A semi-periodic publication by the Dartmouth Outing Club of trip and expedition reports, essays, poetry, artwork and photography.
- About Woodsmoke
Stella Baer ’03
Sean Mann ’05
- Trees of Dartmouth
Stella Baer ’03
- Excerpts From a Trekking Journal
Peter Brewitt ’03
- Mountain Men
Kelly Swartz ’05
- The Companions I Keep
Sean Mann ’05
- Gone Boatin’ — In December
George Storm ’04
- Dartmouth Mountaineering Club
Will Morrison ’05
- One Day the Same as 140
Anthony Bramante ’06
- Dartmouth Organic Farm
Sean Mann ’05
- Trip Report: A Birthday Hike
Jim Taylor ’74
- Rebuilding the Ravine Camp
Dartmouth Out O’Doors
- Why We Talk About Lodge History
Page Kyle ’02
- Ski Song
Dartmouth Out O’Doors
- Mountains, Yurts and Merriment
Peter Brewitt ’03
- Dream Big and Dare to Fail
Merrick Johnston ’05
- First of May
Dartmouth Out O’Doors
- Ledyard Canoe Club
George Storm ’04
- Journey by Canoe
Carl Strom ’05
- Plea for Remembrance
Leah Samberg ’03
- Cabin and Trail
Peter Brewitt ’03
- Ramblings in the Range of Light
Barry Hashimoto ’06
- Morning Contemplation
Mike Tanana ’04
- Environmental Studies Division
Christine Prentice ’05
For two hundred years Dartmouth College has been known above all for two things: sincere dedication to the education of her students, and her place in the wilderness of New Hampshire. On the pages of Woodsmoke we find the union of these two. We find the marriage of mind and matter, of the rational and the physical, of the written word and the adventure into the out-of-doors.
Writing of our journeys into wilderness is not merely a matter of recording the peaks climbed or paths taken. It is an act of creation. If we try too hard to contain and possess nature in our words, she slips through our fingers, because in so doing we remove ourselves from her. But if we lose ourselves in her light and wind, leaves and water, and then find ourselves inspired to put pen to paper, we find ourselves with something that we thought could never be put into words. The words on these pages are the fruits of the mind’s adventure into the out-of-doors, and remind us that we ought to lose ourselves in the wilderness more often.
Dartmouth College was chartered and established 227 years ago. At the time that Eleazar Wheelock chose Hanover as the location for his school, the few homesteaders and settlers lived higher up, in Hanover Center. The lowlands of Hanover were swampy, including land that was later dammed, creating Occom Pond. On higher ground, the thickness and darkness of the pine canopy prompted Wheelock to call the Hanover Plain a “horrid wilderness.” Several years later, the white pines of this plain, appraised as the highest in the Hanover area, were cleared, mostly in the area that is now our College Green. Felled trees measured over 270 feet in height were exclaimed over.
The founding of the Outing Club, 130 years later, did not begin the inclusion of the outdoors in a dartmouth.education. The forests, rivers and hillsides have always been a part of everyone’s experience of Dartmouth. For some the wilderness has been merely the boundary of their travels here, either undeserving of attention or a place of shadows and horrid brightness. Others have found it a temptation or route of escape. Many have found their joy in exploring, in pushing themselves, and in the companionship found in the outdoors. All have lived within a college framed by the wooded hills and waterways, in freeze and in flood. As the college has changed in over two hundred years, so too has the land. Yet the granite remains, and the hill winds still pass through the Hanover Plain, gently and bitterly this winter.
Since its founding 93 years ago, The Dartmouth Outing Club has become an important part of many students lives. It has been a community of lovers of the out-of-doors, welcoming students into the land around us. In Woodsmoke, Dartmouth men and women have shared stories of their own, from nearby Hanover and also much farther afield, as they dream, fear, remake, enjoy and live within the out-of-doors and our college.
Trees of Dartmouth
For three years I walked among them, not knowing their names. I left my bicycle against them, read and wrote beneath them, swung into the Connecticut on ropes hanging from them, collected their leaves in my books when their boughs were ablaze with orange and crimson, and filled my tea cups with their blossoms when their limbs were bent with pink and white. But it wasn’t until my last autumn at our dear College that I began to learn their names, and was told whose needles are good for tea and whose bark tastes of wintergreen, and began to learn of their history.
Witnesses to the light of many more thousand sunsets than any daughter or son of Dartmouth, the trees of our College hail from more than 75 species. Our largest trees are the Silver Maples, their trunks measuring over five feet in diameter. One such giant can be found just south of Silsby, her limbs above Tuck Drive.
Yet Hanover once knew trees larger still. Before the days of Eleazer Wheelock, Eastern White Pines taller than Baker Tower towered over what is now the Green. Christened “the King’s Pines,” these wooden giants were claimed for King George III and, after being floated down the Connecticut, met their fate as masts for the British Royal Navy.
Of all of Dartmouth’s trees, none is more immortalized than the Lone Pine. Perched on a rocky outcropping above the northeast corner of the green, over what is now the BEMA, Dartmouth’s Old Pine was one of the few of her kind left standing, and over the years was to become the symbol of all that is Dartmouth. Immortalized in Dartmouth’s songs, seals, weathervane, and book plates, the Old Pine watched over the Hanover plain for more than a century. Under her green boughs countless Dartmouth men gathered to smoke long clay peace pipes or commence their time at the College. But alas, on the 29th of July, 1887, the Old Pine was struck by lightning. In the years that followed, her main branch was further broken by a whirlwind, and in July of 1895 the Old Pine was cut down. Bartlett Tower was built near her stump on what we know today as Observatory Hill, “ a landmark more enduring than the Old Pine,” the plaque reads. Yet the Old Pine lives on in our Alma Mater, and in the flag that flies over the Green,a quiet reminder of Dartmouth’s long love affair with the out-of-doors, and her place in what was once a great wilderness.
Excerpts From a Trekking Journal
Editor’s Note: During Spring and Summer Terms 2002, Peter Brewitt ’03 and Peter Bohler ’03 set out to retrace a historic trek made by John Ledyard from Stockholm to St. Petersburg in 1787. They hiked and biked through the far northern latitudes of Sweden and Finland from March 19 until July 10, 2002, covering approximately 2000 miles in perpetual daylight. Over 200 years earlier, Ledyard had traveled this distance under the dim and hibernating sun of a Scandinavian winter.
Ledyard, whom some scholars have said saw more of the world than any other man of his time, left Dartmouth after his freshman year with a restless and wandering spirit. Throughout his life he kept a journal of his travels, some of which can be found in the Rauner Special Collections Library. However, he left no record of his overland trek to Russia in pursuit of the growing Pacific fur trade in 1787, and it was this missing chunk of his history that piqued the curiosity of Dartmouth’s Institute for Arctic Studies and the Petes.
Along the way they visited libraries and archives, searching for any record of Ledyard to help them piece together the story of those dark and missing weeks of his life. Now having completed their journey, the two are pretty convinced that Ledyard could not have made the entire journey unaided, in hours of darkness, and on foot. Most likely he took advantage of heavily traveled roads between cities and hitched rides with villagers or the postal service, as he did later in Russia.
These excerpts tell a part of the story of their travels as they followed Ledyard’s journey.
March 27, 2002
We were filthy. We had been walking through the Swedish woods for four days, sweating under our packs on the trails and marinating in our sleeping bags at night. It had been a wonderful life, but now, with our hair melding into a fair imitation of John Travolta’s friends’ in Grease, we were emitting visible smell rays. But there was nothing to do but say a prayer and keep stepping, so that is what we did. Then it happened. Halfway through our day’s progress, we emerged from the trees to a large cleared area with a small cabin, a few picnic tables, and — Joy! — a spring-fed pump. It was called Lunsentorpet. Even in our dreadful state, I was a little dubious. Winter had been gone for less than a week, and while the day was sunny, it was not particularly warm. But we had no idea how long it would take to get to our next washing opportunity, and our clothes as well as ourselves would benefit from a good scrubbing. This being the case, we bit the bullet, pulled out our biodegradable soap, and stepped to the pump.
I should note that for the four days we had been traveling the Uppland-sleden, we had seen a total of one other hiker, on the first day when we were near Stockholm. For the rest of the time, except when passing through farms or towns, we had not seen a soul. This was kind of nice, but we had expected better of the Swedes, a race we had thought of as vigorous and outdoorsy. It served our current purposes well, though, and without fear we stripped down and approached the nozzle.
The water was astonishingly cold. I am confident that it was unfrozen only because it was flowing, an opinion bolstered by the fact that it solidified into little icicles before I could wipe it off my skin. It was cleansing, but then so is Bactine. I did the hokey pokey with the gushing stream of water, sticking body parts in and out, stamping and hooting, doing my damnedest to get clean without getting wet. The equally naked Pete pumped for me, cackling maniacally as he hosed me down with liquid ice.
At this point a hiker ambled through Lunsentorpet. Hearing my monkeylike clamor, he looked over, took in the wretched scene, and then went on his way. Embarrassed but committed, I thought little of it and carried on with my cleansing when a pair of hikers came through, from the other direction. I reflected with some bitterness that only in my least dignified and most wretched state had I been seen by my fellow human beings — Pete excluded, of course. The irony turned to comedy when another couple walked by, once again looking askance at the naked and rapidly shriveling young men to their right. We finished about when they left, and after a valiant but bootless attempt to dry off with our bandanas, pulled our slightly less awful clothes damply around us, shouldered our packs, and returned to the trail.
