Dubois — Return to South West Twin

By GORDON DUBOIS

 

As we were nearing the summit of SW Twin, we hit a wall of scrub fir that was as dense as anything I had ever experienced. Fran Maineri, my hiking partner, and I were stopped cold in out tracks. We had started our climb around 8:30 that morning and had made relatively good time climbing the western slope of this rarely climbed mountain. The temperatures were in the high 30s and a chill had penetrated our bodies as we attempted to bust through the thick undergrowth and blow-downs that resembled "pick–up-sticks". We only had a third of a mile left to reach the summit, after hiking from 13 Falls Campsite, via the Twin Brook Trail. As we tried to punch through the firs, our clothing became soaked with melting frost that dripped from the trees, as the sun warmed the air. It seemed almost impossible to continue as we struggled deeper into the fir barrier. Should we turn back, before we become hypothermic or continue on through the maze to reach the summit? Fran and I considered our options. I thought, "even if we make the summit, we have to find our way back through this impossible tangle of trees and blow downs". My legs ached and my clothes were soaked. I reached for my water bottle and it was gone, the last of my water, snatched from my pack by the arms of balsam fir that barred my way. Why go on? In the words of George Mallory, the noted British mountaineer who perished on his 3rd attempt to summit Mt Everest, "Because it's there."

Back in June I joined Beth Zimmer and Dave Unger for an attempt at summiting SW Twin, a 4,357 ft. mountain, located in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. The mountain is trail-less, therefore one must bushwhack using a map, compass and/or GPS to navigate. The mountain is rarely climbed due to its isolated location, cliff bands and the dense forest that surrounds the summit.

The three of us planned to hike into Red Rock Pond, via a series of abandoned logging rail beds and tote roads that crisscross the area. Between 1880 and 1920, this area was heavily logged and there are many remembrances of the by-gone logging era, including rail trails, clearings where logging camps once stood; even cook wear, bed springs, and other artifacts can be found in this vast wilderness area. JE Henry, the Lumber Baron, was infamous for his vast land holdings and logging prowess.

By following an abandoned rail bed we were able to reach an area near Red Rock Stream that looked to be the site of an old logging camp. After making camp we found a series of tote roads that led us to Red Rock Pond, a beautiful tarn lake that sits at the bottom of a glacial cirque. The trek to Red Rock Pond was certainly worth the effort. After scanning the walls of the cirque I decided that a climb from this direction would be difficult and possibly dangerous as the slide is made up of broken rock and scree. At this point we decided to hike back to camp, spend the night, and head home in the morning. We vowed to return, using a different approach to summit SW Twin. And I did return!

Three weeks ago Fran and I decided to give it a go, and attempt the climb from Twin Brook Trail on the western side of the mountain. Most climbs of SW Twin start from the Franconia Brook or the Twinway Trails. We couldn't find any information from internet resources that the approach we were considering had been attempted before, so why not try? We hiked into 13 Falls Campsite and spent the evening. The summer had ended, and autumn was coming to a close. There was a distinct chill in the air and snow was possible that evening. When we awoke in the morning we joyfully found clearing skies and a warming sun, a great day for, "a walk in the woods." We began our journey by hiking a mile up the Twin Brook Trail and then heading into the woods, following a predetermined compass bearing that would lead up a steep section of the mountain. The woods were relatively open with few blow downs, but several rock scrambles slowed our progress. We thought this new route was going to take us to the summit in record time. Little did we know what was waiting for us as we neared our goal.

When we reached the ridge, we stopped to take in the views of Mt. Garfield and Lafayette. We knew it was now a short distance to the summit and were anxious to celebrate our accomplishment when reached the apex of our efforts. However, much to our chagrin, we ambled into the dreaded fir wall that we had read about. We had planned our route with the intention of avoiding this solid mass of scrub spruce and fir. We learned quickly that we hadn't bypassed it at all and were literally neck deep in tree limbs. Fran and I were determined to push through, no matter what. We had gone this far, we couldn't turn back now. It took us well over an hour to go one third of a mile to reach our goal: the canister jar hanging from a tree on the summit. We signed in on the small notebook that's stored in the canister, ate a sandwich, took in a few limited views and began our trek down the mountain, this time taking a more north-westerly route. Amazingly, this route was relatively free of the miserable scrub growth that hindered our previous route up the mountain. The climb down was rather steep in sections with loose rock and scree hampering our decent. But we did make it back to the Twin Brook Trail in one piece, but with a huge thirst after losing my water bottle in the scrub.

