The Beaten Path
Originally published April 2, 2014
“A fond farewell to the Village Book Store”
By Mike Dickerman
The recent announcement that the Village Book Store in Littleton will be closing shortly was sad but not unexpected news. Small independent book stores like this downtown mainstay have struggled mightily in recent years as online shopping and the emergence of ebooks have drastically changed the way people buy and read old and new books alike.
Witnessing the slow, agonizing downfall of this once downtown hotspot has been painful for me both on a personal and professional level. Having shopped at the bookstore for close to 30 years, and having developed a strong relationship with many of its former and present employees, it’s as if a close friend has decided to suddenly move out of town with no warning and little time for a proper good-bye.
When I first moved to this area from Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom some three decades ago, it was because I wanted to be closer to the White Mountains. I had only “discovered” this mountain playground a few years earlier when I first took up hiking shortly after graduating from college in 1982. But my appreciation and fondness for this region grew exponentially with every trek and by the mid-1980s I knew this was where I belonged.
After settling into my first New Hampshire home in Bethlehem, and landing a job with this newspaper, I quickly wanted to know more about the mountains, their landscape, and the communities that are such an integral part of this region. To quench this thirst for knowledge, I soon found myself making weekly visits to the Village Book Store, which at that time was still in the space now occupied by Gold House Pizza. Through my weekly purchases, generally made on Friday nights (just after doing the laundry and just before grabbing dinner and a beer at the late, great Clamshell Restaurant), I slowly built up a small personal library of books devoted to area hiking trails and local history. It was also at the bookstore that I purchased numerous USGS topographic maps, which were handy when planning my next off-trail hiking adventure with frequent peakbagging partner Steve Smith.
The number of guidebooks, maps, and history books that wound up making their way from the Village Book Store shelves to my living room certainly added up over time and many of those items purchased there more than two decades ago still grace the shelves of my small home library. These items naturally include at least four editions of the revered AMC White Mountain Guide, George McAvoy’s interesting book about the grand hotels, And Then There Was One, Paul Doherty’s classic memoir Smoke from a Thousand Campfires, and Fran Belcher’s fascinating Logging Railroads of the White Mountains.
As my writing career with The Courier progressed, and my inventory of hiking columns grew to well over 150, it was in 1994 that I convinced the newspaper’s ownership to let me publish my first collection of hiking pieces. This book, titled “Along the Beaten Path,” debuted in the fall of that year and to this day I’ll never forget seeing stacks of the book getting prominent placement at the Village Book Store, where then owner Ned Densmore enthusiastically endorsed the book to just about everyone who entered the store that holiday season. Thanks to Ned’s salesmanship, we actually ran completely through the first print run of 1250 copies by year’s end, and would subsequently reprint the book three more times. Without question, the Village Book Store sold more copies than any retail outlet in the area, and this positive experience soon led me to writing and developing other local interest titles, all of which have been fully supported by the Book Store and its staff members over the past 20 years. Without the Village Book Store, I don’t think Bondcliff Books, my small publishing firm, would even be in existence today.
As a book author and publisher whose products are geared specifically to shoppers such as those who have frequented the Village Book Store over the years, the loss of this important retail outlet will no doubt impact my bottom line. Yes, my books will still be available online, at other regional outlets, and even at my small bookshop in downtown Littleton, but the whole book publishing experience will no longer be the same for me when the book store closes its doors for good. Through thick and thin the Village Book Store has always been there to showcase my newest books, usually on the small, square display table that store visitors first see as they enter though the front door. It was on that very table that my publishing career took root and for that I will be forever grateful.
Thank you Rusty, Jay, Ned, Dave, and all the others whose paths I have crossed in the book store over the past 28 years. It’s been a memorable run that is sadly ending far too soon.
Originally published March 12, 2014
“Whitefield man and son prepping for the Appalachian Trail”
By Mike Dickerman
With Spring just around the corner (finally), this is the time of year when many hiking enthusiasts begin advance planning of their summer and fall mountain excursions. For most mere mortals, this means figuring which White Mountain summits they’ll attack between now and next winter, and which trails they’ll use to reach these varied peaks. Certainly anyone who has attempted to climb all forty-eight of the White Mountains 4,000-footers knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Roger Doucette of Whitefield is one of those hikers who have spent a good deal of the winter planning his 2014 hiking itinerary, but he’s got something more ambitious in mind than New Hampshire’s highest mountains. Doucette, who is retiring this week from his longtime job with Sherwin Dodge Printers of Littleton, is planning an attempt to thru-hike the 2,186-mile Appalachian Trail this year. As things stand right now, he and his son, Jim, will begin their trek in early April atop Springer Mountain in Georgia and over the next five months will work their way north to Katahdin in northern Maine.
