A semi-periodic publication by the Dartmouth Outing Club of trip and expedition reports, essays, poetry, artwork and photography.
- Dartmouth Outing Club
Joe Hanlon ’05
- Woodsmoke Returns
Kelly Swartz ’05
- About Woodsmoke
- Flashback: The DOC In The Late 1930s
Walker Weed ’40
Kate Huyett ’05
- A Trippee’s Journal
Jane Baker ’05
- Founding of the Outing Club
Dartmouth Out O’Doors
- Don’t Feed the Bears
Dana Schmidt ’02
- To Pull the Trigger
Zach Strong ’05
- Ledyard Canoe Club (1938)
Dartmouth Out O’Doors
- Lewis and Clark
Dana Schmidt ’02
- Christmas in Ecuador
Ken Gillingham ’02
- Dartmouth Mountaineering Club (1937)
Dartmouth Out O’Doors
- Dartmouth Mountaineering Club
Julia Payne ’04, Co-chair
- A Quest for Identity
Zach Goldstein ’02
- After Six Weeks in San Diego
Sean Mann ’05
- Cabin and Trail
Zach Goldstein ’02
- DOC Trips: What a Trip
Rory Gawler ’05
- You Mean There’s Rats Up There?
Page Kyle ’02
- A Thank You from the DOC to Mr. Larry Hathorn
Kelly Swartz ’05
Dartmouth Outing Club
Ever wonder about the history of the DOC? Who made it the organization that it is today? Where they went, what they did? When all of this happened? Ever wonder how those soaking wet, mud splattered, windblown and thoroughly exhausted students come back to campus smiling? The following tales, excerpts, and other stories may help you begin to answer these questions. They are from individuals who have lived many of the same moments that you have experienced. If after reading this, you are asking the one remaining question, “Why?” then get out there and find the answer yourself! These words may make you laugh and wonder, they may bring out a smile or call back a memory, they may amuse you, and they will likely inspire, but even the most descriptive words or touching images pale in comparison to the experience itself.
I first stumbled on a copy of Woodsmoke on my DOCTour shift. The small, worn magazine was from Winter Term 1998, Vol. XV, No. 1. For a publication with so many previous editions, I wondered why I hadn’t yet heard of the literary aspect of the DOC. The pages held creative trip accounts and photographs, trail suggestions, and recipes for popular Chubber fare. I spent the rest of the afternoon picking through past students’ experiences, thoughts, and feelings about the DOC and out-of-doors in general. Apparently, however, over the past couple years the idea of recording one’s appreciation and reflections of nature fell out of style. So, when at a DOC directorate meeting Julie Clemons, the DOC’s General Manager, brought up the idea of bringing Woodsmoke back, I jumped at the chance.
Students once again showed an interest in putting pen to paper. Perhaps the thoughtful image of a slouched silhouette scribbling in a journal beside a campfire is not so outdated. In addition to trip reports over the past fall and winter terms, we’re including some excerpts from some of the earliest editions of the DOC’s student publication, then known as the Dartmouth Out-of-Doors, in an attempt to remind students of the long and valuable history of our beloved DOC.
I want to thank all those who submitted, as well as those who helped write, publicize, and edit other parts of the magazine. A special thanks to Ashley “ASE” Thomas ’91, Publications Director for the Outdoor Programs Office, for laying-out and putting all the final touches on this important piece of the DOC.
So get excited and get outside, but don’t distance yourself from your journal. Some rainy day when you’re feeling nostalgic you might feel the need to curl up in a big puffy chair and remember the sun on your back on every river, mountain, and trail.
Ross McKenney was the the DOC’s Woodcraft Advisor from 1936–1959. He oversaw the construction of the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge in 1938-39 and taught woodcraft skills to hundreds of Dartmouth students. Woodsmoke is considered one of his finest statements and has been an inspiration to generations of Dartmouth men and women.
To many people Woodsmoke is just something that comes from burning wood. To others it is something that stands for peace and beauty, something that answers that longing for the wonder and solitude of the outdoors. To lie in a snug shelter at night, when the temperature is creeping close to minus, and watch the Woodsmoke drifting upward through the branches of the trees can instill within you that warmth and confidence that comes from happiness and faith in God. Once I heard some words truly expressive of the greatness of the outdoors, “A kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, you’re nearer God’s heart in the forest than any place else on earth.”
So let me say here that faith in God and Woodsmoke is a mixture that can smooth out some rough roads and keep one’s faith in mankind strong and clean, even against mounting odds. These things we need as much as trees need sunshine to live and to give. Did you ever follow the life of a tree? Its seed is carried by the wind or the birds to the forest floor where the rains and winds beat it into the soil. A tiny root reaches down into the earth and the life of the tree starts. The young tree doesn’t race upward in a mad race for supremacy. Instead it spends a few years throwing out a foundation root to brace itself against what is to come. Then each year its leader shoots upward, a growth emerges from the tip of each branch; and under the bark of its trunk a ring of wood is formed. Thus it grows outward as well as upward. It starts giving shade to hold moisture. Its foliage give fertilization to the soil. All through life it gives to the forest world and people, and to you and me. Although it may fall to the forest floor, stricken by a bolt of lighting or uprooted or broken by the wind, it doesn’t stop giving. For even after many years when it decays and turns to soil, it still is giving. I have often asked myself, “Have I ever come close to living by this standard?” I find many errors and omissions, but have gathered to myself much warmth and happiness in correcting some of these along life’s paths. Many of the answers have come to me through the upward curling strands of Woodsmoke.
In the years I have been with the Dartmouth Outing Club many members have come and gone. I have watched them learn how to use an axe, build shelters, and cook a meal over the open fire. I have watched them making paddles, axe handles, snowshoes, pack boards, and many other things. It has been a source of great satisfaction to me to watch their enthusiasm grow as they completed their projects, and to see the deep friendships form between them, lasting friendships built of the courtesy that comes both from their associations with the forest and from their confidence in themselves. I have seen many of these same students living a close parallel to nature’s standard of living…giving that the rest may live.
In my years at Dartmouth the students have given me many gifts to show their appreciation. They have given me of their efforts, untiring efforts night or day, always ready and willing to do something for me. For this I will be forever grateful, but the thing they fail to realize is that they have given much more that that. They have given me their friendship, their faith, their courtesy; and like the blaze on the tree, it is within my heart healed over, it is mine forever and can never be taken away. Who will I thank for this? Will I thank God? Will I thank these men? Or will I dream in the warmth of happiness that maybe these things came to me, with the ability to hold them, from the fragrance and beauty of my many campfires and watching the Woodsmoke curl upwards through the branches of the trees.
Hey Fellers! throw some more wood on the fire, slip a couple more slices of bacon into the frying pan, and for-the-Luvva-mike put some more coffee in the pot, I can still pour it, you know I like my coffee in slices.
Flashback: The DOC In The Late 1930s
Back in the dawn of history, in September 1936, I was a 17 year-old freshman already infected with a love of the outdoors by summers of hiking and canoeing in the Adirondacks. Four years of the DOC and Ledyard made it a lifetime affection. Surely the DOC is the soul of Dartmouth College.
My first DOC memory is a freshman feed at Calf, Cow and Bull Moose Cabins, located on the present site of Harris Cabin on Moose Mountain. A senior C&T member, John Woods ’37 I think, had just climbed a birch to demonstrate “swinging birches” to the group when Peter McLane ’37 stepped up with an ax and cut down the tree and John.
In weeks following our work, parties with handsaws and axes cut the Moose Mountain downhill ski trail under the supervision of Coach Walter Prager, newly arrived from Switzerland. The trail was so narrow and twisty that, when it was used in the ’37 Winter Carnival, mattresses were tied to the more dangerous trees on several of the corners to cushion them. That Carnival included teams from McGill University and Switzerland. One of the Swiss skiers refused to ski the new trail, pleading that he had a wife and child.
I first met Will Brown ’37, one of the great pillars of the DOC, on top of Camels Hump that fall. One of the more remarkable things about Will was that he never forgot your name.
That winter many of us learned to ski out at Rec Hill near the DOC House, climbing up and taking a thousand “eggbeater” falls. Equipment was fairly primitive. I bought a pair of Attenhofer solid hickory skis for $28.00 and had steel edges screwed onto them together with a set of Kandahar cable bindings which had high and low hitches so you could go downhill or cross country. That first winter I only learned to turn right and used to dream of a cone shaped hill that I could spiral down.
In the spring of 1937 I began a long association with Ledyard which was then an open boat canoe club equipped with wood and canvas canoes — Old Towns, Chestnuts and Whites. You had to pass a test to become a member. This involved, among other things, being able to paddle a figure eight with a J stroke. We had many runs on the White River, often stopping overnight at the Shepards’ farm in South Royalton, sleeping in the hayloft, and eating great dinners and breakfasts cooked by “Ma” Shepard. In those days the club SOP in white water was to paddle like Hell and get moving faster than the current. This resulted in a lot of swims, but when Ross McKenney came, he showed us how to slow down and stay dry.
Ross taught us many other things — how to make paddles and how to throw a canoe on your shoulders, and he told us about the Allegash River in his home state of Maine. We had great trips up there in ’37 and ’38.