When we returned to our base camp at 13 Falls, a heavy rain began to fall. We quickly packed up our gear and began our trek out of the wilderness and into civilization. We were elated that we had stood on the summit of SW Twin, a mountain that few people climb. Only 6 others had preceded us in 2015. For Fran and I this could have been the most difficult bushwhack we have ever done. Why put ourselves through this? "Because it's there." (G.M.).

As we made our way along the Franconia Brook Trail we were met by several groups of NH Fish and Game officers and USFS staff. They were searching for a missing hiker named Claire, who disappeared in the area we had been hiking. She had been missing for several days and the outcome of the search seemed grim. We later learned that her body was found in the Gale River, where she most likely died trying to cross the steam that was swollen by heavy rains. This was a sobering moment for both of us. It reminded us of the fact that the wilderness can be a place of splendor and beauty. But it also holds risks and dangers.

Howard — Rosemary's cookies are winners of pumpkin recipe contest

We received a number of pumpkin recipes and each one had a unique take on a traditional recipe. However it was Mrs. Rosemary Mellon's recipe for pumpkin cookies that has been selected as the winner. One of the reasons it attracted our attention is the fact that is calls for "mashed pumpkin." That means real pumpkin, not the pumpkin you purchase at the market and open with a can opener. Mrs. Mellon begins with a real pumpkin, cleans it out, cuts it into large pieces and then steams it in a large pot on the stove. This will soften the pulp enough so it can be scooped out and mashed.

This isn't Mrs. Mellon's recipe. She found it in The Fire Tenders, a cookbook published by the Women's Auxiliary of the Sanbornton Fire Department and published for the 1970 bicentennial. It was submitted to this cookbook by Barbara Powers and she notes at the bottom of the recipe: "Very good. These cookies were made by my grandmother and are a a traditional New England favorite."

Mrs. Mellon enjoys the cookies because they are moist. She is a member of the Winnipesaukee Square Dancing Club and the Concord Coach Square Dance Club and often bakes the cookies to take with her to the dances.

We asked her if she liked the autumn season and she admitted,
"I like the fall but it reminds me that winter coming. I prefer spring and summer." She was born in Rhode Island and moved to New Hampshire when she was fifteen years. She lived in Franklin for over fifty years before moving to Tilton where she lives now. She is currently working as a morning receptionist at the Community Senior Employees Services.

 

Editor's note: Karin Nelson, office manager at the Laconia Daily Sun, has prepared 100 examples of the award-winning cookie and has delivered them to Patrick's Pub and Eatery in Gilford. Patrick's will be serving the cookies on Saturday for $2 each, all proceeds will be donated to the Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction. If I were you, I would get over to Patrick's and be sure to have one with some vanilla ice cream.

