Looking back at Winter and ahead to Spring/Summer.
Make sure to click the 'full screen' button at the bottom of the window so that the newsletter is larger and easier to read!
Make sure to click the 'full screen' button at the bottom of the window so that the newsletter is larger and easier to read!
Newsletter of the Bennington Section of the Green Mountain Club
Pre-Social Distancing Somerset Bike Trip
President: Reed Goosen
Vice President: Tim Marr
Secretary and Director: Martha Stitelmann
Treasurer and Membership Co-ordinator: Bill Lyons
For information only. Officers not elected are
Co-ordinator of Trails and Shelters: Matt Vezina
Communications (website and Meetup): Ann and Billy Martin
Newsletter: Hal March and Lorna Cheriton
UPDATE Due the Coronavirus pandemic, the print version of the Spring/Summer issue of The Stepping Stone newsletter was postponed. The current digital version appears here under Newsletters.
Message from the Section President
The current pandemic has altered the way the Green Mountain Club (GMC) has been able to function. The annual meeting of the main club had to be held virtually this past June, and since April I have been meeting with the other section presidents and the GMC leadership in Waterbury once a month virtually by use of Zoom.
You have probably noticed that our section of the GMC has not posted any outings, other than trail work, since the start of the COVID -19 lockdown in March. Initially the Long Trail was closed, and the GMC put a moratorium on outings. That has since been lifted. In June, a committee was formed (with thanks to Tim Marr for representing the Bennington Section on this committee) to establish guidelines for how to safely run outings during this pandemic. These were finalized in late June and now appear on the GMC website, https://www.greenmountainclub.org/ then clicking on “News/events” and choosing the link you wish as either a trip leader, which has the entire document, or as a trip participant, which shows the parts you need to know if you are not the leader of the outing. Or, you can follow one of these links:
We are encouraged to stay in the state, although since Berkshire County in Mass, and Rensselaer and Washington Counties in NY are currently marked green on Vermont's Agency of Commerce and Community Development's weekly map of safe places to travel without needing to quarantine (https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/restart/cross-state-travel), outings to those areas also should be acceptable.
Some of you may recall that I served as the section president from 1996 to 2000. My, how times have changed, especially this year! Back in the day I drove to section presidents' meetings no more than once a year, where the topics of discussion did not include how to safely enjoy the outdoors and the Long Trail without coming too close to other hikers. I can tell you that the club is still doing its work of maintaining and promoting the Long Trail. Some 3600 hours of volunteer work have already been recorded for this year. This year is the 100th anniversary of the oldest GMC shelter on the trail, Taft Lodge. On September 19 there will be a modified celebration held in the parking lot for access to the lodge, across from Barnes Camp. It will start at 12:30. There will not be live streaming this event, but if you look for a video there should be one on the main club website sometime afterwards.
Please get outdoors and be active, with limited numbers of people. Be healthy and be safe.
Respectfully, Reed Goossen, Bennington Section President.
NATURE NOTES The Putney Mountain Hawkwatch by Terry Armata
This season the Putney Hawkwatch (Sept 1, 2020 to November 10) is sharply curtailed due to Covid-19. Only a limited number of observers are on the mountain any given day. Each day’s volunteers will be exclusively from those who are on our roster of long-time qualified personnel. They will work from a very limited, roped off, watcher-only area and only those with assigned duties can be accommodated. Over the years many ‘Friends of the Watch’ have also spent time with the designated watch crew but this year are asked not to come so those present maintain needed social distancing while monitoring raptor flights. The hiking trails are open, you’re welcome to use them.
The Putney Mountain Hawkwatch has done an annual fall raptor count since 1974. Data collected at the site is part of the Raptor Population Index, a study of raptor population trends in the Northeast. Since 2003 Monarch Butterfly flights have also been recorded. Watch results will be
posted daily and can be viewed at www.hawkcount.org.
From Terri’s Vt eBird mail group: Turkey Vultures grace our state from early spring to late fall but few of us have had the privilege of observing their "nesting” behavior. The video [link below], created with a minimum of human intrusion, shows these secretive birds as they raise the next generation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig3c1k7S2zw
Northeast Wildlife Trackers Online Conference
Have you seen animal tracks in the forest, the mud, the snow and wondered: What animal made those? Where was it coming from and going to? Where does this animal live? What does it eat? How does it interact with other creatures nearby? Northeast Wildlife Trackers are a group of enthusiasts who share a passion for collaborative exchanges on all aspects of wildlife tracking. They have a team of experts with many years of experience in tracking and educating. This year the annual Tracking Conference (October 13-17)will be online. Presenters and attendees from all over the world will take part. http://northeastwildlifetrackers.com for more information. The cost is $25 until September 30th and $35 after that.
October 13-17, 2020: Online Conference Presentations (recordings available until Oct 31)
Saturday October 17, 2020: Main Conference Event and Keynote (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
Sunday October 18, 2020:
Optional Regional Field Sessions
(contact Pam Landry to host a session in your area)
EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION SEPT 1-30
GENERAL REGISTRATION OPENS OCT 1
What is a Monadnock? A Double Ascent
In late August we had the fun of ascending the 3,165 foot Mt. Monadnock, which is about a two hour drive from Bennington. Located in towns of Jaffrey and Dublin, in southern New Hampshire, Mount Monadnock is said to be the third most climbed mountain in the world behind Mount Fuji in Japan and Mount Tai in China. Its bare summit gives hikers an incredible 360 degree view of all six New England states as well as Canada.
The term monadnock has come to be used to describe any isolated mountain and the name has been interpreted as “the mountain that stands alone.” The summit of this mountain was not always bare. In 1800, the first of two major fires was set on the lower slopes to clear them for pasture use. This fire swept through the red spruce forest of the summit and flanks of the mountain. 20 years later the second major fire swept through as local farmers wanted to rid the mountain of wolves thought to be denning in the blow downs. The fire killed the vegetation, destroyed the topsoil, and before plants could start to retake the mountain, much of the soil washed down the mountain leaving the exposed rock.
Mount Monadnock was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1987 and is the northern terminus of the 110 mile Metacomet-Monadnock Trail and the southern terminus of the 50 mile Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway.
