DuBois — Spring has Sprung: Hiking in the Three Pond-Kineo region

By Gordon DuBois


Early last week Sandy Price contacted a few of her trekking buddies and suggested a hike on the Three Ponds - Kineo loop trail, starting and finishing at the trail head off Rt. 118 on Forest Road 211. Now you may wonder why Sandy would want to hike these obscure and almost abandoned trails in the Rumney region. Well, Sandy is working on a list called "Red Lining". Red Lining means hiking all the more than 1,000 miles of trails marked in red that are in the AMC White Mountain Guide. Sounds like a crazy list but I know people who have completed it, or are working on this list. I joined her because I have hiked in this area and wanted to return and bushwhack to the summit of Mount Kineo. Fran and Dick, two experienced hikers, jumped on board and we set out on a beautiful warm spring day.

The Three Ponds area and Mount Kineo lie north of Rumney and west of Thornton. The trails in this section of the White Mountains offer delightful opportunities for day hikes to Stimson, Rattlesnake and Carr Mountains. Both the Carr and Stimson summits were once the sites of fire towers and the remains of these towers are still evident today. The trail system in this area also provides a pleasant day hike starting from Stimson Lake Road to the shelter on the shores of Three Ponds. The hike we chose to embark on is less well traveled and very obscure in some sections. In the AMC Trail Guide, it is not recommended for inexperienced hikers. A map and compass are essential and a GPS can be helpful.

We began our hike at the gated National Forest Road, number 211. This USFS road merges with the Hubbard Brook trail which leads to Hubbard Brook Road and into the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. This USDA Forest Service research station was established in 1955 as a major center for forest hydrologic research in New England. In 1988, it was designated as a Long-Term Ecological Research site by the National Science Foundation. The first documentation in North America of the long term effects of acid rain on vegetation and water quality were done here. The area is still active in doing cooperative research in the fields of soil physics and forest hydrology. The research being done in this experimental forest will also help in the understanding of climate change and its effects on forest ecology.

We began our hike on the Three Ponds Trail, which took us over Whitcher Hill, named after one of the first settlers in on the town of Warren. As we progressed along the trail it became difficult to follow, as the treadway became obscured with hobble-bush. Hobble-bush is very appropriate name for this shrub as it grows throughout the openings on the forest floor, tripping and ensnaring hikers in a web of branches. Even though Hobble-bush is bothersome to hikers, it throws out beautiful white and pink flowers in the spring. We could only follow the trail because of surveyor's tape that someone had placed on trees along the supposed route. Without the tape we would have had a difficult time finding the trail. Many wildflowers were in bloom throughout the forest floor, giving notice that spring had arrived and summer was fast approaching. All along the trail were hepatica, purple and pink trillium, spring beauties, wild oats, bedstraw, Indian poke and goldthread. Trout lilies were everywhere, shooting up their delicate flowers, signaling the beginning the trout fishing season. The oak, maple, birch and beech trees were throwing out their new leaves to bathe in the warm, spring sunlight. It was the perfect idyllic spring hike in New Hampshire, with no black flies (yet).

After crossing Whitcher Hill, we descended into the depression that holds the three ponds. We passed by Foxglove Pond (no Foxgloves in bloom) and in a swampy area we found a number of pitcher plants waiting for their spring meal. This plant grows in wetlands and is unique in that it doesn't look like a normal leafy plant. It's carnivorous, just like many of us, and devours insects by attracting them with a sweet nectar and then digesting them with a fluid that is similar to the juices in our stomachs, amazing! After stopping to admire the view we continued on our journey to Three Ponds, crossing a beaver dam and onto the Donkey Hill Cutoff. This was the first of many beaver ponds we encountered. From this trail we then swung onto the Mount Kineo Trail, which started as a snowmobile trail and reverted back to a wilderness pathway. We climbed steeply up the side of Mt. Kineo (3,313 feet) until we reached the height of land, where we began a bushwhack to the summit. This was about a two mile round trip diversion from the trail, but Kineo is on the NH 200 highest summits lists, so why not grab it.