April 10, 2002
Our campsite was set amongst a thick stand of evergreen trees, so darkness came early that evening, and by the end of dinner we were wearing our headlamps. We had spent the past few days among farms and fields, and it was good to be back in the forest. The pines huddled close about the trail, almost brushing our shoulders as we walked. The needles were almost black as the shadows fell down. Soon, our little campsite, set in a clear patch just above a swamp, felt like a submarine suspended in a dark and windy sea. The feeling of isolation, of truly being Out There, was strong. We sat there in our little island taking it in and spooning down the last of our couscous.
I saw it first. Through the trees a little to my left flared the definite shine of a flashlight. It flickered once briefly and then was gone. Mildly unsettled at first, I figured that it was only my headlamp reflecting off of some ice, or perhaps a birch tree, and thought nothing of it. Nothing, that is, until it happened again five minutes later. I stopped rinsing out my dish and sat still looking for it. Oblivious, Pete continued to brush his teeth. I peered through the darkness, and after a few minutes, saw the flashlight again. This time I was certain that it wasn’t my headlamp; I hadn’t moved. I told Pete to come over and look with me. Pete was understandably a little dubious that I had seen someone off in the woods, but the eventual reappearance of the light in the trees soon confirmed my words. We switched off our headlamps and sat, staring out at the night together. We saw the flashlight again, but as always heard no noise or any other indication of a human presence. We shouted halloo out in the direction we’d seen the flashlight, but there was no answer. We continued to sit still, by this point very scared. There was at least one person out there, possibly more, adept enough at woodcraft to walk silently at night, who wished us ill or at least would not answer our calls to show themselves. Looking at the map, we ascertained that there was no town or village near enough to be the source of the light through the trees. We sat discussing what might be out there, and why a few Swedes would want to scare the bejeezus out of a pair of American trekkers. We sat longer, in the dark, growing colder on our rolled-up sleeping pads, and after a very long while we saw the flashlight once again. We listened very, very hard, and there was absolutely nothing. Scenes from Deliverance flashed through my mind. I began to feel scared. These people out there in the woods meant us no good. We didn’t know anybody within a hundred miles, we were foreign, we were without any recourse. We huddled together and talked over what we might do if we were suddenly set upon by a Swedish backwoodsman. After ten minutes we saw the light again. Our best-case scenario was that it was a couple of local youths trying, and succeeding, to scare us. At worst, we would find ourselves squealing like pigs in short order. This was not pleasant to contemplate. I consulted the map again, hoping for some indication of a house, something, anything. It was then that I noticed the road, far enough so that no car noise was audible, but near enough that for a brief second whenever a car would pass, the lights flashed at us briefly. We waited, watched another car — it was very obvious this time — then went to bed happy, but feeling like morons.
May 13, 2002
We had never seen a reindeer before, but then, we had never been in Swedish Lapland before, either. The last few days had taken us away from the Baltic coast and north into a more rural Sweden, but even as we bought reindeer sausage for our lunch we never dreamed that we’d actually find ourselves amongst them. Seeing the road sign emblazoned with the unmistakable antlered silhouette, while pretty cool, scarcely compared with the thrill, nine or ten kilometers later, of seeing, among the birches to my left, a real live reindeer. Pete and I dismounted our bikes as quickly as we could without killing ourselves, drew our cameras, and, with all the Mohican-like stealth and grace of men who have just ridden fifty miles, attempted to get close enough to take its picture. The reindeer, shaking its antlers in disgust at the American tourists, ambled off in an unconcerned manner and was soon lost from sight. Undaunted, the two of us hunted the beast through the bush for a while before giving up, having found only an explosively startled grouse, and returned to our bikes. But we had still seen a real reindeer, in the boreal forests of Lapland. We saw two more the next day, one of them with a large spread of horns, and for each we optimistically hunted through the undergrowth, getting the same casual brush-off from the animal. The excitement returns whenever we remember them.
It is worth knowing that actual reindeer look nothing like the sleek brown Christmas ornaments. They are grayish and shaggy and kind of disreputable looking. Possibly they let themselves go during the off-season and look spruce and dapper when the time comes to pull Santa Claus’ sleigh again. I reflected later that since we were only about a hundred miles from Santa Claus’ actual house in Rovaniemi, Finland, these might even be his own personal reindeer.
May 29, 2002
Our campsite, while pleasant, was a long way past the last creek we’d crossed, and so it was with no great enthusiasm that I headed back down the hill, pots in hand, to collect the water for our evening meal. In hopes that the stream bent closer to our tent site, I followed my ears toward the sound of running water instead of heading back down the trail. I picked my way between the trees and scrambled down a rocky little slope towards the water. Hunkering down close to scoop up the first pot full, I looked over to my right.
The slope that I had just picked my way down rose and steepened into one side of a sheer rock gorge a hundred feet high that yawned out above the river as far as I could see. Ripples in the cliffs caught the setting sun filtering through the birches curving over the lip. It was breathtaking. I skipped up the side and back to the tent to tell Pete.
We moved our campsite to the edge of the gorge that night and spent the rest of the evening down between the walls. There were still, at the end of May, a few pieces of ice clinging to the shaded corners at the foot of the walls. The cold dark brook ran quietly along the floor of the gorge couched between two cushions of damp mossy bank. Walking further down between the cliffs we could see a jumble of boulders cutting off one end of the ravine. Even within the Karelian wilderness we were secluded from the rest of the earth. It was primeval. If I had seen a wooly mammoth striding across the moss and bending to drink from the stream, I would not have been surprised. After writing in our journals for some time we crawled back regretfully into the tent. The next morning we spent exploring the boulders and ledges. When the sun was high in the sky, we bowed to our responsibilities and continued south.
I. “To bed,” the Appalachians said, pulled sky shades down to foreheads and it was over, over the top the next time, without the vine. Jack still stumbles up stone shoulders. The range: nose, chin and hollow cheek lumps every line of pine beards and quartz-speckled splattered skin. Giants will slumber where they please. II. These are the bedroom mornings of November Bruised blues and burnt umber Edges softened by lampshade shadows. Bald birches stretch fingers to the ceiling Black crows and leaves drift Down like stray hairs under the comb. Dim hill outlines rise and kick their blanket Piles to each end and in the middle of Spread valley beds. This truck drives down and over the impression of Their bodies Past cows and sleepy horses with Wet noses. III. There have been smaller mountain people piles. Legs, arms and crowded skulls set in mud. Let’s bury up, like the Hopewell did with grassy mounds — man seeds scattered in tilled earth. — October 22, 2002
The Companions I Keep
When I am living on my own, the companions I keep are the cold and the heat, the desert and rocks, hunger and loneliness. Most constant and enveloping are the comings and goings of the day and the night, which bring their own separate companies with them. The world shifts between the two.
I walked into a field of alfalfa, harvested and hardened in the desert of California, south of the Salton Sea. Raised mounds for planting were soft, but furrows were cracked and dry between them. I crushed some dry stalks and laid out my things to sleep upon. A black bird, smaller than a raven, fluttered in the air. The bird was near enough and the field had been empty enough that I felt it take up the space which I had staked out and occupied, alone. The wind blew in its face, blowing from the west, where the sun had already passed. I don’t really yet know if it was a bird. It bobbed up and down, going nowhere. My presence seemed not to matter, though I had a fear that it would swing at me soon. It moved like a piece of paper tied by a string. I have not seen it since.
I lay shivering a long time in the area of a ladybug hatch. In the twilight I saw them. They covered the larger downed logs, coloring the bark and rotwood orange and red. In the light they did not stray into flight, bound to their logs.
I boiled thistles thinking I could eat them, but their spines were sharp and numerous even after an hour of boiling over an open fire. I made-do with thistle tea and apricots from my grandmother. When the fire went out it became dark all around. I lay down. There had been a moon two weeks ago, but little was left now.
I woke sometime during that night and it had become cold. I tucked my arms into my chest and managed to wrap the sleeves of my wool shirt around my head as a makeshift hat. I could hear the stream I had swum in earlier. I wondered, what did the ladybugs do at night? I could not hear them. Perhaps they waited until night to fly, sailing on the cold night airs down the mountain. I was cold and the morning was an idea of something far away. The cold and the darkness lasted. All I looked was up and there I saw only stars and the margins of pine trees. It was coldest when the light came.
I slept a lot this summer on the upper deck at my grandmother’s house in the mountains. Earlier, shortly before the summer began, I had seen above the desert stars which formed, in my fancy, a winged serpent. I saw this often from the deck my grandfather built, and other nights elsewhere until the late end of summer.
I passed up Trinity and White Sands and instead ended up walking in the small town of Mountainair, along an infrequently traveled highway. I was walking toward the major rail line I had seen earlier in the daylight — the main east-west line through New Mexico. In the dark, alone, I did not wish to meet people. A car drove along the dead-end dirt road that I was walking on. I shrunk away from the headlights and hid in a hole dug by one of the few driveways. They passed and then turned around to pass once again. I was sheepish and invisible.