Short trails, longer trails, popular trails, less traveled trails, rocky trails, forest trails - there are trails here for everyone. If you don’t want to climb to the summit, there are many easier hikes to enjoy. There are 38 different trails that make up about 35 miles of maintained hiking trails, all well marked.
We camped in Gilson Pond campground which is part of the Monadnock State Park which is convenient to many of the trails. The first day was one of those perfect hiking days - cool, dry, breezy with a clear blue sky! We headed out on the Birchtoft Trail which starts right from the campground. This leads to other trails to the summit and we chose the Red Spot Trail and was the wind blowing like mad up high! We returned the same way to make a round trip of about 6 miles.. The Birchtoft trail is quite moderate and only gets a bit steeper toward to end. The Red Spot trail entails quite a bit of rock climbing on large slabs of stone angled in many directions and goes up a steady incline. We sat out the next day with some rain, rested up and then the following day tackled the mountain from the other side using the less traveled, no fee Marlboro Trail. This is a beautiful trail as you climb rocks up to a forest area and then more rocks to another forest area, again and again and take in multiple views along the way. Be prepared to use hands and feet to climb on some of the steep, rocky areas!
The summit is well worth the climb! The views extend in all directions and you truly feel like you are on top of the world. On the second ascent we were really lucky to be at the bottom of the clouds as they swirled and danced all around us, forming and reforming in a myriad of shapes, then parting to let the blue sky show through. At the summit we were pleased to see people of all ages from a couple of intrepid children to 75 year olds and all in between.
The campground is well run, clean and sites are spread out from each other. The state park limits the number of people allowed in for day use, which keeps the trails from getting too crowded. Currently you need to make reservations ahead of time for both day use and camping.
This link will give you information about the mountain as well as details about all the different trails. http://www.mount-monadnock.com See more photos at the benningtongmc.org website under News.
All in all, it was two challenging but rewarding hikes! We hope that your Monadnock experience will be as good as ours was.
Ann & Billy Martin
Profile of Hamilton Topping by Lorna Cheriton
As PJ Beaumont hands the leadership of trails and shelters maintenance over to Matt Vezina, here’s a profile of a past Co-ordinator of Trails and Shelters for our Bennington Section of the Green Mountain Club.
Hamilton Topping studied forestry at Paul Smith’s College in upper New York state and, after working as a surveyor, took the New York state civil service exam, passed that and began his career as a forest ranger. He served most of his career in the Catskills region of New York State, living in Tannersville and raising two daughters there. His duties as a law enforcement officer included building trails, fire control, responding to calls of disorderly campers, search and rescue for missing persons, and recovery operations after plane crashes. Much of his work was solitary, with freedom to determine his own schedule and activities, but he was usually accompanied by his dog.
His first dog, Streak, came into his life when he was six years old and had just returned from the doctor after a cousin smashed Hamilton’s finger with a mallet. The puppy, given to him for comfort by his mother, hid under the buffet and the little boy, hurting, also crawled under the buffet with the frightened pup.
As an adult and serial dog-owner, Hamilton owned an Airdale, Hector, a husky, Aspen, and Sam, all large dogs that accompanied Ham in his forest ranger truck. One would not let an assistant into the truck to get the equipment Hamilton had asked him to get; the resourceful assistant resorted to simply opening the door and the dog jumped out to run and join Hamilton, letting the assistant easily obtain the equipment.
Working in the woods, the dogs were sometimes unable to resist chasing porcupines; the resulting removal of quills from the dog’s muzzle was always painful. But, even after enduring removal of a mouthful of quills, one dog stood quivering with indecision on seeing his next porcupine, finally unable to resist chasing it and getting a second mouthful of quills.
During his career as a forest ranger, Hamilton volunteered for numerous forest fires in the western US, serving as leader of a troop of men. Perhaps the most extreme incident occurred when he watched from a distance in horror as a huge tree fell directly on one of his men who had been unable to tell what direction the tree would fall. Rushing over, Hamilton and his men found that the man was uninjured, having fallen where a large rock protected him from certain death.
Later in his career, Hamilton was promoted to captain and accepted a position on Long Island, New York. There he supervised other rangers and, as a law enforcement officer, investigated reports of unauthorized activities such as burning without a permit and issued appropriate tickets. Earlier, in the Catskills, he had needed to approach a noisy and disorderly group of camping bikers. Approaching them alone but with his night stick, he realized the night stick might be turned against him so wisely turned and left the night stick in his truck, and dealt with them unarmed except with the authority of his words.
Always an outdoors man, he enjoyed hiking and canoeing. In his 40s, he took up running, joining an informal club and entering races, including five marathons (New York and London, England among them).
Late in his career, he took a leave of absence from work to through-hike the Appalachian Trail, starting at Springer Mountain in Georgia and hiking half the 2200-mile trail before a serious muscle tear forced him to leave the trail.
Besides running and hiking, Ham took up contra dancing at the urging of a colleague and later English Country dancing in New York City. At a dance weekend event, he met Lorna Cheriton; their first dates were hiking, canoeing the Esopus Creek during spring flood, and contra dancing.
Hamilton took early retirement in 1994 after 34 years as a forest ranger. His first goal was completion of his Appalachian Trail hike. He and Lorna traveled to West Virginia and began the second half of the trail, hiking north through forests where hordes of gyspy moth larva, seeking cooling breezes, hung from the trees, nipping the skin of hikers who bumped into the dangling worms. Then through the Pennsylvania section, notorious for rocks standing on edge and making hikers’ feet very sore. After one fall, he lay on the ground, certain he had broken his wrist which would have ended his second attempt of the AT. Another time, a black-faced hornet flew into his forehead and stung, the pain almost making him pass out. One eerie occurrence was the darkening of the sky in mid-day; away from news, he had not known an eclipse was expected and could appreciate the mystery it had been to native Americans.
After standing atop Mount Katahdin in Maine in triumphant completion of the AT, Hamilton accepted an assignment in Guatemala with the Peace Corps to which he had applied before retiring. During his year living in the old colonial city of Antigua, he volunteered with the God’s Child Project, leading teams of American volunteers in building concrete floors in kitchens to protect crawling children from the parasites and infections so rampant in poor people’s dirt floors.