Returning to the Mt. Kineo Trail we began the long descent to Hubbard Brook Road, Hubbard Brook Trail and eventually back to where we started the hike.

However, this adventure was far from over. Our hike off the Kineo Ridge took us into a beautiful valley and as we made our way along the trail we began to encounter a series of beaver communities. The beaver flowage and dams were extensive, flooding the trail in many sections. At one point we noticed a trail marker on a tree sitting in the middle of a beaver pond, and we had to make several detours. The trail from here on out was not marked and the footpath was non- existent. I believe the only ones using this trail are moose, deer, fox and coyote. We continued to be enthralled with the wildflowers blooming around us and the many beaver ponds that were active or dried up. Upon leaving the valley, we finally arrived at the junction with Hubbard Brook Road, which turns into Hubbard Brook Trail. As we neared the end of our hike, we encountered a barred owl, calling to its mate. We looked up and there he was overhead, sitting on a branch of a tree. We watched him for several minutes as he flew from tree to tree, staying close by. As we continued our hike he flew along overhead, perching on tree limbs and watching us, seeming to say, "I'm keeping an eye on you invaders!" After taking many pictures of this guardian of the forest, we left him and his mate, listening to their familiar call, "Who cooks for you, who cooks for you."

As we ended our day after hiking, a total of 16 miles in 12 hours and nearing nightfall, we looked forward to a cold drink. On our way down Route 118, we had a perfect ending to the day. We spotted a very large black bear roaming along the highway. We pulled over to watch him ramble along, stopping occasionally to watch us. It was the perfect ending to a day spent in the wonders of nature and being a part of the beauty that is all around us when we are on the trail.

As a footnote to this hike, I am reminded that anyone hiking or biking in the New Hampshire woods should obtain a Hike Safe Card. This card can be purchased on line from NH Fish and Game. The purchase of the card supports NH Fish and Game Search and Rescue efforts and you will be exempt from liability in repaying for rescue efforts if caused by reckless or negligent behavior. Remember to always plan properly and hike safe, happy trails.


Pitcher Plant

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E. Scott Cracraft - Not all ideas are created equal

A commonly articulated-and believed-myth is that somehow, ultra-conservatives and others who publish disinformative, misinformative, and outright false ideas are somehow being "persecuted" because others take them on. This applies to some of the writers to The Sun. When anyone disagrees with these people, they cry that they are being persecuted.
They claim liberals, progressives, academics, the press, or whatever is denying them their rights because someone dares to expose their lies. One writer to The Sun, a climate change-denie,r even suggested that people like himself might be subject to criminal prosecution.
Not likely. These people equate disagreement with persecution. There is no evidence that they are even being censored, let alone persecuted. They are not censored in the pages of The Sun, although they should realize that Freedom of Press gives editors the right to publish or not publish. The editor seems to give them the same voice as anyone else. This even includes those who publish opinions that are racist and hateful. Nor would this writer ever advocate for their censorship.
This is even true of ideas that are potentially dangerous. Obviously, to deny climate change is dangerous for future generations. The anti-vaccination movement puts children at risk. It is especially dangerous when chiropractors who can affix "Dr." to their names but are actually quacks and who advise parents not to vaccinate.
To be fair, not all anti-vaxxers are conservatives; a good number are liberal, educated, middle-class "soccer moms" who should be reading the scientific evidence and not getting medical advice from talk shows. Even so, there is no evidence any of these dangerous ideas are being censored or that their proponents are facing persecution. Nor, is it persecution when a doctor or other professional is censured by his or her professional association for quackery. That is called quality control.
Unfortunately, one of our cherished national values, that "all people are created equal "has led to the totally false notion that "all ideas are created equal." Naturally, there are times when one opinion really is as good as another but not the ones that some conservative fanatics have published in the pages of The Sun.
Let's face it: the ideas that there is no human-caused climate change or that vaccines do not work or are dangerous are in no way equal to the scientifically-proven ideas that climate change is real and that kids should be vaccinated unless there is a good medical reason not to. Nor is the idea that Obamacare provides for "death panels" for the elderly equal to the idea that this is nonsense. Creation "science" and the idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old is not equal to what scientists have proven.
Nor are the ideas that Obama is not a citizen, that the president is a radical Muslim, or that he plans to declare martial law and seize everyone's firearms equal to the idea that those ideas have been proven totally wrong. Or, what about the idea, widely believed but totally false, that illegal aliens get food stamps and public assistance?
In those cases where opinions ARE relatively equal, both sides deserve "equal" time. However, it seems that those who promote wacky and discredited ideas have no problem getting "equal time." How is that censorship or persecution?
It is similar to the oft-heard whine that conservative Christians are being persecuted. How so? Christians in the USA enjoy a high degree of influence and freedom. This writer had not heard of any cases of Christians in America being fed to lions. Those who believe this seem to feel that their religious freedom is being denied when others tell them they do not want their religious values imposed by the state or the schools.
When those who disagree with extreme falsehoods respond, they likely are not trying to convince the proponents. They are unlikely to change their minds. There are two sorts of ignorance. The first is not bad and is simply cured by the right information. The second is WILLFUL ignorance when fanatics choose to believe things in the face of all evidence. Those of us who challenge the extremist writers to The Sun are usually only trying to reach the first group and to expose the willful ignorance of the second.