The road did not go far and I hopped a fence to walk out into the darkness. The stars moved in and out of dark clouds. It is the desert, but it will soon begin to rain. I walked alongside the tracks toward a light I saw flashing dimly. It was 200 yards away the entire time, or perhaps it was a mile away and drawing closer as I walked. Another light, blinking red on the back of a train, passed by after a clatter of sea containers and trailers on flatbeds. At night one cannot look at them passing so quickly and blocking out so much of the desert and the sky. Far now from the town, I lay on the sand and cobbles overlooking the tracks. Lightning started to come and the rain moved with the clouds to lightly come down on my sleeping place. I wondered what one is supposed to do in the desert alone when lightning draws near. Coyotes howled and others answered from other directions around me. The cries were stranger and louder than I expected. I carry nothing in me that could make that sound, nor even to imagine it. These coyotes, they are small and creatures of my same earth. I have seen them running low in the daylight. Listening that night though, I wondered and was uncertain.
Once I looked over my shoulder and saw the passing end of what was a great fiery streak across the northwest sky. The rain continued intermittently and trains passed in both directions. The lightning came and went and finally moved farther down the line. I was somewhere else by morning.
It did not take long to forget most of it.
Gone Boatin’ — In December
Friday, November 30
The rain began at 9 pm with a bang. There was no warning, no build up… just downpour. My grandmother would have said something about cats and dogs. Most students walking down Mass Row picked up their pace, scurrying to get out of the rain as soon as possible. The residents of 104 MidMass were the only ones to leave the building. I happened to be walking down Mass Row when the rain began. I stopped — I was waiting when Jamie, Andy, Andy, and Blake emerged. We all looked up and smiled. Andy did a little jig. It was supposed to go like this all night long, which could only mean one thing: Creekin’ season had finally begun. The other Andy looked a little sad though, and when I pointed to him, Jamie answered my question,
“Andy’s got the LSATs tomorrow.” Translation: Andy’s not going boating tomorrow. No wonder he looked so sad. That’s okay though… we’d get to tell him about it Monday night.
I didn’t get home until late that night, but the blitz was waiting when I woke my computer up:
Meet at the club at 9:30. We’ll figure out who’s goin’ where then.
Saturday, December 1
My alarm hurt at 9, and again at 9:09. I was about to hit snooze again when I heard the patter patter patter of the last few rain drops against the copper roof on my fourth floor gable. My head shot up into the bunk above me. After a muttered curse, I figured I was awake and got up to look at levels on the USGS site:
1139000 WELLS RIVER AT WELLS RIVER, VT 12/01 07:45 Gage height (feet) Streamflow (cf/s) Med flow 12/1 3.09 336 157
Wahoo! There hadn’t been any water all fall, and suddenly the river was pumping and conditions were perfect. I threw my clothes on and raced down to the club. Hood was already there, as were Jamie, Andy, and Blake. Shannon, Rusty, Tom, Jeff, and Kristen had also got the message. I grabbed the last good creek boat, a Micro 240, from the cage and got my gear together. Turns out the New Haven, a river near Middlebury, was also running, but it was a full-day deal. We should be back from the Wells earlier in the afternoon. That was perfect… I’d told my girlfriend I’d be back by four. Jeff, Shannon, Blake and I loaded boats onto mine and Blake’s car, as the others fitted Jamie’s and Hoodlum’s cars for the New Haven. The clouds were clearing from the night before, and the weather looked to be sunny and warm all day. The perfect day of boating… on the first day of December.
Just as we were pulling out, a purple Dodge minivan with Virginia plates comes zooming into the parking lot and Andy leaps out, yelling to wait, wait, wait! Andy flew down the stairs to get his gear as we looked around at each other and said in questioning voices, “Isn’t he taking the LSATs right now?” When he returned with boat and gear, Jamie was the first to ask him, “Aren’t you taking the LSATs right now?”
“Yeah. But I left. I had to go boating instead,” Andy answered.
“You do realize that you can still go boating tomorrow, but you can’t take the LSATs tomorrow?”
“The New Haven’ll be down by tomorrow. Besides, the boating’s great today… so now I can go both days,” he reasoned. We couldn’t really argue with logic like that, so we saddled up and headed off to our respective rivers.
The Wells was at a gorgeous level, with the warm (comparatively) air contrasting nicely with the snowy banks. We leisured our way down it, showing Shannon all the lines on her first run. The river starts off with a nice warm up rapid named Brett’s Mom precisely because it’s so easy. Everyone hit their lines and we were off and running.
The next drop, named the Sweetness has two lines. Shannon took the easy line right while the rest of us dropped into the G-Spot, a small, difficult to catch eddy in the middle of the run. Now thoroughly warmed up, we were all ready for whatever else the river could throw at us. The next rapid, Labyrinth, presented the first hiccup to the day. The end of Labyrinth requires a hard ferry into a slide. Shannon didn’t quite make the ferry and ended up dropping into the hole at the bottom of the drop and surfaced upside down. She rolled up fine though and the rest of us ran it cleanly. Following Labyrinth, we all hit Café-au-Boof, a short 4-foot waterfall, preparing ourselves for the coming 15-foot falls.
After a quick scout of The El Salto Falls (translation: The ’The Falls’ Falls) through the snowbanks, we all lined up to throw ourselves over the edge. I went first and landed flat, surprising myself more than anyone. Shannon came next, running a little far left and getting bounced around by rocks, but landing upright and coming out with a huge grin on her face. Jeff somehow found a rock on the way down and bounced himself vertical while still in mid-air. The pool at the bottom was plenty deep though, and he popped right back up like a cork. Blake, as usual, ran a picture-perfect line. Only the Boogie Water and Tantric remained before Smoke ’Em If You Got ’Em, the long lake that leads to the take-out. Bombing down the boogie water, we stopped again to scout Tantric. We’d been there the week before to clear out a log from the river-left line, so there were now two options. I led Shannon down the river right chute, zooming around the bend and punching through O-Face, the sometimes sticky hole at the bottom of the drop. Blake and Jeff ran the left line, both cleanly hitting the slide and punching through O-Face without any problems. We finished Smoke ’em if you got ’em at 3:15. Just enough time to change and get back to Hanover by four, as promised.
“Who wants a second run?” queried Blake. Jeff and Shannon were all for it.
Jeff reasoned, “It’s the best day of boating this fall… we’re here, we have daylight and water. It’d be a crime not to run it twice.” Again, bulletproof logic that couldn’t be argued with, so we all crammed into Blake’s truck and drove back to the put-in, ran a quick shuttle, and were back where we started for a final speed-run. BrettsMomTheSweetness-LabrynthCafé-au-BoofTheElSalto-FallsBoogieWaterElevatorTantric-Smoke’EmIfYouGot’Em. We got out at five, and hurried home.
We heard on Monday about Toaster, the 18-foot waterfall on the New Haven, and the amazing day the other trip had had. It had indeed been the best day of boating for the fall. The New Haven was down the next day, but the Wells was still up, so we went and ran it again. It was cold, overcast, and rainy though, and not as exciting as the day before… we only made one run. It snowed again later that week, and there were no more clean, warm days before exams and plane flights home ended fall boating for good. I got in trouble with my girlfriend for being almost two hours late, and Andy discovered that he had actually been doing really well when he left the LSAT’s. But it was still one of the best days of boating ever, unrivaled until the Spring returned with snow-melt and freshly filled rivers.
Dartmouth Mountaineering Club
Early fall term was marked by numerous trips to Rumney, Cathedral Ledge, and Cannon Cliff. At Rumney, David Quaid ’06, Gabriel Martinez ’99, and Bart Paull ’02 all climbed Predator, 5.13b. At Cathedral, ’04s Astro Cruz and Tristan Perry both climbed the very sustained 5.11a crack, Airation.
Three weekends of rain put climbing plans on hold, but a slideshow by featuring summer adventures in the Sierras kept members entertained. Dan Cross-Call ’05 and James Joslin ’05 entertained the audience with pictures from their Expedition Fund-funded trip to Mt. Shasta and the Palisades. The two climbed the Hotlum-Bolam glacier route on Mt. Shasta and various alpine rock and ice routes in the Palisades, east of Bishop. Page Kyle ’02 and Barry Hashimoto ’06 were fortunate enough to spend the entire summer in Bishop and showed slides from the Minarets, the Palisades, the Yosemite high country and the Yosemite Valley.
When the rain stopped, local rock dried out, but the Gunks of New York were calling. The DMC was represented for two weekends in a row in late October, one an informal Gunks weekend and the other an official DMC trip. Temperatures were chilly, but nearly every classic route saw the hands and feet of one or two or ten DMCers: Bonnie’s Roof, High E, Ant Line, Drunkards Delight, CCK, and innumerable others.
Surprisingly, October was also the beginning of the ice season. Around the third week of the month, Fred Wilkinson ’02 climbed the Black Dike in what may be the earliest ascent ever of the Cannon Cliff ice classic. Local ice climbing areas including the SPAC Wall and Holt’s Ledge also saw traffic before winter break.
So far winter term has provided great ice conditions allowing for a couple of beginner trips to Holt’s Ledge and an intermediate trip to the Flume Gorge. Members have also been getting out to more far-flung areas including Cathedral Ledge, Crawford Notch, and Lake Willoughby, Vt. In the traditional winter slide show, 23-year-old Josh Wharton treated viewers to a humorous and inspiring account of his first ascent of the Flame Spire near the Trango Glacier in Pakistan.