Returning to the US, Hamilton chose Bennington for its proximity to natural forest and because it was close enough to his aging parents for him to help them, without being so close that he would be always at their beck and call. He quickly became involved in the Bennington Section of the GMC, hiking, skiing, paddling, leading outings and doing trail work. Among the trips he led was the yearly and challenging cross-country ski to Heartwellville, until the route became impassible because of blowdowns from a hurricane.
Becoming Co-ordinator of Trails and Shelters for our Bennington Section of the Green Mountain Club, he planned and led spring and other trail maintenance projects. He continues to do trail work, to volunteer as a community member on Restorative Justice panels, has served as deacon and trustee at Second Congregational Church, and uses his 1996 truck to pick up vegetable donations from Mighty Food Farm and deliver them to the Kitchen Cupboard.
Please note that this is a short excerpt - see the News section for more remembrances and photos of Tom. https://www.benningtongmc.org/news/remembering-tom
Tom Longtin, an avid outdoorsman, creative artist, computer scientist, engineer, and friend passed away in May of 2020. Tom - skier, hiker, bicyclist, snowshoer - was a long time Bennington resident who knew every local trail, marked and unmarked, and all the history of the area. Tom had other talents in addition to being an outdoorsman. Tom’s house contained many amazing artistic creations. A talented computer graphics artist, he created sculptures and puzzles in wood, metal, particleboard and plastic, often involving complex geometric designs and knots. He was active in Bennington’s art community and has had various sculptures exhibited around town. (https://ww.arsmathematica.org/is2003/3dsc/tom_longtin.htm)
There was always something interesting to see when out with Tom. We skied by the phone lines, pipes and manholes in the old Bennington watershed, bushwhacked up Bald Mtn to discover that the "Yellow Trail" was really the town boundary line, figured out the best way to snowshoe to Boxcar Rocks, and held our breath when meeting a moose in Medburyville. He might tease us by leading a group twice around “Twice Around Peak”, but didn’t hesitate to pull Margie out when she broke through the ice of a Woodford beaver pond.
We moved to Bennington less than 2 years ago, so didn't know Tom as long as many others, but our lives were enriched by the times we spent together. We marveled at the creations in his house; metal sculptures, intricate puzzles, inlaid hardwood flooring cut from his laser printer and the myriad of machines that he used to construct them. We went on numerous hiking and snowshoeing adventures with Tom - and every trip was truly an adventure.
To any complaint following an activity - too tired, sore body part, etc - he’d say:
“That means you either need more of it - or less of it.”
From Hubey Folsom: Tom was my hiking buddy, my cycling partner, our cross-country skiing friend, and my inspiration to return to dump-picking and dumpster-diving.
We miss you, Tom.
2018 trip to the plane crash site just east of the top of Bald Mountain. Beauty amid the mangled aluminum airplane parts and fuel-scorched trees.
Joy that after a long bushwhack up from Hell Holler, we finally found the AT!
Charged up with Pedal-assist Electric Bikes by Lorna Cheriton
In 2019 Hamilton began researching the possibility of our buying bikes with electric pedal-assist capabilities. He found that the least expensive start at around $1700. I thought I preferred to wait until I got old before resorting to an electric-powered bike. Once I was persuaded, though, there was still the negative impact of having two more bikes to store in our garage. We already had as many bikes as kayaks, one less than half a dozen of each.
Consulting Peter Hall of Highlander Bicycle and discovering that we could purchase electric battery packs that Peter could install on our existing bikes… caused a re-orientation in our thinking. Peter ordered the “E-BikeKit” (Electric Bicycle Conversion Kit System) battery packs, $1100 each, and installed them on our hybrid bikes, recommending against having them put on a thin-tired road bike. Hamilton’s bike required more modifications and more time than did mine because of previous modifications that Peter had done for Ham. When Peter unpacked a $5000 bike built with electric assist already installed, he commented to us that our bikes with batteries added were at least as good, at a much lower cost. Later, Hamilton investigated and bought on-line a RAD-bike, which has especially wide tires.
My first ride was from Highlander Bicycle up the hills towards our house and the first hill made me a convert – it was such fun climbing even steep hills with so little effort.
The bikes have a monitor screen on the handle bars that shows the level of power, the speed and the distance traveled. The bike’s computer can be set to give various levels of power. Initially, Peter set ours with five levels, five being frighteningly fast unless you are on a steep uphill. Bicycling with our friend Tim Marr who was on a non-electric bike, we found one level too slow and the next up too fast for Tim’s pace. We took our bikes back to Highlander and Peter adjusted them to make nine levels, with less difference between the levels, and level nine equivalent to the previous level five. After each ride, we plug the bikes into their chargers in our garage.
These bikes have let us travel further than we could previously, in trips up to 25 miles, exploring new roads and hills that had made previous routes prohibitive.
Nauheim Shelter Logbook
Would you like to find out more about shelters along the Long Trail? Do you know what a shelter logbook contains? We’ll give you a very quick glimpse here and encourage you to go to the News section to listen to a podcast about this topic. https://www.benningtongmc.org/news/log-book-melville-nauheim-shelter
Each shelter along the Long Trail contains a logbook where hikers write their thoughts, on hiking, life in general, trail conditions, and more. Their writing may be humorous, serious, reflective, descriptive, and the book contains drawings as well. Some hikers have been on the trails for months while others are only out for a couple of days. You’ll find such interesting trail names such as “Mustard and Catsup”, “The Wind”, “Prof. Bean”, “Sir Stops a Lot” and many more.
Here are a few samples of writing from the book:
7/12/19: The old goat is happy to be in Vermont kicking up her hoofs!
7/11/19: K1 back on the trail. Easy day here from Bennington. Love the AT and so happy to be back. Did my 500 miles and now not worried about the miles, just relishing the journey and time out here. Love the comment “it’s a people path, not just a wilderness path.” Love meeting y’all along the way. Being here is so peaceful and way cool. My other half K2 is in Great Barrington today. Miss him but cheering him on to Katahdin. He’s the super kiwi hiker - I’m the Kiwi wanderer. Will meet up again soon!
beneath bare feet
a solace found
in none other than home,
a place we all know,
but not all can find.
We are not lost here
we are found.
Gentle rustling trees,
endless life as far as the eye can see
The open space
holds us in a tight embrace
a time where we feel safe
I feel most alive
surrounded by life.
Vermont’s a state that’s very hard
It requires sweat and blood
But you’ll never, ever find yourself
Standing in the mud.