(Scott Cracraft is a citizen, a taxpayer, a veteran, and a resident of Gilford.)

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Lakes Region Profiles — Set your course for waterside dining

By Mary O'Neill

Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group


You will never go hungry on Lake Winnipesaukee. Whether you own a waterfront home or launch your boat for the day, do not bother bringing any food. Some of the best and most unique dining in New England can be accessed from town docks on the shores of the big lake.

The striking village of Meredith invites the foot to roam and the choice of dining is extensive. Upon arriving at Town Docks Restaurant, Pat K. from Birmingham, UK said on TripAdvisor, "The setting could not be better, right on the banks of Lake Winnipesaukee." A short walk towards Main Street will bring you to George's Diner, where one patron from New York described the meal as "diner food from heaven." Other restaurants easily accessible from the town docks include Camp, Lago, Lakehouse Grill at Church Landing, Giuseppe's Pizzeria, Sunshine and Pa's, Flurries, and Mame's.

Charming Center Harbor offers several choices for boat-to-destination eating. Canoe consistently delights. "One of our favorite restaurants on the plant earth...it never disappoints us," exclaimed one couple from Massachusetts. Or try Lavinia's, located in the historic 1820s Coe House, which, among other things in its storied past, served as an underground railroad location during the slavery era. A couple from New York remarked, "We had been past Lavinia's many times and admired the beautiful, immaculate, artfully lit building...we decided to give them a try...wow are we glad we did...fabulous, interesting, innovative, delicious food in a beautiful setting." There are other spots to try in Center Harbor including delightful Dewey's Ice Cream Parlor and Café.

Stepping onto the town docks in historic Wolfeboro creates the immediate impression of a place with creative scope that evokes a desire to explore. You will not be disappointed as you discover many options for a sun-filled luncheon or sunset dining experience. Bailey's Bubble has been a Wolfeboro tradition for many years. A visitor from Massachusetts called it "a Wolfeboro icon, a must go... there is something wonderfully nostalgic about stopping at this little shop." Ellen P. from Newton, Massachusetts had this to add: "I have been going to Bailey's for 50 years...and the ice cream is still as delicious as it was when I was a child." At Nolan's Brick Oven Bistro, one out-of-town visitor thoroughly enjoyed his meal and simply wrote, "The locals favor this place – enough said!" Wolfe's Tavern at Wolfeboro Inn, Downtown Grill Café, Garwood's Restaurant, Jo Green's Garden Café, Wolfeboro Dockside Grille, Wolfeboro Diner, and others provide a plethora of diverse options all within easy access to the town docks.