Striking off on the AT will be quite a change for Doucette, who began working for the former Courier Printing Company more than forty-five years ago and has been with the company and its successors ever since. I first met Roger 27 years ago when I began my 12-year stint as a reporter for The Courier. In the intervening years he’s accompanied me on many a mountain hike, including many of the White Mountain CROPWALK hikes I’ve been involved with over the past quarter of a century.
Even though Sherwin Dodge Printers and The Courier went their separate ways many years ago no, I’ve been fortunate to work closely with Roger on many of my subsequent book publishing projects as a majority of the titles I have seen through to publication have been printed by Sherwin Dodge, including our bestselling hiking guide to the White Mountain 4000-Footers. It‘s only fitting then that one of the last major jobs Roger is handling at Sherwin Dodge is a reprint edition of the 4000-Footer guide.
Roger will be 64 years old when he and Jim begin their AT hike in early April, so he’ll no doubt be among the older thru-hikers on the trail. He’s a young 64, however, and a real bull on the trail, so I’m betting he’ll do a lot better than a lot of his younger trail compatriots. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, about 3,000 hikers attempt an end-to-end traverse each year, with about 25 percent of them actually completing the feat. Coincidentally, one of Roger’s Forest Lake neighbors, former Bethlehem postmaster Buddy Newell, hiked the complete trail several years ago, though he did it over two years (1989 and 1990).
Here’s hoping retirement suits Roger well and that he and his son have a trail adventure of a lifetime. I look forward to seeing both of you again this fall, with a season’s worth of trail tales to tell.
New AT planning guide from AMC
Since we’re on the topic of the Appalachian Trail, here’s a reminder that the Appalachian Mountain Club recently announced that have made available online a newly revamped and expanded planning guide geared to AT hikers. The guide, available at www.outdoors.org/appalchiantrail, is intended to provide detailed information on free and low-cost overnight options for thru-hikers passing through the White Mountains region. Each year, AMC assists thru-hikers with a free “work-to-stay” program at its eight backcountry huts and eight backcountry campsites and shelters that are on or near the ATR. These opportunities are available on a first come, first serve basis to thru-hikers. According to Rob Burbank, AMC’s director of media and public affairs, the club offers up to 34 work-for-stay opportunities to thru-hikers on a nightly basis.
The new online guide is designed to help long-distance thru-hikers plan and prepare for their hike along the AT in the Whites and the rugged Mahoosuc region of western Maine. “The logistics of planning a thru-hike…can be challenging, and we wanted to provide some useful tips and information that could help make that process easier,” explains Burbank. “We welcome AT thru-hikers to the Whites and Mahoosucs, and hope they’ll avail themselves of the amenities and opportunities described on our website.”
In addition to outlining the services available to thru-hikers, the online guide also details AMC’s commitment to trail stewardship and helps hikers prepare for their trip through the Whites. “The region sees much heavier use than other sections of the AT, due to its popularity with day-hikers and backpackers, as well as thru-hikers,” says AMC Backcountry Resource Conservation Manager Sally Manikian. “Thru-hikers are likely to encounter a higher concentration of more intensive resource protection measures here in the Whites and Mahoosucs than elsewhere along the AT. Given the heavy use and rough terrain, AMC staff and volunteers put in thousands of hours working to conserve natural resources.”
“Our objectives with the new online guide include improving our ability to respond to thru-hikers’ needs as they plan their hike, as well as during their time on the trail; raising awareness of how we meet the variety of challenges we face in maintaining the Appalachian Trail and how we use campsite fees to provide needed trail stewardship; and inviting thru-hikers to help conserve trail resources along with us as they enjoy a life-changing trip along the Appalachian Trail.”