That’s a lie, that’s a lie, that’s a lie, lie, lie!!
OK, you’ve now read a few samples from the logbook. Remember to check the link above to HEAR and see much, much more!!
Newsletter of the Bennington Section Section of the Green Mountain Club
Newsletter: Hal March and Lorna Cheriton
Meet the New Bennington GMC President
Reed is a long time resident of Bennington. He moved here with his family in 1979 to begin a science teaching job at Mount Anthony Union High School. He had recently finished a 2 year tour of duty as a education volunteer with the Peace Corps in what was then called Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Prior to that he taught middle school science in White River Junction, Vermont for three years. He spent the school year 2000-2001 teaching at a high school in Oslo, Norway as a Fulbright Exchange Teacher. Upon retiring from MAUHS in 2005, he taught AP Biology and International Baccalaureate Biology at George School in Newtown, PA until retiring from all paid work in June 2011.
Reed has been a member of the Bennington Section of the GMC since about 1991 and served as president of the section from 1996 to 2000. He's been an active participant and leader of numerous trips. He also is a long time member of, and occasional leader for, the Albany Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). He is also a member of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club, where he is a certified trip leader for hiking, cycling, and paddling. As this suggests, he loves to be outdoors hiking, biking, cross country skiing, and paddling. He has hiked most of the hikes in the area near Bennington many times. His adventures farther afield include 4 days backpacking on the Inca Trail in Peru to Macchu Pichu, 8 days ski touring hut-to-hut in Norway, and most recently a week of cycling in Italy last fall. He is glad that his time in Italy was then, and not now.
His other interests include gardening, beekeeping and woodworking. The woodworking has proven to be a good way to spend “stay at home” time during the pandemic. Gardening is starting to gear up at his partner Kathy's house in Pennsylvania where he's been since the lockdown found him in March. Beekeeping is also happening again after a hiatus of a few years, as two swarms of bees just decided to move into his two empty hives there.
Reed's three adult children now live with their own families, in Westwood, MA , Jericho, VT, and Morrill, ME. He has 5 and 8/9 grandchildren, with the sixth one (a girl) due to arrive on the scene in early June.
Photos below by Kathy Kindness...and the dog is Rosie.
Trail Work Spring 2020
At this writing the Appalachian Trail - Long Trail remains closed to hikers. It has been opened for trail work and maintenance in order to ready the trail for upcoming hikers when the ban is lifted. The Bennington Section is responsible for the trail from Harmon Hill, south of VT Route 9 in Woodford, north to the top of Glastenbury Mountain. We also take care of the Nauheim shelter (Maple Hill, near Route 9) and the Goddard Shelter (Glastenbury Mountain).
Every year the trails must be cleared of blown down trees and branches, the dreaded hobblebush must be trimmed, water bars are cleared so water runs off the trail, blazes are refreshed, and any other problems taken care of. Different crews of volunteers have tackled various sections and side trails while maintaining all the safety guidelines from the Green Mountain Club.
Below are some of the outings that have occurred - there may be some work that has been accidentally omitted, but we thank all volunteers for their work to keep our trails in good condition.
This isn’t really a new trail; in fact, it’s one of the oldest trails in this area. Native Americans used a trail that basically followed the Deerfield River east from the Connecticut River, up over the Hoosac Range to the Hoosic River and on to the Hudson. This trail (more or less) eventually became Route 2, which was called “The Mohawk Trail.” (A) Lauren Stevens, Williams College students and others have worked to reestablish the old trail, as close as possible to the original route. Unfortunately, with more private land and new roads and bridges, only about 30 miles have been laid out for hiking, mostly on the Hoosac Range, which will be covered here.
For a long time the only recognized part of the old Mahican - Mohawk trail (blazed white) was the steep climb from Mohawk Trail State Forest to the top of the ridge. (Here a spur, blazed blue, goes east 3/4 of a mile to the summit of Todd Mtn.) This is not only the most scenic and historically accurate part of the trail, but about the only one that offers several good hiking loops, including one to Trees of Peace Grove, home of a White Pine that’s the tallest tree in the state. (A Massachusetts DCR map of thIs area is available at Mohawk State Forest headquarters, just off Rt. 2 at the bottom of the eastern side of the Hoosac Range or at this link: https://www.mass.gov/doc/mohawk-trail-state-forest-trail-map/download)
SOCIAL DISTANCING NOTE: MASS STATE PARKS ARE OPEN, BUT THE M - M TRAIL FROM MOHAWK TRAIL STATE FOREST UP TO TODD MTN. IS NARROW AND POPULAR
Going west on the ridge from Todd Mtn., the M-M trail follows or roughly parallells the original trail. It swings down into the forest, then up along some ledges and onto an old wood road that ends at Route 2 in Drury. (For those who plan to hike east on this section, there is small parking lot on South Country Rd. just off Rt. 2 at Brown’s Garage.)
Here is where it gets interesting. To begin with, the trail up to Todd Mountain and west along the ridge was probably used by scouts looking for activity in the Deerfield River Valley. But the main Native American trail followed the path of least resistance, which was up the Cold River. (A, B) Today, Rt. 2 construction, bridges and flooding have erased all sign of this Cold River Trail. The well defined trail from Todd Mountain is now blocked west of Route 2 by private land. So a new section was laid out to go from the Rt. 2 crossing 1.5 miles east and south to the Cold River. (This can be seen on the Mass. DCR Savoy Mountain State Forest Map which can be accessed at this link: https://www.mass.gov/doc/savoy-mountain-state-forest-trail-map/download ) It’s blazed white, but not very well marked or much traveled. I won’t say that only a Mahican could follow it, but it’s a bit of a challenge. Still, it’s a nice hike and you can’t really get lost, with Rt. 2 behind you, fields on the west and the Cold River to the east.
