White Mountains

Sean Hurley

Steve Wilkes is a drumming professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston.  He’s also a former member of Blue Man Group and has toured the world with The Empire Brass Quintet. 

But for his latest gig, as this year’s White Mountain National Forest Artist in Residence, Wilkes won’t be making or teaching music - or painting his face blue.  Instead, he’s recording the sounds of the forest and compiling the first ever audio map of the White Mountains.

From Small Mountains to Twin Peaks

Aug 11, 2017
Logan Shannon / New Hampshire Public Radio

Diehard New Hampshire hikers tend to fixate on four-thousand footers, but as any peak bagger who's climbed Owl's Head or Mount Isolation knows, big mountains aren't always the best mountains.

On today’s show, a day out with a heartwarming hiking group that's been shouldering packs since 1979: the Over the Hill Hikers.

We continue with a seemingly simple listener question about the Wapack Range that sends our producer into a geological can of worms for this week's Only in New Hampshire segment.

And, Twin Peaks is back and weirder than ever. We’ll talk to Kristine McKenna, the author who collaborated on a forthcoming memoir and biography of David Lynch, about the filmmaker's life and career. David Lynch is being honored at this year’s Medal Day at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough.

Photo courtesy of the Over the Hill Hikers

There are loads of hiking groups in New Hampshire—groups for women, families with young kids, birders...a quick search on Facebook will turn up one or more that fits your style. The Over the Hill Hikers club has been climbing New Hampshire’s mountains since 1979. Back then, the group's schedule was mailed out by hand. 

Word of Mouth's Virginia Prescott recently took a hike with the club, and came back with plenty of stories to tell.

Paul Hutchinson is a Boston University lecturer and co-curator of an exhibit on New Hampshire’s summer camp history.  It's on view at the Museum of the White Mountains in Plymouth until September 13. I went to the museum to see the exhibition and to talk to Paul about the long history our state has as a summer camp getaway. 

NHPR/Sara Plourde

The woods of New Hampshire are scattered with signs of civilization: crumbling foundations, railroad spikes, scraps of unidentifiable metal.

Find enough of these in one place, and you're probably looking at a ghost town - a place people once called home, and have long-since abandoned. 

To the uninitiated, it's the French horn — though that's a bit of a misnomer. To its players and students, it's simply a horn, an instrument that has featured in orchestras for centuries.

The horn's sound is easily recognizable thanks to the prominent role it's played in some of the most epic classical songs and movie themes. But it's still an uncommon instrument, and not the easiest one to build community around. To that end, dozens of horn players head into the woods in the White Mountains every summer to celebrate and learn more about their instrument.

The Mount Washington Avalanche Center issued a serious warning for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines Thursday morning.

Intrepid winter hikers and skiers are cautioned against braving the terrain, most of which has a high avalanche danger through the day. Eight inches of new snow fell overnight, increasing the likelihood of both natural and human-triggered avalanches.  As wind speeds increase over the course of the day, large avalanches in many areas are likely.

It's been nearly 13 years since Maura Murray packed her car, lied to professors about a death in the family and left Massachusetts. The 21-year-old nursing student crashed her car on a rural road in northern New Hampshire before she disappeared.

Since then, some North Country residents have been keeping up the search for her. They are holding a remembrance and informational event in Littleton on Feb. 11.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The Appalachian Mountain Club is withdrawing its proposal for a new overnight hut in Crawford Notch State Park.

The AMC notified the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development of its decision after more than a year of what the non-profit called ‘careful consideration.’

MWV Chamber of Commerce via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/DCd9Ju

Yellowstone may be the first national park, but it was New Hampshire's White Mountains that for decades prior captured the imagination of American tourists, scientists, and artists. Today, a portrait of Mount Washington's artistic history.

Plus, from Bob Dylan to Yoko Ono, audiences have long had a fascination with the off-beat or out of tune - so why do we love some bad singers and love to hate others?