Originally published September 26, 2012
“The CCC era in and around Kinsman Notch”
By Mike Dickerman
(Fifth in a series)
While much of the history of the Kinsman Notch area revolves around Lost River Gorge, the Appalachian Trail, and the logging era of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, another fascinating part of its story is the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which established two camps within just a few miles of the Notch itself.
From 1933 to 1937, and again for two years beginning in April 1939, the CCC’s Wildwood Camp operated just west of Kinsman Notch in the Wildwood section of Easton. The camp, located off Tunnel Brook Road, initially opened in April of 1933, but was not fully staffed until early May when enrollees from the 139th Co. at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, were transferred to Wildwood. This being the first camp of its kind in New Hampshire, it was not all smooth going for the CCC boys, at least not at the start.
According to the camp newspaper, The Pioneer, “The trials and tribulations of the Pioneer construction company in its task of building the first CCC barracks in New England are chronicled less formally in the memories of those enrollees who piled lumber and drove nails for the future home of the 101st Co. It has been remarked that all the mistakes of barracks construction were made in the Wildwood buildings, but what gigantic enterprise has not been introduced with at least a few mistakes. That these faults have been readily recognized and properly corrected is evidence by the practical yet attractive barracks which identify the subcamp sites.”
Massachusetts “boys” formed the vast majority of the original company, while a mix of boys from Massachusetts and Maine comprised the company in its later years. Initially, the camp offered little in the way of entertainment for the enrollees, at least at night after work hours. “There was no radio...not even a deck of cards so that the men…had nothing to do in the evenings but smoke their pipes and cigarets [sic] and talk…The men would have read but they had no books, magazines, nor newspapers to look over,” reported the Manchester Union Leader. As a result of this story about the Wildwood camp, a fund drive was soon established and before too long donations flooded into the camp. Items included radios and radio equipment, jigsaw puzzles, horseshoes, volleyballs, cards, and plenty of reading material. A Manchester organizer of the donor campaign also used money raised in the drive to purchase basic baseball equipment, which he and a party of other Manchester residents personally delivered to the remote camp. No sooner had the boys finished their meal that they “unpacked the bats, gloves and a couple of baseballs and were out in a nearby field playing,” reported the paper.
One of the primary projects undertaken by this CCC camp was construction of the so-called Woodstock-Warren Road (today’s Route 118) to the east of Kinsman Notch. Work on this rugged mountain road was completed in the fall of 1936. The Wildwood camp’s second go-around (1939-41) was prompted by the great New England Hurricane of Sept. 21, 1938, which devastated much of the forestland in the White Mountains west of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range. According to the June 1939 edition of Appalachia, the journal of the Appalachian Mountain Club, Lost River and Kinsman Notch were hit hard by the storm. “We find that the young growth in the district around Kinsman Notch and Lost River was not hurt badly, but on the Notch itself, below Beaver Lake, and continuing north for a mile on both sides of the highway, everything is flat,” reported the journal. For two years after the big blow, the Wildwood CCC crew spent most of its time cleaning up the timber that had been blown over during the hurricane.
North Woodstock was also home to two other CCC camps, one off Tripoli Road (east of present-day I-93) and the other closer to Kinsman Notch between Jackman Brook and present-day Route 118. The latter was situated about a half-mile south of Route 112. This camp opened in June 1935 as a National Forest facility but was not fully staffed by a full complement of enrollees until 1937, when it was then under the jurisdiction of the state forestry department. In February 1936, several men from the Wildwood Camp were transferred to the North Woodstock camp so that work on the Woodstock-Warren Road could continue through the winter months. Several months later, in May 1936, the entire 101st Company was transferred there. Besides working on the Woodstock-Warren Road, the “boys” undertook several other area projects that summer, including construction of Lincoln’s telephone lines, building a road entrance to the camp, construction of the Wildwood Forest Camping Ground, and building the Elbow Pond road bridge. This camp closed in April 1939.
Other CCC projects handled by the two Kinsman Notch area camps over the course of their existence included:
--work on the North and South Road connecting Benton and Glencliff, and further improvements to Tunnel Brook Road;
--construction of a dam at 117-acre Long Pond in Benton;
--improvements to the Benton Trail up Mount Moosilauke and the Tunnel Brook Trail at the western base of Moosilauke;
--construction of the Coppermine Ski Trail on Cannon Mountain and Coppermine shelter near Bridal Veil Falls.
