Saturday, February 2, 2013

Part II Pemi Traverse: Early Paths, scientific exploration and mountains as classrooms (complete)

Part II: Commercial Bridle Paths, settling of the mountains, scientific exploration, the discovery of rare alpine flowers, and new perspectives on bushwhacking..

Where we left off in Part I.....

  Looking east to Mt. Washington from the summit of Mt.
 Clinton where the Crawford Path breaks out of the forest 
and begins the long, exposed ascent over the intervening 
peaks and ridge to the top summit.

With the settling of Crawford Notch by Abel Crawford and his family in the early 1800s and the growing reputation of Mt. Washington brought on by increased reports of safe ascents being made by reputable people like John Josselym, Capt. Wells, and Reverend Jeremy Belknap and, more recently General John Sullivan. The revolutionary war had ended. The United States of America was a reality and with it a growing sense of nationalism and freedom. All of which brought more and more people to the mountains, many of them just from curiosity.  Philip Carrigain, the New Hampshire Secretary of State and official Cartographer, in 1820, with a large party of emissaries including Major John Weeks, visited the Crawfords and asked Ethan Allen to guide the party up  Mt. Washington. As they went over each of the summits, the story goes,  Carrigain bequeathed each with its new official name: Mt. Clinton, Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Franklin, Mt. Monroe, Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Madison. A boisterous celebration followed each of the christenings with long draughts of liquor carried up by Ethan. They gave the larger of the two lakes close to the bottom of Mt. Monroe the name "Blue Pond" that was changed to Lakes of the Clouds in 1833 (June, 1964, Appalachia: Early Scientists in The White Mountains, p. 52). Carrigain's name would soon be given to one of the most beautiful mountains in the realm. The mountains were, indeed, becoming civilized. 

A footnote regarding the Appalachia article (June, 1964, p. 52) giving Carrigain credit for naming Mt. Washington is in contention with an earlier article in the December 1939 Appalachia, titled The Apex of New England, by George Walter Chamberlain, in which he reports that the name "Mt. Washington" was already bequeathed to the mountain as early as 1792 and the author, with some confidence, reports that "It is probable that the exact date when Mt. Washington was christened will not be found, but it seems reasonable to assume that Mount Washinton was first so named between September 17, 1787, and April 30, 1789." (p. 507), around the time General Washington was elected President.

In Frank H. Burt's Nomenclature of the White Mountains (Vol. XIV, 1916, p. 37) he writes, "Washington, Mt. 'The White Hill,' Winthrop Jour. 'The Great Mountain'  Belknap Jour. Name mentioned in Belk. Hist., 1792, iii, and probably given in 1791 or 1792. First map giving name of Mt. Washington, so far as known, is Sotzmann's, 1796. Not on maps of Lewis or Carrigain. 'Mount Washington illumined by the Eastern sun, shone with a glittering white.'--Dwight's Trav., ii, 150. October 4, 1797."

 Looking north up the Crawford Path near Monroe Flats 
towards Mt. Washington. This was the same view Abel
 Crawford's clients enjoyed as they pushed on towards the 
summit. The deep groove in the glacial till testifies to the 
thousands who passed by here on foot and horseback in
 the past 200 years.

Abel Crawford was first asked to guide a party up Mt. Washington via the Mt. Clinton route in 1818. The Crawford History identifies the party as "Colonel Binney, from Boston, with two young men." Abel basically bushwhacked fashioning a path as they ascended to the tree line on Mt. Clinton. The going was extremely rough in the uppermost spruce-fir "krummholz and the visitors' clothes were ruined. A storm prevented them from completing the climb. They descended by way of he Ammonoosuc River.  In September 1818 two young men, with Abel as guide climbed to the summit where they left a brass plate with a Latin inscription celebrating their climb complete with the date of September 10, 1818. It was stolen within a few weeks. For the Crawfords business picked up in the summer of 1819. Able, in the meantime, managed to improved the path making it wider and a bit more suitable for foot traffic. 

"Among the very first to go over the footpath opened  the year before by Abel and Ethan Crawford, were Samuel J. May, the abolitonist, Caleb Cushing, the jurist, and George B. Emerson, educator and the author of a classical work on the Trees and Shrubs of Massachusetts. All were graduates of Harvard College and members of the famous class of 1817. Early in May of 1819 they set out from Kennebunkport on horseback, rode to the Notch and, leaving their horses at the Willey House, thence took up their line of march, with Abel Crawford as guide. 

'The path was narrow, so that much of the way we were obliged to follow our leader in single file. It was obscure, often determined only by marked trees, some of which 'Old Crawford' alone could discover. But he confidently assured us he knew the way. About nine o'clock, however, a dense fog settled upon the side of the mountain. Our guide was perplexed, and, bidding us stay where we were, went off to explore. It was so cold that we made up a good fire, and waited as patiently as we could for his return. He got back in less that an hour. He found what he was sure he had lost--his way.'"Gleanings From Visitors Albums by Frederick Tuckerman, Appalachia, XV, 1926, p. 372. 

The following is a delightful addition to the above account also selected by Tuckerman from the Visitors' Albums: "Early in September, 1821, three young ladies from Jefferson by the name of Austin, ascended Mount Washington by the new Ammonoosuc Path (Fabyan's Path), 'being the first females [sic] who placed their feet on this high, and now, celebrated place."

The Crawford Path was finely standardized in the early 1830s by Joseph Seavey Hall, a well known mountain guide, and Thomas Crawford, Abel's youngest son and then manager of the Notch House. In 1839 Thomas Crawford gave his okay for Joseph Seavey Hall to hire two men, Charles Hall and W. H. Crawford, and with them cut a bridle path to the summit of Mt. Clinton. (see Brad Swan's Joseph Seavey Hall, White Mountain Guide in the June 1960 Appalachia,  pg. 57.)  It took them six weeks to rough out the bridle path to the top of Mt. Clinton. During the next two summers the bridle path was completed to the summit of Mt. Washington (see first photo above) with "corduroy" segments (made from logs tightly laid parallel to each across the trail) in the most muddy areas and with rock cairns above tree line.

 A remnant of the horse corral built in the 1830s just below
the summit. You can see one of the summit TV towers in the
upper left corner. The corral offered some protections for
horses and people from easterly-northeasterly storms but
was exposed to storms from other quarters.

The one thing lacking that deeply concerned Joseph Seavey Hall was a refuge on the long exposed ridge that clients could retreat to during violent, quick moving summer storms that sometimes brought snow and hail. In Hall's diary he shared his concerns about protecting "clients" during violent storms with Ethan Allen Crawford who responded by building a few crude stone structures near the summit that would be offer some protection for one or two people. Then, in 1843 Ethan built a wood "shanty" offering more protection but it only lasted a summer, or two, before disappearing in a storm.  Hall, trying his best to be resourceful in the absence of an adequate refuge, describes drawing the horses in a circle with their heads facing inwards and enclosing the clients inside this "wall" of horses while covering the clients with blankets and shawls to protect them from the violent storms.

To learn more details about Joseph Seavey Hall read Brad Swan's Appalachia June 1960 article about Hall that begins on pg. 57 and contains detailed transcriptions from Hall's eye witness accounts. He was there to retrieve the body of Lizzie Bourne after her tragic death on the summit and he led the rescue party that found Dr. Ball after Ball had been lost on the mountain for several days. It's worth reading for the early history of Mt. Washington and its inevitable commercialization. Eventually, to provide shelter and a hostel, Hall helped construct the Summit House in 1852, the first of several buildings on Mt. Washington. 

In 1821 Ethan Allen Crawford laid out a second trail to the summit of Mt. Washington that was first called the Fabyan Path and by about 1835 had been widened for use as a bridle path. It was about the same distance to the summit as the Crawford Path (8.3 miles) but somewhat more convenient for guests at Fabyan's tavern in Bretton Woods. From Fabyans the path crossed the valley by following the Ammonoosuc River that it forded it 6-7 times. It was about 6 miles to the base of the mountain (near the present site of the Cog Railway base station) where the Fabyan Path left the river and rose steeply where you see the white line in the photo (the white line is now the right-of-way for the Mt. Washington Cog Railway completed in 1869). The summit was 2.5 miles from the base and the ascent on horseback was considered by some to be scary and uncomfortable and it was certainly as exposed to severe weather as the Crawford Path has ever been.