Never at a Loss for Words – Twenty years and still going strong

By Gayle Lacasse
Sales Associate at Bayswater Books

Bayswater celebrated twenty years of serving the local community this year. Without much fanfare to mark the momentous occasion, Bayswater has simply continued to explore new products while maintaining the most current and up to date books in order to provide customers with a unique and diverse retail experience.
Bayswater opened for business June 15, 1995, with then owner, Pat Thomas, at the helm. Pat reminisces, "I can't remember the number of books we ordered, but it was a lot and I wondered how I would ever sell that many! We knew we needed to carry lots of best sellers and we were very fortunate in that so many of our customers ordered books which were special and that introduced us to many new authors." That tradition is as strong today as then. Customers still provide our best resource for new and interesting books. Then, and now, customers provide us with valuable feedback on best selling - or not best selling - books.
Bayswater has offered greeting cards from the beginning, often hearing, "You have the best cards", along with educational toys and children's books. Green Mountain Coffee was introduced in 1997 and was sold for $.75 a cup, though "we gave a lot away free, too". Gift items and sidelines rounded out the inventory.
Pat sold Bayswater to Michelle Taft on 04/05/06; Michelle has continued to steer the locally, owned independent bookstore through many changes in the local and global markets. "Competing in the marketplace is expected when you have a retail shop, whether from other stores or on-line retailers, but when competition comes from a complete change in how books are read, that presents another challenge entirely. The dawn of eBooks has been an interesting phenomenon." Fortunately, numbers released from the book industry earlier this month indicate that e-book sales were down for this year – the first time they have reflected a decline. The report went on to say that printed book sales have remained steady - a trend we'd already been noticing at Bayswater.
Michelle and her team offer top notch customer service, thriving on the relationship with customers. Identifying a book with little to go on is not unusual; "I remember the cover had yellow on it" is an oft heard clue. Michelle quips, "The entire Bayswater staff has always seemed to be energized by the challenges." She went on to exclaim, "We love selling books but we mostly love having a shop that provides items and services that our customers want." Identifying with our customers personal challenges and triumphs is a bonus not provided by online vendors; a friendly "hello" and a welcoming atmosphere greet shoppers at Bayswater.
Michelle's original goal when she bought Bayswater "was to have an owner operated small business where my shop and I could both be active in the community." For nearly ten years, she has continued to strive toward those goals. Like many retail stores in a small community, Bayswater provides charitable funds and discounts to many local sources, i.e. libraries and schools, as well as the Meredith Altrusa Club and other community organizations. The Center Harbor Soup Kitchen is, perhaps, closest to her heart. She and Katie Small established the Soup Kitchen almost a decade ago; Bayswater continues to support the ongoing efforts of the Soup Kitchen.
Michelle and her team have kept changing with the tides at Bayswater, keeping the merchandise fresh. "That is why you'll always find something new at Bayswater; from the best selling books and greeting cards to the unexpected like affordable jewelry, hand bags and women's accessories."
Come in and take a look for yourselves; we'd love to have you shop with us as we head into our 21st year and beyond.

Bats are 'pigging out' now to combat white nose syndrome

Once a common sight, the spotting of bats zipping through the dusk skies has been rare in recent years since disease decimated bat populations throughout the eastern United States. This fall, though, many have reported to The Daily Sun that they have seen bat activity. A biologist said that although there isn't any hard evidence to suggest a rebounding local population, there is reason to keep an eye out for the small winged mammals at this time of year.

"We don't have adequate data to say yea or nay," Emily Preston, wildlife biologist with N.H. Fish and Game said when asked if the local bat population is recovering. Bats are difficult to study in the wild, she said, because their echo location abilities allow them to avoid nets and other entrapments that are typically used to examine other flighted animals. Preston said local bat populations are usually measured by scientists visiting winter hibernating sites, however, the presence of humans in these caves and mines can disturb the bats, causing them to expend energy when they can least afford to do so.

In fact, that's exactly what the disease that has decimated bats across the eastern United States and Canada, and is spreading westward, does. Known as white nose syndrome, the fungus causes bats to become active during their hibernation, burning through their stored fat and emaciating them before spring comes. Mortality rates are estimated to be about 80 percent, killing millions of bats since first noticed in the winter of 2007-2008.

Recently, though, evidence has shown that there's cause for optimism. Preston noted that researchers in New York state, where the disease was first observed, have concluded that their populations have stabilized after several years of precipitous decline. And, recent research in Pennsylvania has provided a clue as to how surviving bats have adapted. Preston said the study, which bands individual bats and studies them each year, found that bats that were bulking up to 8 grams in preparation for winter hibernation were now packing on enough extra calories to weigh in at 11 grams. "They had individual bats that were quite heavier."

"At this time of year, bats are pigging out — it's likely that they are are eating more than they had in previous years," said Preston. "The other thing that bats are doing this time of year is mating," she said, adding that one interesting characteristic of the bats seen locally is that the females won't conceive until spring.

Come winter, most bats in New Hampshire will fly to Maine or Vermont, where there are much larger hibernating sites, both in abandoned mines and in naturally occurring caves. There are some in New Hampshire, though they are smaller than in neighboring states. Coös County is home the largest hibernaculum, a mine which once held 2,000 bats.