Originally published August 8, 2012
”The era of logging in Kinsman Notch and Lost River”
By Mike Dickerman
(Third in a series)
With Lost River’s fame spreading following its inclusion in several local guidebooks, including Frank Carpenter’s “The Franconia Notch and the Pemigewasset Valley” , local officials deemed it was finally time for a permanent road to be established up into Kinsman Notch and beyond. In 1901, the towns of Woodstock and Easton laid out a road seven miles in length that linked Woodstock to the Wildwood area of Easton. Two years later, in 1903, the state appropriated additional money to make improvements to the road, but further improvements came to a halt around 1905 when the timber companies invaded the forested slopes of nearby Mount Moosilauke and the valley of Lost River. Their presence would be felt for years to come as they practically swept clean all the softwood trees that were accessible to the lumberjacks’ axes.
Publishers Paper Co. began its invasion of the region in 1906 when it began harvesting timber in the Agassiz Basin area, four miles below Lost River. Other local timber interests (including George L. Johnson of Monroe) operated in the basin from 1903 to 1914, establishing logging railroad lines to aid in shipping cut timber to mills in Lincoln and Woodstock.
Heavy timber cutting was also taking place at this time on the north and west side of Kinsman Notch, in nearby Tunnel Brook valley, and in the valley of the Wild Ammonoosuc River. Here, logs were “driven” down the river from the top of notch to the Connecticut River by way of the Wild Ammonoosuc and Ammonoosuc Rivers. A series of four dams constructed between Kinsman Notch and Bath served to control the flow of the river, making log driving possible on this otherwise poor driving river. Much of this timber was cut by crews working for the Fall Mountain Paper Co., which later became International Paper Co.
In the book Walks & Climbs in the White Mountains by Karl P. Harrington, the author described a visit to the Lost River area during the height of the logging activity thusly: “On arrival at the point in the road where we must leave for the gorge, we found ourselves in the midst of a wilderness of devastation, dead treetops, felled logs, and a network of abandoned log roads. Our cup of indignation was full when irresponsible parties built a ‘shack’ wherein to exploit the traveller’s hunger, thirst, ignorance, or other weaknesses.”
The intensive logging of this region of the White Mountains reached into many different corners of the Lost River valley and its surroundings. The Gordon Pond Railroad extended from Johnson village in North Lincoln toward local landmarks such as Gordon Pond, Elbow Pond, and well up the Lost River valley, practically to the lower entrance to the gorge itself. Cutting occurred also on the nearby slopes of Mounts Blue and Jim, Mount Cushman, and Mount Cilley.
C. Francis Belcher, in his book Logging Railroads of the White Mountains, quotes a Colliers magazine article (May 1, 1909) by writer Ernest Russell in which he reports that “Between 600 and 700 men are at work [in the Lost River area]…butchering the beautiful forest of that valley and doing the most reckless lumbering I have ever seen in the mountains. Do not lay this blame at (lumber baron James E.) Henry’s door but at the door of the great paper company (Publishers) that sold the stumpage of that 30,000 acre tract to a worse than ignorant contractor.”
With a relative short time frame in which to harvest as much timber as possible, George Johnson’s timber crew went all out in their efforts, averaging more than 14 million board feet a year during their ten-year contract. In one year alone, under the direction of legendary woods boss James E. (“Jakey”) McGraw, some 26 million board feet of timber was cut.
As has been related by several noted logging historians, including Dartmouth’s J. Wilcox Brown and Vermonter Bill Gove, McGraw infamously devised a way to harvest a patch of prime virgin spruce that was situated above a tall, rugged cliff high above Beaver Pond and Kinsman Notch on the slopes of Mount Blue; this was a place most considered unreachable by man or beast. The resourceful McGraw cut a logging road around the cliff ands up into the steep valley of Stark Falls Brook, and then devised an ingenious scheme for sliding the logs down to the meadow below.
At various times, the Lost River-Kinsman Notch logging operations included several mills along the lower Lost River, several logging camps (including one along Lost River and another in the Beaver Meadows), the various railroad lines extending a total of 13 ½ miles from Lincoln, and even a small schoolhouse near the sawmill settlement.