This is a handmade map retrieved from an old Appalachia from the 1930 that helps clarify the two different routes used by the Crawfords for ferrying people to the summit of Mt. Washington. The upper one in this drawing was the first path, the so-called Fabyan Path. The other, of course, is the Crawford Path that exists today that was put in use after 1819. In the same article it is noted that around 1823 Ethan Allen Crawford did, in fact,  construct a few stone "huts", small in stature, on, or near, the summit, that could be used to shelter an individual in a vile storm. No trace of these could be found in the 1840s. The map has some interesting

The following is an excerpt taken from a newspaper story under the headline "On Horseback Up Mt. Washington In 1837" (reprinted in the December 1956 Appalachia p. 281) a 3-page description of an ascent made up the Fabyan (Bridle) Path written by Nathaniel Peabody Rogers, a famous newspaper writer of the day. It's a great read of a first hand account. His party was guided by Oliver Fabyan and he wrote: "It was 6 miles to the base of the mountain in woods in which there were birch and pine trees larger than I've ever seen. We persevered--not talking much. It was very steep and we had to mind our ways, crawling up precipices and around trees and sharp rocks and among roots. After we got out on the naked ridges the climbing was appalling. Occasionally as we cast our eyes right or left, across our hip, we saw clear down the the mountain a thousand feet, or two, and so horribly precipitous that a false step would seem to have sent us to the bottom. As to our descent, we were astounded to find it not only practicable but comparatively easy and safe."
 A group of summiteers who ascended via the Carriage Road in 1862.
The photo is attributed to Bierstadt Brothers. One of them was the 
American Native School painter Alfred Bierstadt, who painted in the
 White Mountains along with Thomas Cole, and Benjamin Champney.
Photo is from Appalachia, June 1934, p. 149.
There's a wonderful companion piece, a narrative taken from the diary of a Ms Mary Hersey Lincoln about a trip she took through the White Mountains in August 1844, and how she ascended Mt. Washington on horseback from Fabyan's. Ms Lincoln begins her narrative by commenting on "Fabyan's Horn" which, by itself, has a colorful place in the history of Mt. Washington. Evidently it had been made by a tinker in Littleton, NH, and ended up at Fabyan's where it became a daily ritual to blow the horn several times a day particularly at sunrise and sunset. The horn had to be blown facing towards Mt. Washington and Ms Lincoln wrote, "here we are at Fabyans at the foot of the White Mountains--the whole of us--blowing the horn and listening to the wondrous echoes as they reverberate from summit to summit! It is glorious! It is like music from celestial orchestras--choirs of angels singing far up in the empyrean. It is not clear tonight so the sounds are not perfect; but Crawford (Ethan Crawford) who is blowing the first blast says 'take some mornings and we take the leaves off the trees!' He is a lusty, hearty old fellow, clever and good natured but he tells awfully large stories," (Appalachia June 1934, p. 147).
                               Above is a painting called "Bridle Path, White Mountains" 
by Winslow Homer of a woman riding up Mt.Washington 
in 1868.  (The painting is at the Sterling and Francine Clark 
Art Institute, Williamstown, MA. Photo was copied from 
 the December 1959 Appalachia, , p. 569).  

Ms Lincoln then describes her ascent the following day (August 14, 1844) which she reports was "the most glorious day I ever spent. We started from our hotel at 8 o'clock a.m. and ascended Mt. Washington, 6775 feet above the level of the sea, over rugged paths the like of which I never conceived or imagined. We rode through a most beautiful path thro' the woods for about five miles, some parts of it quite steep, the mud two or three feet deep, and the path often crossed by large and tangled roots of trees, fording the Ammonoosack six or seven times till we arrived at the foot of the mountain. Then we began the ascent. I experienced not a sensation of fear from beginning to end, which surprises me when I look back in memory to the precipitous passes. We wound along single file over the steeps which wer some of them tremendous, rock and precipitous, preceded by our guide (Oliver Fabyan again). I found I had formed an erroneous opinion concerning the ascent. I had supposed that there would would be suden precipieces on our right and left as we wound up, down which there was grreat danger of our falling, and which I confess I had a good deal feared in anticipation, but it was not so; the precipices were behind us as we ascended, and had we not almost lain upon our horses'necks we might have broken our necks by tumbling backwards. It was beautiful to look down and see the cavalcade winding along up the steep, narrow paths, and still more so to observe the horses carefully picking their way, their noses to the ground--some of their riders walking preferring to trust their own feet." (Appalachia, June 1934 p. 148) Ms Lincoln goes on to describe the views, the luncheon provided by the guides and comments that "I felt in the presence of the infinite."

  "Mt.Washington" by Winslow Homer, from the Art Institute 
of Chicago collection. (photo from the December 1963
 Appalachia, p. 812) It maybe a good likeness of Martha
                                        and Rebecca, the two heroines in the following story. 
There's one more! A letter reprinted in the June 1961 Appalachia, originally written at the Crawford House on July 12, 1860 by a young woman that's starts: "My Dear Sister Anna, We have just returned from Mt. Washington. We have laid aside our horse-perfumed garments, and in silk gowns, have seated ourselves in state in this grand drawing room.  Let me repeat, we have just returned from Mt. Washington. You people down in those level places can't pretend to know what that embraces, that sentence. The ascent and descent are perfectly awful in themselves." Rebecca, the young writer, at that point describes the ride up the Crawford Path in a gale force wind "that blew other ladies in other parties from their horses" saying that she and her companion sat "astride" their saddles at the recommendation of their guides for added safety.  She continues, "The views we caught were fine, undoubtedly, but our faculties were frozen."  The two women spent a windy night "in a queer little room" at the Tip Top House and woke at 5 am to a beautiful sunrise. They bushwhacked down into Tuckerman Ravine with "such terrible climbing, hundreds of feet, thousands possibly, hanging on to tree roots, letting ourselves down by branches, walking composedly through brooks because there were not other paths." She observed that "we were the only two ladies. Two guides were with us--one a good open-faced fellow, all kindness and simplicity, the other a splendid tall, dark-haired man, a perfect specimen of physical perfection. Coming down today I wondered how many of the young ladies he had taken up had fallen in love with him. He sits out there now, smoking a pipe, just opposite the window. Martha has given him a gracious nod, whch he returns with a stately bow. Tomorrow we leave for the Profile House. Affectionately, Rebecca". (Appalachia, June 1961 p. 405-407). (It seems that "Affectionate Rebecca" was trying to make "Dear Sister Anna" a little jealous.)
An AMC file photograph taken by Harold Orne of the first refuge placed on the upper section of the Crawford Path near the present site of Lakes of the Clouds Hut. The refuge was built here in 1901after the deaths of William Curtis, age 63, and Allen Ormsbee, age 24, who both died of exposure during a sudden blizzard on June 30, 1900 while hiking to the summit of my Washington (in photo) via the Crawford Path. Ormsbee died three hundred feet below the summit. Curtis died close to the site of the refuge. Joseph Seavey Hall, and others, had been saying an emergency shelter was neessary on the ridge but it took 50 years before one was actually built there. The refuge was demolished in 1923 following construction of Lakes of the Clouds hut by the AMC.
Several other early, first hand accounts of ascents of Mt. Washington are found in old issues of Appalachia. One, my favorite, by Henry James Tudor is titled, "A Journey on Foot To The White Hills, 1833." (Appalachia, June 1946, p. 41). Tudor walked to Crawford's Notch House in the summer of 1833 from Boston. He describes swimming in every pool or stream he passes with delight, even in the freezing cascades of Crawford Notch. He climbed Mt. Washington on foot by himself and had a pleasant reverie after a swim in the larger of the two Lakes of the Clouds in which he envisioned building a hut exactly where Lakes of the Clouds Hut now sits and fantasized living there during the mild seasons; reading, sauntering in the mountains, hosting scientists, nature worshipers,and contemplating the great philosophers. Another known account is found on p. 286 in the 75th Anniversary edition (May 1951) of Appalachia, by Thomas Whittemore which has a more serious tone than the others. It contains an interesting passage, mirroring Ms Lincoln's account when he writes, "it was a beautiful sight to see our cavalcade winding up the side of Mt. Pleasant (now Mt. Eisenhower)." It's clear that those who wrote of their travels up and down the Great Mountain enjoyed the trip to the summit immensely, finding it spell-binding if not life-changing.  

