairn upon it. We stopped, resting, and sense a change. Light brew, focused at the one spot in the mist, took form as a blinding disc. Turning dazzled eyes, we saw the world again, dimly, through veils of dissolving cloud. In a little all was clear.
 
Far behind from out of the great waste levels the huge slopes of the cone of Washington heaved to a shifting cloud cap. We watched awhile, spoke for the hundredth time of deceptive distances, or mysteries of color, then turned to the trail again. At our feet the level broke, dropping in a great ramp to timberline. Thence a green ridge stretched southward into haze, summit after summit, endlessly. There lay our trail. On the side of a certain one of those dim mountains we should find a log came and rest.

A great heat oppressed the hills and no wind blew. We had far to go, the view was dull with haze and the trail rough. We plodded down the long slope, eyes to the ground. We passed a sprawling stunted fir, then others. They closed in upon the trail; their tips scratched harshly on our packs. They rose above our head, and the trail passed under them into a thin shade. The footing changed abruptly from stones to the restful softness of fir needles. We were across timber line, in a new world. The trees stood thick and squat, each dwindling suddenly to a knot of straggling branches. Under this low thin roof of green the eye ran far along  brown slopes. Red-brown needles, slate-gray trunks, green roof-no more: a simple, intimate world; dead still, enclosed, remote.
 
Mile on mile, hour after hour, the trail led on, swinging around the swells of the endless ridge, a cleaner, smoother ribbon of brown amidst the brown, banked and hollowed here and there by the labor of the trail builders of sixty years ago and the wear of shod hooves. Twice, we drooped packs and climbed by side paths to bare summits, whence the Great Range bulked huge behind, and then drove on. Slowly, and undergrowth grew more common. Long shadows were slanting across when the trail lifted to the great rise over Stairs Mountain. All zest gone, wringing wet with sweat, conscious of little more than heat, weariness, and the drag of the pack, we ground doggedly on.

Presently at our feet dropped the huge cliff of the Upper Stair. At the horizon the sun hung in an orange haze.  Shadows were long in the valleys. Below, and not far, must be our camp. With the numb mind of the weary we perceived but had no pleasure of it. By maddening gullied switch backs the trail flanked the cliffs and brought us, stumbling with aching knee, to the col below: and again a different world—a world of tall white birches, and of far vistas through veils of green undergrowth. At length the end was seen, a log lean-to among the birches. Little speech was left in us. Easing off packs we dropped exhausted on the floor of boughs and the will for a space ceased its driving of the body. Yet there was work to do before dark. We stirred wearily, opened packs, chopped a little wood, and moved slowly about the tasks of camp.

Below, in a shallow ravine, was water, in small still pools among boulders. September leaves lay thick on water and earth and hid their contact. I drank, sitting beside a pool: bent and washed, slowly lingering over the coolness. As I straightened from the pool a stirring of cool air drew down the ravine. Above the faint rustling of leaves a sound passed and came again, a distant fluting, dimly heard. Floating nearer, the muted elfin notes answered from dimness to dimness among the birches. Still singing they passed, rarest and most haunting of mountain singers, the Bicknell thrushes and so dusk fell.  At camp a small fire snapped. The end. The Attraction and Rewards of Trail Making. Nathaniel Lewis Goodrich. Published in Appalachia, December 1918. Read at the First New England Trail Conference, Fall of 1916.

 Moving Ahead


"The years 1914 to 1916 when Winthrop Blood was our Councillor of Improvements, witnessed a surge of interest in tramping, which resulted in the project of the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia.The Appalachian Trail proved the backbone of a development whose many problems of organization, finances, standardization, and so forth brought about the formation of regional trail conferences of which ours was the first. The idea on one continuous trail from Maine to Georgia was the fascinating spearhead of the movement, but it was soon realized that the building and maintenance of both through and local trails must be in the hands of district groups. While many organizations could initially go no farther than to make plans, the A.M.C was able, by opening the Garfield Ridge Trail to complete at once its route across the central portion of the White Mountains. "Interest in a through trails stimulated interest in local trails. Up to this time concerns with trails had been somewhat hit-or-miss. Hotel guests and summer colonies had sponsored and worked on trails to nearby mountains. Some of the A.M.C. Councillors of Trails (why different title?) supported bu small appropriations from the Club (The A.M.C.) and with a great deal of help from their tramping friends, had opened up part of the mountains according to their ideas of special needs or their own interests.

"As the mileage of A.M.C. trails increased, the question of maintenance came to the fore. Fortunately for the Councillor of Trails, it was not a monetary problem as the Club was always willing and able to grant necessary funds; rather it was a problem of labor. Prior to 1917, the councillors had depended upon a few men scattered in different localities around the mountains to clear the Club trails in their vicinity. This was a somewhat uncertain arrangement, however, as those men capable of doing a good job for us usually also had farming or other summer interest and could not be expected to prefer our temporary employment to more permanent and thus better paying work. Some men supposed to be efficient did not prove to be so. Then, too, under this system, the more inaccessible trails got less attention. "Paul then hired George Stillings, one of the last mountain guides in the region and a trusted trail man. Stillings also new the country well. He had often worked for the Randolph Mountain Club and Paul hired him to take care of the trails in June and July and help out at August Camp the rest of the summer. Other local help was hired at Gorham under Ray Evans a well know woodsman and owner of the Willis House. With the First World War at its pitch there was no other labor available.


Looking at how much light reaches the forest floor on high, mountain ridges.

"Paul reported that he didn't know how to get out of this bind and find a reliable source of good, inexpensive labor. Back at school in September he happened to be in charge of the lunchroom one day at Flushing High School where he was then working. It was September first (1917) He was now working at Flushing High School in New York and found himself watching over a group of boys of the upper grades in the lunch room one day. They required only a little supervision. One day I saw two friends, "Bus" Fyles and "Stilly" Stillwell, sitting together. Both were star athletes and both brainy and brawny. "As I stared at them, thinking hard and fast, the light dawned. The solution oof my problem was right there; such boys could clear our trails,"he wrote. Jenkns, Paul, Twenty Five Years of the AMC Trail Crew. Appalachia. December 1943. Paul moved quickly to consolidate his idea. He got the Clubs approval and he hired Nathaniel L. Goodrich (nick named "Nat"), who by then was head librarian at Dartmouth College, to help out. He hired Bus and Stillwell and Nat hired Sherm Adams of the Dartmouth Outing Club and they were joined by Gray Harris "the big trail-clearer of the Worcester chapter" who had volunteered to bring a lot of help opening up the Twin Range Trail. Next Paul had to settle the problem of supervision as none of the lads had any experience in the woods. "In spite of brains and enthusiasm, they needed direction and oversight, not only in regard to trail cleaning but also as to food, use of tools, camping, cooking, and so forth. It was imperative that they work under members of the Club who could teach them such things," he observed. Paul found a key for opening up the White Mountains to tramping and much needed trails work. (Jenks, Ibid).