In Alton Bay, Shibley's at the Pier is a must. Judy S. from California called her visit there a "happy accident... if we didn't live on the West Coast this would be a standard... the food is excellent... the view is spectacular!" You also do not want to miss Pop's Clam Shell – "best fried clams in the Lakes Region" according to Bob C. from Boston – or Stillwells Ice Cream.

The Lyons' Den Restaurant and Tavern is located a few steps from the Glendale Town Docks in Gilford. "It is a great romantic place with a great view and sunset," said Thomas W. from Plymouth, Massachusetts. Jason S. called it "a gem on Lake Winnipesaukee."

The options in Weirs Beach are as varied and fun as the place itself. Anthony's Pier Restaurant thrilled one visitor from Boston with the "great view...overlooking the beach and the lake." Other interesting places to try include Lobster in the Rough and Faro Italian Grill, where "our meals were absolutely done to perfection," according to a visitor from New Jersey.

With boating season now upon us, it is time to board your boat and chart your course to superb dining. Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire, covering 72 square miles with 240 miles of shoreline, is considered a playground for water sports – swimming, waterskiing, wakeboarding, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing... With more than a hundred restaurants accessible by town or venue docking, dining on Winnipesaukee could be considered a sport unto itself.

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, and can be reached at 366-6306. rocherealty.com


Wolfeboro town docks

Tie up at the town docks in Wolfeboro or in other waterside towns and enjoy an adventure in dining.

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Jim Hightower - Thumbs down on the 'gig' economy

Pouty, whiney, spoiled-bratism is not nice coming from a four-year-old — but it's grotesque when it comes from billion-dollar corporate elites like Uber and Lyft.

The two internet-based ride-hiring brats call themselves "ridesharing" companies, but that's a deceit, for they don't share anything — their business model relies on folks needing a ride to hire a driver through the corporations' apps. With the bulk of the fare going to out-of-town corporate hedge funders.

The tow outfits have swaggered into cities all across our country, insisting that they're innovative, tech-driven geniuses. As such, they consider themselves above the fusty old laws that other transportation companies, like taxis, follow. So Uber and Lyft have made it a corporate policy to throw hissy fits when cities — from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Houston to Portland — have dared even to propose that they obey rules to protect customers and drivers.

The latest tantrum from the California giants happened in Austin, when the city council there adopted a few modest, perfectly-reasonable rules, despite the screams of PR flacks from both outfits. The petulant duo then used fibs and high-pressure tactics to get enough signatures on petitions to force a special election to overturn the council's action. Naturally, being brats, they gave the city an ultimatum — "Vote our way or we will leave town" — and assumed that Austin's tech-savvy voters would flock to do whatever the popular ride-sharing service wanted.

But they picked the wrong city. First, they ran a campaign of blatant lies, as though Austinites wouldn't question them. Then, they shoved a sickening level of corporate cash into their campaign, apparently thinking that the sheer tonnage of ads would win the day for them. However, the slicks from California turned out to be uber-goobers. Despite spending $9 million (more than the combined spending of all city council candidates in the past decade), they went down, 56-to-44 percent.

Since they didn't win their campaign, Uber and Lyft have now left town in a huff leaving their 10,000 Austin workers/drivers behind to fend for themselves. Since their workers are considered contract employees, there will be no severance package or unemployment benefits for them.

This is part of the new "gig economy — the latest corporate buzz-phrase from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. CEOs are hailing a Brave New Workplace in which we lucky worker bees no longer have to be suck in traditional jobs with traditional hours, traditional middle-class pay scales, traditional benefits, traditional job security, and all those other fusty "traditionals" of the old workplace, In fact, in the gig economy, you're not even bothered with having a workplace. Rather, you'll be "liberated" to work in a series of short-term jobs in many places, always being on-call through a mobile app on your smart phone or through a temp agency. How exciting is that?

