Moosilauke, a mountain of many names and adventures

By GORDON DUBOIS

 

Moosilauke Mountain, 4,802 feet, lies in western New Hampshire and is a massif, meaning it is a large mountain mass with several dominant peaks that form an independent range. Over the years it has had other names including Moosehillock, Mooshelock, and Mooselock. The Abenaki name means "bald place," derived from the fact that much of the upper reaches of the mountain are above tree line. It was not named for the many moose that live on and near the mountain. Other summits on the massif are Mount Blue, Mount Jim and South Peak. All of these are connected by a system of trails that cover much of the mountain. These trails offer a variety of options for not only hiking but cross country skiing, snow shoeing, rock and ice climbing in the remote Jobidunk Ravine, the head waters of the Baker River. One can even sled or toboggan on the Carriage Road Trail. The recreational opportunities on the mountain are limitless.

Much of the mountain is owned by Dartmouth College. The college also owns and maintains the Ravine Lodge and cabins. The lodge, which sits on the south east side of the mountain off Route 118 was built in the 1930s and once served as the base lodge for some of the earliest competitive skiing in the country. In the summer, it is open to the general public for meals, overnight accommodations and special events. From the lodge, there are numerous trails perfect for cross country skiing and snow shoeing for a wide variety of ages and ability levels. For more information on Ravine Lodge, check out Dartmouth Outdoors on the web.

When I was north bound on the Appalachian Trail, Mount Moosilauke was the first mountain I reached that was above tree line, offering amazing views of the White, Green and Adirondack Mountains. It lies only an hour from my house in New Hampton, so it has become one of my favorite climbing destinations. I hike the mountain at least annually. One year I reached the summit at the exact time of the Winter Solstice. At the mountain top I was greeted by a group of young hikers dancing, with only skimpy garments covering their bodies, celebrating the beginning of winter. I felt as if I was transported back in time to the primeval tribes of Northern Europe observing the ancient pagan rite of the Winter Solstice.

A few weeks ago, on a crisp, cold day, I returned to once again climb Moosilauke. I was accompanied by long time winter hiking companions Dick Widhu, Bob Manley and, of course, Reuben. The ultimate destination on this day was to summit the little-known sub-peak of the Moosilauke massif, Mt. Blue (4,529 feet) The summit of Blue lies just off the Beaver Brook Trail. Mount Blue distinguishes itself by being the proposed location of the first aerial tramway that was eventually built on Cannon Mountain. The base area would have been located along the present day Route 112. Cannon won out by its topography and proximity to other tourist attractions such as Franconia Notch and the "Old Man," which now lies in rubble at the base of Cannon's cliffs. We began our hike on the Beaver Brook trail which is known for its steep ascent and sheets of ice that coat the rocks on the trail in winter. We needed micro spikes and sturdy hand holds to ensure a safe climb. Thanks goes out to the members of the Dartmouth Outing Club who maintain this trail, as well as all the trails on the mountain. The DOC has put in place rock steps, ladders and rebar hand holds.

The trail follows Beaver Brook, which offers outstanding views of several cascades that parallel the trail. After climbing for 1.5 miles, we found the Beaver Brook Shelter about 50 yards off the trail, which made for a convenient stop to rest before the final push to the summit. After another mile of climbing, we began the bushwhack of Blue. Upon locating the pinnacle, we returned to the trail and continued onto the summit of Moosilauke. When we arrived at the summit we dawdled for a while, hunkering down behind the remains of the old hotel foundation to escape the wind. This foundation was once a part of a prominent hotel, The Prospect House, built in 1860, and later known as the Tip Top House of Mt Moosilauke. Around 1870, a carriage road was built, bringing more people to the mountain and the hotel. This carriage road is still in use today as a hiking and ski trail. It is also ideal for sledding in winter. The Carriage Road Trail starts at the end of Breezy Point Road site of the former Moosilauke Inn. Another carriage road was also built following the northern ridge, which is now the path of the Benton Trail that begins at the end of Tunnel Brook Road, off of Route 112. Both of these trails offer gradual climbs to the summit as well as splendid views. As the day was coming to a close, we decided to make our way back down the Beaver Brook Trail, knowing that I'll return soon to further explore the many trails of "The Moose."