Mt. Garfield in the distance from South Twin. Galehead Hut in
foreground. 1967.
What Charles, Paul, Nat, George, and Ed, and occasionally Nat's brother Hubert and Fred  Crawford, but mainly Charles, Paul. and Nat, took  from Garfield Ridge in the way of knowledge and experience expanded quickly.  Each of them, as Nat infers in "Attraction", realized every bit of experience gained improved their "game" as Charles liked to put it. There collective work, their collaboration, superb innovation, dedication, inclusiveness, high level of involvement, willingness to take risks and face challenges, their efforts to improve their game; reaching towards that exquisite sensation of "standing at ease in the harness". It was probably less spoken than the few words written here but the results were remarkable in how sitting, in the freezing rain on Garfield in 1914, their ability to see the A.M.C trails as an organized, systematic network of trails and not just any trails, but brilliant, beautiful, bold, creative, challenging trails. One of them was quoted as saying later to an interviewer: "Ours is no gang of uninterested hirelings." N.L.G 1916, pg. 248. Nat, Paul and Charles spent their childhoods (or pieces of their childhoods) in northern New Hampshire. Charles spent summers in various vacation "colonies" that included hotels and inns in small mountain towns like Littleton, NH, before going off to Harvard. In the year he graduated from law school his family had discovered Waterville Valley. Waterville had been discovered in the 1860s as the perfection of the peaceful New England village with the church spire and large, comfortable hotel, hay fields and woods, a rushing stream and dotted with a small number of surrounding cottages that, in turn, are surrounded by high summits of the White Mountains with names like Mts. Osceola, Tecumseh, Tripyramid, and Sandwich Dome. The four named are all higher than 4000 feet in altitude and impressive to look at. Some residents referred to Waterville Valley as Valhalla. Nat's family were long-time denizens of Waterville Valley. Nat spent summers and winter holidays there. His family was one of the oldest in the Valley going back several generations. Nat's was born in 1880. In 1882 his father, Arthur Lewis Goodrich published a book titled "Waterville Valley: A History, Description, and Guide" that was published in 1892. Its three separate sections were considered accurate and the book sold well into a second and third printing. It's interesting, too, because Nat published a similar book on Waterville Valley in the 1945 very similar to his father's with an updated list and a description of the local Flora. Later, Nat collaborated with his father to write an hilarious story, "Pond Road", that takes place in Waterville Valley and Sandwich, NH, and revolves around the, at that time, mysterious Lost Pass. It's not long but delightful. You can find it in the December 1929 Appalachia, pg. 480. 


Nat also did alpine climbing in Europe, Canada and the US. Another piece of writing is comparing the Matterhorn in Switzerland with Mt. Assiniboine in the Canadian Rockies. The intimation is that he climbed both. Charles remembered the first time he saw Nat. It was on a bus coming from Boston to Waterville and he remembered looking at Nat and feeling like he was the perfect "green horn". He immediately felt inferior to the rugged, mountain-man image Nat conveyed. In that instance Charles wanted to be like Nat. Paul Jenks, on the other hand, was easier for Charles to converse with particularly about tramping in the "Whites" and fielding ideas with Paul about trail work. They cautiously drew up a scheme to "build" a new trail in the Valley. Paul had the perfect location for their practice attempt. He showed Charles a dip (a low point) in the ridge to the east above the town that a new trail might improve for trampers by shortening the distance covered by the old path and reducing the altitude of the trail by an appreciable amount thereby saving trampers time and energy. Charles wrote of the scheme: "We had never heard of 'stringing' and we marked the trail's proposed location by small blazes.  Cutting the trail proved quite a task. I had never swung an ax and my only tool was a small Boy Scout hatchet. Up the hillside from the Valley our trail was serpentine for, although the young hardwood growth was quite thick, we did not attempt to cut any trees  more than an inch or two in diameter. Above that point the woods were fairly open but infested with hobble bush. If a person has ever attempted to cut hobble bush with a hatchet with a hatchet or an ax he knows what a task we had. We had not better luck with a bush scythe and it was not until years later we realized how simple a task it is to cut hobble bush with long handled pruning shears." ("Evolution of a Trailman", Appalachia Dec. 1913, p. 429.)  

Nat, Paul and Charles were roughly the same age, Paul a little older, and by 1902 they had finished their undergraduate studies. Paul R. Jenks, a Dartmouth graduate, was employed in Plymouth, NH, as a high school principal. Nathan L Goodrich, a book lover, was starting work on a masters degree in Library Science, and Charles W. Blood had passed his law exam and was setting up a law practice in Boston. The nature of their jobs allowed for long summers of freedom and long vacations during the unsummer. Charles' summer vacation spanned a month and he had weekends, too They continued to meet in Waterville for several years, winter and summer. Their time was spent tramping and exploring the existing local trails or bushwhacking. By a serendipitous act Paul offered Charles a legitimate stint of trail building on a new trail that Paul had "prospected" with his wife in 1912. The trail wiggled around a high table of nearly level ground between Mts. Jackson and Webster. From Jackson it continued northeast to the Crawford Path just below the cone of Mt. Clinton. Paul and Charles were to prospect the trail from Mt. Jackson to the Crawford Path via Tisdale Spring and to scout a suitable shelter site in that vicinity. Finally, they wanted to seriously prospect a route from Mt. Webster south along the top of the cliffs on Mt. Webster and down to the highway at the Willey House Station. From there, the plan was to link with the Ethan Pond Trail and Carrigain Notch Trail, etc. [Ed. This is a short, hastily written, humorous piece by Charles in which he purposefully made himself out to be the "green horn" again.  Several versions have been printed possessing different tones.] This one is from Appalachia: "To those of us who love to cut trails each trail on which we work has its own particular associations. That is half the fun of the game. In that way the Webster Cliff Trail, although one trail in name, means three trails to us.