Following another tradition, Dartmouth hosted its annual indoor climbing competition. Participants from more than a dozen schools filled the climbing gym to compete on routes set by Dartmouth students and alumni.
The rest of this winter will bring more ice climbing and will lead into the yearly DMC spring break trip, which is slated for Red Rocks, Nevada and Jack’s Canyon, Arizona.
Will Morrison ’05, DMC Co-Chair
One Day the Same as 140
It’s a beautiful day. I awake as the sun just begins to creep up through the bottoms of the firs. High Octane quietly stuffs his sleeping bag as I nudge Chunk from sleep. Stride. Starting from different places, times, and purposes; for all of us this is our last day. The morning is beautiful as we sign a trail register for the last time. It reads 5:23 am, we’re the first to be awake in the Mountains of Northern Maine. Stride.
Despite our smiles, I felt no different than on any of the 141 other days. Getting up and Walking had not merely entered into my day-by-day existence, my day-by-day existence had been reduced to this most simple of occupations. Any hope at a sense of progression and intermediate accomplishment had vanished long ago into the microscopic myriad of monotonous days. There was no anticipation, no built up suspenseful excitement, just a happiness identical to every other morning. Taking a breath of fresh morning air in the mountains of Maine, Vermont, Virginia, Georgia; I stepped forward and began to walk and to enjoy. Stride.
Hiking is an odd pastime in that no one is sure why he or she does it. If you read the autobiographies and writings of mountaineers, trekkers, and backpackers; you will find that they will all agree that each man or woman enjoys the outdoors for his or her own reasons. However, as soon as they attempt to explain their own personal happiness found in the Wilderness, they invariably muddle into an explanation that is confused at best, more often incoherent. I would argue that it is a pleasure so simple and integral to our nature that it is very difficult to explain with tools as complex as words. But, to me, why is quite unimportant.
Four and a half months previous, my great fear and trepidation was not why, but if I truly, deeply enjoyed hiking in the Woods. One-tenth of the mass of people who attempt to hike end to end on the Appalachian Trail do not. For the most part it is not because of a lack of preparation, or inexperience, or determination. They drop off simply because they find they don’t enjoy it. And why shouldn’t they? 2,168.2 miles is too long and hard to waste merely on proving something. As my dad, having accompanied me for the first two and a half days, left Neel’s Gap, Georgia to go back to Cleveland, I felt a very real, intense weight. No one would fault me if I dropped without finishing. I would not even be disappointed in myself. However, in the body of backpacking experience I drew from, I had never been alone for a long hike. My father, my brothers, a good friend, had always been there to accompany me. Now, I was completely free to be myself, alone in the woods. Would I actually enjoy this?
Twenty days later, as I sat on a log in the rain and mud, a realization snuck up on me. I had hiked almost three hundred miles. I must be enjoying this. I’d have left already if I didn’t. Stride.
That day, we hiked up the rocky, steep ridge of Mount Katahdin, Mount Lafayette, Bear Mountain, Burke’s Garden, Max Patch, Mount Springer. Stride. The day was gorgeous, warm, and sunny; socked-in and rainy; cold and windy; downright hypothermic and miserable. Stride. There were views for hundreds of miles across Wilderness, miles across rolling green valleys, mere yards into the overgrown Forest, a few feet through the dense, disorienting fog. Stride.
As I reached the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, I felt no welling pride, no great sense of a glamorous accomplishment. In order for an event to feel anti-climatic, one must expect a climax. I expected nothing that the previous 140 days had not already offered. Stride. Happy, not at having reached any goal (I had accomplished the same thing I had 140 times before), Happy at being on a mountain, surrounded by wilderness, after a hard, fast, exhilarating hike. Stride. Happy with enjoyment of the Day.
Dartmouth Organic Farm
The Dartmouth Organic Farm is a little sleepier in the wintertime, but spring and the planting season are swiftly approaching.
For the second year, maple trees will be tapped in the wooded hills above the farm. The sugaring process will continue through the beginning of spring, as sap is collected and is boiled down to make maple syrup. Good times will be had sitting around the fire in the snowy field, tasting hot syrup for the right sweetness and consistency.
The seeds planned and ordered this winter will be planted in the spring, beginning in the greenhouse before the snow has melted Soil will be made, and young plants will be transplanted into the field.
In the summer and fall the farm stand will be selling vegetables of all colors, shapes and sizes freshly picked that day. There will be early morning harvests in the fields by the river and farm potlucks in the afternoons.
This spring, as the snow melts, come out to the sunny greenhouse this spring and help get the growing season going as the young shoots of tomatos, corn, sorghum, beans and everything else green are started.
Trip Report: A Birthday Hike
Back in August I decided that a hike up Mt. Moosilauke would be a perfect way to celebrate my 50th birthday. Being a social animal, I also decided that it would be more fun with other people, so I shot an invitation out over the Internet. The result was that nine Chubbers, my almost-Chubber brother, and two spirited dogs gathered at the Ravine Lodge on Thursday morning, October 17 for an old-fogey hike.
Several of us had arrived in time for dinner the night before. The Lodge Crew made yet another excellent supper — the Mexican food was delicious. We drank a few beers and played some Tarocky, but we behaved ourselves.
The night before the hike, the weather was not promising. The remnants of a hurricane had moved up the coast, bringing with it hard rain and very gusty winds. The Lodge creaked and groaned and smoke from the fireplace billowed into the main room. Alternate plans were considered.
Things were better on Thursday morning. The rain had stopped, the winds had eased, and the cloud ceiling had moved about halfway up the mountain. The early arrivals ate a hearty breakfast which included green eggs with a birthday candle. The day-trippers trickled into the Lodge. Shortly after 9:00am we were assembled, packed and ready so off we went — up Gorge Brook, across the Carriage Road, and down via the Snapper Ski Trail.
The temperature was comfortable, the sky improved as we climbed, and the pace was gentle. The stories, joking, teasing and other forms of lip-flapping, however, were in high gear by the time we reached the Baker River bridge and never slowed. In other words, it was a standard Chubber hike. We reminisced about our DOC experiences, talked about old friends and identified every natural feature. Each piece of trail work was inspected, critiqued and unanimously approved (What else could we do? Master Trail Builder Put Blodgett was right there!). The geologists examined thousands of rocks and told us they were hard and old. The gear heads compared elevations on their GPS systems and watches. Blowdowns were removed and washouts repaired as well as we could manage. We all laughed a lot.
It has been my experience that when I get together with old DOC friends we pick up right where we left off as if we had never been apart. The intervening years melt away like snow on a hot wood stove. We share the old stories, step on the same rocks, and admire the same views we’ve always enjoyed. I suppose that it is only natural since we all share a common background and a love of the out-of-doors.
The summit was socked in and the rime ice was building, but the rest of the day had very pleasant weather. Luncheon was served at the junction of the Glencliff Trail and Carriage Road. Coming down the reckless ones got a bit ahead of the feeble knees, but we all ended up together on the Baker River bridge again, then back into the Lodge. From there we went our separate ways back to our own lives.
It was exactly what I wanted for my birthday.
For the record, the following Chubbers made up our group: Put Blodgett ’53, Ed McNierney ’80, Fred Bickford ’72, Marty Jacobs-Rebhun ’82, Jim Taylor ’74, Elaine Anderson ’83, Neil Van Dyke ’76, Dave Hooke ’84, Bill Keefe ’76, Don Taylor, Creosote and Shasta — canine support team
Rebuilding the Ravine Camp
Editors Note: This story concerns the rebuilding of the Ravine Camp on the summit of Mt. Moosilauke, several years before the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge was built. The camp is long abandoned now. Excerpts from Dartmouth Out O’Doors, D. C. History, Dartmouth College Library
“Snow-hungry skiers who turned to Mt. Moosilauke last February, when their low country slopes became a mockery of frozen mud, were greeted by a new and encouraging sight. Beside the fire-warped metal remains of the old Ravine Camp loomed a pile of massive logs. Each weekend the pile had grown till the March skiers found it covering almost the entire flat opposite the foot of Hell’s Highway. Since the fire which destroyed the old Camp in 1935, winter activity on Moosilauke’s alpine slopes or on it’s plunging trails had been restricted to the hardier souls who trekked in from more remote cabins... The Trustees of the Dartmouth Outing Club decided, just before the new year, to rebuild the Ravine Camp, this time in rustic log form.”
“Their axes rang sharply on frosty trunks. Two of the crew on precarious perches were giving the finishing blows to a venerable forest giant which straddled a big boulder. The great tree swayed indecisively and then crashed down towards us, stirring a miniature storm in its wake.“
“As soon as the weather permitted, work was begun on a crude truck road for hauling of the many construction supplies still necessary. Hewn from the rugged hillside with mattocks, axes, shovels, and a copious supply of dynamite, it was not intended to destroy the wilderness atmosphere prevailing at the Old Ravine Camp.”
“As the basic construction is completed, increasing opportunities will be presented for participation in improvements in the plant and equipment by Club members and friends. Perhaps the choice example of this spirit was furnished by the two sophomores who carried a bathtub the long mile and a half into the old Ravine Camp one wintry day.”