In the summer of 1937 John Rand ’38 and I became the “Cabin Crew.” Pay was 50 cents per day with keep. We worked over all the cabins, from Cloudland in Woodstock, VT to the old Jobildunc at Moosilauke, Franconia, and Skyline near Littleton. We dipped out privies, carried out blankets for cleaning, put a roof on Glencliff, built a woodshed at Hinman and did a thousand other chores.
Many of those cabins no longer exist or have been replaced — Cloudland, Newton, Happy Hill, the Mooses, the old Holts Ledge, the old Hinman, Smarts, Cube, Glencliff, the old Moosilauke Winter Cabin, the old Jobildunc, Franconia and Skyline. We also had “Camp 3,” an old logging camp building that Pete McLane ’37 had rejuvenated about a mile up the Baker River from the present Ravine Lodge. There were no cabins in the Grant.
One day that summer John and I were headed up from Warren to Moosilauke to “mudcap” and pulverize some boulders near Wadchu shelter at the top of the Hell’s Highway ski trail. We had in his vehicle a 50 gallon drum of gasoline, a partial case of dynamite, and I was sitting with a box of dynamite caps in my lap.
In the summer of 1938, when Jim Brigden ’39 was Moosilauke Summit Camp Hutmaster, Ed Wells ’39, Ed Meservey ’38 and I were “The Pollacks,” or the Moosilauke trail crew. We lived at the Summit House, did a lot of the heavy lifting there, took a lot of guff from the elite Summit Crew, and went down the mountain each day to work on the trails — cutting brush, putting in water bars, finding sometimes that the Summit Crew had packed us lunches containing old pancake sandwiches stuffed with Marshmallow Fluff, etc. My crewmates were both Hanover natives. They were great skiers and used to run my tail off.
The Summit Camp was a wonderful place. It could hold 75 people, and we often had big groups of camp kids and other goofers, asking lots of dumb questions, being terrified when the Ghost Story was told and sometimes competing to break the Pancake Record for free room and board. It was particularly lively during a thunderstorm.
’38 was the summer that the Ravine Lodge was being built. There was as yet no Gorge Brook trail. Most of the other trails now in use existed then, but the East Peak trail down to the Baker River was lost after the ’38 hurricane. The Tunnel Ravine trail and Hell’s Highway are now obscure. The Summit Crew used the Glencliff trail to pack mail and perishables up from Glencliff. Charlie would bring heavier freight up from Warren on the Carriage Road on his buckboard with two horses. We had an arrangement with the crew down at Lost River — we would feed them when they climbed Beaver Brook trail, and they would feed us when we went down there. The free ice cream at Lost River was the better deal.
In the late winter of 1939 I was lucky enough to find myself in Tuckerman’s Ravine watching the famous Inferno race when Toni Matt ran the headwall straight followed by Dick Durrance ’39 and Eddie Wells ’39, my Moosilauke trail boss.
In spring, later that year, a classmate, Joe Dunford, and I persuaded Pat Patterson and Hank Merrill, both ’39s, to take us and a canoe to the First Connecticut Lake. They put us out in the dark. We slept and woke to find the lake frozen and very little water below the dam outlet. We had a mile or so of timber downed by the ’38 hurricane to carry though before we could put the canoe in the River. Lake Francis had not yet been created so we paddled the stream down to Pittsburg, carried around the gorge and headed for Hanover. We camped on our first night below Colebrook. Woke up with everything frozen and paddled that day to Gilman Dam where we camped in the paper company yard, again in freezing weather.
The Connecticut is still a great river with lots of rapids in the upper sections, but this was before the Moore Dam reservoir and a good section of the Fifteen Mile Falls was still untamed. Below Gilman we had ten miles of big rapids. After three more carries, at Comerford, McIndoe and Ryegate we ate a 4:00 p.m. lunch in Woodsville and drifted for six miles, resting. About 10:00 p.m. we passed Orford, and finally crawled out of the boat at Ledyard at 2:15 a.m. — 85 miles in about 20 hours. Oh, to be 20 again!
carpel tunnel college students crouch over powerBooks spines bowed beneath the library lights earphones in, eyes down- college as an expansion of the senses? (not common sense when studying is rare and sleep rarer) fingers wrap around pong paddles but don’t quite fit: no one here has a firm grip on the real world where both paddles and people have handles (which is not to say they handle things well) get out! get out! the world beckons with beams of sunlight and flakes of snow; just out the window lies a paradise- cold hands (warm heart(h)) wrap solidly around ski poles hockey sticks snowballs pick axes (i am at the origin and surrounded by frontier- unbounded by conceptions of here)
A Trippee’s Journal
September 3, 2001 10 AM
This is the morning of my DOC trip as a Dartmouth freshman. The bus has just passed out of Norwalk on I-95 and I have discovered that I am already very homesick! When my parents walked away from the bus back to their car to go home I found myself wanting to go with them, or at least hug them again. I wonder if there are any other homesick kids on this bus.
September 3, 2001 11 PM
It’s finally time to go to bed! I am exhausted, but I thought I would appreciate a journal entry at the end of today to look back on. It was really fun. There was a big party arranged for us when the bus pulled up next to Robo Hall, DOC headquarters. We all learned two dances, “Blame it on the Boogie” and “The Salty Dog Rag.” A member of the H-Crew, Cliff, was my partner who helped me learn the SDR. He was very funny and so nice! I have such a good impression of Dartmouth people already.
Then we had an ass-boxing contest, where you run around whamming people with your ass. Being pretty small and non-violent, I wasn’t really good at this game and practically had my shoulder dislocated by this huge guy who rammed into me. My arm was really hurting when they announced it was time for our mandatory swim test. It was weird appearing in a bathing suit before 80 classmates and being watched by all as I swam the two laps. I managed to finish without looking like an idiot (I hope).
My trip leaders seem really nice. We all went around and named our favorite movie and where we were from and all that. My trippees are Jessica, Adam, Steve, Elizabeth, Garret, Kevin, Will, and Kristy. We went and had some really good lasagna at the Ledyard Canoe Club while we watched some footage of the Ledyard kayakers in action. To be honest, I am kind of wondering what I have gotten myself into, signing up for this whitewater kayaking trip. Some people I met are doing organic farming, which sounds pretty safe and low-key. Hmmm…well, I’m sure Matt and Allison will get us all through.
September 4, 2001 Mid-morning
This is my little brother’s first day of school back in New Canaan! It’s so strange that that little world of high school is starting up again with me not a part of it.
At the painfully early hour of 5:45 AM, the H-Crew came through our dorm screaming and woke us all up for breakfast. I had oatmeal, which I expected to be like the yummy Quaker’s Apples and Cinnamon Oatmeal I know at home. I took a big mouthful and found it was just plain oats, like the type you would feed to a horse. I dumped in a lot of brown sugar, which improved it marginally, but it was still pretty gross. Oh well. A few of my trippees and I bonded over our misconception of what the oatmeal would taste like before the three and a half hour bus ride to the Second College Grant, where all the big rivers are.
September 4, 2001 Late afternoon
There are a lot of things to talk about today! One being that I SUCK at kayaking!
At the beginning I was very frustrated, because my boat was so far behind everyone else’s and I felt like I was holding up the whole group. My kayak kept spinning either to the right or the left, but mostly to the left. I kept on spinning and spinning, getting further and further behind the group and I really felt like crying. Allison, my trip leader, was great though, telling me how much trouble she had as a freshman on her kayaking trip. She gave me a lot of pointers, but I really improved very little over the four hours we paddled to our first campsite. I am so tired and sore right now.
On the bus ride from Hanover to the Grant we learned from the Grant Crew about the dangers of the moose around this time of year. Rusty, Andy and Jamie told us that there are way more male moose than female moose this summer, and that the males are in rut, or mating season. So they are really aggressive and “will jump on anything that moves”…scary! They told us that if we encounter a moose to start barking really loudly. Apparently the natural predator of the moose are dogs, so if they think we’re dogs they’ll run away. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but the Grant Crew has been here for three months getting ready for us, so I guess they know what they’re talking about.
For dinner we had burritos with refried beans (I have onion breath!) and then hung up the compost and trash bags, which took a long time. We have to put them high up out of the reach of bears (or moose?), so we spent a lot of time trying to throw sticks and rocks over high branches.
It’s really beautiful and quiet here. Our campsite is right on the river and I like sitting on the bank and writing. I can hear all these happy voices behind me back at the dinner table, telling jokes and getting to know one another.
September 5, 2001, night
A lot of things to write about again today!
Last night at around 1:00 AM Will woke up and yelled, “I hear something! Do you guys hear that?” It was a low, foghorn-like sound that was coming from far-off in the bushes, but getting closer. There was also a lot of loud crashing, like something was tramping towards us. We all thought it was a horny moose on a rampage and started really flipping out. Having been told that barking would scare moose off, we all barked furiously at the direction the sound was coming from. Steve cried out, “Sacrifice someone!” and Kevin jumped over not one but two people in their sleeping bags to get away from the moose’s path. We had been barking for about two minutes, but the moose was still approaching. Suddenly, another moose came on the side that I was sleeping on and started clawing the tree next to me with his antlers! I was so scared, I thought I was about to get mauled. But then someone, I think Adam, saw that the moose was just a person holding up a deer head making weird noises and informed the rest of us barking fools. We all laughed and the Grant Crew turned on a boombox they had brought and gave us brownies. We all laughed at how scared we had been.