The period from the 1840s to the early 1900s is called The Golden Age of the White Mountains. It was during those years, up to the WW I,  that the White Mountains were the prime vacation spot in the nation. Visitors included First Lady Mrs. Abraham Lincoln who, on August 6, 1863, rode in a horse drawn carriage up the recently opened Mt. Washington Carriage Road to the summit with her youngest son, Tadd. They enjoyed it so much they returned to the summit the next day. Mrs. Lincoln and Tadd stayed at the Kearsarge House in North Conway where they rubbed shoulders with the other guests. It was the beginning of the period of the Grand Hotels (as in opulent and huge) like The Iron Mountain House (in Jackson that is still a full service hotel) The Breton Woods Hotel (that is still a full service hotel), Fabyans, The Twin Mountain House, The Glen House, The Crawford House, the Mt. Pleasant House, and the Profile House on Profile Lake in Franconia Notch (one of the most famous). In their heyday there were probably close to 30 large hotels encircling the mountains. They were designed for the period in which whole families could come and stay for the entire summer. By the early 1850s railroads provided access to the local hosteleries and people came from around the world to see and climb the famous White Mountains. Generally the hotels were open from June 1st to the end of September. The Mt. Washington Carriage Road, completed in 1861, and the Mt. Washington Cog Railway, completed in 1869 supplanted the Crawford, Davis and Fabyan bridle paths which fell into disuse by 1860
The higher, open summits were naturally the more popular ones for people to go to and where owning and operating a bridle path was a lucrative business. The Bridle Path on Lafayette (Now the Old Bridle Path) was completed in 1852, several years after the Crawford, the Fabyan and Davis paths on Mt. Washinton. (The Davis Path, built by Abel Crawford's son-in-law, Nathaniel Davis, was opened in 1845) The Bridle Path on Lafayette  was cut by the owners of the Mt. Lafayette House, a famous hotel that stood where the Lafayette Place Campground is now. The summit house was just a low, wooden shell of a building resting on and presumably bolted to a stone foundation; a shelter from the wind and sudden storms. It had disappeared completely by 1867 and was apparently blown away in a storm. You can still see the stone foundation for the building right on the summit.  (The above sketch and enclosed dates were found in an article by Brad Swan in Appalachia, June 1963, pgs. 583-585). Around 1857 a bridle path was opened on Mt. Pequawket (Kearsarge North), in Intervale (Bartlett), and various shelters were built on the summit including a two story hotel that Thoreau reports, in 1858, had been abandoned. In the 1920s the hotel was replaced by a refuge-like "hut" and in 1947-1948 the US Forest Service built a fire lookout that still stands. Mt. Moosilauke, like Mt. Washington, also sported a carriage road and an elaborate summit house. The carriage road was, for many years, and perhaps still is, used as a winter ski trail. The summit house burned on October 23, 1942.

Other than the bridle paths that were operated as for-profit businesses there were few actual hiking trails in the White Mountains that gave climbers relatively easy access to the higher summits and not requireing bushwhacking. The Stillings Path, opened around 1852 (The Pace of the Grub-Hoe, by Howie Goff, p. 273, Appalachia, May 1951), that climbed from the highway (now Route 2) in Randolph, up across the northwest shoulder of Mt. Adams, skirted the summits of Jefferson and Clay close to where the Gulfside is now, to the top of Mt. Washington. Mention is made (Brad Swan's article on Joseph Seavey Hall, Appalachia, June 1960, p. 57 that the Stillings Trail was used to freight timbers for the Summit House from a saw mill in Jefferson Highlands to the summit. The long traverse of the range must have been difficult for the horses and its exposure to the weather extreme. In a second article, though, it reports that timbers for the Summit House were brought up from the "Glen" (meaning the Pinkham Notch side of the mountain) and the timbers for the Tip Top House came up the Stillings Path (Frederick Kilbourne, Chronicles of the White Mountains, Boston, 1916). 

Scientists on Mt. Washington and The Presidential Range 1783-1960s 

But the period between the Belknap-Cutler-Little-Fisher scientific expedition of 1784, roughly from the end of the American Revolution to the founding of the Appalachian Mountain Club, there's a rich, little-known history of a vigorous exploration and botanical research that occurred on and around Mt. Washington that didn't require trails. This was the period catalyzed by the observations made by Dr. Manasseh Cutler after the 1784 scientific expedition and regards the rare alpine flora he collected on the mountain. Cutler lost the plants he collected on the 1784 trip in a tumble he took in one of the steep gullies leading down into Tuckerman Ravine. However, his insights into the alpine plant community on Mt. Washington were brilliant and well received. Among other things he'd discovered a new species of dwarf willow and news began to leak out that "Mt. Washington possessed a rare flora on its open lawns and ridges" which brought botanists (and plant enthusiasts) to the Mountain in droves (Ibid p. 51).

Solidago Cutleri, Alpine Goldenrod

Cutler returned to Mt. Washington in July 1804 accompanied by William D. Peck to replace the plant specimens he lost in 1784. On the 1804 expedition Cutler and Peck explored the lawns above the ravines and the ravines themselves; the gullies and streambeds, and found seven new species of alpines including a lovely yellow Geum observed by Peck and that now bears his name: Geum Peckii, (its vernacular name is Mountain Avens). Included among their notes from the 1804 climb is a new calculation for the altitude of Mt. Washington they set at 7,055 feet. (June 1964 Appalachia: The Early Scientists in the White Mountains, p 48.) 

 Geum Peckii, or Mt. Avens

In 1804 the, road, or Turnpike #10 as it was called, through Crawford Notch was completed and access to the region west of Mt. Washington was easier and safer. The wild scenery of the Notch was attracting sightseers. George Shattuck, a Dartmouth graduate walked to Crawford Notch from Hanover with a group of friends and ascended Mt. Washington in July 1807. Shattuck was now a medical student and well trained in taxonomy and had the keen eye of a naturalist. He, too, explored the ravines and gullies on both sides of the mountain and he did something revolutionary no one, with the possible exception of John Josselyn in 1672,  had thought of with was cataloging vernacular names of the alpine plants he obtained from his guide. Shattuck was "taken" by the Mt. Cranberry (Vaccinium Viti-ideae Var. minus) that was in full bloom. (Ibid, p 50). Shattuck may not have been the first to think of it but was the first to write down his belief that a possible reason Mt. Washington is visible from such great distances is because of the light colored lichens growing on the rocks above treeline.

 Mt. Cranberry,
Vaccinium Viti-ideae Var. minus

 Below a few of the lichens found on Mt. Wasington.
In July 1816 Dr. Jacob Bigelow, Francis Boott, Francis Calley Gray (founder of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard), and Nathaniel Tucker, all from Harvard College, ascended Mt. Washington from the eastern side climbing first up Boott Spur and traversing across Bigelow Lawn on their way to the summit. They noted that they "passed the belt of dense spruce with comparative ease by a path cut by the direction of Col. [George] Gibbs some years passed" (Gibbs had the path cut in 1809). Bigelow and Boott were there because they were planning on publishing "A New England Flora". Years after this expedition Boott wrote of the "rapture" he experienced on his first climb when he was gathering Geum Peckii. Boott made successive trips to the White Mountains, often with his brother John. (Ibid p. 51). Bigelow publicized the findings of the July "excusion" in the October 1816 New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery in which he reports finding 70 species on Mt. Washington with "six new alpines" that he described in Latin.

As Dean of the Harvard Medical School, Bigelow would send students to Mt. Washington each year to study and catalog plants. This included Benjamin Greene and Henry Little in August 1823. Little was a second cousin of Charles Pickering, uncle of (Astronomer) E. C. Pickering already noted as the future first President of the AMC. Charles, a distinguished naturalist from Harvard, played an enormous role in shepherding the AMC into an organization with international renown. On Greene and Little's three day-long sojourn on the "Alps", which occurred a few weeks after Shattuck's explorations, Greene discovered an extremely rare alpine moss and a "new" northern honeysuckle.    

Thomas Nuttall, an Englishman, considered the foremost botanist of his time, signed the register at the Notch House on August 12, 1824 creating a lot of excitement among the other guests. He had spent the previous three days bushwhacking and camping on Mt. Washington and came down to Crawford's where he spent a full day carefully packing his specimens in fresh paper to preserve them. To attest to his practiced eye, and his knowledge and skills as a botanist that had given him his reputation, Nuttall, in the space of those three days, as reported by Ethan Allen Crawford, "had got all the alpines of the range" and "got Arctostaphylos alpina (L) Spreng. not found before on the mountain. He found two other Linnaean species of such rarity that they not only had not hitherto been seen on the range but they were not collected again for a number of years--Carex atrata, (C. atratiformis Britt), a sedge, and Gnaphalium supinum L, or mountain cudweed, the smallest, and most inconspicuous composite above timberline on Mt. Washington." (Ibid p. 56). He also found a new species of butterfly commonly known as the white mountain butterfly.

                                                Photo from Appalachia, June 1960, p. 57.)