NO SOCIAL DISTANCING WORRIES ON THE M - M SECTION SOUTH FROM RT. 2
So, to continue from the end of the Todd Mountain section, cross Rt. 2 .and start uphill along the guard rail, looking left. You should see a small yellow M - M disc on a tree marking the trailhead, and the brown wooden sign at the far end of the second bridge isn’t impossible to see. Here the trail, now on Savoy Mountain State Forest land, heads southeast, parallel to Rt. 2. It crosses several small bridges, winds uphill and onto an old road. After a short distance, the trail leaves the road and goes up and along below the edge of a field Then it enters a hemlock forest and angles southeast downhill, where it joins another old road that goes down the side of the hill to the junction of Tannery Brook and the Cold River. This is a peaceful wooded little spot with a campsite, bench and stone fireplace. The road and trail run down the bank to an old ford across the Cold River, which the MASS DCR website says is “easily forded” in low water, but possibly “un-crossable” in high water. A large yellow rope had been tied across here, but it’s now broken.
On the other side the Cold River, a small Mahican-Mohawk disc on a tree shows where the trail climbs the bank on some log stairs to a flat terrace and up on an old road that becomes Sherman Road. After half a mile on Sherman, the M-M turns right onto the Carpenter Trail. From here the M-M follows Savoy State Forest trails: Carpenter to New State Road, north to Bog Pond Trail and Haskings Trail to the State Forest Campground. From there it continues on the North Pond Loop, Blackburnian Loop, Lost Pond and Busby Trails to the top of Spruce Hill, then turns north on BNRC’s Hoosac Range Trail to a trailhead and parking lot on Rt. 2 at the Western Summit.
A short walk west on Route 2 will bring you to the historic and now renovated Wigwam Gift Shop where (when it’s open) you can admire the view and get a cold Sasparilla, a snack or whatever. At the north end of the Wigwam parking lot a small sign marks the Mahican - Mohawk trail dropping off down the mountainside to North Adams. This trail, which mostly follows the old road down (shorter and steeper than Route 2) is probably best hiked in the opposite direction, up from the parking lot on Rt. 2 just north of Central Shaft Road, with the trailhead at the north end of the lot.
Mahican-Mohawk Trail from the Mass DCR website: https://www.mass.gov/location-details/mahican-mohawk-trail
- Hal March
A. The Mohawk Trail; It’s History and Course. Booklet, William B. Browne (1920) plus Addendum,Paul W. Marino (1998), reprinted 1998 by The Hoosic Bank.
B. The Mohawk Trail, showing old roads and other points of interest, David L. Costello. Self-published 16 X 19” spiral-bound book, 1952.
Nature Notes - Skunk Cabbage
Skunk Cabbage, (Symplocarpus foetidus), a member of the Jack-in-the Pulpit family, emerges in early spring often before snow melts. It is a plant of wetlands and moist slopes, that due to strange internal chemistry uses oxygen to create heat, a process called thermogenesis. The flower sprouts first enclosed by a mottled purple hood called the spathe. Temperature within the spathe can reach 70 F. Inside the hood the flower, (spadix), resides, pale yellow and tubular. The leaves don’t sprout until late spring and die back in summer. The spadix turns black and releases marble sized seeds. Pollen produced by the flower and the warm temperature within the hood are enjoyed by insects including bees, carrion beetles and flies. Although the plant is toxic, causing burning and swelling in the lips and mouth, bears eat the young leaves and the roots, ducks, and grouse enjoy the seeds. The common name, Skunk Cabbage is apt, as the flower gives off a rotting meat and skunky aroma.
Native Americans dried the the plant, reducing the toxicity and used it to treat everything from headaches to epilepsy.
Book review: Earl V. Shaffer "Walking With Spring" (1981
It seems as if when you can't be out hiking the trail you could just waterproof your boots or you could read about hiking the trail. There are quite a few good books about hiking the Appalachian Trail, but the one to start with is Earl V. Shaffer's "Walking With Spring."
First of all, he was the first to hike the AT continuously from end to end, which he did in 1948 after serving 41/2 years in the Army in World War II. Certainly any 2000 plus mile hike is quite an accomplishment, but in 1948 it was exceptionally difficult. Just following the trail in those days was quite a challenge, and it was made even harder when the maps that Earl ordered from the Appalachian Trail Conference didn't arrive in time, leaving him to depend on gas station maps.
In addition, his equipment seemed to be a little shaky, especially by modern standards. In his "bulky" Mountain Troop rucksack he carried a Marine Corps poncho, a "paper mill" blanket (whatever that is) and an Air Corps survival tent (which he ditched after a week.) When he developed blisters early on, he decided the "…best thing was to put sand in my boots and wear no socks until my feet toughened." (!)
But maybe most importantly, reading "Walking With Spring" gives the reader a unique opportunity to go back in time and experience -even if vicariously - the early Appalachian Trail as it was in 1948, and a very different America along the way . Neither the trail nor the country would ever be the same again.
Finally - and thankfully - Earl Shaffer's writing is more than equal to the promise of his great adventure. He tells you, in quite a bit of detail, with a few photographs, just about everything you might want to know about this first AT thru-hike in a style that's as natural and inspiring as a walk in the woods.
Is this the Last Ski??
Newsletter of the Bennington Section of the Green Mountain Club
Comments on the Big Winter Snowfall of December 1-2…
Marty Beattie: Went out in my yard late this afternoon. Fell twice and could barely get out of the hole I made. I had to take my ski off to dig it out.
Marjorie March: Oh My! … so far, the Woolly Bears are right.
President: Lorna Cheriton
Vice President: Tim Marr
Treasurer/Membership: Bill Lyons
Trails: PJ Beaumont
Director: Martha Stitelman
Newsletter: Hal March and Lorna Cheriton
Profile of Ann and Billy Martin by Lorna Cheriton
Ann and Billy Martin moved to Bennington in August 2018, after traveling and working extensively abroad. They quickly became involved in the Bennington Section of the Green Mountain Club. Besides going on many GMC outings, they began exploring the local area. Both being fit and adventurous, they got to know many trails, outlooks and peaks, likely more than many local residents do. Before they were a year in Bennington, they started leading GMC outings and recently have taken over both managing and improving the Bennington Section Meetup page and designing a website for our Section (see article below). This dovetails nicely with their technology backgrounds.
Billy is originally from California and Ann grew up on Long Island. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science, Ann worked as a professional development trainer using Apple computers, providing leadership especially for educational technology programs. Billy began his career as a chemical engineer in the oil and gas field, and later moved into sales. He moved into the education field when he became Dr. Expo teaching science to the public at a traveling science exposition, also becoming a home-school teacher for high school kids of the expo staff and discovering he loved teaching and kids. They met teaching in Arizona.