By 1908, there was a growing interest in preserving the Lost River area as officials with the Society for the Protection of NH Forests began to negotiate and raise money to purchase approximately 150 acres near the gorge. By 1912, the Society’s efforts to save Lost River came to pass when a 148-acre tract was purchased for $7,000 from area timber interests. A good portion of this total ($5,000) came from the estate of Miss Dora Martin of Dover, N.H., who willed to the Society money earmarked specifically for the purchase of forestlands within the state. Her bequest, coupled with $1,315 raised from White Mountain area hotels, and other money donated to the Society from members and friends, added up to the $7,000 needed to buy the land from timber baron George Johnson, who owned cutting rights to the trees still standing on the Lost River tract. This purchase was the first and oldest of the Society’s many New Hampshire properties.
According to forest historian J. Wilcox Brown, George Johnson later regretted his decision to sell the Lost River tract to the Forest Society as he never envisioned the land as having potential as a recreational hotspot. During a visit to the gorge in 1916, where we spent the day watching throngs of visitors pay twenty-five cents admission to the caverns, Johnson famously told reservation superintendent Michael McCarthy, “Dammit, I never should have sold this place, and I couldn’t see it.”
To be continued…
Originally published August 1, 2012
“The history of Kinsman Notch and Lost River”
By Mike Dickerman
(Second in a series)
Over the years, the discovery of the Kinsman Notch region’s most famous natural landmark—Lost River Gorge--has been credited to a pair of Woodstock men who in 1852 headed up the Moosilauke Brook valley on a fishing trip. Following the course of the stream that runs east from the height-of-land in the Notch, brothers Lyman and Royal Jackman were carefully making their way along the boulder-strewn stream bed when Lyman suddenly disappeared from sight, having slipped on a moss-covered rock and into a hole. After a fall of about 15 feet, he found himself floundering in a waist-deep underground pool. His brother came to his rescue, fishing him out of the pool that would eventually become known as “Shadow Cave.”
Royal Charles Jackman (1828-1915) was for many years a Woodstock resident, though he was not a native of the town, being born in the New Hampshire town of Canterbury. He has been described as a carpenter, blacksmith, and carriage repairman. His younger brother, Lyman Jackman (1837-1913), was born in Woodstock (or Peeling) on Aug. 15, 1837 and is best known as a decorated Civil War soldier serving in the Sixth New Hampshire Regiment for the Union Army. Capt. Jackman authored the official regimental history of the NH Sixth. The Jackman brothers came from a large family, which included 10 other siblings. Lyman was the youngest of the family’s four boys. Their parents were Royal and Lucretia Jackman.
While word of the Jackman boys’ discovery slowly passed from one settler to another, undoubtedly prompting return trips by the Jackmans and occasional treks to the gorge by other curiosity seekers, it wasn’t until September 1874 that the first thorough exploration of Lost River took place. This multi-day excursion, organized by Isaac Fox, proprietor of the House of the Seven Gables in North Woodstock, included seven people, three of them women. The group spent two full days exploring in the Lost River caves, and subsequent accounts of their trip appearing in newspapers in several prominent city papers in the Northeast brought Lost River its first widespread notoriety.
In 1893, Royal C. Jackman, who’d returned to the North Woodstock area after an absence of 15 years or more, guided a group of tourists up into the gorge and upon reaching the spot where his brother had fallen into the cave 41 years earlier, remarked, “This is where my brother found the lost river.” Thus was born the name of this great wonder of the White Mountains.
The next big year in Lost River history was 1895, when two separate excursions into the gorge opened the way for future explorers to enjoy its unique scenery. In early August, W. S. C. Russell of the Cascade House in North Woodstock and Charles Jackman, son of Royal Jackman, ventured to the gorge where they “cut paths, and spotted trees so that ladies may go there with little trouble,” wrote Russell in the Bethlehem-based summer newspaper, The White Mountain Echo and Tourist’s Register. They also explored nearby Beaver Brook and its falls – “unquestionably the grandest falls in New England; which probably less than a score of people have seen,” wrote Russell, adding also that “a good path has been cut to them…and has been extended over the mountain to join the old Moosilauke road to Woodstock.”
Also in August 1895, Frank O. Carpenter, another summer resident of North Woodstock and a lover of the mountains, trekked up to Lost River with Elmer Woodbury, a lifelong Woodstock resident and faithful promoter of the region. It was during this trip that Carpenter named the various caves in and around Lost River. He later returned to the gorge and painted the names on the rocks near each cave.