 In August 1825 William Oakes (as in Oakes Gulf) and Charles Pickering, Harvard graduate students, climbed Mt. Washington to collect specimens of rare alpine species they had read about. Both were respected botanists at the time. Oaks was studying law at Harvard but he was a brilliant naturalist and considered by some to be THE authority on New England flora. Oakes and Pickering were planning the publication of a New England Flora that would be all inclusive and a massive undertaking. Oakes was known as a perfectionist which gave him motivation to excel but also caused him to over extend himself. He was an expert at preserving plant specimens and he drew praise from other botanists  including Asa Gray, of Harvard, author of the Gray's Manual of Botany. Gray wrote of Oakes that "his services to botany are not to be measured by the amount of his actual publications, but there are few botanists in this country who are not indebted to him for some part of their knowledge or for some of the finest specimens in their herbaria." Lucy Crawford, in her History speaking for her husband, Ethan Allen Crawford, observed that a botanist came (The summer of 1825) and made a collection of the plants of the White Mountains, as he could obtain here some rare ones such as are not to be found elsewhere in America. I accompanied him in some of his tours around the mountains and learned the different plants and names, and their different places where they grew. He went three times and around the hills and staid some weeks with us." (Appalachia, Ibid p. 57 )    

 Difficult bushwacking on Mt. Washington.

The following was written on July 25, 1827 in Crawford's hotel register: "Ezekiel Holmes, Gardiner, James Swan Sullivan, Boston, Eugene Abadie, Philadelphia, left Mr. Crawford's house at 7 o'clock in the morning and reached the summit at one o'clock. In the afternoon we were joined by Mr. Oakes and his guide. We concluded to camp on the summit and accordingly stowed ourselves away upon the lee side of a rock without fire or candles shivering and shaking in the mountain breeze like aspen leaves and freezing with cold--the thermometer standing at sunrise at 38 degrees. In the morning Sullivan and Abadie descended to the camp and Holmes in company with the others (Oakes and his Guide) coasted along by blue pond and Mt. Monroe and descended the mountain by the most villanous break neck rout of the Amonoosuck. God help the poor wight who attempts that rout as we did. And now gentle reader Heaven bless you in your upgoings and downcomings, Goodbye." (Ibid p. 68).

In July 1829 Oakes wrote that the "Alpine region of the White Mountains has been thoroughly examined, no corner has not been visited by Pickering,  you (Dr. J. W. Robbins of Uxbridge, MA), or myself, by Little, Greene and other transient visitors, or by Cutler, Peck, Bigelow, Boott, Nuthall, or Barrett. We have 10 to 12 Alpine plants seen by no others" (William Oakes, Pioneer Botanist in the White Mountains, by R. L Goodale, MD, Appalachia, December 1969, p. 578). At the end of this quote Goodale asks "How many skiers and hikers now know who these men were who, in their zeal to discover new plants, had penetrated into the valleys, notches and ravines and climbed the ridges with a thoroughness that left no nook or cranny unexamined? It's a fair question to ask in terms of the extent these naturalists bushwhacked throughout the entire Presidential Range.

Oakes had fallen in love with the White Mountains. He traveled from Ipswich, where he lived, summer after summer and spent more than a month camping and bushwhacking each time. As Goodale states Oakes explored every inch of the the ridge more thoroughly than the others before him and until his untimely, tragic death in 1848 Oakes acted as "custodian of the range" (Ibid p ). He eventually was able to catch up with Nuttall in finding the cudweed, the Potentilla Robbinsiana, and the Carex atrada. Oakes officially named the Robbinsiana in honor of his life-long friend and mentor, Dr. James W. Robbins.

 A not particularly good photo of Potentilla Robinsiana, or
Dwarf Cinquefoil, that I took near Lakes after a heavy rain.
The petalswere beginning to drop and it looks a little worse
for wear, but in full blossom it's lovely and a rare alpine flower.
It was listed on the Federal Register of rare and endangered
species, but, due to heroic restoration efforts, including
transplanting, it's been removed from endangered status the
federal register. Oakes named the plant for his close friend
and fellow botanist Dr. James Watson Robbins who Oakes
credited with its discovery.

Oakes' explorations in the White Mountains overlapped, by several years, the arrival of Edward Tuckerman (as in Tuckerman Ravine) who first came to Mt. Washington in 1837. Oakes, of all people, referred to Tuckerman as a "botanical fanatic". Tuckerman, a few years later wrote of Oakes, "Mr. Nuttall added one or two [new species] to the White Mountain Flora: as Arbutus alpina--but it was Mr. Oakes and Dr. Pickering with Dr. Robbins, who almost doubled the list of plants as it had been left by Cutler; Bigelow; Peck; Boott." The two men became close. Tuckerman was 18 years younger than Oakes and, in some respects, became Oake's protege, but the essential aspect of their relationship was the unspoken part. They came each summer to work and were both dedicated. Oakes was still thinking about his New England Flora idea and Tuckerman became ensconced with the lichens of the Range. He was delighted with Oakes' description of the White Mountains, as " a perfect garden of lichens". Tuckerman often referred to himself as a Lichenologist. 

It was that delight, the compelling beauty of the Range, and their reverence for the White Mountains that brought them back each summer. They didn't just stay on the primary peaks, either. Tuckerman, being younger, ranged far and wide and is credited with several discoveries including Arethusa Falls, on Mt. Bemis in Crawford Notch, in 1840. Tuckerman explored all the ravines thoroughly, every inch. He bushwhacked everywhere and, most likely, where no one had ever been before or since.

Mossy Falls in King Ravine. Both Oakes and Tuckerman, separately 
explored most of the ravines including King Ravine and later spoke
of its beauty. On the headwall both located stations for Arnica mollis.

There's little written about either man.  Only their obituaries contain small glimpses of their personal lives. Asa Gray wrote a long and highly complimentary obituary for Oakes who died tragically in 1848. There's an equally complimentary Memoir of Edward Tuckerman, 1817-1886  by botanist W. G. Farlow, that was read before the National Academy of Arts and Sciences in April, 1887. One passage that stands out is, "He made numerous visits to the White Mountains and botanized on the most inaccessible peaks and in the wildest ravines at a time when the White Mountains were as difficult of access as the Rocky Mountains or the Sierras at the present day. With the exception, perhaps, of Oakes, no botanist has ever explored the mountains with the same zeal and success as Professor Tuckerman, and, as far as lichens are concerned, the collections of Oakes are naturally not to be compared with those of Tuckerman." (I think Farlow was saying that Edward's lichen collection was far superior to that of Oakes.) Tuckerman honored Oakes by naming the genus, Oakesia, after him which was then changed after the International Symposium on Botanical Nomenclature. Later Sereno Watson honored Oakes by adding his name to the Genus Uvularia as in Oakesia sessilfolia.

Tuckerman also studied the papers of John Josselyn (mentioned above), who came to the colonies in 1663 and climbed Mt. Washinton. Tuckerman "privately published an edition of Josselyn's 'New England Rarities Discovered' with annotations, including a biography of Josselyn along with other sketches of the earlier sources of our knowledge of New England plants and some of the people who made them known." (Farlow, Memoir of Edward Tuckerman, 1887.  p. 19.) (It sounds like a valuable book to study.)

It's interesting that for both men botany was an avocation. Oakes studied law and practiced law for several years in Ipswich before devoting all his time to natural history. Tuckerman had numerous degrees from Harvard including Law and Divinity degrees. At Amherst he was the chair of the Oriental History departments. In their interest of plants they both channeled their curiosity and vision towards a deeper understanding of plants and plant communities, particularly the community of alpine flora on Mt. Washington. Today they'd be referred to as plant ecologists. Like Manasseh Cutler, Oakes and Tuckerman were curious about the effects of light, altitude and weather on the alpine plants. They made observations of the soil and soil mositure. Oakes was also interested in phenology of the alpine plants. Near his home in Ipswich, MA, he took, for several decades until his death, careful measurements of a dozen species of common plants rergarding the exact moment they blossomed in the spring and when they went into senescence in the fall. These were painstaking observations which have great value today as evidence regarding questions about global warming.

In September of 1839 David Henry Thoreau (This was name he was baptized with but later changed) made his first of two visits to Mt. Washington. He was 22 and just graduated from Harvard College and not sure of his path in life. John, his older brother of three years, accompanied Henry on this, their first major undertaking together. Regrettably, it was their last as John would die from tetanus, or lock jaw, at Christmas in 1842. The account of their trip is described in Henry's A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers published in 1849. First, they canoed north from Concord, Massachusetts to just below Concord, New Hampshire and then by a combination of coaches and walking proceeded through Franconia Notch and, to the north and east, through Twin Mountains to Crawford Notch where they slept at the Notch House before taking a day to climb Washington. Henry is a little "ho-hum" about the natural history. Friends, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, reported that in 1839, at the age of 22, Thoreau didn't have "an eye" for natural history. In 1858 he returns. This time he'd studied Tuckerman a bit and now had a keen "eye" for natural history and botany that he didn't have in 1839. He climbed Mt. Washington from "The Glen", or the  Pinkham Notch side of the mountain and was accompanied by his friend Edward Hoar who helped haul their camping and cooking gear. On this excursion Henry is strictly a naturalist, but his journal, again, is kind of "ho-hum". He does not appear to be there to explore, or further knowledge, but to make a list and leave. He set the woods in Tuckerman Ravine (near Hermit Lake) on fire accidentally. It burned a few acres, but other than that the trip was successful. Henry came away satisfied that he had correctly identified 42 out of 47 of the alpine specimens he had come to see.