Webster Cliffs and Mt. Jackson from Mt. Willey. Mt. Washington to the left.
The section between Mt. Webster and Mt. Jackson was a Jenks family affair. Paul and his wife prospected it and he cleared it alone in 1912, taking the early morning train over from Whitefield and returning each day in the late afternoon. One may imagine his associations with that section! During the winter (1913) Paul “stumped” me to camp with him for a week near the summit of Mt. Jackson and cut a trail along the ridge from that peak to the Crawford Path at Mt. Clinton. Of course I said “Yes”.

Looking southeast at the south end of Crawford Notch, Webster Cliffs and
Route 302 towards Mt. Peqauwket center distance.
"So a fine July day in 1913 found us camping at Tisdale Spring at the base of the cone of Jackson. On the first day we observed occasional traces of an ancient trail along the ridge and followed its winding course through the Jackson meadow. We “discovered” Mizpah Spring the second day, but on the day following when we approached that spot we appreciated the feelings of Robinson Crusoe for, crossing our trail and leading down to Oakes Gulf, was a line of blazes which had not been there the day before! However, we saw no signs of cannibals other than the smoke of their campfire near the base of Mt. Isolation, and as Professor Tyler—then Councillor of Improvements--was visiting us we felt quite safe. As a matter of fact that visit had an unexpected aftermath, for as a result of the sumptuous fare we provided our guest (or so I assume), he persuaded the Nominating Committee that fall to propose my name as Councillor of Improvements for 1914. [Ed. Note: “Councillor is the correct spelling for the early1900s but changed to Counselor at a later date-maybe in 1919 or 1920. The title was also changed to Counselor of Trails.]


From Mt. Jackson looking at Mt.Washington and other peaks of the Presidential Range.
 

"Other memories of that week are varied: our seemingly insatiable appetite for bacon; the disgraceful number of small cross-logs we left in the trail; how the black flies stung us the last day, like the lash of a slave driver; the thrill we experienced when breaking through to the Crawford Path and seeing trampers coming towards us; the girl we later met on Bigelow Lawn, climbing Mt. Washington in high-heeled slippers and supported on each side by a man equipped with a staff.

"In 1914, to a new Councillor looking for worlds to conquer, the most obvious thing was to extend our trail from Webster down to Willey House Station (at the south end of Crawford Notch). AS a preliminary, Paul and I again camped at our 1913 site, which we reached at the beginning of a terrific thunder shower. After a day spent in inspecting our previous year’s work and the cannibals’ trail—now the Mizpah Cut-off—we started stringing down from Webster. Those who use this trail today have little idea how interminable the cliffs seemed. From each outlook the end appeared as far away as ever, and the gullies and ledges leading directly down were clearly too steep for a regular trail. At length, however, we came to the lead where the ladder is now located, slid down the mossy slope and then plunged down, down, down, through the woods to the river and highway.

Mizpah Cut-off 1966.

A few weeks later four of us, Nat Goodrich and George W. Blaney, Paul and I--all Waterville trained--camped beside the Saco (River). It was Monday, August 3rd, the day on which war was declared in Europe. I remember remarking how I thanked our lucky stars that three thousand miles of water separated us from the conflict. Of course we were eager for news and devoured the fragments of papers we could get a hold of.  It was all so unreal! Camping there quietly in one of the most beautiful spots in New England, how could we realize that the greatest war in history was starting?

Our immediate attention was focused on other things: the interesting routine of trail cutting; the intense heat and thirst we experienced while clearing scrub along the cliffs; the fruitless search for a better lead than the one down which we had slid [meaning a route down that they had tried to take]; the sudden exercise of a hitherto unsuspected vocabulary when preparing to place the sign at the summit and discovering that the nails were by that time halfway down the trail in George’s pack. Then, on Saturday, after out work was done, we returned to a world of telegraphs and bulletin boards busied." 

*************

This is from Charles and written in 1956 as he tries to bring clarity and an explanation regarding where the Club has been putting its resources and focus. It's helpful to read this as, like the other pieces I've quoted, it adds clarity around the Clubs perspective about what their mission is.
 
"In 1876 When the Appalachian Mountain Club was founded there were only about seven trails in the White Mountains leading to the summits: The Crawford and Davis Paths up Mt. Washington, and paths up Lafayette, Moosilauke, Kearsarge, Moriah and Osceola. It is to be noticed that five of these were bridle-paths. Two earlier bridle-paths up Mt. Washington, the Glen and Fabyan paths, had been superseded by the carriage road and the railway, respectively. Of course, the local guides took parties up the Northern Peaks without trails. Walking, however, was not generally the fashion.   The organization of the Appalachian Mountain Club opened an entirely new approach to the mountains. Its primary purpose was to make them accessible to pedestrians. That is its purpose today (Charles wrote this in 1956). As time went on trails began to be linked with one another. A group of trails was developed in the Great Gulf. Blazed—not cleared—trails were opened in the regions of the East Branch and Upper North Fork of the Pemigewasset, connecting the Twin Range with Crawford Notch. 

The building of huts and shelters followed a similar pattern. The original Madison Hut was little better than a shelter. When several groups occupied it at the same time the preparation of meals became quite a problem. Lakes and Carter were built on a higher standard and attempted to care for trampers more in the modern way, but they were intended to meet purely local wants.

In the early 1920s it was apparent that we must have some more orderly system and in 1921 a large representative committee was appointed to study the problem. This committee, among other things, recommended the development of a trunk line from Lost River to Grafton Notch, provided with such shelters and huts should be necessary and practicable. Although shelters can be put in any place where there is adequate water and firewood, huts require a considerable patronage to support their necessary overhead. The report went into considerable detail to the exact location of the main trail and of the shelters and huts. It also recommended various branch and feeder lines. This report has been the basis of our present system. This temporary committee was followed in 1924 by a regular standing committee on Trail, Hut;  Camp Extensions, of which the Councillor of Trails and a member of the Hut Committee ex officio members. It has always been composed of men who have a wide knowledge of the whole White Mountain region and the existing trails, men who can place themselves mentally anywhere in that country and visualize the surrounding topography without resort to maps. There are not too many people of that sort.

The committee has had a consistent policy for the thirty years of its existence. With minor exceptions, the Club has confined itself to a system of connecting trails, a large proportion of which follow the main ridges of the mountains. Today we maintain a total of over 350 miles of foot trails, including those at Katahdin." 