Well, they use "exciting" in the sense of distressing and nerve-wracking. The gig economy means you're on your own — you're not an employee, but an "independent contractor," with no rights and no union. You might have lots of calls to work this week, but there'll be many weeks with no calls. Don't get sick, injured or wreck your car, for no health care or workers' comp are provided. A pension? Your retirement plan is called "adios chump."

This "alternative work arrangement" is not a futuristic concept — it's already here and spreading fast. And it's not just ride-hiring gigs either. Some 16 percent of U.S. workers are now in this on-call, temporary, part-time, low-pay, you're-on-your-own economy, up from only 10 percent a decade ago. Corporate chieftains (backed by the economists and politicians they purchase) are creating what they call a workforce of non-employees for one reason: Greed. It directly transfers more money and power from workaday families into the coffers of moneyed elites.

Their gig economy is aptly named, for "gigs" are crude four-hook fishing devices that are dragged by commercial fleets through schools of fish to impale them, haul them in, and cash in on the pain. And if you don't think the gig economy is painful, why don't you ask the 10,000 Uber and Lyft workers in Austin how they feel about it?

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

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Susan Estrich - Trump? No kidding?

Donald Trump: the Republican Party's nominee for president?


Could there be some last-minute twist, some redemption, an unfinished Frank Capra movie?

No. There are no backrooms anymore. Delegates are enthusiasts. Try convincing them — I have — to switch. They don't. We put our faith in democracy, but it's a risky business.

The Republican Party is about to nominate a man who belongs on a television stage, not in the Oval Office. His appeal has absolutely nothing to do with policy, which he doesn't pay much attention to — nor does anyone really ask him about. No, his appeal to many is that he says the unthinkable. He makes sexual references that have given rise to a new cottage industry: "How to Talk to Your Child About Trump." He insults women with a nasty wink that I thought had been banished, at least from any respectable public face. Nope. How about period jokes? Yup. And jokes about penis size? Indeed. (Have you noticed people staring at hands more lately?)

Never in history has a man marched to the nomination with more baggage and less shame than this man.

If you're not scared, you should be. This is happening.

Forget about an open convention. This will be four perfectly produced evenings of Trump, interspersed with tributes to Ronald Reagan and George Bush. The people who become convention delegates by working phone banks, night after night, week after week, are not about to enter the convention hall and suddenly change their minds. Barring video proof of the Donald committing a felony (at a bare minimum), he gets the nomination. No open convention can save the party from the delegates.

Donald Trump is great for the comedians and commentators and pundits who have found manna in the man who knows television better than most of us ever will. Trump jokes abound. Even the president tells them.

The thing is, the man could be president.

Could he win? Why even ask. A year ago, we all said he had no chance of getting the nomination, and of course we were all wrong.

With two candidates in the race — one of whom, despite her very different qualifications, carries a few valises of her own — the answer is of course he could win. Sexism lives. Big surprise. And it is far more difficult for women to get to the top of the executive heap (rather than the legislative ladder) than it is for men. Just look at California, as blue as can be: two women in the U.S. Senate, and never a female governor. The pattern that holds at the top corporate levels holds in politics, as well. Anybody could lose a race, but a female somebody surely could.

And then, as the world looks on, our great democracy having become a laughingstock, only one question will be left.

Who did this to us?

Who debased our democracy to the extent that we would entrust the most powerful weapons in the world to a man with absolutely no experience to guide him, and no respect for what he doesn't know? Who turned us into bobbleheads with no principles of our own, nodding along to a movement armed by anger and little more?

Look to your left. Look to your right. Look in the mirror.

No one has turned us into anything that wasn't there. The question is whether the better angels of our nature will ultimately triumph.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

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