Thoreau around 1860. Photographer unknown

The carriage road up Mt. Washington from The Glen was opened on August 8, 1861. The cog railway, up the west side of Mt. Washington along the route of the Fabyan Path, was completed in August 1869. These two conveyances translated to larger and larger numbers of people visiting the summit and who, due to their numbers and anonymity, were impossible to keep track of. A high percentage of them must have been compelled to hike and explore particularly down through Tuckerman Ravine, or the Great Gulf, or across the ridge to Jefferson, Adams and Madison, all of them technically bushwhacking as there were no official paths. There's a report from 1859 about a rescue in Tuckerman Ravine of a man who had broken a leg in a fall from some ledges and had lain where he fell for 7 hours. His pleas for help were finally heard by a hiking party descending the mountain and he was carried out in the night, by torch light, to the Glen House (Appalachia June 1963, A Mount Washington Letter, p. 582).

A register was placed in a bottle and left on the summit of Mt. Adams in 1854 by the guide, Ben Osgood. It gathered many signatures. Adams had been climbed so much that crudley blazed path existed from Randolph up through the old forest on the lower slopes, through the krummholz to treeline and over the felzenmeer to the summit.  (In the following Part III  there's a extensive history of path making in the White Mountains.) So, until the 1870s bushwhacking was a necessity practiced in service to both scientific exploration, and the excursions of sightseers and the curious trampers. There were myriad reasons to bushwhack: looking for good swimming plaees is one, or to find a patch of snow in June or July, or to go from point A to point B, or find "alone time" with your sweetheart. The more who came to the mountains the more who felt the urge, that yen to go, to see, to climb, and, perhaps, imagine going where no one had gone before. How many people could look at Mt. Adams and not want to climb it?  Thoreau said it well, "I doubt if in the landscape there can be anything finer than a distant mountain range. They are a constant elevating influence." (Journal, May 17, 1858.)

It isn't clear if, after Oakes, Tuckerman, and Thoreau, there was a lull in botanical exploration in the White Mountains. It was getting difficult to keep track of people and a sense that everthing had been discovered, every stone had been turned. Certainly there were botanists, but it's likely they were filling out their personal herbaria. Asa Gray died in 1888 just two years after Tuckerman and Merritt Lyndon Fernald eventually took over as his predecessor at Harvard. Gray had put an enormous effort into cataloging and integrating the Linnaen classification system into a comprehensive list of the flora of the northeastern US and southern Canada. By the 1840s, largely through the genius of Carl Linnaeus and more progress in standardizing taxonomy and underscoring botany's importance to medicine, it was growing in stature as a science, an exciting one at that. After its first printing in 1848 Gray's Manual of Botany went through a number of printings to keep up with growing numbers of new discoveries and the rapidly changing, modernization of classification and nomenclature. Born in 1873, Fernald settled on botany as a profession while in his teens and after one year at Maine State College was offered a position at Harvard. He eventually edited and updated both the 7th and 8th editions of Gray's Manual of Botany while he was teaching botany at Harvard. The eight edition, printed in 1950, contains 1567 pages plus a lengthy glossary and index in English and Latin.

 Calista "Cal" Harris at Lakes of the Clouds with Mt. Monroe in the 
background in July 1984. One of my earliest botany teachers, Cal 
was a brilliant naturalist who loved the White Mountains and who 
came in the 1920 and seemingly has never left.

Over the course of several decades, up into the early 20th century, Fernald inspired a new generation of White Mountain botanists that included Arthur Stanley Pease, one of Fernald's earlier students.  The introduction of the 8th edition of Gray's Manual includes Oakes' name in the same paragraph as Arthur Stanley Pease's. Like Oakes, Pease was a botanist by avocation. He was a professor emeritus of Latin at Harvard. The other botanists trained by Fernald were Albion Hodgdon, Fred Steele, A. Lincoln "Linc" Washburn, Harry Levi and Stuart "Slim" Harris. Others not students of Fernald's, but brilliant botanists, were Miriam Underhill,  Calista "Cal" Harris, Jean Langerheim and Margaret Lewis. Margaret was a fine botanist but with an expertise in Fungi. She authored many articles on fungi and led many AMC mushroom workshops. One of her articles, Fungigenic Mountains, can be found in the June 1963 Appalachia, p. 456 which is accompanied by lovely illustrations she drew of mushrooms native to the White Mountains. Jean Langeheim"s specialty was the non-vacular lichens. Miriam, Slim and Jean collaborated in the 1964 publication of White Mountain Flowers of New England (AMC, Boston, 1964). Fred Steele later compiled At Timberline, A Nature Guide To The Mountains of The Northeast published by the AMC in 1982 which covers plants, birds. reptiles, amphibians and mammals.

Stuart "Slim" Harris, Further Flowers of the Presidential Range--the Composite Family, from Appalachia, June 1942. Slim did all of his own plant drawings and they're each works of art. In the lower center is the Mountain Cudweed that Nuttall discovered near Lakes of the Clouds on August 12, 1824

There's a long list of other botanists who sojourned in the Whites and contributed to the plant lore and were every bit as much "held" by the beauty of the range. Lawrence Bliss, because he was one of my mentors, comes quickly to mind along with his excellent publication from 1963, "Alpine Zone of the Presidential Range". (I'm currently in the process of  reprinting Bliss' treatise which is available free of charge.) No list would be complete without Dr. Harry McDade's name, another MD and country doctor who worked and lived in Littleton, NH, who possessed a great love for the mountains and natural history. My fondest memory of Doc McDade, as I mentioned in my obituary for George T. Hamilton a year ago (2-18-12),  concerns his incredible genius, a skill he had finely tuned, in bird lore and the ease with which he could identify the different species of mountain birds with a single note of their songs, summer or fall, winter or spring. He had trained himself to actively observe; to listen, look, and be present in nature.  I have no idea the actual number, but it's large, of the people who's lives he saved, literally and from everything from mauling by a bear to lightening strikes, over the many years he was associated with the Whites.

When I met Harry Levi in 1961 he was director of Harvard's Arnold Arboretum. When I began guiding for the AMC in the early 1960s I carried my 8th edition of Gray's Manual with me everywhere and it was Harry that bailed me out several time by showing me the proper use of the taxonomic keys. When I got stumped keying out a plant I could run to Harry or Miriam, Cal, Fred or Slim, or Brad Swan--each of them a brilliant naturalist and educator--to get my answer which would usually be in the form of a question: "What do YOU think it is?" they'd ask and if I was right I got a nod, possibly a reaffirming smile, and if I was wrong I was gently told, "try again."

(Photo by Sandy Wilbur) Cal Harris, in the back with her ever-present red kerchief keeping her hair out of the wind, and daughter, Sally Wilbur, with grand kids Shawn and Sara (foreground). Sara appears to be sneaking something out of her official AMC trail lunch instead of looking for birds with her grama and mother. As a path to learning natural history this is invariably the best, an immersion through the group, in this case the family. I say it's best because it is not time-bound and over time what is learned again and again is absorbed and becomes internalized. Recognition grows with a sense of place, as well as a reverence. It's about the senses and observing. And it's a skill.

 Members of the AMC Snow Shoe Section on Mt. Clinton in 1914.
Jessie Luther had spent many years as a missionary with the Grenfell Mission in Labrador and as
a member of the AMC's famous Snow Shoe Section was undaunted by below zero temperatures. (Photos by Guy Shorey, copied from Appalachia, December 1958; May 1951.

For several decades the members of the naturalists' group were the mainstay of what you might call the AMC's "early" naturalist "program"; an educational program of sorts, but it was low key and fully participatory. If you liked lectures as a way to learn there were always several in Boston during the winter months on various subjects related to natural history. At it's inception the Club had several objectives including "Exploration" (map making) and "Improvement" (path building) both geared to making the mountains accessible to the public and to get people out-of-doors into Nature by any means possible. The first stage was to get people outfitted properly, second, to get them educated in mountain safety, and, finally, get them on the trail. The educational piece was embedded in the trips; dozens of trips run every year, usually several every weekend, with different themes and objectives. There was even a group called the "21ers" that was just for people under 21. There was a hardy group called the Snowshoe Section that spent weekends and, usually in February, two whole weeks at one of the large inns in Jackson, NH, or elsewhere close to the mountain trails, and snowshoed to every place imaginable including the summit of Mt. Washington and the Pemigewasset Wilderness. The AMC group activities included hiking, snowshoeing, canoeing, camping, rock climbing, ice climbing, month-long camps in the summer to far flung places around the world to study the fauna and flora and have fun, birding, natural history and ecology, and trail maintenance. In the process, were gently brought into the natural history of the White Mountains by their generation of naturalist. The groups were all about education.