Carpenter, who once described the Lost River Gorge as a “remarkable freak in brook scenery,” was a founding member of the trails-oriented turn-of-the-century North Woodstock Improvement Society, and in 1898 penned the guidebook The Franconia Notch and Pemigewasset Valley and therein espoused the glorious virtues of the Lost River boulders caves, claiming, “Nowhere in the White Mountains except in King’s Ravine and the Ice Gulch in Randolph are there such mighty boulders and ledges as in the Lost River, and the latter surpasses the others in the number and extent of the shadowy caves.” He went on to warn of its inherent dangers, however, writing, “It is very difficult for women to visit, as it is often dangerous, is far distant in the forest and requires severe exertion…It is very dangerous for any one to visit the gorge alone, and unwise for the inexperienced persons to attempt it without a guide, as there are many chances for serious or fatal falls into deep caverns.” His guidebook then proceeded to list the five most “experienced” guides to the Lost River caves. These included Royal Jackman, Elmer Woodbury, Wilbur Hunt of North Woodstock, W. S. C. Russell, and Carpenter himself.
Woodbury (1865-1940), meanwhile, was an active and devoted public servant, serving his community at one time or another as selectmen, school board member, auditor, tax collector, forest fire warden, state road agent, and town representative to the New Hampshire General Court. As mentioned previously, he was also a great supporter of his town, and writing under the name of Justus Conrad, was able to promote the Woodstock region through published pieces appearing in the July 1897 issue of Granite Monthly and in a booklet titled The Town of Woodstock and Its Scenic Beauties. Writing under his own name, he also penned the illustrated booklet Historical Narrative of Lost River and Kinsman Notch, which is the basis for much that we know of the early history of Lost River and Kinsman Notch.
To be continued…
Originally published July 25, 2012
“The history of Kinsman Notch and Lost River”
By Mike Dickerman
(First in a series)
As this year marks the 100th anniversary of the purchase of Lost River Gorge by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, I’ve decided to honor this milestone event by presenting a condensed history of the Kinsman Notch and Lost River region in the White Mountains. Over the next few weeks, I’ll use this space to pass along some of the more interesting historical tidbits related to this somewhat “forgotten” Notch. We’ll start with some background information and go on from there.
Kinsman Notch, which is situated along Route 112 between North Woodstock and Easton, is one of more than 20 so-called “notches” or mountain passes in the White Mountains. Though it is not as well known as some of its sisters notches such as nearby Franconia Notch or Crawford and Pinkham Notches well to the east, the elevation at its height of land is a respectable 1870 feet above sea level, or about 1,000 feet higher than the neighboring villages of North Woodstock and Lincoln (811 ft.). The pass is flanked to the north by the long-running Kinsman Ridge and to the south by Mounts Blue, Jim and the massive Mount Moosilauke.
While it is almost a certainty that Native Americans and early settlers of the region visited Kinsman Notch on occasion, it wasn’t until 1810 that the first trail or path was established up to it. The so-called Spencer Trail was a crude route up and over the pass, but it did allow for easier movement of the mail between North Woodstock, the Bungay/Wildwood section of Easton, and the Haverhill area along the Connecticut River. When a much better road was constructed through Franconia Notch a few years later, use of the Spencer Trail dwindled and it eventually became overgrown and presumably tough to follow.
Kinsman Notch and the ridge of mountains running north from the height-of-land in the notch are named for Nathan “Asa” Kinsman, an Ipswich, Massachusetts native, born in 1741, who settled with his family in the region in the late 1700s Kinsman was a veteran of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, and during the former was captured by the British and presumably ransomed back to the colonists. Kinsman was married twice, his first wife and two infant children dying premature deaths.
In 1782, Kinsman moved to the Lincoln (or Morristown) area from Concord, settling on a 400-acre tract of land on the west slopes of today’s Mount Kinsman in what was then known as Lincoln Gore. This tract lay of the other side of the mountains from Lincoln (or Morristown) proper and would eventually be annexed. As a result, he is considered the first permanent settler of what we now know as the Town of Easton.