Working in a private school in East Hampton, on eastern Long Island, they met many people hired from around the world, and someone suggested that the Martins could work overseas. Their teaching contracts, each two to over three years took them to Hong Kong, Lusaka (Zambia), Nanjing (China), Bonn (Germany), Baku (Azerbaijan). Later, in Cambodia, they taught conversational English as volunteers for 3 months.
While International Schools abroad had funds for the latest technology and emerging software, they needed experts like Ann and Billy to teach how to implement these technology tools to maximize student engagement and learning. Ann and Billy worked at having kids actively involved in learning and creative thinking and also advocated balance, kids not just sitting before screens, but having time outdoors.
Billy dealt with a variety of infrastructure, including wires, servers, wireless access points as well as all the background database systems that make a school run smoothly. Ann’s work made use this network system; she worked with students and teachers to effectively integrate technology into the curriculum. She loved her work with students from kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as with teachers. During their overseas careers they were both honored with the “Apple Distinguished Educator” award given to teachers for innovative and creative contribution to student education.
In addition to working for International schools, they volunteered to teach conversational English for 3 months in Cambodia. During this new experience they found the students were friendly, and loved to laugh and play games. Teachers are respected in this culture and students reflect that in the classroom.
During their vacations, and between contracts, the Martins made good use of the opportunities to travel. Among their travels: Malaysia, London, Northern Thailand, Vietnam, South Africa, Kenya and Congo. In Europe they biked and hiked in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Spain. Hiking in Turkey, they stayed in a cave hotel, saw churches and homes carved from rock, and experienced a balloon ride. In China they connected with two Chinese girls who arranged lodging, meals, and driver for a tour of Guilin and showed them a 600-year-old walled village and an underground cave. They traveled to see many sites in China including the Terra Cotta Warriors and the Great Wall. They did a 5-day bicycle journey through the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam. Their vacation in New Zealand was one of beaches, hiking, kayaking, and black water rafting through caves.
Returning to the US, they lived on Long Island, to help Ann’s elderly father, but made trips by motorcycle to explore the United States, including a USA coast-to-coast motorcycle journey. They bicycled the Great Allegheny Passage, an extremely well-maintained rail trail that goes 150 miles from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD. The further away from cities, the better they liked it.
So, how did they wind up in Bennington? Their trips by motorcycle took them through Bennington, VT multiple times and they liked what they found - friendly people, small town, plethora of outdoor activities, colleges nearby. After their motorcycle quit right in downtown Bennington, a local Honda dealer was the one who asked "'Did we try the kill switch?" Yep, a sleeve hitting the never-before used kill switch did it. So, they like to say that their Goldwing led them to Bennington, stopped right there and said, “Hey, look around - it's a great town!’" They took the opportunity to have long talks with people at the Putnam Corners, Chamber of Commerce and the Blue Benn and say they liked Vermont because of Vermonters’ environmental thinking as well as the highway signs alerting drivers to the presence of moose. They boldly made an offer on a Bennington house without seeing it in person and were accepted, moving in August 2018. They say “Many people think we're crazy for moving north when so many retirees move south, but for us it seems to fit our lifestyle.”
Before they were a year in Bennington, they started leading GMC outings of various hikes in the local area. They have worked on trail and shelter maintenance with others of our local GMC and have adopted the Woodford Hollow trail. Hiking local trails, they have met people from California as well as overseas, who were very impressed with our trails and asked who maintains them, giving the Martins a justified pride of the trail maintenance that our Section does.
They both volunteer at the Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services site, unloading and stocking foods, helping people and monitoring distribution. Ann also mentors GBICS' Food Fit, a 10-week class that teaches cooking as well as nutrition.
Ann and Billy invite anyone interested to visit their personal website: sharingourjourney.com
Nature Notes: Chickadees in Winter - by Terri Armat
Although tiny, Chickadees are well adapted to survive cold and snowy winters. Several wildlife ecologists, among them Susan M Smith, (Cornell University, Mt Holyoke College), Margaret Brittingham, (University of Wisconsin), Susan Sharbaugh, (University of Alaska-Fairbanks), studied this bird’s winter strategy. From late summer through fall they industriously gather and store seeds in tree crevices, logs and other snug spots. As winter draws near their brains grow larger, enabling them to better recall these food caches. Feathers become denser and roost sites are explored as the temperatures drop. Susan Sharbaugh tracked them diving into quarter-sized tree holes where protection from wind is found. She also found that they go into a state of “Torpor”, where they slow down their metabolism, lowering their body 12-15 F from 108 F, reducing energy consumption by 25 percent. To help prepare for the long cold nights, they gorge on seeds, suet, bits of meat from frozen carcasses, insect eggs, spiders, moth larva gleaned from tree bark. At the end of day their bodies are bulging with fat which is used up by shivering the night away. By morning all this fat is gone and must be replaced during the next day. The practice of setting out feeders for birds only seems to become important to survival when there is prolonged stretches of snowy cold weather.
The Future GMC Bennington Section Website and new Public Meetup Site
by Ann and Billy Martin
GMC is updating its presence in the digital world. The goals are (1) to attract more people to the GMC and (2) give people readily accessible information about the club and outdoor opportunities in the local area. There are two parts to the initiative to make this happen.
The first part of the initiative will be a GMC website. We want people, both local and visitors, to easily find information about the club and about outdoor activities in the area. There will be information about the GMC, local trails, links to other outdoor organizations such as the BATS system or SOAR, articles, interviews, podcasts, and basically anything that would be of interest to people visiting the site. This site will also link to a new GMC Meetup site where people can find information about, and signup for events such as hikes, bike rides, etc.
The second part of the initiative involves the GMC Meetup Site. Currently the GMC uses Meetup to schedule events such as hikes or bike rides. Meetup does a great job easily allowing events to be posted and people can sign-up to attend. It’s a great organizational tool and has done a good job for the club. The current difficulty is that the GMC Meetup Site is a private site. This means that anyone who wants to see what events are scheduled is unable to view the details of events without first joining the GMC Meetup. This presents many difficulties - it is time consuming for the organizer, it may deter people from going on events, it swells the ranks of the site with people who have to join to look around to see what is available. So in order to make this communication system work better in the future the current GMC Meetup site will be closing and a new Public GMC Meetup site will be opening. All members of the current GMC site will be informed about this switchover soon.