Why We Talk About Lodge History
This past fall, while working on the crew at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, I met a woman who had lived in Wentworth — about ten miles away — for 33 years, and had never been to the Lodge before; she didn’t know that it’s open to the public. There isn’t a whole lot happening in the way of entertainment in Wentworth, and the Lodge is situated near one of the few highways in the area, so I was pretty surprised. How many times must she have driven by in the last ten years, never once venturing up the dirt road? How many times can one just pass by the Lodge, a place with a magnetic attraction for so many people, and remain oblivious?
Several events during the last week of the season made me realize that she isn’t alone in just cruising by the Lodge, and that the lack of awareness extends to most of us who frequent the place.
I like to run on the trails of Mt. Moosilauke. They have interesting variety; I had a different favorite trail for every week while on the Lodge Crew. But what did I care how many rocks had to be levered into place to make rock staircases in the last mile of the Gorge Brook trail? And for that matter, what did I care about the forested areas between the trails, though they hold as many stories as the ones that currently delineate the steps for the masses? There are a number of unmaintained trails and former ski runs that can be found, but you have to reach out to find them. They don’t announce themselves — just as the lodge doesn’t announce its presence to the public. For me, I never did step out into the forest during my stay until my last week of work, when a more adventurous crew member showed me one of the old trails. Other than that, I know only the trailheads, junctions, and viewpoints of the main trail system.
Our crew worked this fall on repairing a section of a railing along the path from the parking area to the building. It had been built ten years ago, but the wood had rotted out and the railing had fallen over before we arrived. Every crew works on projects for either upkeep or improvement of the place, and with three seasonal crews each year, a fair amount of work is put into the grounds. This railing, which is coming together as I write, will not stand with a plaque commemorating the crew that built it, the trees that it’s made of, or even the year that it was constructed. It will be anonymous, like every other improvement on the place that has been done over the years. In this way, the Lodge has become a sort of mystery of history. Everyone who works there leaves their mark, yet nobody leaves their name, or anything to indicate to the present observer that there’s more than meets the eye.
Eli Burak, the manager for the last two years (who will be sorely missed), is a lodge history buff. It didn’t surprise me when I learned that; he is a man of many interests, a true Renaissance man for his time. These include photography, oragami, banjo, skiing, clarinet, Dr. Seuss, and recently, canoe fur trading routes of the inland northwest! But the fascination with lodge history is actually starting to make sense to me: there’s no limit to what you can learn, and each thing you learn makes the place a little bit neater. Instead of merely seeing the surface, you become aware of the pieces of the puzzle that fit together to create what we presently take for granted.
Most visitors go to the Ravine Lodge for hiking, food, and company. We always subject dinner guests to a little two-minute history talk, which is a little bit different every night, depending on who is giving the talk and what they feel like saying. I was pretty ambivalent about the talks this fall; I sort of assumed that anything I said wouldn’t be remembered, and that while it was somewhat interesting, hearing about when the Lodge was built wasn’t going to change any lives. But now I see the talk as an attempt, albeit a small one, to reach out to the people, so that they don’t just cruise by, oblivious, like all of the drivers on the highway. Appreciation for all that has gone into the Lodge is part of what makes the place so magnetic for all of us who have worked there, visited, or otherwise spent way too much time there!
Oh, Moosilauke’s covered in snow.
Yo-ho, and a’skiing we’ll go!
The frost-laden northern winds blow.
Yo-ho, and a’skiing we’ll go!
Whether you’re a dub or a kanone,
And whether you stem or tempo,
Come on, join the gang with a hearty Ski Heil!
And down Hell’s Highway we’ll go.
Come on, join the gang with a hearty Ski Heil!
And down Hell’s Highway we’ll go.
A Moosilauke version of an old Ski Song from “The New Ravine Camp (1938)” by J.W. Brown ’37. From Dartmouth Out o’Doors, D.C. History, Dartmouth College Library
Mountains, Yurts and Merriment
The beginning was a shambles. Packing took an age, so we left as it was getting dark, and pulled into Millinocket eight hours later. The motel price was surprising, and we didn’t even get the benefit of the heated jacuzzi. The next morning, we took a wrong turn down a snowmobile trail, and for our troubles received a stern talking-to from a park ranger. On the way back to the real road, taking the chains off, I noticed a noxious smelling fluid seeping from the van’s rear wheel well. We flagged another driver down and had him guide us to a garage. We took the van in and as we settled down to wait for them to fix it, the illness I’d been fighting settled into my head. I put my head on the table of the cafe we’d found, and closed my eyes.
When I more or less came to, the van was fixed — it had been coolant that had been the trouble — and we were set to go. Before anything else, though, we headed to the local Rite Aid and purchased a copious supply of Sudafed and Ibuprofen. I’m not much of a one to take drugs to make me better, but the situation clearly called for it. I popped a couple Sudafeds and slumped back to sleep while Joe Hanlon drove us to the trailhead.
When we got there, it was almost one o’clock, but I felt much, much better. The medicine, and the nap, had done their work well. The cold didn’t bother us too much as we unloaded our packs and got the ski bindings hammered down. We’d brought extra ski poles, but four poles didn’t work, and so eager co-leader Jeff Woodward found a couple of tree limbs, stripped them down, and used them for the whole trip. It was impressive. Eager to get going, we emptied the van in short order and slid into the woods.
As we left the parking lot behind and got into our strides beside the big frozen lake, I noticed that the group seemed to be going really fast — not ridiculously so, but definitely keeping a good strong clip. The first four miles flew by, but we did notice the temperature. Every so often the cold air would become overly abrasive and I would have to breathe through my scarf for a few strides. We returned to Togue Pond Gate around two, and after throwing together a little lunch with gloved hands, we hitched up our sleds and got going again. I was very happy to note that our pace slowed only barely as the snowy access road stretched deeper into the woods and the snow cover thickened. At about five the darkness set in, but the moon was so bright and the air so clear that we had no need of our headlamps and continued on. The light seemed to come from below rather than above as the moon reflected off the snow. The only sounds were the hissing of the skis and the panting of our group as we mounted the hills in our path. At the crest of the largest rise, Jim calculated that it was about two miles to the campsite at Avalanche Field. We completed this distance in about half an hour. There I gathered the group and told them that we could sleep there that night and have a slightly longer day the next day — five miles instead of three and a half. No one was in favor of this, and we pressed on to Roaring Brook. We slid in between six and six thirty. Starting out by looking for two shelters, the increasing cold convinced us that we could certainly fit into one, and this is what we did.
The team got unpacked and into down jackets pretty quick, and I, in deference to my illness, sat on a pad and directed traffic while cutting cheese. It was then that I noticed Joe shivering as if possessed. This should have come as no surprise, since he was still wearing his wet clothes and hadn’t done anything since sitting down. I made him take off his shells, put on his dry hat, and get into his bag. He felt better, but a few minutes later, Alexa started the same routine. And then Diede. Soon we had a little row of Mexican Jumping Beans in sleeping bags. It was alarming. The pasta was up soon, though, and everyone felt better. Once the food was gone, we went speedily to bed. We then learned that hydration and rest don’t go hand in hand, but soldiered through the midnight pee attacks, and slept soundly.
The next morning, we woke to the heroic Alexa making breakfast. The day had warmed to a mellow ten below, and once we got our stuff together and started snowshoeing up to Chimney pond the guys took their shirts off, and the girls were down to t-shirts and shorts with gaiters.
Just kidding. But it was hot work dragging our hefty sleds up the hill. From time to time the front people would stop while the end of the line was still climbing a steep slope, which made the end of the line angry and tearful. It was only three miles, though, and the early afternoon found us at Chimney Pond.
Chimney’s a grand place. The Knife Edge between Pamola and Baxter peaks soars straight into the air, two thousand feet of sheer rocky intimidation. The slope gets gentler and snowier over to the right, towards Baxter, and then the ridge swings out around the trees and into the distance, looking like the massif of Denali or Mont Blanc rather than a 5000 foot mountain in Maine. The tableland curls around to Hamlin peak, off to the east, and then gradually settles behind you as you stand looking at the pond. Katahdin is only the fifth or so biggest mountain in New England, but it feels huge. Exciting.
Once at the site, Ranger Rob Tice ushered us into his superbly warm cabin to talk about what we were doing. The avalanche conditions were pretty reasonable, well packed by the wind, and the weather the next day was expected to be fairly sunny. We were excited at the prospect. What did not excite us, however, was the prospect of sweeping snow out of a couple of shelters and huddling pathetically in them. We asked Ranger Rob about a yurt (a large Mongolian tent-dwelling) that we had heard now stood in Chimney Pond. He told us that there was one, but that it only slept four or five, partly because there was a wood stove (!) in there. We were confident that we could all fit in there, and at length he agreed to let us use it if we could sweep the snow off the roof. Eagerly we went to check it out.
It was a palace. The yurt was probably twenty feet in diameter, with a burly little stove in the center and plenty of room for everything. When Rob said it slept four people, he meant four moose. We piled in very happily and set about firing up the stove. In a few hours, all our stuff was settled in the yurt, the stove was blazing, and the guys were sitting around in just shorts — really — while leisurely getting dinner together. I was a little more of a dictator than I had been before, because the summit day was the crux of the expedition, and the previous year the team had staggered back late in the afternoon, dog-tired. I made everyone make their lunches that night, pack their packs as thoroughly as possible, and get to bed early. People bitched about this — it was only two miles! It would be no problem! — but I was insistent. The next morning we rose at six and began to get together for the climb. I was expecting an experience along these lines:
We left Camp 4 an hour before sunrise. The air was cold and thin at 25,000 feet; we climbed quickly, getting the blood back into our cramped muscles. I looked down the rope at Reinhold. He gave a quick thumbs-up before we continued to ascend “The Nightmare Face.”