Charles' position within the Club was as a competent leader and insider. He knew a lot, had served on every committee available during his long tenure beginning in 1907 including President of the Club for two years. His dedication to the Club continued past the day of his  retirement in December 1952. His knowledge of how the system worked was enormous mainly because he had initially authored many of the ideas that came out of those meeting. His devotion to and his knowledge of the Trail Crew's operations he had accumulated in terms of his experience over 40 years from 1913 to the early 1950s. He shepherded the Trail Crew through some challenging growth pains. A total of 10-11 years he, Paul and Nat dutifully served as Trail  Supervisor. There is an amusing anecdote for their level of dedication and their genius in being able to work so well together. Nat was asked a question about their service to the Club over that decade. The exact wording of the question is not known but Nat's response was something like: "You seemed to believe that we had three Counsillors of Improvement all those years, but it was only one. To think otherwise is delusional. It was like a dynasty, but dynasties are often seen as evil. We think of ours as the exception." There was enormous mutual respect between that entire early lot: between the Club officials and the counselors. 


Looking east from Lafayette towards Mt. Washington in the background
 with the Twin Range in between. Garfield is on the left, the "The Lump", as 
the Trail Crew referred to it. You can get a feeling from the vastness 
how grueling it must have been to cut a trail all the way from the summit 
of South Twin to the top of Lafayette going up and over Garfield in the process. 
This winter photo provides more detail then the Fall photo below from color 
contrast. The valuable aspect is seeing the enormous amount of material 
from glacial action between the Twins and Garfield with that long incline.  
 
The following is a offered to show how the Club viewed and interacted with the A.M.C. Trail Crew in terms of respecting one another, but it underlines the gap between the executive "branch", the President, etc. along with the membership and then the Trail Crew. It's noted that the trail crew was treated with undaunted respect and admiration. The Club was fully supportive of all the work being done by the Trail Crew and the counselors--Charles, Nat, Paul, Karl, Hubert, and Crawford.  This also points out the enormous drive of the counselors themselves to get trails built at all costs. The Club members were openly saying build more.   

Fall shot of the winter photo above showing relationship of Garfield to the Twins.
December 20, 1918  
Special Meeting Held at the New England Women's 
Club Rooms. 
President Mason in the Chair 
200 persons present
 
"It is proper that it should be a matter of record through whose assistance your Councillor has been helped to administer the Department. First, he has received the unqualified support of the Council in all his plans. Mr. N. L. Goodrich took entire charge of and responsibility for the completion of the Kinsman Ridge and Lonesome Lake Trails, which otherwise would have required a third of the Councillor's time in the mountains. Mr. K. P. Harrington assisted in locating the extension of the Kinsman Pond Trail, and in placing signs upon North Kinsman. The location of the Wildcat Ridge Trail is entirely due to Dr. R. C. Larrabee and Mr. C. W. Blood. The later also located the Camel Trail, and, with Mr. H. L. Blackwell, worked on the Mahoosuc Range Trail, while Messrs. A. S. Pease and D. G. Fuller ran the line from the Notch to Goose-Eye. The relations of the Department with the Forest Service have been most cordial, the Supervisor, Mr. J. J. Fritz, and the rangers have been anxious to cooperate with the Club to the fullest extent. Not the least help has been the courtesy of the members of the Club, who uniformly expressed appreciation of what has been done, instead of criticizing the Department for what has been left undone." 

  
This is another quote from Charles' "The A.M.C. Tail Crew, 1919-1964" located in the June 1964 Appalachia pg. 88. It is Charles trying to explain the thinking going on in the minds of the trail department viz what they are trying to accomplish with this acute dedication and drive.  "In 1919 as an experiment, Paul began to recruit some of his present or former Flushing High School pupils to work on the trails. So started the Trail Crew. At the beginning of the season he went into the woods with these boys and taught them how the job should be done. On their weekends and whenever they were not in the woods, the boys were housed in the attic of Locus Cottage in Whitefield, a small farm boarding house where Paul spent his summer vacations.  

"At that time there were no generally accepted standards of trail maintenance in the White Mountains, Our generation had learned trail clearing the hard way, by trial and error. Edmands (J. Raynor Edmands: Edmands Path, Gulfside, etc. d. 1910)) had set standards in his own work which were and are impossibly high for most mountain trails. However, through the New England Trail Conference, we were developing a set of standards which are now generally followed. In dealing with the boys, therefore we tried to transmit to them what we had learned and were still learning to to instill in them our great love of the forest and its trails. This experiment proved most satisfactory, and before long the group was expanded to include boys of college age from other localities. An issue that loomed large for the trail crew between 1916 and the end of the First World War and between 1940 and 1945 was finding new recruits and training them. In 1917-1919 there were only 2 or 3 of the younger crew working a long side the older crew due primarily because the War was draining all available manpower.  

Added to that was problems with the weather. Beginning with the very destructive storm of 1915, what Charles described as "a local hurricane", followed by the 1938 Hurricane, and less powerful in 1940 and 1950. These storms set the trail crew back almost a full season and prevented any attention to new work being completed. Most of their time was occupied in cleaning up truly a massive amount of storm damage. Charles and others described the storm of September 1915 as "the kind of storm men only see once in a century". One description of the damage that occurred in the relatively flat areas between Ethan Pond, Livermore and North Fork Junction that was recounted by the trail crew was an image of giant red spruce trees, some 20 inches in diameter, lying side by side for 2-3 miles across the Pemi from North Fork to Ethan Pond--millions of board feet of lumber. The upside was, rather than count the lumber wasted, the quick retrieval and salvaging of most of the downed timber by the Parker Young Lumber Company.

 
On the Garfield Ridge east of Mt. Garfield.

 [Ed. North Fork Junction is a place on a map. One hears the name but unless you're as old as I am it makes no sense because it is no longer put on maps. It is the site, in the Pemi on the northwest side of Mt. Hancock, where the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River heads to Lincoln and the North Fork comes down from Shoal Pond. It's a compelling name conjuring up a small town where outlaws hang out, but the actual site isn't noteworthy. Before it was logged in the late 1930s there was a beautiful, virgin forest of exclusively giant Black Spruce trees, one of the last large forest tracts still in existence at that time. Many of these were wrenched flat in the storm of 1915 and, again, in the '38 Hurricane. What were left were taken by the loggers. There is a great accounting of an exploratory trip there by the venerable Robert L. M. Underhill in the December 1929 Appalachia on pg. 357 titled: "Untraveled Paths Through North Fork Junction"] The cataclysmic 1938 hurricane was one of the most destructive on record. One can still go walking in the forests of northern New England in 2016 and find evidence of the 1938 Hurricane. For the trail crew in 1938 & 1939 getting the debris cleared was a major challenge. Much of it was pushed out of the trail and stacked where, as it got dryer and dryer, became a frightening fire risk that needed to be treated carefully. One match was all that was needed to start a fire as repugnant as those in 1907 in the Pemigewasset Wilderness.  John "Jack" Hutton, Trail Supervisor in the late 1930s, described the aftermath of the '38 Hurricane eloquently. This is a piece titled "Trails Clear" Jack wrote for Appalachia and published in December 1939, pg. 557.: "Faced with the seemingly hopelss task of clearing hurricane-obstructed trails, the A.M.C. Trail crew set to work early in June to open the through routes and make a way for trampers and the Federal Fire Hazard Reduction crews. That the task was by no means an easy one can be readily appreciated. Hot, dry days, swarms of early summer flies, and hands blistered from stead chopping soon make it evident that the summer of 1939 would not be forgotten for a long time to come.