So, stay tuned as these sites develop! If you have ideas or content to include on the website please let the club know.
Ice Needle Formations
Billy and Ann Martin found these extraordinary ice formations while walking on the Shepard’s Well Trail where the path had an ample leaf covering but surrounded by light snow. Marjorie March identified them as ice needles (also called mush frost, stalk-ice, or hair frost, ice fibers, and in Sweden "Pipkrake”). Needle ice is a phenomenon that occurs when the temperature of the soil is above 32 degrees and the temperature of the air is below 32 degrees. The subterranean liquid water is brought to the surface via capillary action, where it freezes and contributes to growing needle-like ice columns. It is believed that those who have seen this have been kissed by the goddess of the forest!!
Endeavor to designate Bennington an Appalachian Trail Community
By Lorna Cheriton
Bennington Section members are working towards having Bennington designated a Appalachian Trail community, a recognition of communities that promote and protect the Trail. Our members were a strong presence at the initial meeting of stakeholders on October 1.
The meeting was led by Silvia Cassano, who assisted Great Barrington and North Adams achieve the designation and attended a meeting that led to a designation for Manchester (which, along with Norwich, are currently the only Vermont communities listed) and Jonah Spivah, of the Shires Outdoor and Adventure Recreation chamber working group. Among the benefits, Jonah said, are wider publicity for our town and recognition nationally and possibly internationally in guidebooks and other publications, social media sites and websites. These can boost local businesses and raise the image of Bennington as a destination for outdoors activities and recreation.
At the meeting, an advisory group was formed to prepare the 12-page application. My task is to write a letter in support of our application. The next opportunity for acceptance as a designated AT community will be in the spring.
Currently there are businesses such as the Catamount Motel, Henry’s, and Madison’s, as well as the local post office and volunteers that serve and help hikers in Bennington. Many GMC members have given rides into town or back to the trail and provided useful knowledge about our town or even a bed and shower. The Rec Center allows showers at no cost and Green Mountain Express stops to pick up hikers on the bus routes. The BBC offers information, public restrooms, temporary storage of pack, and use of bicycles. As an AT Designated Community, Bennington would commit to hosting an annual trail related event, promoting Appalachian-Trail educational programs, and encouraging local land use regulation and language that protect the trail through our area.
Other ideas are to:
- create a hiker services inventory and map, with routes to and from the trail, accessible via the internet.
- publicize our AT Community status,
- reach out to the business community, schools and the community to raise awareness and support,
- explore attracting “Blue Hikers,”
- utilize resources such as Prospect Mountain,
- include neighbor communities, and network with other groups such as VOREC AND SOAR.
- promote cycling, fishing, snowmobiling, and to
- develop language and signage supporting the AT/LT.
Anyone interested in participating in this endeavor should contact Tim Marr, also a member of the task force, Jonah Spivak at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Silvia Cassano at email@example.com.
WINTER 2019-SPRING 2020 SCHEDULE
Participants need to contact the leader in advance (as most of you do), not just show up.
December 11, 12 or 13 ? – Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe. If we have both skiable snow and bright moonlight, a Pop-Up moonlight ski will be posted with meeting place and time on Meetup. Leader Margie March (413) 458-3162.
Boxing Day December 26, 1pm: possible trip by Lorna and Hamilton.
Wednesday, January 1, 2020 - Ski or snowshoe or hike Bolles brook trail (A traditional GMC Benn New Year’s Day outing). Start the New Year with an energizing outing, a 2 hour or so out and back trip along the roaring Bolles Brook in the Glastenbury wilderness. All are welcome, whatever your pace. Snowshoers welcome.
We will stay together for a while, then some will go faster or farther. Conditions will be updated prior to the trip. Contact leader Tim Marr in advance if interested through meetup or call 518-257-0829. Meet at 1pm at the Bennington rec center.
January 9, 10 or 11 ? – Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe. Pop-Up ski if conditions are right. Check Meetup or call Margie March (413) 458-3162.
Saturday., January 11, 2020 - Backcountry ski in Woodford - If you want to join a
group of back country skiers who go out on a regular basis in Woodford, this is your
chance. We will ski off trail for about 3 hours in the Woodford state park or Aiken
wilderness at a relaxed pace, but conditions can be challenging at times. You will need
back country ski equipment and be comfortable with "bushwacking". Bring extra layers,
call 518-257-0829. If you cannot make this date but want to be on the email contact list
for back country skiing, contact Tim, or leave a message on Meetup. Meet at 11am at
the Bennington Rec Center. Please contact leader in advance if interested.
food and beverage. Contact the leader, Tim Marr, if interested, either through Meetup or
Third Sunday of each month afternoon - Easy Hike or Ski between 1 - 4 p.m. Meet at Rec. Center at 1 p.m. Leader: Harda Bradford
Saturday, Jan. 11, 7:00 PM - 15th Annual Backcountry Film Festival:
Evening of a collection of short films celebrating winter human-powered experiences and winter wildlands at Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall, Bernard Music Center, 54 Chapin Hall Drive, Williams College. The event is free. Seating first come, first served. Doors open at 6:30PM, show starts at 7PM. Arrive early to grab a seat, as well as to check out the information tables and purchase raffle tickets passes and goodies that will help you get outside this winter! Some DVDS of the BCFF will be available for $6 for those who may arrive late or want to take a copy home. Dutch Hill Alliance of Skiers and Hikers (a chapter of the Catamount Trail Association), Green Mountain Club Bennington Section, Bennington Area Trail System, and the Thunderbolt Ski Runners will have information available. Read more about the film line up here: winterwildlands.org/backcountry-film-festival-2019-20-film-line-up. Silvia Cassano (Cell: (802) 673-6990) is inviting GMC members to volunteer. She needs some help at the door, selling raffle tickets, setting up, etc.
Wednesday, Jan. 15, 7:00 pm Billy’s Knot Class. Duration: about 1 - 2 hours. When is the last time you tied a “Trucker’s Hitch”? Do you know now to shorten your tent rope without cutting it? Learn how to tie the 10 most useful knots. Great for everyday use as well as outdoors and camping. For beginners and pros alike. Limited to 10 participants. Teaching knot tying is best done in a small group setting. NOTE - originally I had asked everyone to bring rope BUT I have now found a package of short ropes and there will be enough for everyone. So, no need to bring any rope.