A photo titled "Love Birds" by photographer Guy Shorey from
one of the AMC's Snowshoe Hikes in Randolph in 1918.

 Shorey titled this one simply AMC Party on Gray Knob (Mt. Adams), 1917

These groups were AMC groups, run by designated, trained, and experienced leaders. They leaders were trained naturalists as well as experts in mountain navigation and safety. For instance, one large week-long, winter group, lodging at the Glen House in Pinkham Notch, had Robert L. M Underhill as its leader and a more capable, brilliant, or creative mountain leader did not exist. The groups were advertised for AMC members but non-members would be included if there was room. Membership was only a few dollars then. One out of every three groups was typically a "naturalist" trip focusing on flowers, birds, mushrooms, ferns, fauna (as in learning animal tracks), or geology, or "all of the above". The groups I led in 1961-1966 out of Pinkham Notch focused on everything imaginable but mainly birds and flowers. Harry Levi, Cal, Slim Fred Steele, and occasionally Harry McDade, were all-around naturalists and they taught members of the beginners groups as patiently as they taught me.  From Pinkham the groups would hike to various points in the mountains on treks that lasted from 1 or 2 days with a night at Pinkham or at one of the huts, or an 8 or 9-day trip across the whole range. One event that remains in my memory was the Alpine Flower Walk with a locus at Lakes of the Clouds hut. It was held for several years right when Lakes opened for the summer in early June. Miriam Underhill was largely responsible for creating the "walk", with the help of many others who attended yearly. It was educational, but a great social event, a summer kick-off. The gist of it was that in early June a large group would assemble at Pinkham Notch, then break into smaler groups and hike by various paths to Bigelow Lawn or the summit. Each group was accompanied by a naturalist. The groups would end up at Lakes of the Clouds for Saturday night where there would be a huge dinner and mingling. Sunday, before everyone departed, there was a leisurely walk near the hut led by Miriam which visited the "stations" of the rare alpines with on-going discussions about each of the plants. Miriam personally "knew" each of the plants, or so it seemed.

The AMC philosophy was that the best way to turn a person into a nature lover, an environmentalist, was to bring them into the mountains; the valleys, woods, and streams, the high shoulders and ridges with their lawns, and the rocky peaks and cols, and introduce them to those environments through the terrain, the flowers, the birds, the weather, and get them comfortable there. The next step was to assist them in learning to observe on their own, to learn how to pay attention, to be actively present in the natural world of the White Mountains. If you were climbing South Twin with Doc McDade he would often stop and listen. Something would make him stop. Then he would smile and look at you to see if you could hear it (or see it). He would cock his head towards the sound and then you would hear it. The same with Slim, Cal or Fred, or Harry Levi, they would wait for you to see the thing, the flower, whatever, or hear it, and gradually come to know it and know it's place. It would come alive to the beginner. I have degrees in Plant Ecology and Environmental Education, but what I rely on most is my senses; being attuned, open, relaxed but excited, too--"all ears", as they say, or all ears and eyes.

(Photo thanks to Sandy Wilbur) The AMC's educational approach was integrated into a campaign promoting mountain safety. The increased number of deaths, particularly on Mt. Washington and adjacent peaks was becoming alarming including the tragic death from exposure of two young people just below the summit of Mt. Washington on July 19-20, 1958. (Appalachia, December 1958, p. 267).  In the December 1958 issue of Appalachia (p. 274) the Club's Mountain Leadership Committee announced a "four pronged campaign which, it is hoped, will produce real results in the months and years to come".  The campaign focused on literature and poster displays, improving warning signs on trails at or above timberline to disseminate critical and commonsense-based information, and, most important, certification classes for trip leaders.  Certification required participating in workshops for Grade I, II and III. Trip leaders, such as camp counselors or college outing club leaders, taken out on the trails for a weekend-long class in the "how to" of good leadership a well as good stewardship in the White Mountains. The classes were popular and well attended. Appalachia published detailed articles regarding the first trainings in the June 1959 (pgs. 311, 321, and 541) that included a reflective piece written from the particpant's viewpoint in the December 1959 issue (of Appalachia). Ike Meredith led a Grade III Mountain Leadership clinic that was reviewed in the December 1960 issue, and further articles appeared in the June 1961 issue (p. 391), the December 1962 issue (p. 327.), and the December 1963 issue (p. 756) so that the essential aspects of the trainings were disseminated to a large audience of climbers and camp directors.

The huge effort expended by the AMC in sponsoring these leadership clinics and certification programs made the Club the leader in North American mountaineering safety and mountaineering medicine education. It continued this role in sponsoring Mountain Medicine workshops with speakers like Dr. Harry McDade, a leading authority on frost bite, Dr Charles Houston,  of K2 fame and a leader in highh altitude physiology, Martin Krieder, who teaches about Exposure, Cold Hardiness, Clothing, and Equipment, and Dr. Hans Kraus, a leader in what he calls "Muscular Fitness Standards and Preconditoning for Mountaineering". Their separate papers from the symposium, held at Pinkham Notch on January 20, 1968, are transcribed in both the June and December 1969 issues of Appalachia. Dr. Marlin Krieder's excellent article Death From Cold was published in the June 1960 issue of Appalachia on p. 1. Although all of these papers are dated today, they are still salient and well worth reading.

(Photo courtesy of Sandy Wilbur) While the AMC doesn't run trips or promote hands-on involvement in mountain leadership or mountain medicine as much as it did four decades ago it publishes books on mountain safety and medicine similar to the Seattle Mountaineers Freedom of the Hills.  The naturalist and environmental education program has gone through some changes. It has to struggle with the fact that there is a tiny "window" to impress any kind of "curriculm" on the guests because they move through so quickly. The program's core is didactic only because the guests are there and  then they're off again. Only a small percentage of hut guests return to a hut after visiting it once. Now the natrualist program is taken on separately by each hut which has its own resident naturalist, a croo member trained for the task, who is available to answer questions and, usually in the evening, will give a 45 minute talk (above photo). The natural history talks are geared to the specific hut site and its immediate environment whether its in the alpine zone, or, like Zealand and Lonesome Lake, at lower elevations. The talk is always informal and open to questions from the guests. The huts also feature a dynamite junior naturalist program for the children that's very popular since it features a graduation ceremony at breakfast worthy of an Ivy League university.

Modern Sources of Scientific Information and Natural History

Arthur Stanley Pease accomplished what Oakes and Pickering and earlier, Cutler and Peck, had dreamed of doing which was to publish a flora of New England that included the alpines on Mt. Washington and the other Presidential peaks. (Mt. Lafayette isn't named in this narrative yet but it, too, has representative specimens of some of the alpine species found on Mt. Washington including most of the common and some of the rare ones. There is a station on Lafayette for P. Robbinsiana that Fred Steele kept track of for years.) In 1924 Pease published his magnum opus the Vascualr Flora of Coos County, New Hampshire. It was widely celebrated as something long overdue, particularly by members of the AMC of which Arthur was one.

A page from Pease's Vascular Flora of Coos County, New Hampshire showing the format he used that includes the stations where the plant can be found, physical characteristics of the station, and names of the botanist or person who first identified the specimens. If you're not familiar with botanical names look at Potentilla Robbinsiana Oakes that was discussed above. You can see that Oakes was first to identify it, and gives the Latin name but leaves out the colloquial name which is Dwarf Cinquefoil for some reason. In his obituary for Pease Charles W. Blood wrote:

"I knew him best in connection with the White Mountains, where he had spent his summer vacations since boyhood. I first me him in Mahoosuc Notch one hot August day in 1918. As three of us were opening the Mahoosuc Trail through the Notch, he came down alone from Fulling Mill Muntains, having run a string line across from Goose Eye for an extension of the Mahoosuc Trail to the south. In the forest he had a sure--almost instinctive--sense of topography. He was one of a group of men at Randolph who knew the mountains. He is said to have climbed 200 peaks in New Hampshire.

His chief avocation was botany, specializing in mosses and ferns and he followed this from NewFoundland to the sourthern United States, the West Indies, and into Europe. It was said that he knew every blade of grass in Coos County. Five plants were named after him. The best known of his botanical books is Vascular Flora of Coos County, New Hampshire, and one of the most charming is Sequestered Vales of Life. When I became Counselor of Topography (for the AMC), I found him a most valuable source of information in connection with little known streams and ponds in the region north of the Mt. Washington Range where he had botanized. He would take a sketch map and fill in the local details with extraordinary accuracy."