After the aforementioned eventful evening, we awoke for our first stretch of rapids. I was terrified as we headed off, paddling in a row. My heart was beating really fast and my throat was clogged up in fear.
Once the big waves started coming over the bow and hitting me smack in the face, however, I began to have fun. It was like a huge water ride at a theme park, only I was controlling it. The water felt good on my face and my hands as I used my paddle to stay upright and move downstream.
I even went back and kayaked down the rapids again because of the pride I felt in having done something I had been so scared of. I flipped over on my second run, although it was past the main rapids. Even flipping over wasn’t that scary, though, since I got to swim a little bit in the nice cool river. It probably wasn’t as fun for the heroic members of the Grant Crew who dove in and paddled me to the banks of the river. They are really doing such a good job helping us all learn how to kayak and taking care of us when we flip. I tried to thank them after they dropped me and my boat off at the edge of the water, but they just laughed it off.
The boys had made a bet that whichever one flipped over would have to cook dinner for the group in their boxers. Kevin, Adam, and Will all flipped over, and it was pretty funny to see them all stripped down, figuring out the directions for cous-cous.
September 7, 2001 Mid-morning
I’m at the Moosilauke Ravine lodge right now. People are dancing away to “Blame it on the Boogie” on the big field. I have had a fun time since we arrived yesterday afternoon. The Lodge Crew is super-enthusiastic. They sang and danced while they served us dinner last night. It was a great dinner — vegetable soup, salad, lasagna, and chocolate cake with ice cream.
I will be sad to leave the Lodge. It seems like a very special place. Down by the rocky river it is really peaceful, and in the Lodge Hall I can sense tradition lingering, like faint echoes. I had a nice talk with Garrett. We said we felt so lucky to be going to Dartmouth. I saw so much green in the Dartmouth slide show last night. There is so much of the outdoors in this school, and so many people to share it with. I love this place!
Founding of the Outing Club
Excerpts from “Founding of the Outing Club,” by Fred H. Harris, Class of 1911, in Dartmouth-out-of-Doors, D.C. History, Dartmouth College Library. The following story has unusual value coming from the pen of Fred Harris, the founder of the DOC, whose love for the outdoor winter life proved the inspiration responsible for its success and phenomenal growth.
“When I started to explore, I found the hills around Hanover offered splendid long slides on skis, and that beautiful sights and magnificent views were to be had in an afternoon’s trip from the campus. I noticed that even on the coldest day you could easily keep warm if you could get into the woods and push your skis along some old wood road with its overhanging arch of trees and snow-laden evergreens encroaching on both sides. I shall always consider these afternoon trips about Hanover as some of the happiest times in my life. Many a time when up against some problem in Freshman Math., which seemed to me almost impossible of solution, I would slap on the old skis, go out for a three hours trip, brush out the mental cobwebs in that clear, frosty air, and find on return that the solution of my problem was comparatively easy.”
“The wonderful untracked wilderness of white lay about the college.”
“November 30, 1909, I submitted a communication to the Editor of The Dartmouth suggesting, in order to take better advantage of the splendid opportunities which the admirable location of our college offered, that a ski and snowshoe club be formed. On Tuesday, December 14, 1909, a preliminary meeting was held by a group of interested faculty members and undergraduates. A rough constitution was drawn up. The first public meeting of the Outing Club was held January 10, 1910, in H Chandler Hall, at which time the club was duly organized, officers elected, and fifty five men signed up as members.”
“The next idea in the development of the club was to hold a meet on skis and snowshoes similar to a track meet on the cinder path. From this simple idea of a meet came the Winter Carnival which is now known throughout the country. Each year a larger carnival has been held until now it is a settled institution, unique to Dartmouth and symbolical of the New Hampshire winter.”
“It is the week-end trips into the surrounding country which are the most worth while. These trips were and always will be the backbone of the club.”
“The founders of the club had what at that time seemed wild dreams…all these dreams have come true and more.”
“The activities of the Outing Club have all resulted from the opportunity, through organization, for the expression of the desire for outdoor life. The theme is simple…it is the desire to get out in the open, to feel the satisfaction of physical exercise and to explore new places that makes the outing life. No idea is so little dependent on money necessity. All the money in the world could not make an Outing Club successful unless deep in their hearts, the members have a love for outdoor life. With such a love, which is inherent in all of us, nothing can stop its expression. It was [their] admirable spirit…, which has made the club what it is today. The pleasures and benefits are many. The club has no monopoly on outdoor life. The same opportunity lies at everybody’s door. Dartmouth simply points the way.”
Don’t Feed the Bears
“Grand Canyon National Park — When fifteen park deer became so ill that rangers had to shoot them, autopsies were performed in an effort to trace the problem. Every one of these deer had become accustomed to food meant for humans, and their stomachs were filled with, and blocked by, food-associated garbage — packaging, plastic bags, string. They could not digest appropriate browse even when they got it; they were starving.”
“He sleeps till noon, but before it’s dark, he’ll have every picnic basket that’s in Jellystone Park.”
“Isn’t he cute!” The little girl is crouched down next to her dad, who holds a peanut between his thumb and forefinger. Their eyes dance on the squirrel scrambling across the trail. He stops, rocks back on his haunches, sniffs the air, then jumps the last few inches to the peanut, takes it in his mouth and retreats a few yards to eat it. The girl and her dad are giggling with delight. “Look at him!”
Barely a mile into our hike through the Yosemite Valley, Alex and I have already seen this scene play out three times. “Why don’t you take him home,” Alex says as we pass, voice friendly.
“Looks like he’d come,” the girl’s father says, standing up, brushing his hands on his pants.
We continue on. I don’t want to make conversation with the man, even as little as Alex has. This man is part of the problem.
Under the tables of the pizza deck back in Curry Village, the squirrels audaciously zip between tables, picking up any dropped crumbs, literally scampering across people’s feet. On the tables are signs, limericks and cartoons, explaining why it’s a bad idea to feed the animals. Along the paths in the village are more official and commanding signs, informing campers that it is prohibited by law to feed or disturb any wildlife.
The trashcans in Yosemite have all been bear-proofed, and campers are required to keep their food and toiletries — bears love toothpaste, lotion, anything with a smell — in large metal “bear boxes.” Flyers handed out at the park’s entrances warn that bears will break into cars for as little as the scent of a gum wrapper or spilled juice on a baby car seat and show pictures as evidence that it can happen. They explain that once these bears have become accustomed to human food, they become such a dangerous nuisance that they often have to be killed. “Please help us save Yosemite’s bears,” these flyers plead.
But for some people the fact that the animals become unable or unwilling to find their own natural food, become pests, become sick from eating too many human scraps, and may even have to be killed, does not seem to rival their unabashed cuteness. Even eight rugged miles from the valley floor, on top of Half Dome, its soft curves carved by glaciers and immortalized by Ansel Adams, we were assaulted by squirrels and a pair of eager marmots. (We had never actually seen a marmot before. A hiker we encountered later told us what they were.) We kicked in their direction. I tried throwing a rock near one squirrel to frighten it away, but thinking I was throwing it food, it snatched the rock up in its paws. Just below the summit we watched a fleet of squirrels break into a pack left by hikers on their way to the peak. No noise we made, not even shaking the pack, could stop them from chewing into plastic packages of salami and PowerBars.
Like many of the nation’s overused and overcrowded national parks, Yosemite has an alarming problem keeping their wildlife wild. Over six weeks of camping Alex and I encountered more than our share of “domesticated” wild animals. A confused-looking deer begged in a parking lot at the Grand Canyon, a bear invaded our campsite in the Tetons, and hungry-eyed squirrels followed us to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the top of Yosemite’s Half-Dome.
One of the most popular national parks, Yosemite is a kind of natural Disneyland. Its beauty attracts families on vacation (some of its campsites even have public pools), climbers vying for a personal ascent of El Capitan, and various other nature enthusiasts to sample its many waterfalls, seemingly endless trails, and deep valley fenced in by breathtaking mountains.
But nature was not intended for Disneyland traffic. There are no extensive sewer systems, no ropes and bars to usher people through lines, no concrete walls, and no caretakers who come out at night to clean and paint and keep everything sparkling new. National parks were designed to preserve areas of natural beauty while making these places accessible to everyone. The very principle the National Parks Service is founded upon, that everyone should be able to experience nature inside a national park, leads to diminished respect for the land and its animals. This attitude of entitlement, paired with fatiguing overuse, leads to a cycle in which national parks wind up the loser and their goal of preservation is pushed farther and farther aside.
Most visitors to the park really do heed the signs and warnings not to feed the animals, but for every ten that are careful, there is one like the man Alex and I saw, who ignores them. The man feeding the squirrel along the trail wasn’t thinking that he was contributing to the destruction of a national resource. He was merely doing something his daughter thought was cute. But when this instance is multiplied by millions of visitors every year, it is no wonder the squirrels have become such awful beggars.
While this problem is clear to most people who visit national parks, the solution is not. More visitor education is key, but even with all the education in the world, there are still people who will be suckers for the adorable squirrels and graceful deer. Perhaps the answer lies in limiting the number of people allowed in the park per year or day, or requiring visitors to pass a course or a pledge before they can use the park. Maybe having rangers on patrol to police human-animal interaction would help.
In this grand mess that involves millions of people, animals, and acres of land, one thing is obvious: something must be done before our national parks turn into national petting zoos.