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Why do we live in New Hampshire?

 


Starting out in a new year, you take time to reflect ... so let's take a look at some of the positive advantages we have living in the great state of New Hampshire.
• New Hampshire has been ranked as the #1 state in the country with "The best quality of life" by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
• New Hampshire was named the "most livable state in the nation" for the eighth straight year according to Morgan Quitno Corp., of Kansas.
• New Hampshire was picked the #1 State for Retirement in the country according to MoneyRates.com.
• New Hampshire had the lowest crime rate in the country according to FBI statistics.
• New Hampshire had the lowest poverty rate in the country, which reflects the highest standard of living in the USA.
• New Hampshire was rated the best place in the nation to raise children in the country by the National Kids Count Survey.
• New Hampshire was recognized as "The Best Place to Live" by the Washington Post- based on nine criteria.
• New Hampshire was rated a 9.2 out of 10 by the OECD as the "Nation's safest state."
• As of November 2015, New Hampshire had the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.2 percent according to NSCL.
• New Hampshire has the sixth-highest median household income and per capita income in the USA.
• Highest ranking in the country for child and family well-being by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
• New Hampshire has the highest ranking in the country for senior-health related quality of life.
• New Hampshire has the lowest teenage birthrate and lowest infant mortality rate in the country.
• Lake Winnipesaukee was rated the #1 Retirement Place in the country under the category "Leisure Living for Recreational and Cultural Opportunities," rated by MacMillian Travel- 5th Edition of Retirement Rated Places.
• New Hampshire has the seventh-lowest tax burden in the U.S., according to Forbes.com.
• New Hampshire is ranked #3 in the USA for the healthy housing market, according to LendingTree.com.
• New Hampshire is ranked #3 in the country for "healthy living."
• New Hampshire is ranked the #1 for accessibility of services with 70 percent of households reporting they have access to broadband.
• Students in New Hampshire has consistently placed among the top in the country in high SAT scores.
• New Hampshire is the second mos-forested state in the country, with 87 percen of the land covered by forests.
• New Hampshire ranks second in the country overall in the ability of its residences to achieve financial security, according to a Washington-based think-tank.
• New Hampshire was rated the "Second Best State for Insurance Rates" in the country.
• New Hampshire was ranked top in New England as "Best States for Business" by Forbes Magazine.
• New Hampshire was ranked 10th in the USA for "Pro-Business climate" by Business Facilities Magazine, the highest in New England.
• New Hampshire's voter turnout was sixth highest in the USA.
• We have the third-largest citizen legislative body in the world.

New Hampshire's accolades run far and wide! All of us living in this wonderful state should be very proud of its accomplishments and rankings.
Wishing you a healthy and prosperous new year!

 

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, and can be reached at 279-7046.

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DuBois — Pondering the fate of a fire tower

Recently, Fran, David, Karen and I were on the summit of Mt. Osceola, attempting to find a herd path to two obscure and trail-less summits, Middle and West Osceola. We began our hike from the Kancamangus Highway on the Greeley Ponds Trail. From this trail we began our steep assent of East Osceola. At the summit we followed the ridge line, descending into a col and making the summit of Osceola around noon. Here we took a break, pausing to admire the views.

We sat on some very conveniently placed large concrete blocks. We assumed that these blocks had served as the foundation of a fire tower that once stood here. As we sat quietly, munching our energy bars, I pondered the fate of this site and a flood of questions rushed into my head: When were these fire towers built, why were they taken down and how many others existed? I remembered climbing several other mountains where I found the remains of towers: Bemis, Carr, Cherry, Iron, Hale, and, close to home, Mt. Major. I also knew there are fire towers still standing: Belknap, Red Hill, Carrigain, Cardigan, and Smarts Mountain. This brief respite stirred up my interest not only in this tower, but the others that had blanketed the state. My day dreaming ended when Fran reminded me that we needed to get moving if we wanted to summit Middle and West Osceola before dark.