Location: The Martin’s home, 303 Prospect St, Bennington. 831-745-8600 Snacks will be provided. Knot Instructor: Billy Martin
Saturday, Jan. 18 Mountain Meadow Preserve, just north of Williamstown. Snowshoes or micro-spikes - check the new Meetup to see what is needed. Bring poles with snow baskets if desired. 4.3 mile loop trail which crosses the border between VT and MA; 3-4 hours; Elevation gain 646 feet. Some nice views at the top of the meadow and interesting trees in the wooded areas. Bring lunch and a warm drink. Bring a pad if you want to sit down. Meet at the Rec center at 10:00 for Bennington people. 10:30 at the Trailhead - there are 2 trailheads; after we check them out, look on the new Meetup to see which one we will start from. Trip Leaders: Ann and Billy Martin
Wednesday, February 5 – Ski Trip. Moderate ski trip of several hours on woodland trails with some hill. Hogback Mtn. or other location depending on conditions (postponed if unfavorable). Meet at Rec Center at 10:30. Bring snack and drink. Check Meet Up for last minute details and let me know of your interest and confirm by night before preferably. Stuart Bradford 802-447-7065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 8, 9 or 10 ? - Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe. Pop Up trip if there is good snow and moonlight. Check Meetup or call leader, Margie March (413) 458-3162
Saturday, Feb. 15 - Woodford Trail. Snowshoes. Bring poles with snow baskets if desired. 3 mile loop trail around Adams Reservoir; 3 hours; Elevation gain 219 feet. Check new Meetup Site for any changes to these plans. See animal tracks, a frozen lake, pine forests, foot bridges and beautiful woodlands. Bring lunch and a warm drink. Bring a pad if you want to sit down. Meet at the Rec center at 10:00 for Bennington people who wish to share rides. 10:30 at the parking lot on the north side of Highway 9 in the snow mobile parking lot. Trip Leaders: Ann and Billy Martin 631-745-4576.
Saturday, Feb. 29 - A Leap Day Ski or a hike if not enough snow. Meet at 10 AM, location to be decided closer to the date, details will be posted on Meetup or contact leader Margie March (413) 458-3162.
Wednesday, March 4 – Ski Trip. Moderate ski trip of several hours on woodland trails with some hill. Hogback Mtn. or other location depending on conditions (postponed if unfavorable). Meet at Rec Center at 10:30. Bring snack and drink. Check Meet Up for last minute details and let me know of your interest and confirm by night before preferably. Stuart Bradford 802-447-7065 or email@example.com.
Saturday, March 7 - Green Mountain Club’s Winter Trails Day at the Green Mountain Club Headquarters in Waterbury Center. a celebration of all things winter, including group hikes local to the area, education and skills workshops, an extensive raffle, extreme sledding, bonfire, food and drink. Waterbury plans 10-12 hikes which need trip leaders, a bonfire which will need tending and various tasks throughout the day we could use a hand with. If you can volunteer, contact Lorne Currier, GMC Volunteer & Education Coordinator.
March 8, 9 or 10 ? - Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe. Last full moon of the winter. Will it be skiable? Check Meetup or call leader, Margie March (413)458-3162)
Sunday, March 15 – Annual Meeting. Starting at 5:30 at the UU Meeting House on School St.. Program TBA.
SPRING TRAILWORK 2020 April 18, 21, 25, May 2, 9-10 for the overnight. As in winter, dress for cold temps and wind; bring drink and high energy snack or lunch. Bring water resistant boots. Temperatures in the mountains tend to be 10 degrees lower than in Bennington.
Saturday, April 18 – Trail Work. As part of our Appalachian Trail Community commitment, day work party to clear trail and check on the Nauheim shelter. Rt. 9 north to Maple Hill power line viewpoint. 4.2 miles round trip, steep then moderate. Bring water and a lunch. Club provides tools. Meet at the Rec center at 9 am. Call Tim Marr for details, 802-442-3469.
Tuesday, April 21 – Trail Work. Day work party to clear trail. Rt. 9 south to Harmon Hill. Very steep, then easy. 3.6 miles round trip. Nice views of Bennington. Bring water and a lunch. Club provides tools. Meet at the Rec center at 9 am. Call PJ Beaumont for details, 802-442-3843.
Saturday, April 25 - Spring Bird Walk. 7am, meet at Greenberg Preserve off Belvidere St for a 2 hour stroll and lookabout. Linda Lyons
Saturday, April 25 – Trail Work. Day work party to clear trail. Maple Hill power line to Little Pond cut-off trail. Meet at the Rec center at 9 am. Call PJ Beaumont for details, 802-442-3843.
Saturday, May 2 – Trail Work. Day work party to clear trail. Little Pond cutoff trail to Glastenbury view overlook. Bring water and a lunch. Club provides tools. Meet at the Rec center at 9 am. Call PJ Beaumont for details, 802-442-3843.
Saturday, May 9 - Sunday May 10 – Overnight to Glastenbury. Trail Work: Overnight work party to clear trail and check Goddard Shelter on Glastenbury mountain. Day workers also welcome to help with cars, etc. Come enjoy this post and beam shelter provided by the Keenan family and the great views from the fire tower. Eight miles in, 5 miles out. Club provides tools. Bring overnight gear. Meet at the Rec center at 9 am. Call PJ Beaumont for details, 802-442-3843
Hubey Folsom would like to lead a few serious trips this winter, with folks having winter hiking experience: to be scheduled by weather and mutual agreement (likely fairly short notice to avoid the worst cold and wind. “I’ve not yet summited Mt Washington in January or February. Best to stay at AMC’s Joe Dodge Lodge the night before. My friend Ned and I want to hike from VT’s Mt Ellen to Mt Abraham this Winter. I’m also interested in a Winter attempt on NY’s Mt Marcy, probably from one of the heated cabins near John Brooks Lodge, some miles in from parking. I’d climb Big George in March again too. This year I hiked Franconia Ridge the first day of Spring. I’d hike other 4,000’ peaks this winter too, or stay at Harvard Cabin in Huntington Ravine to climb Big George via the Escape Hatch. email HFolsom_at_sover.net.