To Pull the Trigger
I have been a hunter all my life. There comes a moment — when the animal is in the scope and the cross hairs are centered just below and behind the shoulder, I have a good rest and a perfect shot, and I know the life of this animal is in my hands — that I must make a decision.
The moment is brief and the decision quick: to pull the trigger or not. I never know which it will be until I am there and the animal is there before me, standing broadside in the sunlight or the snow or the wind.
Then it is over, the decision is made, and the animal is down or the animal still stands. Either way, every time I am amazed. For every time it seems the decision has forgotten to include me.
I know it hasn’t — the decision I make is my own. But just as there is more to being “I” than simply being alive, there is more to me taking a life than simply desiring and deciding accordingly. It is not based on want or need or responsibility. It is not that logical.
Logically, there are always reasons to pull the trigger, just as there are always reasons not to. The car is just over the hill or the car is ten miles away. The sun is still high or the sun is getting low. The sky is clear or it’s starting to snow. We’re up on Round Top or we’re in the bottom of Coyote. Logically, factors such as time and place and situation should matter. In my experience, they rarely do.
I’ve shot in all kinds of conditions, and in the same, have walked away. Ultimately, “reason” has very little influence on the decision to shoot, for reason is rational, and I think life is not. In the split second during which the finger hesitates on the trigger, the mind does not go over and calculate these endless scenarios, weigh them, prioritize them and compare them to necessity. In the decision to take a life, there is something deeper, something below the surface of reason, something that in my mind flicks the switch yes or no. I try to remember the first time I took a life.
I was twelve. It was a windy day, and the wind was cold. The sun hung low in the south, halfway along its shortened winter arc. My dad and I walked softly. Silent and wary, we moved slowly up the shadowed slope of the long, dry hill on Crooked Creek. Reaching the top, we found a game trail and carefully traversed a shallow gully, coming out of some brush and heading down the opposite side. Step, look, listen. Step, look, listen. Nothing. Just some old, twisted limber pines, the long, brown grass that swayed in the wind, and the thin wisps of cotton that stretched across the pale sky. Then, very close, just over the rise of the hill, the white tips of antlers rose above the bobbing heads of timothy. I dropped to one knee, and my dad silently dropped down behind me. “Buck,” I whispered, and he nodded. Slowly I stood up, and there it was.
Huge and tan and muscular, it turned to look at me. I raised my rifle. I did not think. I did not feel. I just knew. And, exhaling gently, I pulled the trigger. Painless, fearless, the mule deer buck died peacefully. We cleaned the deer, we dressed it, we took care of it. And later in a stew my mom made, we ate the deer and it was delicious.
Yet there have been days since, windy and dry like that day when I was twelve, that I have raised my rifle and put it down again, glad to watch the deer and let it watch me, and sad to walk away, to walk a long way back to the car, and to wonder why it was this time that I did not shoot. For it is a very definite decision the mind makes, and, pull or don’t, the body obeys, always.
I do not always kill. I do not always let live. The decision is within me, more intelligible than instinct, less so than argument, and below the concept of consequence. It lies somewhere between, somewhere in the self — my human self. But what is it to be human?
To be human is instinctual. By instinct, human beings are predators. By instinct I hunt and kill. At the same time, being human is rational. Rationality overrides instinct; I think about, wonder about, and justify pulling or not pulling the trigger. Which one, then, makes the decision? Maybe they both do.
Perhaps taken outside the city, outside the office and the classroom, outside books and computers and pens and telephones, instinct begins to surface. Perhaps among the pine trees and open snow fields, along the frozen banks of icy creeks and under a sky so blue it hurts to look at, the rational self begins to fade, to forget and to be forgotten. And perhaps it is exactly this equilibrium, this balance of influence between the rational and instinctual self, that seizes the moment and leaves me trembling afterwards.
I do tremble, physically and mentally. When the opportunity comes, and I take it or I don’t, afterwards I always tremble. It is excitement and fear that I know, and something else that I don’t. Something nameless that I cannot describe but always feel, like an emotion, only heavier. I feel it in my heart and shoulders and deep in my gut. It is primordial.
Watch the deer fall, or watch the deer walk away. There is sadness and there is pride. I am always sad to kill, but I am also always sad after working so hard and simply letting it go. I am proud to have brought down an elk myself, with a good sneak and good aim. And I am proud to watch an elk walk by, to watch it keep walking by and on down the game trail, oblivious to my presence and my lowered rifle.
The seconds that follow the decision are long. Too solemn to celebrate, yet too exhilarating to grieve, they can only be lived, felt, and remembered. Standing over my first deer, I remember the tear that left my eye and the smile that held my lip. I remember the pain and the joy inside me. I remember respect. I will feel it the next time I pull the trigger. I will feel it the next time I don’t.
The stock hugged tightly to my shoulder, my cheek snug against the cold wood, I squint into the scope, focusing on the crosshairs and the animal beyond. My heart is thunder, my mind a storm of thoughts and words unspoken. Yet somewhere in the middle is the eye, the calmness that allows me to take a deep breath, to focus, and to aim. My thumb flicks the safety off. My finger curls around the trigger, so smooth and tense and balanced. I watch the deer step, and pause, and turn. And here is the moment.
My mind asks if I belong. Do I belong here, with this animal, with this life and this means of taking it? Am I a part of the ecology that is this moment, a part of the time, a part of the rock that is my rest, the wind that freezes my nose, the snow on which I kneel that melts slowly into my wool pants? Am I a part of this incredibly intricate relationship between the animate and the inanimate, and do I have the right to take the next step in making different that which is all around and inside of me?
Afterward, the moment lingers. The experience remains in thought, in how this and not that, why now and not then. An animal taken, an animal let go. The experience remains, and so do I. Always, I will be back.
I come for the land, for the open hillsides and the cold, cold creeks and the deep coulees thick with brush. I come for the wind, for the smell and the sting and the scream of the high mountain air. I come for the beauty of the mountains at the edge of the Montana plains that is at once so harsh and so full. I come to wander, to explore, and to hunt. And I come for the moment, that I may expect and await it, experience it, and wonder about it long afterwards.
Ledyard Canoe Club (1938)
Excerpts from “Ledyard Canoe Club (1938),” by Walker Weed ’40, in Dartmouth-out-of-Doors, D.C. History, Dartmouth College Library.
“With our patron saint, John Ledyard, snickering slyly up in a blue April sky, twelve members of the Canoe Club, their brains addled with winter, crawl out of their palatial boathouse on the banks of the Connecticut, fling their craft aboard a waiting truck, and roar off to the remote headwaters of the White River…Launching the puny canvas-and-wood forms into the snapping teeth of the river…the dauntless canoeists catapult down sluice after sluice, crashing through three-foot combers, pouring the calories into their paddles and bailing like fiends.”
“ ‘Looks good along the edge next to those rocks,’ shouts someone above the roar of the water. ‘Waves are only about fifteen feet high! Lotta water t’day; covers up the boulders!’ ”
“But the wonderful memories of good fellowship, good weather, good food, and good sport will last a long time and all the canoe-smashing, duckings, sunburn, and wet feet take on an elegant and humorous hue…Happy paddling!”
Lewis and Clark
It was natural for my history-minded father to decide we should all four retrace the path two hundred years ago followed by the first white men. Being four and five, my sister and I had no choice but the backseat divided down the center with a line, you stay on your side, I’ll stay on mine. We played travel bingo and listed to Paddington tapes as the river changed names, Mississippi, Missouri, narrowed and cut west. They came in canoes, we came by Toyota. At Devil’s Tower I was allowed the pocketknife to cut roasting sticks for marshmallows, young branches, flexible, green when you flicked the sharp knife tip through the thin bark. Our father’s intensity invading us even then, one of us asked, Did Lewis and Clark have marshmallows? Five months it took them to reach Montana, where the brave Indian woman, barely older than a girl gave birth and baby on her back led the expedition through the cold rocky pass of the continental divide. It took us four days to Montana, where the crayons melted in the heat and we scrubbed guiltily at color pooling into a mass of browns, dirty gray, with paper towels from the rest stop, where we posed groggy in matching t-shirts and velcro shoes, hair matted from car sleep, holding small hands in the scratchy grass. We were utterly lost in that vast country, the hills behind us still full and promising, even then.
Christmas in Ecuador
Ecuador is a country of spectacular volcanoes and picturesque hillside farms. I feel lucky to have been able to partake in its wonders over Winter Break 2001 with my good friends Tim Bartholomaus ’02 and Justin Schott (Cornell ’02). The climb I will remember the most was Vulcan Cotapaxi, a behemoth towering over a volcanic landscape at 19,347 feet.
Our Cotapaxi climb began on the tail of an unsuccessful attempt at Vulcan Carihuairazo that left us exhausted and amazed at just how rugged the Ecuadorian Andes are. We regrouped on Christmas Day at Latacunga and arranged for a local to take us up the long, winding dirt road to the trail leading to the Cotapaxi refugio. The refugio is a solid structure at 15,000 feet, built much like an AMC hut on steroids and designed to withstand avalanches like the one that partially destroyed it a few years ago. Almost all climbers who plan to attempt Cotapaxi begin their journey with half a night’s stay at the refugio. The other half of the night is devoted to the climb, in order to make the summit by early morning and avoid dangerous conditions. As the sun continues to rise, the snow on the high Andes becomes very soft, leading to avalanches and weakened snow bridges over crevasses by mid-day.