Since this interlude on Osceola I have come to find out there were a total of 85 towers in New Hampshire, built between 1909 and 1940. Sixteen of these towers are still standing. Some are still active at selected times. They can be found in a variety of locations throughout the state, from Mt. Magalloway in Pittsburg to Federal Hill in Milford. This system of fire towers came about in the early twentieth century, because of a series of dry summers, which, with sparks from wood-burning, logging locomotives set huge fires destroying thousands of acres of forest. The NH Forestry Commission, established in 1881, combined forces with the Timberlands Owners Association, the Appalachian Mountain Club, National Forest Service and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests to build and staff these fire lookout stations. Some of these early towers and cabins were built by woodsmen employed by the timber operators during the winter. They constructed their own cabins and towers, mostly of local materials. By 1929, the state was operating 29 stations. Many of the original structures were made of wood but in the 1920s, the state began to replace these with the steel structures we know today. The Hurricane of 1938 blew many of the towers into oblivion, but these were replaced and the state continued to use this tower system to control the potential of forest fires. During WW II, some of these towers were used for spotting enemy aircraft.

By 1948, with the decline of fire danger and the use of aircraft, a number of stations were closed. By the end of 1960, the National Forest Services closed all of its stations, with only the state retaining a few. There are now 16 stations still in service, 15 funded by the state and one on Red Hill operated by the Town of Moultonborough. Locally, one can have a "lookout" experience by hiking Red Hill or Belknap Mountain, which are periodically manned by a volunteer. If you want to paddle your canoe across Lake Winnipesaukee, you can visit the tower on Bear Island. You can also hike to other locations and find the remains of towers that there were taken down (Iron Mountain, Carr Mountain or Mount Bemis). Several other mountains in the state have towers still standing, such as Cardigan, Carrigain, Kearsarge South and Kearsarge North. A complete list of the towers can be found on the NH Department of Forest and Lands website.

After this brief interlude of pondering the fate of the Osceola fire tower, we resumed our hike. We found a well define herd path leading in the direction of the two isolated mountains and began the bushwhack through fairly open woods. We stumbled upon an old telephone line that was probably used for communication to the fire tower. We followed the line for a short distance, but it continued down the ridge, most likely to Tripoli Road. We set a different course which eventually took us to the summits of Middle and West Osceola. The view from West Osceola was stunning, with wispy clouds rolling over the summits of the nearby mountains. In the summer, Osceola Mountain is usually covered by swarms of hikers. It was interesting to think that so many of these people bypass these two mountains, not knowing they even exist. I would like to think that it will stay that way, as I relish the opportunities that trail-less summits have to offer: using a compass to navigate, solitude, alone-ness, and pure wilderness. After a few moments of congratulatory words to ourselves, we followed our "line" back to the main trail and eventually headed down the steep trail off Osceola and to our waiting vehicle. I looked forward to having a cup of hot coffee in Lincoln, before the drive home.

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Sanborn — The Lakes Region 2015 year-end residential report

MEREDITH — We ended 2015 on a positive note, with a total of 92 residential homes selling in December in the 12 Lakes Region communities covered by this report. That number is up from the 83 sales posted in December of 2014. The average sales price came in at $377,104, thanks to strong waterfront activity in Moultonborough and Gilford.

Thankfully, 2015 was another pretty good year with a total of 1,102 residential home sales. That's up from the 989 residential sales in 2014 and the 1,041 sales in 2013. The average sales price for 2015 came in at $343,497, which is well above the $312,413 average in 2014. The median price point came in also a little higher at $225,000, compared to $205,500 last year.

What this all means is that there continues to be a slight shift toward more higher priced homes selling. In 2013, for example, 52.7 percent of the sales were under $200,000. In 2015, that percentage has dropped to 42.3 percent of the total sales. In 2013, 17 percent of the sales were over $400,000 and in 2015 that has risen to 19.7 percent. But the biggest jump was in the mid-range homes priced between $200,000 and $299,999, which went from 22 percent in 2013, to 27.3 percent in 2015. This kind of indicates, to me at least, that some people are feeling a little better about spending money and are buying vacations homes and perhaps trading up for larger homes in the area.