Then, America's great repository of world knowledge faces an existential predicament. In a world where information is stored in servers and googled at will, can the Library of Congress really keep up?

Fire officials say a large brush fire in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest is 50 percent contained.

The fire started near the Albany Covered Bridge and the Kancamagus Highway over the weekend, spreading 327 acres. Flames could be seen from miles away.

Forest officials said Tuesday the fire has burned along the Swift River and continues to burn through dry leaf litter in the Boulder Loop climbing area.

Women have always been drawn to the White Mountains. What surprises people is how many women have been leaders in shaping the region. The mountainous land gave women a place to explore their talents and creativity uninhibited by the constraints of urban life. 

The newest exhibition at the Museum of the White Mountains explores this history. It's called, Taking The Lead: Women and the White Mountains.

Tom Wigley via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/aWb3Uv

Poverty, suicide, and alcohol and drug abuse are disproportionately high among the two million Native Americans in the US - and at crisis levels on reservations. Today on the show, we'll look into one economic impediment: property rights.

And, women of the whites. A museum exhibit highlights how, from urban society, women took the lead in  developing access, accommodations and preservation of the paths and peaks of New Hampshire's White Mountains.

The towns in New Hampshire's White Mountains region have been must-stops on the campaign schedules of presidential candidates for decades. The region's sweeping views, quaint villages and history of resilience make it the ideal backdrop for those auditioning for the Oval Office. But what’s in it for the voters? And how engaged are they, away from the campaign stops and photo ops? NHPR's Natasha Haverty wanted to find out.

Natasha Haverty

It’s on every presidential candidate’s checklist: make at least one swing through northern New Hampshire, deliver a stump speech, shake hands with residents of the quiet mountain towns. But what about the people who aren’t at those campaign events? 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Egg is dripping down Jeff Colt’s bare back as he stands in the kitchen of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Greenleaf Hut just below Mount Lafayette. Such is the peril of carrying about 28 pounds of eggs along with 50 pounds of other food.

But then again, running a restaurant high in The White Mountains is a little different than running one in Portsmouth, Laconia or Colebrook.

NHPTV via Flickr CC

A 165-mile mile hiking trail from the White Mountains to the Canadian border is getting over $30,000 in grants for an upgrade.

The Cohos Trail Association plans to build some new trails to help pull foot paths off of roads, improve bog bridges and help some remote sections in Coos County.

The Caledonian Record reports there also are plans to build kiosks and outfit them with signs that promote the trail and New Hampshire's Great North Woods.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The hard-core hikers call it the grid, the big list.

Perhaps you know someone who has walked up all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000 foot peaks. It’s a lot less likely, but maybe you’ve even met someone who has hiked them in the winter. But for the most resolute hikers, even that’s not enough. They strive to hike every 4,000-footer in every month of the year...that’s 576 hikes.

It took more than a decade, but on Wednesday New Hampshire Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley got to check off the 576th box in his grid.

Sean Hurley

When you think of summer camp, you might think of games, crafts, sing-alongs or maybe canoes. But NHPR’s Sean Hurley paid a visit to another kind of summer camp, one devoted to hiking and writing.

We've only just started up the trail to Indian Head, but already 16 year old Brandi is having trouble breathing.

"Tired.  Really tired.  I don't really like having asthma.  It weakens me.  I was down there and I almost threw up."

Sean Hurley

There's no shortage of advice if you want to hike the rugged trails of the White Mountains. But there aren't many guides for those interested in the gentler, family friendly paths that cut through our forests. NHPR's Sean Hurley recently took a walk in the woods with New Hampshire trail expert Steve Smith to compile a list of 10 magnificent - and magnificently easy - wilderness walks.