Instead, we walked, pretty quickly, for a mile through the woods before reaching more open spaces, donned our crampons, and without trouble ascended the saddle between Baxter and Hamlin Peaks. An hour found us on the tableland, and from there it was a mile’s walk under the still blue skies to Baxter Peak. At one point someone remarked upon how warm it was that day. We all agreed, and checked Jeff’s little thermometer. It was zero degrees.
By ten in the morning we were on Baxter Peak. It was the culmination of more than a year of hopes and plans for me, and I was overjoyed to get there at last. We took a goodly number of photos, looked out at hundreds of miles of Maine, considered and rejected the Knife Edge, and laughed with happiness. We then decided to go climb Hamlin Peak, because when would we be up there next? We descended to the saddle, and then, led the by the intrepid (one might say foolhardy) Jim Graves, rose up the mountain to the summit. The walk gave us a wonderful view back on the peak we’d just climbed, and the campsite seemed very far away, nestled amongst the trees. More pictures, and then we headed down. By 2 pm, we were back in the yurt, steaming around the stove, planning out dinner, and reflecting on life above treeline. That night we walked out to Chimney Pond and stood to watch the moon rise over the mountain. It blotted out the stars but illuminated the snowfields, and I thought about Robert Service’s line where “the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming.” We pushed each other around on our sleds and thought about a night hike up the mountain before tiredness and a long tomorrow took us to bed. We awoke the next morning and, with no mountain to climb, lay around and talked about life for a few hours. At length the trail called us, and we got set to go.
After that there isn’t much more to say. We enjoyed a swift, steep, and desperate ski down to Roaring Brook, almost dying several times, and then endured the long slog back out to the car. We got there right before the night. Piling in to the van, always a fun time at the end of a trip, soured slightly on this evening. The first reason was that we had decided to drive all the way back that night, and we knew that we would be in there for a long time. The other reason was that we were going to be getting pizza in Millinocket, and we were all aware of the way that the van would smell when we got back in after letting our essence fester in there for an hour or so. We were right on both counts. As seven hour van rides go, though, it was not too bad, and at 2 am I staggered into my house, stiff and weary, exchanged a few words with my startled roommate, and fell, tree-like, into bed. As always, I dreamt of mountains.
Dream Big and Dare to Fail
Tubes run from his nose and his arms, monitors are connected to all of his extremities, lights are flashing, and alarms rang when his oxygen level dropped below 90. This is how I saw the strong, invincible Norman D. Vaughan, an adventurer for life. He didn’t see me walk through the door, because the nurse was leaning over him and blocking his view. I left the room and cried softly and uncontrollably. Why did this man that I had known for 11 years of my life have such an impact on me? The mere thought that his life was in danger caused my body to cringe. His life had been in danger in the depths of Antarctica dangling over crevasses by a rope and now his life was threatened on an oxygen tube in this sterile hospital room.
After many deep breaths, I returned back into the room and Norman noticed my entrance. His usual happy face appeared and he was lively once again when he spoke. His voice, like always, was animated and full of spirit. He has a lot of practice with all his stories and he is more than willing to share them. His frail hand grasped my fingers when he was greeting me and they did’t let go until he was finished telling three stories and a half hour passed by. The weak grip seemed to be a strong hold by the end of the last story, because his youthful eyes and tone of voice made me forget that he is an old man. His continuous talk of his future expeditions convinces me to believe he will be getting out of his hospital bed and up a mountain in no time. This eager attitude for life is what makes Norman so special.
While standing beside him and being engaged in his stories, I failed to notice all of the people crammed into his small corner room. Dozens of caring eyes were gleaming at Norman. He means so much to so many people, because he gives so much. I always hear good friends of his laugh at his constant story-telling ability, but I now come to realize that this is what causes him to be such an inspiration.
Life seems so meaningless sometimes, time is limiting, and the future is unclear. Norman brings meaning to his life and the lives of all his family and friends. He provides us with hope and encouragement and the mentality that it is never too late to follow a passion or goal. If you have ever met Norman, I am sure you have heard him say ’Dream big and dare to fail.’ This comment can be taken as another cliche, but if you are lucky Norman will illustrate its true meaning and you have no choice but to really believe every word. It is so easy to get caught up in superficial relationships and a material lifestyle, but with guidance from an amazing person such as Mr. Vaughan the frivolity of an industrialized lifestyle diminishes. His grounded personality sheds light to the important aspects of living.
Upon meeting Norman at the young age of 8, I knew that I would learn much from him and be infused with a sense of adventure that most young people lack in today’s TV culture. Every time I head off into the mountains, teach someone how to climb, or show them a part of the outdoors that they didn’t realize existed; I think of Norman and how he inspired me in a similar way. Through his stories and attitude, he shared with me both a wonder and appreciation of adventure and the natural world. But his greater influence comes perhaps more through example, his very existence and shape of life makes me want to plan big adventures and do trips most people would not consider.
After Norman let go of my hand, I took the last empty chair in the room and watched the commotion of all the visitors and the nurses. Eventually everyone cleared out and it was just he and I. I had just returned from my first year of college and was confused in every way possible and Norman was there to relax me. He told me about when he left Harvard University. Once Norman heard the announcement that Admiral Byrd was going to Antarctica, he left school and headed to Byrd’s house in Boston the following day. Unfortunately Byrd’s housekeeper would not let Norman through the door, so he went to Byrd’s house in New Hampshire. Unable to meet with Byrd, Norman became the dog handler in hopes to go to Antarctica. He convinced two friends from Harvard to join him and went for five months unpaid just for the chance to finally meet Byrd and join his trip. Listening to Norman wakes you up and makes you realize that you don’t need to worry so much and it is healthy to take chances. His stand-up-and-go personality is unheard of. Not too many people would leave three years of schooling at Harvard to maybe be
First of May
Excerpts from “Ledyard Canoe Club” by S. M. Dix, in Dartmouth Out O’Doors, D.C. History, Dartmouth College Library.
“Since the ice first went out, small parties of old veterans have been experimenting with rapids nearby, but the first of May is the day of the White River Trip. Then the still-water boys are initiated to the treacheries of shoots, slicks, and white water.”
“They put in. There are only twenty-five yards of smooth water before the first drop, and frantic efforts are made to instruct the crews.”
“Admiral Mosely approaches the big drop standing up. He lays out the course, shouts to the stern man to sit in the bottom and gets down to take it. Only half the canoe is in the water when they leave the upper level, then all of it.”
“When they come through the middle run he has already taken on ten gallons, and at the second drop the good ship Richelieu goes down by stern leaving captain and crew to rely on their Kapok jackets and paddles.”
“Another three hours of paddling, joking, singing, and shooting brought the navy to Sheppard’s farm where they pulled up their canoes and headed for dry clothes. They were met by Mrs. Sheppard and the smell of one of her famous dinners. In twenty minutes they were stuffing away the beans, cow meat, fresh bread, and everything that goes with a Vermont banquet.”
Ledyard Canoe Club
The highlight of the summer for Ledyard Canoe Club was the warm weather, the periodic spouts of rain and the many enthusiastic ’04s psyched to get on a river. Along with our usual plethora of PE classes, we ran several kayaking trips in Maine and canoe trips on the Connecticut.
The largest canoe trip, “Sophomores from the Source,” included 16 participants, three canoes, one war canoe and four gorgeous days between Lancaster, New Hampshire and the Ledyard Canoe Club. “Sophomores from the Source” brought back such memorable trip reports as the innumerable rope swings along the 95-mile stretch of the Connecticut and our encounter with the Spam hot-air balloon, owned by a Canaanite and member of the Spam Fan Club (yes, there really is a Spam Fan Club, and yes, they do have picture IDs).
Our other huge event this summer was the Canoe and Kayak Marathon Nationals, held in Hanover for the third time ever, the last time being in 1987. Due mainly to the work of Chris Wilson and Marc Lessard, the event was a huge success, bringing record numbers of paddlers (over 600) to the event. I heard the organizers of next year’s race in Pennsylvania saying that this would be a tough act to follow.
Ledyard picked back up again after Freshman Trips 2003 with our annual freshman feed, during which we offer free pasta and salad to hordes of hungry, interested freshman. There was a little bit of confusion with the PE office about which courses we were offering, but it was straightened out, and we continued our Intermediate class, now finishing its first year of existence. Unfortunately, the rain didn’t come until late, so most of the beds were dry. This led to trips taken further from Hanover, rather than a cessation of boating, so all is well.
This winter has only made us more excited about the coming spring. The plethora of snow means a fantastic season of creekin’ is coming our way when all this snow melts. Pool Sessions were scheduled from twice to four times a week, so Spring Trippers and anyone else could work on their rolls, flatwater cartwheels, and other badass moves to take to the river with them. Eileen Carey ’04 has been working tirelessly to plan the annual Spring Trip, this year going to North Carolina.