Charles' observations underline another facet of Arthur Pease who, like C. H. Hickock, bushwhacked nearly every square foot of New Hampshire. In it's range and accuracy Vascular Flora of Coos County was a milestone in its day, an extraordinary achievement for Pease who was not a botanist by profession. By taking the entire area of Coos County he could present all the alpines with the aquatic plants of Lakes of the Clouds as well as the lowland Cherry Ponds (Pondicherry). It inspired and informed the principal team of Slim Harris and Miriam Underhill (and a few others), in putting together the comprehensive, portable Mountain Flowers of New England that was published by the AMC in 1964, the year that Arthur Pease died.

This illustrious group of botanists is gone now, but botany in alive and well in the White Mountains. The concept of regarding the White Mountains as a classroom and laboratory is also alive and well. Much has changed including the spirit of exploration that existed for more than a century. There's now a kind of fervor focusing on education, awareness and preservation that's part of a campaign run by the AMC to promote the "best use" of the mountains and huts. The reverance might be there in a modern context, but it's clouded by political tensions around protecting the alpine plants from the carelessness of hikers and how that gets done. A question is whether the AMC needs the plants more than the plants need the AMC.  Another set of related question is how much education does a hiker need, or want, and how can the hiker have a voice in the answer to that question? The AMC, it is often pointed out, obtains most of its income from the huts. Isn't that a contradiction of purpose?

Short History of Geology and Meteorology in the White Mountains

To briefly cover the scientific exploration in other disciplines, particularly geology and meteorology, means going back to the mid-1800s again, back to 1830 and the publication in England of Charles Lyell's 3-volume Principles of Geology which symbolized a sea change in the way humans were conceptualizing the Universe, particularly the concept of time, and the impact of physics. Scientific activity in other disciplines was going on simultaneously and creating a synergy. Comunication between the disciplines was improving. An example is the impact of Carl Linnaeus' work on all the sciences including philosophy. His thoughts about sexual reproduction and hybridization were revolutionary and brought forward questions regarding "adaptation" that would tease scientists like Lammark and Charles Darwin as he began writing his revolutionary On The Origin of Species with the mind-boggling wonders of change, evolution, process, systems, and even geology. The Universe was no longer static.

In the last half of the 19th century geologists began exploring the White Mountains, perhaps enticed by  early botanists, but the unique features of the Presidential Range, the glacial cirques, Tuckerman Ravine and, just above it, the nearly level expanse of Bigelow Lawn, certainly drew the attention of the curious sightseers but also from scientists and university science departments.  By the time in 1858 when Thoreau paid a visit to Tuckerman Ravine, there was already a large body of knowledge about the mechanics involved in the formation of Tuckerman Ravine, but with the knowledge came controversy, in the form of competing theories that would take decades to resolve.

Charles H. Hitchcock, as the New Hampshire State Geologist, published the three volume Atlas To Accompany the Report on The Geology of New Hampshire in 1875-1878. In 1868 Charles became professor of Geology at Dartmouth College which led him to become New Hampshire's State Geologist.  The Atlas included a set of maps of the surficial and bed rock (structural) geology of the state and a written narrative explaining the maps. It was an energetic undertaking and achievement. To create the Atlas, Charles had to explore much of the state on foot. Accuracy was the goal and it brought together, for the first time, a comprehensive look at the complex geology of the White Mountains. Charles was the son of Edward Hitchcock who taught Geology at Amherst College from 1845 until 1864. One of the seven peaks in the Holyoke Range where I often hike (See 2-3-13 Sunday Morning on The Seven Sisters) is named Mt. Hitchcock in honor of Edward Hitchcock as was Glacial Lake Hitchcock, one of the three large glacial lakes of New England that existed up until roughly 11,000 years ago. Edward Hitchcock, in a little know visit to Mt. Washington in 1841, was one of the first to correctly identify the striae on ledges just below the mountain's summit as having been made by ice, a glacier, carrying stones, that put grooves in the rock. J. W. Goldthwait, et. al, The Geology of New Hampshire Part I--Surficial Geology, New Hampshire State Planning and Development Commission, Concord, NH, 1951, 1958. p. 17)

I want to insert another footnote here that I think is of interest to the discussion that, going back to the Belknap-Cutler expedition on 1784, a high number of the naturalist-scientists who came in to the White Mountains to research early on, were devout, religious men, ministers with parishes in towns in Maine, New Hampshire and Massacusetts. Such was the case with Reverend Jeremy Belknap, Reverend Daniel Little, even Edward Tuckerman who had a Divinity Degree from Harvard, and, also, Edward Hitchcock who taught religion at Amherst. They were representatives of the sciences AND religion, which I find fascinating.  One simple explanation for the connection might be that to become ministers they had attended schools and colleges where they were exposed to science and the larger questions about the Universe. In Europe as well, at the time of Linnaeus, students of sciences were often students of theology.

While Charles Hitchcock's "Atlas" stirred interest in the state's geology and the White Mountains he also stirred interest in the meteorology of the Presidential Range and, particularly Mt. Washington.   As early as 1853 the idea of a weather observatory on the summit of Mt. Washington was discussed principally by D. O Macomber, the new president of the Mt. Washington Road Company (Mt. Washington Reoccupied, Monahan, p. 3). Macomber's idea didn't materialize, but another man, James Huntington dreamed of spending a winter on the summit that he shared with Hitchcock and it became their pipe dream for a decade until Hitchcock's appointment to the professorship at Dartmouth and his subsequent promotion to State Geologist. In 1869, not able to get permission to use any of the summit buildings for a winter stay-over, Huntington retreated to an offer to winter over on the summit of Mt. Moosilauke, which he accepted. Even though it wasn't Mt. Washington, with its legendary winter weather, the encampment proved of great value to Huntington. The following year Huntington and  Hitchcock, with four associates, kept a meteorological station on the summit of Mt. Washington from November 1870 to May 1871. The value of the station's observation were immediately apparent to the federal government which continued to maintain a full-year weather station on Mt. Washington until 1887. It remained open for summer observations until 1892.

These scientific achievements would lead to the eventual creation of the Mt. Washington Weather Observatory ("The Obs") which, from the onset, maintained several objectives, each of great value: studying radio waves and resolving contemporary (1926-1932 as the planning period) radio problems, to keep consistent. timely meteorological data using state of the art equipment, studying weather in the upper atmosphere (above 1000 meters), and to study extra-meteorological phenomeon such as solar radiation (Monahan, pgs 12-13). The occupation of the summit began on October 14, 1932 with four observers: Robert Monahan, Alex Mckensie, Joe Dodge and Sal Pagliuca. Joe Dodge was to be a part time croo member as he had duties to attend to down in Pinkham Notch. His daily assistance to the Obs from the valley was of immeasurable importance.

Photo of the Stage Office (for the Mt. Washington Auto Road) which housed the first Mt. Washington Weather Observatory for the winter of 1932-1933. I'm not sure who to assign the photo credit to, but probably to Robert Monahan from his Mount Washington Reoccupied, published by Steven Daye Press, Brattleboro, VT. 1933. p. 80).

The Obs was located in the Stage Office. With the founding of the observatory came a period of continuous habitation and observation by humans of the natural world above the treeline and it opened a new age of scientific exploration of the White Mountains. Symbolically, James W. Goldthwait, of Dartmouth College and President of the New Hampshire Academy of Science, leveraged a contribution of $400 for the Obs from the academy in 1932 which was one of many donations of money and services that made the creation of the observatory possible. In another glance backwards in time James W. Goldthwait will have importance in finishing the mapping of the structural geology of the mountains. James published The Geology of New Hampshire in 1928 that was a much needed update of Charles Hitchcock's 3-volume set by the same name published in 1875. Earlier,

In 1916 James had published Glaciation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In 1951, James and his two sons, Richard and Lawrence, published The Geology of New Hampshire, Part I--Surficial Geology. In 1939 Richard Goldthwait, alone, published Mt. Washington in the Great Ice Age, and in 1940 he produced Geology of the Presidential Range printed by the New Hampshire Academy of Science.  A group that included Richard,  Marland Billings, Katharine Fowler-Billings, Carleton Chapman, and Randolph Chapman, later published The Geology of the Mt. Washington Quadrangle New Hampshire in 1979.  All of these monographs are essentially a continuous series of updates as the work continued and each of them is worth  reading to understand how the White Mountains were formed over vast periods of time and by what forces and the detective work that goes into figuring it all out.