Mt Washington NH 2013-0420254
Dave Marcy / Flickr Creative Commons

Hundreds of hikers are heading up the summit of the Northeast's highest peak to raise money for the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory.  The annual "Seek the Peak'' fundraiser at Mount Washington is being held Saturday. The event has raised more than $1.3 million since 2001, helping the observatory maintain its famous weather station atop the summit.   In 1934, observatory staff recorded a 231 mph gust that remains the highest wind speed ever observed by man. A remote sensor later recorded a 253 mph gust off Australia during a 1996 typhoon.   

Brian Pocius via Flickr CC

 

It's been a busy weekend for rescue crews in New Hampshire's mountains.

Fish and Game Department conservation officers responded to three incidents on Saturday on Mount Washington and Mount Lafayette.

One involved a hiker who slipped and fell 10 feet and was injured, another involved a man suffering medical issues and the third involved a hiking party that became disoriented while descending down the Cog Railway.

via WhiteMountainHistory.org

One of the oldest structures in the White Mountain National Forest is being restored.

Built by the U.S. Forest Service, Fabyan Guard Station is a one-room log cabin on Cherry Mountain Road in the Bretton Woods area. It was built in 1923 and is the last example of a guard station in the forest.

Employees called forest guards were once stationed in these remote cabins.

Michael Webber via Flickr CC

The number of encounters with bears in the White Mountain National Forest is on the rise early this season, prompting rangers to issue early warnings and step up enforcement of safety rules.

Colleen Mainville, a spokeswoman for the national forest, says the black bears are getting bold. One tried to enter a tent while another was searching the back of pickup trucks for food. There are an estimated 4,800 to 5,000 bears in the state.

Most people will never see a bear but when the critters find food, they learn that they can mooch a meal from the two-legged visitors.

Selbe B via Flickr CC

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the Mount Washington Cog Railway's daily trips to the summit of the highest peak in the Northeast.

The Cog Railway opened its 2014 season April 26, but operated weekends only until now.

This season marks the 145th year of operation of "the Cog."

The popular tourist attraction is also rolling out a new biodiesel engine during the holiday weekend. The new engine is named Metallak, in honor of the last surviving member of the local Abenaki tribe.

Brian Pocius via Flickr CC

The Senate is voting whether to sell "hike safe" cards to hikers that would forgive them for any rescue expenses they'd otherwise owe New Hampshire for being negligent.

Thursday's vote is on a House-passed bill that authorizes the Fish and Game Department to sell voluntary hike safe cards for $25 per person and $35 per family. People who obtain the cards would not be liable to repay rescue costs if their rescue was due to negligence on their part.

Ice Climber On Mount Washington: Lost And Found

Jan 19, 2014
Mt. Washington Auto Road / Flickr CC

  Searchers spent hours on Mount Washington Saturday night looking for - and locating - a lost ice climber, according to a news release from New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The call for help came about 5:30 pm from Ms. Dale Edwards, 32, of the Bronx in New York, who was climbing with two companions in the back country of the Ammonoosuc Ravine, according to Conservation Officer Matthew Holmes.

Sean Hurley

Utah has one.  Colorado does too.  And now New Hampshire has its very own Ice Castle open to the public at Loon Mountain.  It's taken Mother Nature and 20 workers about a month to turn tons of homemade icicles into a glacial maze of frozen caverns and clear blue coliseums.  NHPR's Sean Hurley recently took a tour of the nearly completed castle and sends us this report.

Rescuers were in The White Mountains Saturday night after being alerted that somebody needed help. They just didn’t know who or why.

The alert came about  6:45 Saturday when New Hampshire Fish and Game got a call from the International Emergency Response Coordination Center in Texas.

It had received a signal from a SPOTS emergency beacon that had been activated in King Ravine in Burbank’s Grant.

The signal indicated where help was needed but nothing else.

The U.S. Forest Service is waiving fees at most of its day-use recreation sites, including those in the White Mountain National Forest, over the Veterans Day holiday weekend.    Forest fees have been waived from Saturday through Monday.    Fees will remain in effect for overnight camping, cabin rentals, permits, reservations, and concession activities.      

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