"By working the clock to shame, the crew punched a hole through along the Appalachian Trail from Franconia Notch to Gorham by the first week in July. The rate of trail clearance exceeded our expectations. Following this job, the crew attacked the m ore popular trails. By the middle of July, the Franconia Ridge and feeder trails had all been cleared, although several trails remained closed to the public because of fire hazard. "Contrary to the reports that the Mahoosucs were spared, because the storm had veered to the west, we found the damage there severe in spots. The New England and Federal Emergency crews cooperated with the A.M.C. in clearing the thirty miles of range trail and the many feeder trails. 


 A typical A.M.C. Trail Crew camp using a lightweight tent from 
Abercrombie and Fitch that was similar to parachute cloth. AMC photo.
 
"Our work began with a trek to Garfield Pond Shelter, a strenuous one for the first week of the summer.  We went in with heavy loads of food,  personal duffle and tools. Winter had done little to keep climbing muscles in shape, and we arrived at the Garfield Pond Cut-off, muscle-sore, but thankful that the storm had spared the Garfield Trail and that there had been no blowdown tangles to climb through. A short way in on the Cut-off and our relief turned to consternation. Every tree between us and the shelter was down! We arduously worked out way, now snake-like, then kangaroo-like, until we finally came to Garfield Pond. There was no sign of a trail at this point, and in disgust we surveyed our scant opportunity of reaching the shelter. Finally we chose to wade across to the shelter in mud and water up to our waists, with our saws and axes and packs on our backs.  However wet the trip was, it was easier through the water then through the blowdowns that had obliterated the trail. We arrived at the shelter only to find the roofing had been ripped off by the hurricane. This meant another trip down the mountain, out to Littleton and back up again with three rolls of roofing paper. "From Garfield Pond as out initial base we commenced clearing the Garfield Ridge Trail and the Garfield Pond Cut-off. A spring found many years ago by "P. R. J." at the north end of the pond, was again located. Next summer a new shelter will be built here to replace the present one which has seen better days and whose site has become swampy.  


"The ridge trails and especially Garfield Ridge were real tests for the clean up crew. There were long hours of continuous hammering away at what seemed an impenetrable tangle of jack straws, in an effort to punch a six-foot hole for clearance. In the many areas where windthrow was complete it was difficult to spot a new location for the trail. Furthermore, our problems did not end with cutting through the tangle. In many place the groud was a torn-up mess of upheaved boulders and roots. The footway was treacherous and rough. One had to be cautious in covering the trail." This is only a small part of the complete clean up story. John writes on for several pages in detail how the '38 hurricane's impacted other areas of the W.M.N.F.. They can be found as written in  Appalachia, December 1939, pg. 557. [Ed. This is quite a sad description of Garfield Ridge compared with the way this article started and one wonders how Charles, Paul, Nat, Ed Lorenz, George, and Crawford felt after hearing Jack's versionIt was a sad change. Sad in another way completely was that Jack was killed on Iwo Jima in the closing months of W.W. II. His obituary is in the December 1945 Appalachia and contains quite a bit of mountain history that should be read.
 

Paul Jenks on Signing , Standardizing and Maintenance.

"Some years’ observation and one year’ experience served amply to convince your Councillor that the Club must go systematically into the business of signing its trails properly. Second an exact record should be made as to where signs are needed, a standard form of sign would be established, and measures should be taken for procuring material for such signs in adequate numbers. Of course, our first consideration was the safety and satisfaction of the trampers.

"First it was evident that systematic records of the work must be begun and maintained. A catalog was started with a card for each sign giving these data: 1.) its location and its special position if not on a tree in the forest, or not on stakes above treeline; 2.) the exact wording; 3.) the size of the board; 4.) the date of placing; and 5.) by whom placed. This catalogue eventually disclosed two previously unknown facts: that nearly eight hundred information signs, besides incidental arrows and targets, are required for the Club trails and that the average life of a painted wooden sign below treeline in the White Mountain sin a condition creditable to the Club is about seven years, while above treeline it is hardly four. For these latter are exposed to repeated and continued blasts of air, at wind velocities probably as great here as anywhere on earth, which carry particles of dust and of water in every form; these soon break down while paint of any composition and then eat away the wood.” (“Five Thousand Trail Signs”: Appalachia; June 1945, pg.  )

Paul Jenks, took this job on with his typical passion, patience and know-how. He and Charles spent hours in the off seasons talking about signs; about what the signs should say, how should they write it so it was simple and legible, what color paint for the letters, green or black, where exactly to place the signs so they are most effective, etc. In those years they also joined with other organizations in the region to exchange ideas, techniques, and even trails in some cases. The A.M.C. Trail Crew passed on their their growing wisdom of signs without forgetting that, like other parts of learning the ropes, particularly in the first months or years, that it was a much larger task then anyone previously thought. They eventually got it down to a science.  He tested several types of wood in the mountains and different locations. He tested paints, the discussed with Charles the different locations signs should be installed for read-ability and understanding by trampers. They went over the wording of the signs several times. In his files he had a number and location for each sign. Each sign was personal to him. To manufacture the signs he hired the same high school students who were trail clearing in the summer to produce signs in his home during the winter.  He, Nat and Charles spent hours developing the best use of words to use for clarity. It was a heroic effort and it was amazing how the difference between one word and another could make the signs work more effectively. The entire process going into signs was amazing.  When Paul  felt work on the signs had been completed he recognized that they complemented the trails by bringing to them the level of simplicity and absolute clarity they had captured. 

 
The signs are all legible and rather plain but surely articulate. And elegant in their simplicity. They communicate well and are well designed as in cost effective, well constructed, rugged, stand up well to all kinds of weather.  Below is a row of signs that were above timberline for several years that are still legible. Paul took them down when they could still be restored and used again and perhaps again.