So, we began our ascent on December 26th with a rough awakening at 12:30 AM after an all-too late bedtime of 9:30 PM. Within an hour and a half we had food in our stomachs and were all decked out in our mountaineering gear. The only other people on the mountain with us that morning were a group of British and Danish guided climbers and a Bolivian climber with his guide, making for a long night in the cold with little company.
The climb began as a hike up the barren red and black volcanic slopes of Cotapaxi. The beginning was particularly easy with the nearly full moon shining above. Slowly Tim, Justin, and I made our way up to the beginning of the glacier, focusing on little lights far up the mountain in the distance as we gained on the guided group that had had an earlier start. It was about 3:15 AM when we reached the glacier, roped up, took out our ice axes, and put on our crampons. From there it was a long steep hike along a path of footprints. The path made its way up solid snow slopes around numerous glacial crevasses and seracs. We crossed a spectacular large snow bridge and tried not to think about the depth of the crevasse that dropped beneath us. The temperature plummeted as the night wore on and we found ourselves quite cold every time we stopped to gasp for breath in the oxygen-depleted air.
For several hours we were enshrouded in clouds and darkness. All we could see was the path ahead illuminated by our headlamps. Around 6:00 a.m. we were overcome by a strikingly beautiful sunrise as cloud-tops below us shone with brilliant hues of purple, violet and pink. It seemed surreal, especially in our altitude-afflicted state. As we neared the top we had to make a concerted effort to pass part of the guided group so they would not hold us up on the final sections of the summit push. The most difficult section of the climb was a steep snow slope divided by a long crevasse. The only way to cross was by using a ladder attached to the uphill side of the crevasse that dangled two feet out from the lower edge. Needless to say, I held my breath as I took the step over the gap between the lower side of the crevasse and the bottom rung of the ladder. By that point I was just very thankful to be on a rope.
After the ladder there was just one final steep snow slope left until the summit. Every step took a concentrated effort, as our lungs could only take in a fraction of the oxygen that they were used to at sea level. At 18,000 feet air pressure is 50 percent of sea level (i.e. on the summit of Cotopaxi there was well less than 50 percent of the oxygen at sea level). We were lucky to have spent some time acclimatizing in Ecuador, but even so, there is no way to describe how much effort it took to take one simple step. Huffing and puffing, we dragged our bodies up onto the lip of the volcano and found ourselves staring into a gigantic caldera steaming with wisps of sulfuric mist. Within minutes we had reached the summit of 19,347 feet. It was around 8:30 a.m. and had been a long night. It was a beautiful windswept summit of snow with a clear view into the crater, occasionally obscured by its own volcanic smoke. We were above the clouds, which covered almost everything in sight. It was amazing to see the other high Andean summits, such as Cayambe, Chimborazo, and the Illinizas, poking up through them. It was a view right out of Climbing magazine. The sun lifted our spirits further and we relaxed for an hour, taking in the view.
Surprisingly, none of us were too badly affected by the altitude. We had only minor headaches, in clear contrast to some of our earlier acclimatization climbs. It was a fantastic feeling to be one of only 15 or so people who summited Cotapaxi that day. It was tough to leave the summit, for we were only halfway there and still had an arduous decent ahead of us. As it warmed up the sun shined brightly on the glacier and we were soon sweating in our full gear and concerned about the softening snow. Our glacier goggles were life-savers, for the sun reflecting off the snow was so bright that we were almost blinded by the light if we took off our goggles for even a second. Fortunately, we descended quickly and carefully with no major problems. It was good we started down when we did, because by the time we neared the bottom of the snowfield each step slipped a little and it was becoming much tougher to walk down safely. We returned to the refugio with a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment for having completed a fantastic trip that will long be remembered.
Dartmouth Mountaineering Club (1937)
Excerpts from “Dartmouth Mountaineering Club (1937),” by W.B. Rotch, in Dartmouth out-of-Doors, D.C. History, Dartmouth College Library.
“After running with the varsity ski team in 1935-36, Jack Durrance ’39 left in June for Wyoming and a summer’s climbing in the Tetons. Besides guiding parties up the Grand Teton, Durrance made two notable first ascents, one of the North Face of the Grand Teton with Paul Petzoldt and his brother.”
“ ‘We used enough pitons to be fairly certain some would hold. And now with Paul tied into the pitons, I tackled the most difficult ten feet of the whole climb, an overhang with darn little to stand on and about the same to pull up on. After this I turned around, peered the 1,500 feet down, wiped off some cold sweat, looked ahead, and grinned.’ ”
“When Jack returned to Hanover, he appreciated the long-felt need of the Outing Club for rock-climbing instruction. A few individuals had climbed before, but lack of competent leaders had caused the DOC to refrain from encouraging the sport.”
“Appreciating the advantages of collaboration, and the dangers of independent climbing, the students interested in rock climbing organized the Dartmouth Mountaineering Club, elected Jack Durrance president, and drew up a constitution. With a season of climbing and of lectures by prominent mountaineers including Fritz Weissner, Walter Howe, and Adams Carter tucked under its belt, and with enthusiastic interest in the Club’s program, the D.M.C should easily establish itself firmly as an active division in the Outing Club in future years.”
Dartmouth Mountaineering Club
Julia Payne ’04, Co-chair
Fall ’01 started off just like any other fall for the Mountaineering Club. There were lots of excited trippees running around and attendance at feeds was high. The energy seemed through the roof — typical for the first few weeks back at school.
Then things changed. People KEPT coming to feeds. They KEPT cooking for them. The ’05 class KEPT showing up at the climbing gym. We blitzed out about a trip or two, and had to turn people away because there was so much interest. Granted, I haven’t been around all that long, but I don’t think I am going out on a limb here when I say that this has been one of the biggest years for the DMC. Not only has the ’05 class been out there climbing enough to make your head spin, but they are climbing really hard. Like not funny hard. I now believe that Dartmouth is secretly recruiting climbers. The men and women of the freshman class have put their roots into the DMC and have taken hold, and the momentum continues to build. We are guaranteed a great future with this crazy, fun, and badass class.
Another amazing additon to our club has been the opening of the new climbing gym. It had been in the works for several years, and over the summer it came to realization as construction really took hold. Shortly into fall term, it was open for business. It has proven to be a great club-unifier in many ways. Not only is everyone doubly excited for double the space to climb on down there, but also, tons of people came down to help make it possible. They designed, painted, and added boxes and boxes of new holds. It is a very challenging space with a sick wave wall, a slab, a fin and two cracks, just to name some of the features. It will surely play an integral role in strengthing our bodies and our club. Other schools will cry in a jealous rage when they see it.
For trips, we sent out several great beginner excursions to Rumney and Pawtuckaway. Fall Weekend was a big hit and one of the most perfect days of climbing one could ask for. Our Gunks trad trip had to be cancelled, but in typical DMC fashion, people made it out there anyway. We also ran a very successful and fun beginner trad trip to Cannon.
In order to keep the rest of the campus involved, we held four beginner sessions in the gym, where everyone was welcome to come down and learn to belay, tie in and develop some usefull skills--all free of charge. All of the sessions were very well attended, and many of the people have returned to the gym to learn more. Mission accomplished.
Overall, this was a fantastic term for the DMC. Enthusiasm was astounding in beginners and “core” alike. Our veterans continued feeding their obsession, and climbed harder every time they went out. Many also got out there to lead, teach, and chill with the new folks. Thanks guys. The social scene was a blast, as usual, and I would just like to say how much I have enjoyed getting to know all of the new members and I hope we have been able to pass the love on. This club rocks.
A Quest for Identity
I remember quite clearly three years ago when I heard about the Student Life Initiative for the first time: as an excited, college-loving freshman, I was concerned about the potential disappearance of aspects of the Dartmouth I knew, while still being enthusiastic about the possibility for change. Yet as I stand here as a senior, I remain surprised by the general lack of influence the SLI has had on the wonderful activities and places I now know as my home. Despite the ever-increasing number of participants ready to explore and enjoy the out-of-doors, I have watched my club of Cabin and Trail, as well as a large part of the rest of the Dartmouth Outing Club, struggle to find a place to call our own. We have been increasingly challenged to meet our growing needs due to new college-wide policies and the recent departure of our two most knowledgeable mentors, Earl Jette ’55 and David Hooke ’84. As a result, at a time when coeducational, non-alcoholic, and diverse activities are supposedly touted, Cabin and Trail has struggled to maintain our sense of community.
Over the past few years, we have seen a lot of change. After a national report was released last year claiming that fifteen-passenger vans are unsafe under certain conditions, the College’s Office of Integrated Risk Management decided that these vans would now only seat eight. Even though the Outdoor Programs Office has tried to help ameliorate the problem, pledging to keep our programs running at their fullest by providing more vehicles for the same cost as before, our resources remain exhausted. Half as many seats means twice as many drivers, thus forcing club leaders to have a much higher number of active members, as they must drive for and thus help lead more trips. As a solution, the college has recently turned to fifteen-passenger microbuses, but the fact of the matter remains that they are much larger, more intimidating, and take extensive training before a student is allowed to drive them. With classes and other activities to attend to, the concept of getting trained for the good of the club can only stretch so far.