The total residential sales volume for the year was up considerably to $378.5 million, compared to $308.9 million in 2014 and $312.7 million in 2013. That's an 18.5 percent increase in dollar volume over last year and an 11 percent increase in the total number of sales. Not too bad!

The average time on market that it took to sell a home came in at 159 days, which was just two days longer than the 157 posted last year. This number is always misleadingly low as many homes that sold were listed numerous times but the previous days on market are not factored in.

Laconia once again posted the most residential home sales with 209 transactions, followed by Moultonborough with 144, Gilford with 139, Alton with 132 and Meredith with 105. Center Harbor had the fewest sales with 18. The towns with the highest sales average were Alton at $515,145, Moultonborough at $492,340, and Gilford at $485,488. These are the towns with the high percentage of waterfronts, so it makes sense that their average sales price would be through the roof.

The towns with the lowest average sales prices were Tilton at $156,004, Barnstead at $176,155 and Gilmanton at $180,861. There are lots of affordable homes in these towns in particular, but they can be found everywhere in the Lakes Region. And, just in case you are wondering, the highest sale for the year was at 24 Tranquility Lane in Alton. This 8,600 square foot residence was built in 1905 on a 3 acre lot with 342' of waterfront, a 1,600 square foot boat house, and spectacular views. It sold for $5.85 million. I just point this out in case you win the Power Ball at some point. You might want something similar...

P​ease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 1/14/16. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 677-7012.

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Nordic Tracks: Make Nordic new year resolutions

It's time to make your New Year resolutions — 2016 is here! Rather than making negative "I shall not" resolutions, I now adopt the "I will try to" style of resolutions. Over the years, I've found more success establishing new good habits rather than expunging old bad habits.
I'm working on my new positive resolutions. Some have to do with personal goals of organizing and down-sizing. Others have to do with learning new skills, staying active, socializing more and increasing my enjoyment of life and people. Many of these I can accomplish through cross-country skiing.


My 2016 Nordic New Year's Resolutions:
Exercise more frequently: In winter, if there's snow, that means more cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Being outside in the woods, enjoying nature and getting a vigorous, low-impact workout is not only good for me, it's fun!

Improve balance, strength, and coordination: Cross-country skiing is a great way to work on all of these. Balance is the first thing I have to get right. Strength comes into play, as my muscles hold that balance and propel me forward. Precise timing and coordination of these movements makes the skis fly. No matter how long you've been skiing, you can always improve your technique.

Spend time with friends: Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing are even more fun when you share them with friends and others. Plan your own outing or join a group tour like Jackson's Friday Gliders and Sliders, Bretton Wood's Thursday WRENegades group, or Great Glen Trails' Sunday Ski with Naturalist. For snowshoeing, take a friend on guided nature tours at Jackson, Great Glen Trails, Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring, Bretton Woods, and King Pine. Enjoy the trails together this new year.

Have more adventures: This year I want to try trails unknown. I can ski the National Forest ski trails like Beaver Brook, Hayes Copp, Pinkham Notch, and Zealand. Milan Hill State Park, north of Berlin, has groomed ski and snowshoe trails. At Franconia, Crawford, Effingham's Pine River, and Tamworth's Hemenway State Forests, there are ungroomed ski and snowshoe trails. Try something new and enjoy the adventure.

Share the love of Nordic skiing with others: Whether I'm teaching skiing, writing this column, or taking my two year old grandson skiing, my goal is for everyone to have fun cross-country skiing. I hope they'll discover that cross-country skiing is a great way to enjoy winter while exercising.
Make this year better than the last. Go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing with friends and family. Improve your technique and become a Nordic adventurer. Embrace winter as you glide along through the woods and fields, making your new year Nordic tracks.

Sally McMurdo is an avid cross-country skier who explores the winter woods of New England on skis and snowshoes. She is currently a cross-country ski instructor at Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in Jackson, New Hampshire.

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