An updated modern sign on the Paul Jenks model that offers good visibility.

One of the oldest hiking trails in the White Mountains dating from 1875-1876

There is a wonderful story about Paul and his sign work that some of you probably have heard but it's worth repeating. Paul narrates: "Early one morning I had started from the summit house to go over to Jefferson with every pound of signs that I could carry in a Duluth and in my hands, my lunch being only what I could get in the pocket of my shirt. For hours I sat between the summits of Jefferson putting the signs on their stake amid occasional thunder and rain. In the afternoon I began to place them as I was going down the Cornice to where I was below the clouds, only to see a heavy shower coming up the Ammonoosuc valley. On started back to the summit and on my return trip I picked up all the old signs worth saving. The rain struck me good and plenty on Clay. When I went through the lounge in the Summit House, I was spotted by two tenderfeet who inquired about me at the desk. That evening I bolted together the signs and stakes for the Great Gulf and the Gulfside Trails near the Carriage Road and at six-thirty next morning went out with them past the two tenderfeet, then I placed the signs and returned for breakfast. The tenderfeet hailed me. “We saw you come in yesterday afternoon with a load of signs and go out with some this morning. Now do you do that regularly, bring in the signs at night and put them out again next morning? Or do you take them all in at the end of the season and put them out again the next year?"  

 My favorite: "On a beautiful summer day I had been spending a few hours between trains at Randolph Station in going up the Dolly Copp road and over to Pine mountain to place signs. As I came back to the road and was going to the station, I saw a young man and a girl walking down ahead of me, to too fast and occasionally holding hands. It wouldn’t do for me to drop to their pace and ultimately be found watching them, so I gradually drew nearer to them. When I was about a hundred feet away behind them, still undiscovered, the young man dropped back a step and evidently said, “See that bird up there?” As she looked up and backwards for the bird he bent over and kissed her. When I passed them I remarked that it was a very lovely day; and they similingly agreed that it was."

"Going back to 1919 and the experiment that Charles and Karl Harrington were working with in getting more young men interested in trail work, training them, getting places for them to stay when not in the woods, and, finally, get them out working on trails. The first year produced a good, solid group of young men Paul Jenk new from Flushing High School in New York where he was then working. That summer he brought three of them up to Whitefield. Nat also brought two Dartmouth students and Charles had managed to round up two boys that had experience and Gray Harris, from the A.M.C. Worcester Chapter, brought several experienced members of the Worcester Trail Crew purposefully to clean up the Twin Mountain Paths and they stayed until it was completely standardized.


"Summers after 1919 the A.M.C. Trail Crew had a good group with a balance between the older 3-4 year men and a few who were inexperienced and learning the ropes from the Trail Masters who were the old guys. The Old Masters group consisted of Paul R. Jenks, Charles W. Blood, Nathaniel L Goodrich, Karl Harrington, and Fred Barrows. Trail Supervisors were 4th year men for the most part. Each year the torch was past from supervisors to first year men as a new generation started up the ranks. It was a good experiment that lasted 40 years and made it possible for the A.M.C. to keep down the costs of trail work to a reasonable amount while getting excellent results. When people pointed out that using young (high school aged) boys was usuary one of the Trail Masters would respond by saying something like "look what they take from this experience." By the 1950s they were counting 365 miles of trails in the White Mountains and another 40 in the Katahdin area that they took care of. And, with pride, they could say it was all standardized . A year, or so, into the 1950s the good old days came to an end as the the economy began to put  enormous pressure on the operations of the trail crew. 


"What had been working so well for nearly 40 years was being scrutinized for ways to keep costs down. The A.M.C. had always said "yes" to the needs of the Trail Crew, always stood behind Karl, Charles and Paul mainly because there was nothing that the Crew did that wasn't economizing--not even "wasting" gasoline for a quick trip into town.  And, if a 17 year old was planning to go to college in order to get a good paying job sometime down the road they needed to make more money than what the club could afford to pay them. In 1917 to 1921, with only a few trails to take care of the cost of the trail crew appeared manageable. At one point up on Garfield Ridge, Nat said he had figured out that "maintaining an existing trail in 1916 cost the Club $8 per mile and the cost of building a new trail was $25 per mile." During Nat's tenure as "Councillor of Improvement" from 1919 to 1921 costs of the trails themselves were beginning to increase at a frightening pace. Summer expenses of $300 during Charles' Counsillor days were climbing to $3000 for a summer and kept right on climbing. In 2016 a figure of several thousands of dollars probably is what a mile of standardized trail might cost.

 
The 1924 A.M.C. Trail Crew in this A.M.C. photo. The Tail
Supervisor that year was Dana Bachus on the far right who
worked for the A.M.C as did other members of his family
including his daugther Anne Convese Backus who worked 
at Pinkham Notch Camp and died tragically in an auto 
accident in 1970. The Garfield Ridge Camp site was gifted
by her family and a plaque has been installed in Anne's name.

**********
Last Bits 
This last piece is by Paul Jenks who was one of the great A.M.C. thinkers of the first half of the 20th century. As an esteemed member of an esteemed and dedicated group of trail blazers he had seen the Club grow up. He had watched the trails grow up and the huts. He has often used Appalachia as a place to put his "2 cents" when he had an idea and there is no question that he thought deeply and felt deeply about the mountains and the trails: their beauty was never lost on him. 

"It should be borne in mind that the AMC trails are not maintained for administrative purposes as are most of the trails of the Forest Service. They are not long-distant footways such as the Appalachian Trail,  nor are they local paths like those of the Randolph Mountain Club and other similar organizations. They offer a service which would scarely be performed in this region by any other organization unless all trails were maintained by the federal government and all tramping were regimented and bureaucratized. It should be noted also that the pattern of the A.M.C. trail system follows the very definite range units of the White Mountain region. Almost all the subordinate ranges are relatively short and definite and show distinct major north-and-south axes and equally definite separating valleys. Therefore, the typical layout for the trails of a range is one along the major axis, with side approaches from the valleys on either hand. With this consideration in mind, there will be noticed the succession of such units, each with its own minor system of trails: Kinsman, Franconia, Twin, Hale-Bond, Willey, Presidential (dividing south of Washington into the Southern Peaks and the Montalban Ridge), Carter, Baldface, and Mahoosuc. The Garfield Ridge and the ridge from South Twin to Guyot are crossbars joining parallel ranges and forming part of the Connecticut-Merrimack watershed.  