With the aid of two men, it’s believed Kinsman cut a nine-mile trail over the mountain range that now bears his name to the site of his future homestead. There, he built a log cabin and raised his family with his second wife, Elizabeth Shattuck of Littleton, Massachusetts. Some histories speculate that his route through the woods might have actually come from the Haverhill area and through Benton, and not through Lincoln, but the story most often related over the years states that Kinsman’s route over the mountains took him over the height-of-land where the power line now intersects Kinsman Ridge, just above Bog Pond. This mountain pass, in fact, was for many years known as Kinsman Notch, while today’s Kinsman Notch was referred to as Moosilauke Notch. Somewhere down through the years, the name of Kinsman Notch was transferred from its original remote location to the more accessible pass near Beaver Meadow.
It’s thought that the Kinsmans had four children (Stephen, Nathan Jr., Peter and Martha) at the time of their relocation to Lincoln, while a fifth child (Timothy) was born shortly thereafter in 1783, probably the first child born in present day Easton. A sixth child, also named Peter, was born in 1775, but died a year later.
Kinsman was a well-respected man, described both as a “hatter” and a physician. In 1790, he was appointed coroner of Grafton County, which at that time also included most of today’s Coos County. He was also active in local politics. He lived to the ripe age of 81, dying on Feb. 8, 1822, and is buried in the Kinsman Cemetery in Easton, in the shadow of the peaks of the Kinsman Range.
To be continued…
Originally published June 20, 2012
“In alphabetical order, some of my favorite hiking haunts”
By Mike Dickerman
Since I’m frequently asked about my favorite hiking destinations, here’s a barebones alphabetical peek at some of the places near the top of my list:
Adams (Mt.) – It’s never easy to reach the region’s second highest peak (5774 ft.), but every approach is spectacular and you won’t regret the 360 degree summit view.
Bond Range – In my mind, at least, the three Bonds represent the heart of the White Mountains. With each peak more than eight miles from the closest public road, West Bond, Bond and Bondcliff are as remote as they come. I’ll never forget my first visit to this range. Although it was mid-August, temperatures were only in the upper 30s, rainfall was heavy, thunder rocked the mountains, and winds were strong enough to knock me over numerous.
Crawford Path – The historic nature of this footpath that runs from the top of Crawford Notch to the summit of Mount Washington leaves me in awe every time I find myself slowly ascending Mount Pierce. The 200th anniversary of its opening is just seven years away.
Dilly Trail – Short and intense are the best two words to describe this steep half-mile-long trail from the Lost River Reservation parking lot to the Kinsman Ridge Trail. For all your scrambling up its rocky way, one is rewarded with a unique viewing ledge overlooking Lost River valley. With 850 feet of climbing, you more than earn your keep.
Edmands Path – Another historic route onto the southern Presidential Range and the best single way to attack 4780-foot Mount Eisenhower. Its modest grades are what define this trail.
Franconia Ridge – Is there a more spectacular mountain ridgeline in the Whites? Not as far as I’m concerned. The hike between Mts. Lafayette and Little Haystack tops just about everyone’s list, if you don’t mind the crowds, that is.
Gorge Brook Trail – Of all the approaches to Mount Moosilauke (which is located in the southwestern Whites), this is my favorite. A relocation of the trail some 15-20 years ago made this an even better route.
Hancock Loop Trail – If memory serves me correctly, this was the last official trail built to a major 4000-foot summit in the Whites. That was nearly 50 years ago. The wooded ridge walk between Hancock’s north and south summits has long been one of my favorites, especially in winter.
Isolation (Mt.) – No peak in the Whites sees more 4000-footer finishers than this one. On one memorable winter trip to this mountain many years ago, it was about minus-25 degrees when my hiking partner and I set out for the long 14-mile trek. Despite hiking with a huge hangover, I made it safely to the summit, where it remained below zero, even at midday. It was about that time that I swore off drinking the night before a big hike.
Jericho Road Trail – Local readers and hikers will probably be the only ones to recognize the name of this relatively obscure hiking trail. It begins near the height-of-land on the Easton Road (NH 116) and climbs an easy 3.2 miles to the top of wooded Cooley Hill (2480 ft.). I especially enjoy this hike in early spring, and love poking around the summit area, which at one time (1939-1948) was home to a Forest Service fire tower, the remains of which are still very much in evidence.