Yet perhaps even more frustrating is the continual decrease of on-campus space we can call our own. Room 13 in Robinson Hall was downsized during the reorganization and remodeling of 1995-6, our tool shed was moved out to Oak Hill (an inaccessible mile and a half away), and just this term our downstairs meeting room was taken over and a number of our awards deemed too offensive. The lone on-campus space we still inhabit is the small, shared, cluttered and overall uninviting Room 13. Thus, we have flooded the main lobby of Robinson Hall with pictures in an attempt to personalize some area in the building, but even that area cannot belong to us due to the sheer numbers of other students who pass through it. So Cabin and Trail turns to The Rock, an off-campus house rented by Chubbers for the past twenty years, and hopes that the landlord doesn’t decide to change tenants anytime soon.
As a result, Cabin and Trail and much of the Outing Club are fed up after consistently being dealt the short end of the stick. Our trips and activities have been hindered by van shortages and quantity of drivers, and our attempts to create community and identity have only partially succeeded due to lack of space. While The Rock has become our place to hang out and to cook for feeds, it is a home and certainly not an inviting or convenient place for newcomers to stop in and chat. At a time when the Student Life Initiative purports to create fun, alternative and non-Greek social options, our programs have the opportunity to flourish more than ever before. Yet at a time when we are teaching and sharing our culture and history with enthusiastic future generations of Chubbers, our resources are being diminished.
Most sadly of all, however, is that our "Dear Old Dartmouth" can’t even help us. Having met with a number of administrators over the past few weeks (including Dean of the College, Jim Larimore, and Director of Outdoor Programs, Kathy Doherty), it has become clear to me that while college administrators hear our worries and want to help us meet our needs, there is little that can be changed for the immediate future. Our suggested solutions are just not feasible. With campus space tighter than ever before, we must search for other ways to establish our community and continue our traditions. So for now, we’ll keep hosting feeds and social events at The Rock. For now, we’ll keep using our downstairs conference room (and maybe make some less offensive awards to go along with it). For now, we’ll keep driving more environmentally unfriendly vans and microbuses in order to keep our programs flourishing.
My time here is almost up and I can only hope that the future members of our club will continue the fight, voice our needs when solutions do become viable, and keep alive the spirit and traditions that have already given myself and my fellow Chubbers something very similar to the educational, social, inclusive, substantially coeducational, and overall wonderful Dartmouth experience that the Student Life Initiative envisions for the Dartmouth of the future.
After Six Weeks in San Diego
After six weeks in San Diego, one Thursday in July I left, heading north on a greyhound bus. I spent much of the time talking with a girl named Dalia from Lima, Peru who was coming to the United States to have her baby and join her father and husband in Oregon. Neither of us spoke the others’ language very much at all, but we enjoyed trying to make sense of either. The bus drove through the night and the next day I was in Eugene, Oregon, making rice by the Willamette river. I spent two nights in the Butterfly Youth hostel and a day at the Oregon Country Fair, a big hippy festival that happened to cross my path. The festival had all sorts of music and food and subversive literature.
I was loosely bound for Montana to work on a farm owned by my great-uncle Bill. I was not expected to arrive for another couple weeks. I spent the next night underneath the Maxwell Bridge, in Eugene, above the train tracks. At one point, before sundown, a southbound train pulled into the yard, a 600 yard long string of flatbeds carrying humvees, personnel carriers, jeeps, and artillery pieces. It left a couple of hours later, perhaps bound for Camp Pendleton, a base near San Diego I had passed in the bus only three days before. I slept above one highway and below another, the names, drawings and poetry of other travelers scrawled on the concrete above me.
I reached Portland the next day, taking public transportation as far as the town of Sandy in the western foothills of the Cascades before I started hitchhiking. I got a ride from a man moving from Washington to the east side of the mountains in Oregon. He was a sculptor and I slept some as I rode in his van, gutted to make room for his belongings. We headed east across the Cascades. We parted at an intersection of highways, his new home lay south and I was bound east. I walked several miles along a stretch of deserted highway until I reached a forest service fire station and called a friend of mine who lived nearby. Adrianna arranged for me to get a ride 40 miles to Dufur, where she lived. I ended up spending a week in Dufur, whose most prominent landmark is the grain elevator north of town. There is a joke about Dufur and its prestigious university:
“Do not ask what Dufur U can do for you, ask what you can do for Dufur U.”
I spent a day walking through the wheat fields. For a time I followed a deer who led me up onto ridges and canyons, past an abandoned radio tower. Over the hills I could see Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams to the west and north, their glaciers rising to above 11,000’ and 12,000’. I could only see the upper portions of each, peaks of ice and snow directly above the dry, smooth hills of wheat and barley.
Adrianna, whom I was staying with, was working as a trail crew leader out of the Barlow Ranger District, on the east side of the Mt. Hood National Forest. I volunteered to clear trail for a couple days and then that weekend we circumnavigated Mt. Hood, on a 40-mile trail following the tree line, much of which was on the Pacific Crest Trail. The first day was spent entirely enveloped in clouds, dripping and obscuring all of the mountain and forest beyond 100 yards. I left Dufur on a Monday in late July, again taking a Greyhound bus. I overslept my stop and arrived 200 miles too far in Bozeman, Montana. I was given a free fare to turn around and go to Choteau, the town nearby my great-uncle’s farm.
I spent two weeks on the farm, eating large meals and working with my uncle Bill and my cousin Mike who together ran the thousand-acre farm. I hauled water to 100 head of cattle, moved them from pasture to pasture on foot and by pickup truck, sorted sheep, and helped harvest barley and wheat. At one point I made a raft and cruised down a swiftly flowing irrigation ditch several miles. Water rights are everything there and rivers, instead of growing larger and fatter as they progress towards the ocean, are split and diverted into ever smaller irrigation ditches. At the end of several weeks I gathered 12 pounds of food, a vial of the iodine uncle Bill gave the cows to prevent goiter, and all that which I had brought with me. An early August morning I set off walking with no certain destination in mind.
On the Rocky Mountain Front the land is mostly pasture and grain fields. There is one highway that runs north from Choteau to Rt. 2, the highway between Chicago and Washington. I set off northwest, towards the mountains and Canada. I left my watch, camera, and journal behind. Along the front the mountains are a line of peaks stretching north and south indefinitely. From their flanks, about 20 miles west of where I began, the land extends in comparatively low mesas and canyons out eastward into the Great Plains. I walked from plateau to plateau cutting through Hudderite land and then various ranchland, often crossing low fences of barbwire separating herd from herd.
The main concern I had was water and at one point there was a stretch of nothing but dry fields and pasture. I was happy to come along a marsh at the base of a canyon that, though wet, was an active cow path. I drank my fill and headed on. The herds that I passed shied away and mooed for a long time after I passed, disturbed from their grazing. In a steep canyon between two mesas, I was startled by a large crashing noise and saw about 20 cows running down the narrow track I had just followed. The noise of their passage and the force with which they ran gave me much more respect for the animal.
This land just east of the Rockies had very few trees and for miles had only ankle-high scrub and grass. I could see points in the distance and would follow them for four hours straight at a stiff pace until they finally would draw nearer and I was upon them. The day was hot and whenever a lone cloud would pass over I could see its shadow distinct on the featureless land, miles between one side of the shadow and another. I could see clearly how large and swift the clouds were as they either happily passed over me or to the east or west. I cooked rice and hot chocolate in the corner of a field, miles from the last dirt rutted road I had crossed. I had hiked from sunup to sundown, about 15 hours.
The next day I rose and had oatmeal and set off again. I swam naked in an irrigation ditch surrounded by the most trees I had seen in over 25 miles of hiking. At midday I stumbled upon a cluster of two or three small homes along a dirt road. People from one house approached me and offered me water. I was told that I was on Blackfeet Reservation land and had been since a creek 8 miles south. They gave me a ride to Heart Butte, the town I had decided I was next headed for. I had strayed about 15 miles east of where I should have been. I had walked about 40 miles from when I set off the morning before.
When I arrived in the small town the annual Heart Butte Powwow was beginning. I decided to go to the powwow and as I rested a nearby family invited me to share sandwiches and grapes with them. The town had perhaps only 1000 residents, but in a clearing had been set up 40 tepees, a circuit of perhaps 200 campsites and a large common area. The family I stayed with had all grown up on the reservation, the grandfather, father and son. Most there were from reservations in Montana or the neighboring Blood Reserve in Canada. I found it strange to be alone as an outsider, witnessing dancing, games and ceremonies that were not my own. I spent the night there.
The next day I got a ride to Browning, the main town in the reservation. I did not have a direction to go and ended up hitching east 60 miles and spending the day resting in Shelby outside the reservation. I slept under the confluence of the I-15 and Rt. 2 in a freight yard, getting up before dawn so as not to be seen. I then retraced my steps, getting a ride from some Blackfeet who treated me to breakfast and took me back to Browning. I left the reservation again, meandering around West Glacier for much of the day. I first planned to go into Canada but turned back at the peculiar town of Babb, about 10 miles from the border, the closest I have ever been. Babb, according to a young resident whose car was missing its entire rear window, is the absolute best place in the world. I left Babb though, and then headed west across the continental divide through Glacier National Park. I bedded down for the night outside of Kalispell in a field near a long overgrown and abandoned bar.