"Most of the major viewpoints are found along the axes of these ranges, so that the ridge trails make most of them accessible in the shortest time. Such trails, however, demand approach or escape trails. The number and location of these are determined by local considerations, so that it is proper for them to be maintained either by the Forest Service as administrative trails or by local organizations in accordance with local needs. Finally , it should be noted that in general the A.M.C. trails are very expernisve to maintain because of thier altitudes and their distances from civilization. The actual amount of trail maintenance that can be performed on these trails in a full day is usually much below the average for the White Mountain Region. In other words, our Club assumes not only the largest  but the most expensive part of the trail mileage necessary really to open the beauties of the White Mountain to trampers; its huts and shelters and other necessary means to the same end; and while our chain of huts as a whole is becoming a financial asset, all the shelters are and will continue to be expensive liabilities. Looking back over the next development of the Club's trail system we find that it has passed through several quite definite stages. 


The forest high on the west side of South Twin near the Twinway. It's reminiscent
of all the high forests in the Whites that are basically growing on large boulders
but on top of uneven "webs" of roots forming a mat over the talus-like rocks.


 "The earlier recognized trails, and substantially all those opened before 1876, when our Club was organized, were based upon and maintained, directly or indirectly, by hotels. On the Mt. Washington range were all the well-known bridle paths, the Crawford Path (1819), the Davis Path (1845) and those from the Glen House and Fabyan's. Leading to Mt. Lafayette were the originals of the old Bridle Path and Greenleaf Trails (about 1850); a bridle path preceded the carriage road up Moosilauke; and there were others on more southerly and outlying peaks. Footpaths alse were maintained by the hotels, like the Osgood Trail (1878) and the trails up Mt. Webster, Mt. Hayes, and many other mountains. They ranged from other climbs such as these to the short, low-level, graded paths like those near the Flume House, the Profile House, and the Crawford House. All these footpaths were kept open by woodsmen employed by the hostelries and sent out early in the season to effect what we now call ax-patrol. They (the trails) represented some of the attractions offered to patrons by hotels and were of the same nature as tennis courts and golf courses today. Some of these footpaths hae been substantially lost, while other, like those to Mts. Jackson, Webster, Hayes, Surprise, etc., have been taken over by our Club.


"As a natural expression of the spirit which produced the formation of the Appalachian Mountain Club in 1876 came the interest of indiviuduals in opening new trails. Foremost in this field were the well-known pioneers of the Randolph Mountain Club, who coverd the Northern Peaks and the slope opposite them with a network of trails. It was largely a case of each man's personal predilections as to desirable objectives and routes; and numberless stories are told of the rivalries and jealousies of those pioneers in personal trail-building. Numerous local associations were formed ito maintain trails which centered about a hotel but had outgrown the inclination or the resources of the proprietor to extend them or to keep them in condition. Among the officers and other members of the Appalachian Mountain Club, personal equations largely determined the increase in its trail mileage because the interest of most trail enthusiasts were local and the Club had little money to expend; one Councillor summered in Jackson, another at Randolph, a third at Glen House, a fourth was all for Chocorua; naturally each was best acquainted with a particular region and aware of its potentialities and needs; so for nearly forty years the slight amount of new mileage opened annually was likely to be confined to a particular area. During this period the Randolph clan began to go afield and open trails really too far away to be readily maintained.


 Mt. Garfield in sunlight taken from Galehead with Garfield Ridge on the right.


About 1915-1916 came the first hints of connections, consolidations, and planning the wider horizons. The Garfield Ridge Trail was opened to form a through route from the Franconia Notch to Gorham; and with the formation of the New England Trail Conference in 1916 came discussion for a comprehensive system of trails for the whole White Mountain region, coupled with the idea of definite "spheres of influence" where by local clubs assumed all or nearly all the trails in the vicinity of their centres and the A.M.C. took over where there was no local sponsor. This outburst of logical enthusiasm resulted in a through route between Lost River and Old Speck consisting entirely of A.M.C. trails except for the section between Mt. Clinton and Madison Huts, which the Forest Service naturally wished to take over as part of its own through route between Randolph and Crawford Notch. The former of thse routes later became part of the Appalachian Trail. From about 1930 the development of our trails became more a problem of administration than of expansion. A.M.C. shelters and huts were added and some linking trails opened. The Forest Service assumed most of the low-level through routes between different parts of the mountains and developed a large number of trails for administrative purposes. But with the problems presented by the depression, the hurricanes, and the war, maintenance rather than expansion has had to be the aim. In the writer's opinion the future problems will be quite different . Present trunk trails, with their shelters and huts, will probably become increasingly crowded to such an extent that those who love our mountains partly because they afford relief and rest from urban conditions will be forced  to seek less known and less used trails, and will ultimately demand new ones, less spectacular but less crowded and therefor pleasanter. No real lover of the outdoors enjoys time spent in huts and shelters, listening to the "strains" of a phonograph, the jargon of card players, or the noisy turmoil of constantly arriving trail-weary trampers. Whenever this time may come, there are fortunately hundreds of miles of potential trails in or near the White Mountains where trampers could walk and climb and rest in relative solitude, in peaceful pleasure and in unspoiled terrain. "

 
The 1976 Fall A.M.C. Trail Crew when they were working on the Twin Way.

Above is a photo I took of the A.M.C.'s 1976 Fall Trail Crew who were working on the Garfield Ridge Trail and Twinway in the fall of 1976 and staying at Galehead Hut for added convenience. I was Fall Caretaker at Galehead that year and often went to the work site to help out and/or bring the crew a hot lunch. Their major task was to repair a badly eroded mile of the trail coming down off South Twin. The task centered around using native materials to complete the work which in this case was rocks of various sizes from boulders to smaller, flat rocks and putting them in place to form a "staircase" that would be easier and perhaps safer for hikers and, much more to the point, stop the erosion occurring on steep trail sections. Increase in traffic throughout the White Mountains was prompting more and more conversations about the cost of effective, sustainable trail maintenance through out the Whites. Trails in heavy use areas were, in some places, eroding quickly and needed the type of  work this crew was expert at--stabilize segments of the trail mainly the steep sections by using the native material. For really steep sections like the mile of work on the Twinway, mean building steps, hundreds of them. The real job, then, was to aim at the  but also the sustainabi The object and hope was that the work, when completed and the trail stabilized, the trail would be good for a few more decades if the weather cooperated.  The '76 Fall Crew, this bunch of characters, was reminiscent of all the crews going back to 1913 including Karl Harrington who was responsible for finishing the Kinsman Ridge Trail so that it served as a connector from Lafayette Place to Lost River,  as well as Nat, Paul and Charles who had, roughly 62 years prior before this crew, had started here to open the Garfield Ridge Trail and changed the way the A.M.C. was thinking about trails. This young crew had much in common with the 1914 crew and probably unfamiliar with Nat Goodrich's "The Attraction and Rewards of Trail Building" but certainly would identify with it. They, as well, were not "a gang of uninterested hirelings", but craftsmen in the art of trail building. In this case, on the high, steep slope of South Twin they were creating something like a lovely staircase rising up through the gnarled and twisted forest the two elements, rock and living forest, were brought together into something formidable and beautiful.