King Ravine – This great glacial cirque on the north slopes of Mount Adams is a true natural wonder. There’s a nice hiking route to the floor of the Ravine (by way of the Short Line from the Appalachia parking lot off Route 2 in Randolph), but you really haven’t experienced the true nature of this cirque until you’ve ascended the King Ravine Trail from the floor of the ravine to the Airline Trail high above. It’s steep, rough, and truly spectacular, climbing more than 1200 vertical feet in 0.6 mi.
Liberty, (Mt.) -- Another 4000-footer well worth visiting. The jumble of rocks that form the 4459-foot summit allow for views in all directions. I’m partial to the view to the east, where the Pemigewasset Wilderness is laid out at your feet, while the Bonds rise high up behind the long ridge of Owl’s Head. The first time I climbed this mountain—by design, I might add-- was July 4, 1983. As I rested atop the summit that afternoon, Sony Walkman attached to my head, I listened to New York Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti no-hit the Red Sox.
Martha’s Mile – This stretch of trail between the summit of Cherry Mountain (or Mt. Martha) and the other Owl’s Head (Jefferson) is one of the prettiest anywhere. Credit longtime trail maintainer Bill Nichols (Littleton) and current trail guardian John Compton (Bethlehem) for doing such a great job in keeping it in fine hiking shape.
North Twin -- Though the view from the actual summit of this 4,761-foot peak is merely okay, two outstanding ledges close by make this one of the better “hangout” mountaintops in the Whites. The first of these ledges, found one tenth of a mile below the true summit (along the aptly named North Twin Trail), looks east and provides a 180-degree view that includes the Presidential Range. Another ledge, just a few yards west of the summit, looks towards Mt. Garfield, the peaks of the Franconia Range, and the depths of the western Pemi Wilderness. There are fewer better places to take an extended lunch break.
Osecola (Mt.) -- This 4000-footer will always be among my favorite peaks as it was the first one I climbed in the Whites. Back then (July 1982) I knew practically nothing about hiking and owned no personal climbing gear—not even a day pack. Somehow my college hiking buddy Dave and I successfully made it to the top and the summit view hooked me for life. Given that you can see forty-one other 4,000-foot peaks from the summit, it’s easy to see how that might have happened.
Pemigewasset Wilderness -- The history, beauty, and remoteness of this vast region drained by the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River all conspire to lure me back into the “Pemi” year after year. Whether I’m enjoying the solitude of the Shoal Pond Trail or marveling at the stunning panorama from the top of Bondcliff, I always feel at home in the Pemi.
John “Quincy” Adams (Mt.) -- There aren’t many place names to choose from with this letter of the alphabet, but you certainly can’t go wrong with the summit of Mt. John “Quincy” Adams, the 5,410-foot rocky hump that towers above the Adams-Madison col in the northern Presidentials. Accessible by way of a scramble from the Airline trail, from the top you’ll enjoy a unique perspective on Madison Gulf to the south and east.
Ridge of the Caps -- This rugged ridge runs west from the summit of Mount Jefferson and provides the most popular ascent route to the 5,716-foot peak, third highest in the Whites. The trek along this route is a real workout, but since you’re above treeline for most of the way, you can take your sweet time and enjoy the seemingly endless views.
Sugarloaf (North and Middle) -- The relatively easy trek to these two peaks near Twin Mountain might be the best family hike in the Whites. There’s lots to see along the way, great views from both summits, and if you time your hike to the proper season, you can fill up with fresh-picked blueberries atop Middle Sugarloaf.
Twinway -- This 7.2-mile trail connecting Galehead Hut with Zealand Falls Hut provides some of the best ridge walking in the region, and offers plenty in the way of views as it traverses the open summit of South Twin, the bare, round top of Mount Guyot, and the Zeacliffs. As an aside, the stretch of trail between South Twin and Guyot receives some of the heaviest snow in the area and at times is pretty much impossible to follow, thus few hikers ever visit this section of the trail during the long, cold winter.
UNH Trail -- Located off the Kancamagus Highway, this trail provides a convenient loop over the ledges of Hedgehog Mountain, where you’ll find numerous viewpoints for a modest amount of effort.
Valley Way -- This main trunk line from Route 2 at Appalachia (Randolph) to the heights of the Northern Peaks provides the easiest ascent ro