The next day I continued west along Rt. 2. I rode with a quarry worker whose right eye was missing both pupil and iris in a truck he had built himself from other cars’ parts. I chanced upon a family going all the way to Portland, in Oregon. I rode with them through Idaho and Washington. I stayed for a few days in Dufur, spending much of my time picking blackberries along the banks of the Columbia River several miles away and then making jam. I then took the Greyhound back to San Diego.
I did not run into danger hitchhiking or walking through the deserted land, though the potential for danger certainly existed. Traveling alone for a week was troubling at times. Walking alone through fields and pasture without seeing anyone for a day was a strange experience and my thoughts were jumbled with the constant stride and sun always behind me. Had I a watch and been able to fix the time into minutes and hours I think I would have been even more disturbed. The land is so vast and empty of people, seldom-tended herds and miles long fences were all I saw and heard for more than 15 miles of straight walking. It was comforting to come across horses a couple times. I can relate better to their whinnies and stamping than to the prolonged moos of cows. I got rides with local punks, a logging executive, and a charismatic Christian who wrote, illustrated and distributed his own evangelical tracts. I met people who lived out of a bus on the top of a hilltop and an entire weird culture in Charlie’s Pizza in Babb.
My journey ended in San Diego. I was picked up by my parents at the bus station. There I spent two weeks before heading north and further east to New Hampshire.
Cabin and Trail
Cabin and Trail was quite active this past fall. Feeding off the energy of the incoming freshmen and a great group of seasoned veterans and council members, we ate ourselves into oblivion on the Grant trip in typical Chubber fashion, had an awesome group of students come out for the all-new Trail Work PE Class, piled onto a big ol’ bus and headed to a corn maze in Vermont, ran trips to local diners every week, trained hard for the upcoming winter forestry meet, and of course, slipped in a little bit of hiking and cabin overnights when we had the time. As always, Cabin and Trail continues to go this way, that way, the other way, and back, in pursuit of crazy adventures and good times.
DOC Trips: What a Trip
“I shall always consider these afternoon trips about Hanover as some of the happiest times in my life.”
I choked, as I stood on the lawn of Robinson Hall on my first real day as a Dartmouth student. Well, maybe it wasn’t my first real day as a Dartmouth student, I guess that was the day I matriculated. Or maybe it was when I went to convocation. Or maybe when I shook the President’s hand at his house on Webster Avenue. I was "officially welcomed" so many times during orientation week that I’m not actually sure which one was official, but I know this: I felt welcome the instant I saw the commotion on the lawn of Robo. As I said, I choked. I choked with surprise at seeing the enthusiasm not only of the Hanover Croo but also the newly arrived students. I choked back tears of joy for the experience I was about to undergo, I even choked on the lovely prosciutto ham and provolone on French bread sandwich I had just purchased at Murphy’s, but mostly I choked on the dust emanating from the formerly grassy lawn trampled under so many Salty-Dogging feet. As I said though, if nothing else, this scene made me feel welcome, and isn’t that the purpose of freshman DOC Trips?
“Took a long trip to the A.M.C.’s Galehead Hut near the Twin Mountain peaks. Pete…is almost beside himself describing the beauty of the Franconia Range”
My trip was strenuous hiking, section F, trip number 55 (Hi everybody!). At least, I think it was supposed to be strenuous. This is not to say that I, king of hiking, found an otherwise extremely difficult trip merely strenuous, but rather that it started off strenuous and then we decided that since camping was more fun that hiking, we’d take a shortcut. Franconia Notch was gorgeous, and we wanted more time to be staring up and around us at scenery rather than watching our steps on treacherous mountain paths. We cut down our walking time from an altogether excessive 6-8 hours the first day to a rather pleasant 2-3 the second. The weather turned nicer and we had a thoroughly pleasant time.
“Had one of the most memorable evenings…the tables simply sagged with good food, but eating was secondary as compared to outroaring your neighbor”
The highlight of the trip for me, however, was the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and the Croo that was running it. Having arrived at the Lodge on the Morning of September 12th, it was a very strange feeling to be rejoicing after our nation’s tragedy. The college and the Outdoor Program Office had already done a great deal to reassure the tripees by this point, having called our parents already and assured both family and student that each was okay. But to arrive at what is normally such a jubilant place to find that it was still so was both heart-warming and exhilarating. Why add further loss to an already horrific tragedy by denying we incoming students of a truly grand tradition? At dinner, the Lodj Croo explained to us that they needed our support to continue with their energetic presentations, and if anyone felt uncomfortable with the revelry then they were welcome to not participate. Not a soul left the dining room. The song and dance went on and it has been a primary formative experience in my Dartmouth Career. I so enjoyed it that I recently applied to be a part of the Croo to try to give to the class of 2006 what these wonderful spirits gave to me.
“The same opportunity lies at everybody’s door. Dartmouth simply points the way.”
Returning to what is now my home with sore feet, tired eyes, and a new perspective on life at college, I look back on the trip with very fond memories. I remember very few people that I met during orientation week, but the faces I find most familiar are those that I recognize from my trip section, from the games of Ultimate on the leech field, from fireside story telling, and from dancing the Salty Dog completely wrong and watching everyone be goofy. I think it goes without saying that these memories I will treasure not only for my entire career at Dartmouth College, but for my entire life.
“Deep in their hearts, the members have a love for outdoor life. With such a love which is inherent in all of us, nothing can stop its expression.”
Quotations from: Dartmouth Out-of-Doors, 1930-35. Dartmouth College Library Special Collections, D.C. History LD/1441.4/D34
You Mean There’s Rats Up There?
I’ve never managed to come up with an intelligible response when people ask me why I climb rocks. I mean, it’s fun and all, but that in no way justifies the amount of time I’ve spent over the last few years driving to go climbing, walking on talus fields, and belaying my partners. I mean, I guess driving with someone makes you talk to them and hear what they have to say, scrambling on talus gets you in good shape, and belaying is a test of character and patience. But when I’m driving and the passenger falls asleep, when I’m tired and don’t really feel like walking any further, or when it’s cold outside and my partner is climbing slowly, then I really have to wonder.
There are a number of reasons that I’ve come up with over the years to explain the madness: a need for adventure, the desire to get out of Hanover (who can argue with that?), the amazing places it takes you, the people you meet, the personal development (don’t roll your eyes!), the fun of it all, and the stories. Here’s one of those.
This summer I got to spend a month in Yosemite Valley at the traditional climber’s campground, Camp Four. The group of two hundred people was 90 percent male, 80 percent young, and 70 percent climber. As for the girls, they say that, “the odds are good but the goods are odd.” Besides, with everyone crammed in on a small dirt-covered plot of ground surrounding a bathroom, the place isn’t exactly a romantic getaway! The camp saw a lot more action in the matching up of climbing partners. I went through eleven partners, nine of whom were one-day stands. I found it was hard to keep a climbing partner, even if we worked well together. The place has a high turnover rate of people, most of whom bring their own partners. Also, everyone wants a partner who’s better than they are, so nobody’s ever content (sound familiar?). But it’s okay, because it lets you meet all sorts of people. I climbed with a fisherman, a few derelicts, some other students, a public prosecutor, and a freelance pornographer. I could have made a movie on them alone!
The rocks are big there; it’s been a hot spot for climbers for the better part of the century. But I think every climber who goes there — even the bouldering punks who never leave the campground — wants to climb The Captain. When I first saw it driving in, the wall just kept getting bigger as I looked up. I just laughed — I’d never seen anything like it. Then I kind of forgot about it, spending my time on the one-day climbs scattered about the place, and slowly came to terms with the fact that even though El Capitan was what had brought me there, I wouldn’t climb it on this visit. Maybe next time.
But then I started hanging out with this Mexican dude named Jesus, and he made it the goal of his last few days at Yosemite to make sure I didn’t leave without at least attempting to go big. True, he was leaving in three days and didn’t have time to climb it with me, but he spat at the notion that I could leave with that much unfinished work. If you ever want to make someone go climbing, you back them into a corner where they can’t deal with not going — just make them feel real bad about themselves. It especially works if your name is Jesus, I mean that puts a lot more on the line, anyway. I at least had to try.
So I made a few more loops around Camp Four asking people to climb with me. I found a partner pretty soon, which was a nice surprise, and in a few days we were on the wall. I didn’t know this guy, Yarrow, at all. That was about to change, because for almost a week we’d be next to each other on the same little ledges with nowhere else to go, and nobody else to complain to. We’d best get along!
With that in mind, when we were packing he noticed that I wasn’t bringing a spoon. I responded, “Oh, I eat with a nut tool.” A nut tool is a piece of climbing gear shaped like a knife from Food Court (not at all sharp) with some holes in it. He sneered and spat, “Eew that’s disgusting.” So I consented and brought a plastic spoon. No big deal — a plastic spoon is light, and if it would make him think I wasn’t disgusting, it was worth taking. But seriously, who cares what their climbing partner eats with? And by the way, I dig eating with a nut tool — after so many days of vitamin and mineral deprivation, I kind of crave that metallic zinc oxide flavor. So when we were on the first resting spot of the climb, about to eat food, I took out the spoon and stuck it in the peanut butter jar. Twirl once, pry upward, and SNAP! So much for that idea. Unfazed, making no comment, I unclipped the nut tool from my harness and dug in. At that time, Yarrow discovered that he’d forgotten to bring a spoon, and soon found himself lowered to my level, eating with a nut tool. Victory!