 Galehead Hut at the eastern terminus of the Garfield Ridge Trail.  This Hut
was built here in 1932 the same year that Zealand Hut was built. It has 
always been loved by those seeking woods and summits and solitude.
 
I have little or no information regarding the status of the A.M.C. Trail Crew today other than that it is still functioning. I imagine it's changed little and as with most organizations within the mountain areas, it probably has diversified in order to keep up with prices at the same time that it studies every trick to economize more while holding to the highest standards of trail work.  While hiking I have stopped and talked to some high school-aged members of supervised trail crews that are under the aegis of the A.M.C.. I've run into them in the Lonesome Lake and Zealand Falls vicinity.  The big question, however, is about the future. Followed by the next big question which is about the future's future and so on. Where will the  trail crew be in in 20 years, or 40? Will there be other means, different models of trail work, different  methods for conducting trail work? As Paul Jenks said many times, "it's unfortunate, I know, but forests grow up. There is just no way to stop that."  I am aware that one of Paul Jenks early ideas was that of developing "centers" for recreation, a concentric area where people, like  X-C skiers, would ski using local trails paid for and maintained by the community or the management of the ski areas. Then there's a possibility of opening trunk lines between these centers for trampers, or skiers, who are looking for a different kind of experience.

On the trail. 
When I was 14-16 I attended a pretty good summer camp, Pine Island Camp, in the Belgrade Lakes area of Maine. It was billed as being one of the more "rugged" camps which drew my attention and why I applied. One activity was either a 1-week or 2-week trip (I've forgotten which) North from camp to the Skowhegan area of Maine where we put on our packs and headed east on the Appalachian Trail to the Carry Ponds.  There was a lean-to at East Carry Pond where we set up our base camp and from there went east and west standardizing a good chunk of the AT.  I loved it. I loved the work, the woods, the smell (all the sensual stuff) the trail itself (what is more exciting and enticing than being on a trail heading to the unknown)? I loved the camp life, the hard work and that wonderful sense of accomplishment. Every evening at sunset I would go to a rock jutting out of the water a few feet from the shore to watch the sunset and I remember saying to myself: "This is what I want to do."

 Sunset from the roof of Galehead Hut looking due North. 



  Part of the Wonalancet Trail Crew about to do trail work up 
the Dicey Mill Trail on Passaconway. Photo taken in 2012.

I know of some small volunteer trail groups working successfully around the edges of the WMNF  that do incredible trail work over a fairly large area including high mountain terrain. The volunteers sign up for a favorite trail, or perhaps two trails, or two people take a single trail, depending on the person(s) capability/capacity and they become responsible for those trails.  The volunteers, at the start, get trained (supervised) until they feel they are "in the game" as Paul Jenks would say--as in they feel comfortable with the work ("at ease in the harness"). Eventually they become experts and help train others, expand their maintenance schedules to areas needing more coverage. or if there has been acute weather damage in part of the forest. They also get together as a group on specific days to schedule routine maintenance, or ax patrols or attend to the heavier work on the popular trails with the heaviest traffic. They use what I termed a minimalist approach to standardizing the trails in their area. Their paths are less conspicuous, and less visible. Hiking on them becomes more instinctive then following signs, etc. When I am hiking on them I often think that Nat Goodrich would like the idea but Paul Jenks probably would not. But, again, these are just anecdotal thoughts. I am concerned about the future of all these trails. The question is how to control trail erosion, trail wear and tear, and encourage trampers to avoid trails in "magnet" areas like huts, etc. and moving hikers, as Paul Jenks suggested, to territory away from throngs.

 In all my years of hiking in the White Mountains, close to 70 years now, 
I have always admired this ladder since it was placed here on the 
Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail several decades ago by the A.M.C. Trail Crew . 
The main things I love is its strength and simplicity.
 
All hikers I'm guessing must, when starting out on the trail, enjoy the anticipation of where they're going, where the trail is leading them, even if they have hiked and climbed by that trail a hundred times in the past, there is still the "pull", the excitement, of starting out again, to feel the freedom and enjoy the beauty. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "Tho you search the world over for the beautiful you will find it not unless you carry it with you." One late winter morning in Labrador (Canada) I hiked to the summit of a mountain with a native couple, a husband and wife, to watch the sun as it came above the horizon announcing the on-set of Spring. The man, they were Montagnards, spoke no English. He smiled at me though and said something that sounded like "vosganard". She was Cree with a good sense of humor. She laughed and asked me if I understood what he said? Smiling, I shook my head to say "no". She translated it. "He said that it is beautiful to get up to high heights and see out over long distances."

Sunset behind Mt. Garfield


Photography by the author unless otherwise noted.


Dedicated To The Following:

The gang consisted of Councillors of Improvement (aka in modern spelling: Counselor of Trails), Warren Hart, Charles W. Blood, Paul R. Jenkins, Nathaniel L. Goodrich, Karl Harrington, Fred Barrows, Fred L. Steele. plus George W. Blaney, E. H. Lorenz, and when he had time, Nat's brother, Hubert B. Goodrich. F. W. Crawford, and with special mentions for the "Old Masters": P. R. Jenks, Charles W. Blood, Nathaniel L. Goodrich, Karl Harrington, and Frederick Barrows. I also want to extend the dedication to this handful of naturalists who hiked the back country rain and shine cataloging the fauna and flora, adding their exquisite knowledge to the sum of knowledge: William Oates, Edward Tuckerman, "Slim" Harris, Cal Harris, Miriam Underhill, L.C. Bliss, Larry Collins, Harry Levi, Arthur Stanley Pease, Fred Steele, and others who all contributed, as did myriad others who are not named, in discovering and defining the beautiful, rare, and unique qualities of the White Mountains. It's upon the current generation to acknowledge our gratitude and our determination to protect and maintain these mountains and forests in their natural state.