I left out one nifty study that was written by Ernst Antevs in 1932  titled The Geology of the Alpine Zone which has a section on the Presidential Range and a section on Katahdin. It has a very similar look and covers much of the same ground as Lawrence Bliss' 1963 monograph The Alpine Zone of The Presidential Range. Both books have sections of geology, glaciology, botany and studies of the native fauna in the Alpine Zone including insects. Antev's writing is refreshingly brisk and clear and poses a good alternative read to the other studies mentioned. They are all important. Antevs had  published The Recession of the Last Ice Sheet in New England in 1922 of which I have not found a
copy. It was received well by the Goldthwaits and others. In The Geology of the Alpine Zone his goal was to build a strong, irrefutable case that the Wisconsinan Ice Sheet covered the entire range for a period of time. He wrote, "Strong and fresh erratics on the summits and the absence of an upper limit of glacial action indicate that the entire range was buried beneath the last continental glacier. Since the surrounding land stands at 1000 feet elevation, the ice in this region was at least 5,000 feet thick." (p. 7). It was precisely the questionof how thick was the Wisconsinan while it covered the White Mountains all that time that was the inspiration for this blog a number of years ago. Since then I've found out that there's still disagreement of whether the Wisconsinan glacial sheet actually covered the summit of Mt. Washington. Inspite of Antevs' expertise and seemingly sound conclusion the question is still being debated. Geology is alive and well in the White Mountains.

Photo copied from Mount Washington Reoccupied by Robert S.Monahan, Steven Daye Press, Brattleboro, VT., 1933. Bruckner, by the way, was helping out at the Observatory the day this photo was taken. His official title was caretaker of the Marshfield buildings at the base of the Cog Railway. He offered to set up a meteorological station at Marshfield and maintain daily communication with the summit. The comparative data Bruckner obtained turned out to be very useful.

So, as the stalwart observatory crew symbolically cranked up the stove that first day to heat up the refurbished Stage Office for its first winter on the summit the Observatory had already become a hub for scientific exploration across several disciplines in the White Mountains and that would eventually produce a continuum of cross fertilization of ideas and the camaraderie that follows.

The observatory quickly made a name for itself on April 12, 1934 following two days of increasingly severe wind, at 1:21 in the afternoon exactly, Sal recorded a wind gust with a velocity of 231 miles per hour. The other crew members with Sal at the observatory, at that moment, were Alex, Wendel Stevenson, and two quests, Arthur Griffin, a photographer, and George Leslie, a friend of the crew, who all went briskly to work keeping recording equipment clear of rime, operating the stop watches, watching for ice damage, etc, and being witnesses to the accuracy of the recording. A faster gust was recorded electronically in 1996 on Barrow Island, off the north coast of Australia, in the center of a cyclonic storm. The gust measured by the Mount Washtington Weather Observatory remains, for a lot of people connected with the Obs, the fastest wind velocity every recorded. The equipment that measured the 231 mph gust got an unplanned "test" a few months earlier, on January 29th, when, Sal wrote in the log, "there occurred the extreme combination of 47 degrees below zero temperature and 100 mph wind velocity."  (p. 150, Appalachia, June 1934).

Governor John Sununu, of New Hampshire in April 1984 with Wendell Stevenson, third from left, and Alex Mckensie, far right, at a ceremony at Pinkham Notch celebrating the Big Wind of 1934. No one seems to know who the guy on the left was. Alex and Wendell, with Sal Pagliuca, were the crew
that measured the 231 mph gust, the fastest ever hand recorded on Earth. Sal died in 1942 while 
serving in the U.S. Army.

Alex McKensie with Robert S. "Gramps" Monahan  at another 50th anniversary celebration of the 231 mph gust of wind during the Obs' Annual Meeting in June 1984.  Gramps, the author of Mount Washington Reoccupied was a member of the Observatory crew in April, 1934, but was not on the summit the day of the world record wind.

What is often said about that enormous gust of wind, aside from its record breaking speed, is that it underlines the severity of the weather on Mt. Washington and, even though that gust may have been one of a kind, the wind is often above 100 miles an hour including down on the ridges below the summits, and needs to be respected by everyone hiking on the mountain. It still can be said that Mt. Washington has the worst weather in the world.

If you are interested in more information about the Mount Washington Weather Observatory there's a website at . There is a short article in the June 1934 Appalachia (p. 150) by Salvatore Pagliuca titled The Strongest Wind Ever Measured. Sal was one of the observers at the Obs on April 12, 1934. There's another article in the November 1935 Appalachia titled Mt. Washinton Observatory Carries On by Arthur Bent (pg. 552) that describes early research at the Obs with radio waves, a cutting edge technology at the time. There's also an excellent story in the June 1962 Appalachia by Alan Smith on page 26, with more about the history of the obs and some photos.

The narrative concerning the geological exploration of the White Mountains and particularly Mt. Washington is included in other parts of this blog sufficiently to not warrant repeating, but the cross fertilization mentioned above, and the camaraderie, is worth a reminder. From John Josselyn to Cutler, Bigelow, Peck, Oakes, Tuckerman and the 20th century botanists/naturalists also mentioned above there was a connection between all of them which I have underlined numerous times which is the reverence these folks had for the mountains, for the wildness, the sense of place, the haven, the beauty, with the camaraderie itself, and the freedom that is associated with mountains.

I want to end Part II with a portrait of a lovely person who had a deep reverence for the White Mountains, a real character who, herself, was much loved and revered. Her name was Emily Klug and I'm disappointed that I never got to meet her.  Emily was born in Germany but lived and worked as a nurse in Brooklyn, NY For 20 years, or more, she came to the White Mountains for her annual vacation and spent all her time hiking. She returned to her family in Germany prior to WW II but continued to send cards and letters after the war. She died in in Germany in 1961.

The period of time that she hiked in the White Mountains was roughly from 1920 to 1940. She was loved by hut croos for her idiosyncrasies and independent nature as much as her hiking ability and strength. She was very near-sighted and difficulty making out landmarks or reading trail signs but it didn't deter her from going out in all kinds of weather. She carried everything she needed in her long skirt, which, in those days, was more or less required for women. Once on the trail she would pull up the hem of her skirt to her waist and use a belt to hold it there. She then had a "pocket" in which to carry things including a sleeping bag of sorts, really a bivouac sack, and some other equipment. She could sleep where darkness caught up with her and was not constrained by trails or schedules. She was a free spirit in every sense. (Photo is by Harold Orne, from Appalachia, June 1961, p. 400.)

One story I heard early on about Emily's eye sight was because she couldn't see well, and didn't like to wear glasses when she was hiking, she took photographs of everything and would look at them later, at home during the winter, after they had been developed. She carried a small black notebook in which she wrote notes of her travels and exact details of the photos she took including the date, time, place, stop used, and light conditions. (Photo and story from Appalachia, June 1963, The Best Friend a Hutman Ever Had, Milton "Red Mac" MacGregor, p. 439). (Red Mac was the first AMC huts manager.) Red Mac, a.k.a Milton, wrote:

"During World War I, when stories of signals from Mt. Washington were heard on every side, Emily was arrested and taken to jail in a nearby town. The angry hutmen were ready to storm the jail, but calmer heads succeeded in having her released by legal means. The hutmen never forgave the fact that 'the little black book' ad the camera were never returned." . 

Red Mac also observed that "her habit of never sleeping under cover, even in stormy weather, led to her equipment getting damp on many occasions. I recall coming upon her by the trail one day after a rainy spel. Her entire belongings were spread out in the sunshine, and she sat in the midst of it calmly reading a book of poems and enjoying herself immensely. I sat and talked with her and there was not a complaint of the weather we'd been through. Her own meditations, the flowers she had seen, and the birds and brooks that had talked to her by the way had so pleased her that she was rested and happy with it all. She carried her own sunshine with her." (Ibid, p. 440. Photo is from Appalachia, December 1976,  p.29).
Photo of Emily's cave from Appalachia December 1961, p. 561
Emily used shelters like this one, called Emily's Cave, that she found among the boulders in the ravines and on the flanks of the mountains. The one in the photo is located on the southeast side of the Mt. Washington summit cone and is still there. She also used one in Huntington Ravine where she cached some of the dry foods she used and changes of clothes. Emily would stay at the huts now and then and would be honored by the hut croos. While there she would give the croos hair cuts, darn their socks and sew tears in clothing. If one of them was sick she would bundle him off to bed and nurse him back to health. Today, we would think of her as remarkable along with her mannerisms and humility. Here was someone who literally drifted through the mountains, bushwhacking or using trails, content and at ease in this environment, respecting and enjoying the mountains to the fullest.

End of Part II.


KBW said...

Hey Alex,

I am interested in the progress of this ski traverse. The Pemi in winter is on my short list of future adventures.

The second half of this post has some formatting issues and is cutting off the right side of the text.... is it showing up that way on your end? I'd like to finish reading.

Be well.


karend176 said...

Could you please provide permission for me to use the photo of Jessie Luther in her fur costume from Labrador. I am writing about the Grenfell Mission In Newfoundland for an audience of spinners and weavers in Ontario, Canada. Thankyou Karen

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