I didn’t bring normal sleeping gear on the climb. People told me not to bring anything made out of down (it makes you cold when it’s wet), so I didn’t bring my sleeping bag. I didn’t bring a ground mat either — no sense trying to get comfortable when you’re going to be waking up before the sun every morning, right? I brought a single tent without the poles, and a mylar blanket — one of those silvery crinkly things that looks like aluminum foil and is supposed to keep you warm in emergencies. I hope I never get in an emergency. It was way too small and was the loudest thing in the world. I could hear myself breathing at night by the crinkling of the blanket. If I tried to roll over, the blanket would make so much noise that I couldn’t hear anything else. One night I was trying to get comfortable on a sloped ledge — an impossible notion, I soon found out. With gravity pulling one way and the harness pulling the other, it just doesn’t make for comfort! But what happened next was completely ridiculous.
I should preface it by saying that this was the third night, and on the first night a mouse had eaten a hole in my food bag and opened up several energy bars. It sampled each of them, but didn’t eat enough to really matter (an energy bar is pretty big compared to a mouse). But I knew there were rodents on these walls. They go up the crack systems within the rock. There had been a sizeable rat on a ledge at Half Dome, and the ledge I was now on, even at 2500 feet, had a large fissure behind it, no doubt linked to the rodent subway system.
So I’m in my tent all wrapped up like a burrito, rolling around trying to get comfortable with the blanket making all sorts of racket. Suddenly, I feel something claw into me! I wanted to grab it and throw it off the cliff but I couldn’t get a grip because I was all wrapped up. And the thing was huge! But then I heard,
“Hey, hey, man, it’s me!”
I froze. So did the rat. I fumbled for a minute with the tent zipper, poked my head out, and there was Yarrow grabbing on to me.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Yeah — what just happened? Is there a rat here? Did you get it?” I was confused.
“I thought you were sliding off or something.” It took me a second to realize that my rolling over had woken him up and he’d thought I was slipping off the ledge. So he tried to save me, but when he grabbed me I thought he was a rat and tried to chuck him overboard! By the way, we were both tied in so it wasn’t like anything bad could have happened.
If there was a lesson to be learned from that story, it came several months later when I happened to look at the label of my sleeping bag, and found out that it’s not even made with down.
So to finish the original story and tie it into the larger context of life, we finished the climb in due time. It took six days, but I didn’t really feel like a different person at the top — just more tired and hungry and thirsty. It wasn’t until long afterwards that I noticed differences in my outlook on climbing, and how it ties into the rest of what I do. Big wall climbing has become my favorite part of the sport, even though I’ve only climbed two walls. And I’m relatively bad at that style of climbing — I took six days to do what Yosemite “wallrats” (those are people, not actual rats) do in seven hours. But for me, wall climbing avoids the competitiveness inherent in the less committing, and less arduous, forms of rock climbing. Being comfortable with commitment and hard work is also helpful for other things in life, but seriously, this is light reading.
A Thank You from the DOC to Mr. Larry Hathorn
Lying on your back in the loft of Stoddard Cabin at the Grant you can stretch your feet up to rest on the smooth round logs of the slopping rafters. Comfortably nestled in that position, breathing in the sun and the rising smoke from breakfast and the woodstove, one quietly commends the carpenter who maintained the chiseled trunks. That man is Larry Hathorn.
Larry’s work for Outdoor Programs and the DOC includes cabin maintenance, but does not stop there. His technical skills include carpenter masonry, log cabin building, roofing, and the full range of cabin maintenance and repair. He works throughout the year on ongoing projects at the Second College Grant in northern New Hampshire, recently completing the impressive log work and renovation of the Grant’s Pete Blodgett Camp. In the summer he serves as advisor to the Summer Trail Crew that maintains the ten DOC cabins, 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and ten AT trail shelters.
Beth Rabbitt ’04 worked with Larry in the summer of 2001 as Volunteer Trail Coordinator at Mount Moosilauke.
“Larry is an amazing person to work for,” Rabbitt said. “He is patient, fun, and endearing. I remember the first time I worked with him out on the trails. He put me in charge of building a waterbar and it took me about an hour to find enough big rocks (when he says big, he means it) and roll them to the worksite. Then I dug the ditch, and tried to set them all in. It was a mess. Larry watched the whole time with this smile on his face. I asked him how it looked and he said, “Not too bad,” (which was definitely kind). I stood muddy and gaping while he proceeded to redo the whole thing in about five minutes. That’s his style. Watch you mess up and then fix it without making you feel too stupid or bad and you learn a lot more in the process. He hates to tell you that you did a less than perfect job, but wants you to learn from mistakes.”
The care and value Larry places on his family and home is even more obvious and commendable (and rightly so) than his work for the college and its students. Epitomizing the “real Vermonter,” Larry built his own home, helps with the family greenhouse, does maple sugaring, and raises animals including doves, dogs, chickens and cows.
Larry truly is a man of all trades. Where he finds the energy to keep up all his projects and hobbies in addition to his work for OPO, we can only guess. This winter he often rose far before the sun, taking to the cross-country trails by 3 or 4 AM to make sure they were groomed for team practices and recreational skiers.
According to Don Cutter, Assistant Director of OPO, it’s just not in Larry’s nature to back down.
“If [Larry] tells you he’s going to be there at 2 o’clock in the morning, he’ll be there at 2 o’clock in the morning,” Cutter said.
I guess we’d all just like to say: Thanks Larry, for all you’ve done. We look up to you and think of you when we’re at our best — every time we step into a cabin or take to the trails.
This February students and faculty organized “Horizons,” a dinner to discuss and promote the value of an outdoor education for Dartmouth students. Many DOC members stepped up and described how their experiences in the outdoors furthered or added to their education and life in general. Here is a sampling of some student responses:
My experiences with the Dartmouth Ski Patrol have been more than I could have ever hoped for. Not only does the organization provide me with a wonderful venue to get outdoors and spend time with friends, but it has given me life-long skills. I have been incorporated into a team of highly dedicated student volunteers and given the responsibility to patrol at the Dartmouth Skiway. The education that I have gained in team management and emergency medical care will stay with me long after I have left Dartmouth.
The connection between my experiences in the wilderness (through the DOC) and my education at Dartmouth is direct and fundamental.
Climbing mountains develops the confidence, discipline, and ambition that I apply to academic challenges like studying for exams or researching for papers. The aesthetic appreciation of beauty and spiritual inspiration that I bring to my music composition class I acquire in the forest. The friends I make in OPO classes join me in the library for study sessions. It all comes full circle when I observe in the rock formations the subjects I have studied in my Earth Science classes.
While it would be possible to have either without the other, the two are so entwined in my Dartmouth experience and complement one another so perfectly, that I am reluctant to consider one without the other.
The outdoors offers an escape. It forces me out of the comfortable world of everyday life — a sterilized routine in which self-awareness does not exist. It is only in escaping from this monotony and entering into the wildness and unpredictability of the outdoors that I can be truly aware that the self really does exist. What is lost in the world of routines becomes clear outdoors. To me, this is as important as anything learned in the classroom.
The DOC is my home at Dartmouth. It’s the place at this school where skill, commitment, excitement, camaraderie, and the spirit of adventure all come together. My experiences in the DOC range from DOC Trips (both as a freshman and leader), to taking and teaching physical education classes, to leading regular trips and being a council member on Cabin and Trail, and to working at Moosilauke.
Throughout all of these different experiences has been the common thread of the love of the outdoors. It doesn’t really matter who you are or where you’re from as long as you’re there to have fun. That knowledge in itself is enough for me to transcend the stresses of the academic Dartmouth, take a deep breath of the good old mountain air, and find friendship in the wilderness that this institution of learning once did, and hopefully still does pride itself on. I wanted to learn about life in more than an “academic” way. The DOC gives me the ability to do that. That’s why I came to this school and that’s why I stay.
Top ten things I’ve learned in college (in no particular order):
- I’d rather starve to death than have a desk job.
- Snowshoes are the best things invented since hiking boots.
- Organic green beans are my favorite snack food.
- I love adventure.
- Life is not pointless. Evidence: snowfalls, sunrises, sore quads.
- You are as hardcore as the challenges you are willing to attempt.
- Sweat doesn’t smell so bad, really.
- There’s no reason to be afraid to try new things.
- How to speak Portuguese
- Ninety percent of learning occurs outside of the classroom.
Editor Kelly Swartz ’05
Layout Ashley "ASE" Thomas ’91
Contributors Jane Baker ’05, Rory Gawler ’05, Ken Gillingham ’02, Zach Goldstein ’02, Kate Huyett ’05, Alexis Jolly ’05, Page Kyle ’02, Sean Mann ’05, Julia Payne ’04, Dana Schmidt ’02, Zach Strong ’05, Kelly Swartz ’05, Walker Weed ’40
Photography and Artwork Rory Gawler ’05, Ken Gillingham ’02, Andrew Kulmatiski ’GR, Sean Mann ’05, Chelsea Nilsson ’05, Nira Salant ’03, Alex Schindelar ’01, Dana Schmidt ’02, Kelly Swartz ’05, Walker Weed ’40
front cover: Sean Mann ’05 on Mt. Hood, Oregon