Also this winter, we had two DKAF trips sent to the far corners of the world. George Storm ’04 and Kristina Eaton ’04 were out tearing it up on the Tugela River in the KwaZulu Natal Province of South Africa. Jeff Beardsley ’04 and Jamie Salem ’02 have been throwing themselves down the crystal clear waters of Ecuador, showing those dudes what’s what. The trip reports from both these trips should be amazing, so keep your eyes peeled for the presentations this Spring.
George Storm ’04
Journey by Canoe
I am a student on leave term, which means in my case, that half way through the spring term of my freshman year, I decided not to sell my soul for the cheap prestige of a Dartmouth degree. I bought myself a little red canoe and left Dartmouth via the Connecticut River. At the Atlantic Ocean I went left, and kept going left until I got to Maine, and since Maine was in my way, I sailed through it. After Maine, I took the St. Lawrence River to the Ottawa River, the Ottawa River to the Mattawa River to Lake Nippissing and the French River from Lake Nippissing out into the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. From the Georgian Bay, I sailed through Sault St. Marie and into western Lake Superior to a small river named the Bois Brule, which flows North and shares its headwaters with those of the St. Croix River, a major tributary of the Mississippi River. After scrambling with my little red canoe, from the Brule to the St. Croix, I had a few thousand miles of easy sailing before I reached the Mississippi Delta.
I sailed into the Penobscot River before the wind and on the incoming tide. I felt both sad and relieved, leaving the danger of the ocean behind for the streams of Maine. I was to become intimate with every rock, eddy and dam between here and New Brunswick, and to gain some 600’ of elevation, all by rivers and little streams.
On the St. Lawrence, I was to become familiar with the reach between Rivier du Loup and Montreal, which I poled mainly. I became familiar with the long tidal mudflats with no place to land, with the mosquitos from which on muggy nights there was no escaping, with the brief, but powerful summer squalls that would come up all of a sudden, and with the sheer concrete waterfront of Montreal, every crack in the wall large enough to set my pole into. I became familiar with the Montreal Metro System, which I exploited in my search around the city for empty ammunition cans, watertight five-gallon containers, pots and pans, warm clothes, boots, food, fiberglass resin and cloth, rope, cord, string, etc.
When I was happiest, I lost myself in the wonder of new places, and to the task of moving through them. One such time, on the Allegash River while navigating a long section of mild but swift water, I saw a man poised to photograph the river. Guessing wilderness to be his subject, as many people come to this place to see wilderness, and finding myself suddenly to be a part of that picture as I glided past, I did my howler monkey act. This was an act I deemed appropriate to a wilderness setting, albeit a different one than the woods of Northern Maine. Looking the camera square in the eye, and pounding myself squarely on the chest, I screamed “Ah! Ah!”
Another time, also in Maine, when gliding through a section of stream, I startled a browsing moose calf, and had to sail away from her angry mama. It was not many days after when I had to dodge a charging supertanker out on the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Of all these memories, one stands out vividly. It was a sunny day on a small river in Ontario, and I had made one big portage that day, with one more just ahead. I came around a bend, and saw the second portage. The river there was very deep, and formed a narrow gorge with high cliffs. Right before the portage, some local kids were jumping off rocks and splashing around in the water. Their families were there and everyone helped me make the portage, which was a considerable help. The portage was steep and rocky and I had to make seven trips, there and back again. When we were done, one kid asked if anyone wanted to jump off of the high dive, by which he meant a 65 foot cliff. I volunteered, as long as he would go first. He went, and I followed without any hesitation. The water was cool and the air warm. We scrambled out of the water and lay on rocks in the sun. Despite the dangerously cold water of Lake Superior ahead, each day getting colder and rougher, and having just made an arduous portage, I had stopped to play! In this way, stopping occasionally, but moving farther every day, I reached the Mississippi Delta.
In Louisiana, on November 15th, I filled out an application for work on a tugboat. I knew they would take me, and the application was merely for form’s sake, because it would be Ms. Beverly Gros who hired me, and Capt. Ronald Gros already had decided I was worth hiring. You see, Captain Ronald, 66, never went past the 6th grade, so he counts on his wife to do the bookkeeping. Capt. Ronald asked me what I was good at, if I’d ever worked before. I told him no, but I am really good at canoeing. Under ’other skills and qualifications’ I wrote: ’starting in late April I took a 15’ canoe from Hanover, New Hampshire to Harvey, Louisiana.’ I included a little map of my route.
I’ve worked for Capt. Gros for over 2 months. I sweep and mop with authority, follow orders well, and catch a line (so we can tie up to barges and other tugboats) tolerably well. Sometimes Capt. Gros invites me to watch a movie on the big TV up in his quarters. We watched Sergeant York together, a movie he loves and has watched again and again until the tape wore out. One night I went to a bar to throw some darts with the Captain’s son, Kerry, who works as mate on the boat.
A man sitting at the counter asked me where I was from. I said I came from New Hampshire in a canoe. I soon was explaining my route, and everyone was listening. One man insisted he didn’t believe me. He kept on insisting, so Kerry asked me ’Do you give a fuck what he believes?’ I didn’t so I told him: ’I don’t give a fuck what you believe.’ Everyone laughed and Kerry and I went back to the boat.
Having come this far in my journey, I’d like to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the people who were kind to me, and who met me with an open mind; to those who doubted or disbelieved me, I will say what I told the man in the bar, and it’s the truth.
Plea for Remembrance
Lesotho, kingdom under the sky, I left you
torn soul spinning lost in the cold belly of a plane,
but please, don’t abandon me.
You made me beautiful, careening fearless in rusted truck beds
cliff-edge dust road hitchhikes — ever faster
wind in my face clear and fresh as mountains in my dreams.
I moved freely through you, no law no convention
only need and live and love. Love I found,
I tripped on fate among your upside-down stars,
because I heeded your whims bent to your will.
Your days taught me the joy of every now
without past and we could die tomorrow you and I,
AIDS or muti or a broken bus in a ravine,
all these things, you whispered, all these things are life.
And I need you now, 8000 miles distant,
to whisper across an ocean and protect me
from the lifeless life I fear more than death.
Cabin and Trail
The past several terms have seen a great deal of transition for Cabin and Trail. This next era in Chubber History was born last spring with the graduation of the powerhouse class of 2002. The ’02s, with an astonishing eleven council members, drove CnT and shaped it in their own image. We shall never forget them. They left behind themselves a legacy of excitement, adventure, and Joe Cloyd.
Coming through this loss in swashbuckling style, though, the ’03s, ’04s, and ’05s have risen to the task and Cabin and Trail carries on at a fever pitch. The summer term, under the guidance of Beth Rabbitt ’04, saw a great deal of ’04 mellowness, culminating in the latest incarnation of the traditional Canoe Portage up Mt. Washington, in August. Robbed of our old friend Schlitz the canoe, we liberated a boat from Ledyard. We took it up the perilous Amonoosuc Ravine Trail, paused for a paddle or two along the way, and finally got an epic photograph on the summit. After mulling over and then abandoning plans to ride the canoe down Tuckerman’s Ravine, we drove the vessel down the Auto Road and now proudly own a “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington” Bumpah Stickah for our canoe. Quite a day.
Following the tradition of zealous enthusiasm, the fall has provided no letdown, with the return of the spirited ’03 class, led by co-chairs Phil Marvin and Peter Brewitt, and a vibrant class of ’06s. We’ve climbed some of the biggest mountains in New Hampshire and Vermont, had a gorgeous backpack over the Bond range, and in anticipation of winter headed north to the snowy hinterlands of the Second College Grant. Also, we have acquired (or in some cases re-acquired) our skills in woodcraft. The Forestry (UGH!) team has enjoyed a good fall with some stellar recruits. As always, though, they are in need of women.
Monday night meetings in Robinson continue to provide the most fun nighttime social option on campus. The fall and winter saw a lot of laughs, some good stories, a lot of execrable but spirited singing, and the sketchiest shockingest nakedest Uni Night in living memory. As always in Cabin and Trail, good times.
The coming of the snows has not put a dent in things one bit. We’ve repaired our cabins, learned how to ski and snowshoe, and enjoyed a kickin’ party at the Rock. The highlight of the term thus far has been the Winter Carnival Osceola hike, when sixteen hardy chubbers rose at seven to ascend the Osceola ridge. The day was clear and beautiful, and the descent, on our tushes, at harrowing speeds, was an astonishing rush. We look forward to the rest of the winter, including an exciting backpack to the Pemigewasset Wilderness, and a much-anticipated Spring Break trip to Big Bend National Park in Texas.
Peter Brewitt ’03
Ramblings in the Range of Light
In the summer of 2002 I found Page Kyle researching desert flora in Bishop, a small town in the Owens River Valley of California, while I was volunteering for the Inyo National Forest. Our climbing styles seemed to complement each other, and we found ourselves heading into the backcountry regularly for adventures in the vertical world of the High Sierra region, which framed our lives for three months. Miles of the desert and mountains of the East Side Sierra Nevada, Owens Valley, and White Mountains were ours. More often than not, we explored them alone, sharing our stories and close calls with each other.
Week nights in the eastern Sierra were a wonderful respite from the sun-drenched days — dry, cool, and full of desert smells. Often, we would find ourselves sitting on a wooden porch after a cheap dinner, sipping a bottle of pale ale and chatting with the elation of a newcomer about the possibilities and opportunities of the area. The local rangers, climbers, and bums who had the fidelity to endure the harshest season there affirmed the allure of the valley and mountains. It is its own world, centuries away from Los Angeles and San Francisco, shut away from the fervor and treadmill lifestyle that popularly defines California. Guarded from civilization by the Mohave to the South and Yosemite to the North, and the claims of the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power, Mary Austin’s “land of little rain” is a callous paradise, preserved by unusual circumstances.
