Tuesday, October 16, 2012

10-16-12 Notes

Franconia Ridge, Mt. Carrigain, and Sandwich Range from Mt. Moosilauke
I wanted to mention that I've  received some wonderful, thoughtful letters from many readers in the past months that I really appreciate. I'm glad you're enjoying the articles and the photos and I have to say I'm flattered by what's been written.

One email I received the other day regarding my hike up Moosilauke last Saturday (10-13-12) was from Cory Ahonen who wrote, "Alex--As an avid reader and appreciator of your blog, I would have stopped and chatted for awhile en route to the summit of Moosilauke last Saturday had I known it was you I passed (I had the fluffy white American Eskimo dog bounding towards snow). I admit, given the chill in the air, your shorts did appear a bit 'crazy'! That said, it felt absolutely brilliant to be chilled to the bone at the top admiring the views. Thanks for sharing your passion for the New England forests. I've learned a lot." (Cory and his dog flew past me on the lower part of the Gorge Brook trail on Saturday. I almost caught up with them just below the summit.) Thanks for the note, Cory. I, too, felt the brilliance of being buffeted by the wind, chilled to the bone, and exhilarated by the astonishing views from the summit as essential pieces of my experience of the hike on Saturday.

There's a great line in John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley (speaking of traveling with dogs) where Steinbeck contemplates the life of a farmer who retired and migrated from northern Maine to Florida and wondering how the Maine farmer will fare in all the Florida heat he asks, "for what is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?"

And another email which came in the wake of the bear story at the end of the Passaconway article (9-29-12) from none other than Slim Harris' granddaughter, Sara. She wrote, "Looked like an awesome day on the mountain, Alex. Beautiful trail, beautiful forest, beautiful day. I had to laugh at your bear story. It sounded like my grandmother, Calista Harris, who also met and chatted with bears over the years. Her funniest was one time she had a bear outside their camp, which she'd watched for quite a while, but finally could no longer see from the windows. She started to open the big wood door to see if he was lumbering down into the woods. The door hit something and stopped, which she realized was the bear sitting on the granite boulder that was the front door step. So she said, "I beg your pardon", and quickly shut the door.
Calista (aka Cal) Harris (L.) with a friend on the Zealand Road 1984
Jack Boothman who used to live in the yellow farm house at Appalachia, at the bottom of the Valley Way trail that leads to Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams, in Randolph, NH, had all kinds of trouble with bears on his farm. They used to raise hell with some of his out building and one shed in particular. They were always trying to break into it so he took some #10 spikes (very long nails) and drove them through the door from the inside out thinking they'd keep the bears from breaking in. One day he was out by the shed and saw all these bear tracks in the snow coming and going around the shed. He looked at the spikes in the door and they were covered with bear hair. Evidently, by trying to deter the bears, he'd actually created something they could make good use of: a bear back scratcher. The funniest part was the number of bears who'd been coming to use it gave Jack the idea that they were mentioning it to other bears in passing.

One last bit, a few months ago the blog had gotten up to about 100,000 "visitors" over 5 years but it has suddenly become somewhat popular and the number of visitors is increasing by leaps and bounds, to more than 100 per day. It's an exciting development but one I did not expect and, at any rate, I'm too modest to make much out of it. I would like to welcome new comers, though, and remind readers that comments, questions, and requests are always welcome!

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