The style and attitude of summer alpinism and backcountry exploration in the Sierras is a breath of fresh air from the scene of modern climbing, and brings one to ponder the more philosophical aspects of our amusement. Adventure and solitude is what one goes to the mountains to seek. Satisfaction may come from a full day in the open, flying across talus and feeling dry blood cracking on one’s knees, plunging one’s head into an aquamarine lake, and falling asleep, naked for hours, until the changing shadows creep up. Rewards often come with a wash of body stimulants greeting terrifying realizations of a near death escape from rock fall, freak lightning and hail storms, unforgettable exposure, and the terrifying sensation of being lost.
The history of the land and its lovers is rich and spiced. Legendary are the stories of Clyde’s indefatigable peak bagging quests, Brower soloing the U-Notch in tennis shoes, Starr’s body buried in the Minarets, and the proliferation of long, technical routes authored by the hippies of the Palisades and Whitney cirque. This is one story of an adventure that I rushed to copy down in August, famished, with an empty stomach after a long day.
Weeks had stretched into months in the simmering caldera of the Owens Valley, and Humphreys haunted me every day as I walked down Main Street in a little cowboy town, east of the Sierras. Her prominent, square-cut head jutted above her sisters, pink in the morning, white in the hot sun, and red at the day’s end. Beautiful arêtes and ridges guarded her summit, a handsome tower marking the boundary between the high and low countries. A person could touch the wispy air at 14,000 feet with his fingertips were he to stand on the precarious jumble of weather-cracked talus that marked the mountain’s apex. It sat in repose, considering me as a suitor each time I exited the bookstore, bakery, or gear shop on the lunch breaks that I stretched too liberally so I that might watch the stunning collection of peaks hovering above. I couldn’t rest until I had ventured there and looked to the west upon the Desolation Basin, Glacier Divide, and all of Kings Canyon, which lay in view at that silent point. I knew I could take it no longer.
Tramping and tripping through thick sage country, legs sliced from the harsh vegetation, I happened upon the skeleton of a coyote in a hollow as the sun set behind my destination. I was lost. In fact, I had never even been on a trail, and I doubted my will to continue this solitary trek. The thought of aborting had entered my mind more than once since my roommate Vincent had left me in the middle of this high badland. No — how could I walk back in the dark, shamed under the disappointed eye of Humphreys, back to idle talk and armchair conquests? A few more miles and I gained a trail, a stream, and a sand flat to throw my sleeping bag down. Buttermilk country lay thousands of feet below me; the White Mountains, un-glaciated brothers of the Sierras loomed over the narrow valley and the faint lights of Bishop.
I awoke in darkness, stirred by my brain’s chemical alarms, and was off, bounding over the cold trail to its sudden end in another valley of sage and Pinyon-Juniper. A short cut over a crumbling cliff led to a basin of talus and crushed, white sand with only hoof prints marring its level. One more hour and I was standing at the edge of a ridge’s precipice, glimpsing a shadowy glacier obscured by the moraine of earth it had shoved toward the valley. I quickly slipped on rock shoes, looped a sling over my neck, and leaped over stacks of talus, forward and upward for hundreds of feet, watching the ground speed away from me on either side. Sliding across a smooth ramp, one foot wide, I glanced down to angled talus on one side, a dirty glacier on the other. Exposure mounted and I next found myself jamming through a crack, feeling my lungs heave out carbon dioxide, and receiving little in compensation. No matter — my mind was commanding my limbs to operate in the way they had learned over thousands of motions over hundreds of days. My life was in my hands, but I was fluent; I had to know what to do.
Then I was on top, gripping golden granite with sweaty palms. The shattered, weatherworn pile of granite shifted beneath my feet, and the silence that greeted me was powerfully quelled by a wind traveling across the Sierras. I at once saw Norman Clyde’s “vast panorama of mountain, sky, and desert,” hundreds of miles to the North and South. I saw the range that fought back against man’s attempts to subdue it with roads through its high passes. The peaks I had memorized on green and brown maps in the lowland stood as they had for others, no longer lines on paper to me. Whitney sat hunched far to the South, and Ritter was a black monolith against the azure heaven to the North, while the Palisade crest stuck like a comb into the smoky ozone, close enough to touch. The wildernesses that John Muir and Ansel Adams adored stood below me, marked by deep shadows and glistening lakes, with so many young mountains swimming in a sea of green, brown, white, and blue. A moment in that ethereal spot lasted an hour; or, was it the other way around? Stoned from the exposure, I down climbed, smearing my life onto crystals and knobs, leaping over stacks of rubble, and finally was back in the mountain flowers, the streams, and then the rocky desert, where I walked home, a Sierra vagabond.
“The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake” — Thoreau
Today I saw the world for the first time. The sun rises and sets everyday in majesty and splendor, yet quietly. And what a paradox, that such a great thing should not demand homage. What shows it has performed for audiences that lie asleep, and what paintings has it flashed across the world to people inside their walls! I have spent the great portion of my life looking at the ground instead of the silent horizon. Though not today — today the sun rose and I lived it. The sky exploded and my mind, for once, was not filled with muted white, but brilliant ambers and deep, bottomless reds. My world became suddenly endless. This December morning my mind was not asleep. I was fully awake, alive. My thoughts were unexpectedly not dull and slow, but inexpressible — deep and wide. I shed something on that snowy ledge, a self that hazily filed along to a lost march. On this morning, for me, the world danced.
Why has it been my habit to spend life inside of the walls? Thoreau couldn’t seem to understand the man who saw life from behind a desk, and yet our educational system still revolves around such a notion. It should not be a surprise that children often require sedatives before they are able to become just another apt pupil. Inside of that room the modern teacher shows these coerced students that the non-human realm is to be regarded as the “object” that is, a thing that can be quantified, fully described in scientific language, and filed away in one’s encyclopedia of disconnected knowledge. So for me, the natural realm became something alien, something dead. We all must ask: how is it that I relate to this mysterious other? How does the scientific worldview I have inherited allow me to understand the world? It seems that for some time I have understood the non-human either as an “object” or even worse as a “commodity.” Sitting upon the snowy ledge is where I am forced to admit that these categories are insufficient. The sunrise is not an object today — nor is the mountain — they are things experienced as life.
On this morning the natural could be nothing else but alive. It is the sort of thing that must be experienced, something inherently subjective. The “objective” has little to say about my morning. The soft touch of the powdery snow lightly brushed with tangerine and the breeze that softened the silence of that morning are the things that will forever remain mostly private to me. The objective can tell me about chemical composition, about light refraction and Newtonian gravitation — but then the morning has been described away. My morning was experienced and its description is living. If there is one thing I am sure of it is that this is the human realm. I will no longer allow myself to suppress that sphere of life that is most real to me. My soul will live up on that ledge where the sun danced and my spirit breathed.
My walls have become too close and my desires, too dull. My senses have been veiled by a watered down version of life. Today, I am obsessed with the distance — the perspective that makes my world seem small and my dreams appear drowsy. Unhappy is that other me that lived inside of that little box. The natural world is incomprehensible and infinite — these are the things that make up beauty and life.
It is clear that the world is so big and my experience has been so small. I cannot seem to rest my gaze so low any longer and my mind is constantly on that mysterious dance that takes place in silence. My village has built up walls so high it has forgotten that there is anything but the village. I am dizzy with thoughts of the vast distance, the mountains that lie just beyond my horizon. Today I am Siddhartha, I have stepped outside the walls and tasted reality. The palace will never be home again.
Environmental Studies Division
Starting Winter term, ESD has decided to shift its focus to environmental education, of which there are three main divisions. The first is to aid in the proposal for the Sustainable Living Center. The second is to boost public awareness of the variety of environmental activities on campus, through the Dartmouth publications and more regularly scheduled lectures and roundtables. The first of these roundtables is scheduled to take place at the beginning of Spring term, focusing on genetically modified foods. It will be a three-part program, beginning with a panel discussion and followed by at least two roundtables to discuss some of the controversial issues surrounding genetically modified foods. The third objective is environmental education outreach in the Upper Valley area, including working with Dartmouth’s mentoring and tutoring groups, such as Big Brother/Big Sister, Dream, and Oxbow.
Christine Prentice ’05
Editor-in-Chief Sean Mann ’05
Editors Catrina Lindgren ’04, Stella Baer ’03, Kelly Swartz ’05, William Morrison ’05
Contributors Peter Brewitt ’03, George Storm ’04, Anthony Bramante ’06, Jim Taylor ’74, Page Kyle ’02, Merrick Johnston ’05, Carl Strom ’05, Barry Hashimoto ’05, Mike Tanana ’04, Kelly Swartz ’05, Leah Samberg ’03
Photography & Artwork Peter Bohler ’03, Jean Polfus ’06, Patrick Rogers, W. Troy Baisden Ph.D., Merrick Johnston ’05, Jane John, Page Kyle ’02, Barry Hashimoto ’06, Diede van Lamoen ’06, Ed McNierney ’80, Sean Mann ’05, John Joline ’70, Dave Asmussen ’02