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In the half light of dawn…


I walked in a field…


where hay was baled.


I came to a stream…


which led to where the world was reflected…


in quiet waters.


The woods nearby…


had many colors.


Far off in a farmhouse a woman lay smiling…


 in the half light of dawn.



There is a girl in New York City,
Who calls herself the human trampoline,
And sometimes when I’m falling flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Whoa so this is what she means,
She means we’re bouncing into Graceland,
And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart,
Everybody sees you’re blown apart,
Everybody feels the wind blow,

In Graceland Graceland,
I’m going to Graceland,
For reasons I cannot explain
There’s some part of me wants to see
And I may be obliged to defend
Every love every ending
Or maybe there’s no obligations now,
Maybe I’ve a reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland 

 Paul Simon “Graceland”


It seems that as I get lost in the solitude of long distance hikes music lyrics find their way into my head.


Some are incongruous and interminably annoying, as when the lyrics of “Signs” from the Five Man Electrical Band got in my head when dancing ecstatic kilometers away across a moonlit Moonlight Ridge within one of the last terrestrial wildernesses while the great Southern Ocean glistened in surround.


Others have come at less ethereal times and given me a feeling of redemption and transcendence far beyond that which the location could on its own impart.








I knew Albert Dow, and while I didn’t feel I knew him well enough to think of him as a friend of mine he always left me feeling like I was a friend of his. He was that kind of guy. Intelligent, handsome, and open hearted he was destined for greatness. For Albert, greatness, and tragedy, arrived on January 25th,1982.


New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington has a reputation for having the “World’s Worst Weather”, and in fact the highest wind speed ever recorded on earth occurred there April 12th, 1934, 231 mph (372 km/h). Being the highest point in the northeastern US it draws large numbers of visitors year round to its alpine summit. Winter conditions there can be extreme.


Such was the case late on January 23d, 1982 when climbing phenom Hugh Herr,17, and Jeffery Baltzer,20, left the Harvard Cabin and headed into Huntington Ravine on Mt. Washington’s northeast shoulder to do some ice climbing in Odell’s Gully on the way to the summit. Conditions deteriorated during their trip and they soon found themselves lost in a whiteout blizzard.


Overdue in their return, with temperatures heading below 0 degrees F and wind speeds of 100mph being recorded on the summit, members of the volunteer Mountain Rescue Service headed out to search for them. On the second day of the search, January 25th, Albert and Mike Hartrick found some of Herr & Baltzer’s tracks but were unable to locate the climbers. On their descent ,and below treeline near the Lion’s Head they were overtaken by a slab avalanche which swept them further downslope through the trees. Despite the punishing circumstances, when the avalanche subsided Hartrick was alive and conscious, able to clear an airspace and use his radio to call for assistance. Later Dow’s body was recovered, it is believed he died instantly when overtaken by the crushing snowslide.


The next day the weather moderated, and a person snowshoeing in the Great Gulf area came upon tracks circling in the snow and shortly after Herr and Baltzer. A military helicopter was later used to remove them to an area hospital as death from hypothermia approached. Ultimately Herr was to lose both legs and Baltzer his lower left leg, toes on his right foot, and fingers on his left hand.


Today Herr is an Associate Professor at MIT and a respected authority in prosthetics probably best known to the general public through his work with South African sprinter and double amputee Oscar Pistorius.  Baltzer is the Director of Pastoral Care at the Lancaster(PA) Evangelical Free Church. The small building in the photo with the plaque honoring Albert is a first aid cache containing rescue gear located in Huntington Ravine.

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photo: Brad Washburn

photo: Brad Washburn

But what folly to attempt to draw in words the curves and colors, the coyness…,

the flashes and the  moodiness, the laughter and the plaints of these daughters of the clouds !

Thomas Starr King, 1868

Easy, dude.


On the northern slopes of Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison in New Hampshires Presidential Range lies some of the most rugged and wild feeling country in the Northeast. This interesting area of native forests, rock slides, ravines and mountain streams contains more waterfalls and cascades in one place than I’ve ever encountered.

From below, the area is best accessed from the maze of trails originating at the Appalachia parking lot on Rte. 2 in Randolph, NH. As this is the starting point for several trails (Airline,Valley Way,Short Line) that provide straight shots to the Northern Presidentials it’s very popular. But, the trails in the unofficial “Grand Loop” for waterfall viewing are lightly used and relatively deserted, in fact I saw no one the first day and only a handful the second.

I started out on the Link/Amphibrach Trails, where I met, crossed, and headed up Cold Brook.

Cold Brook Bridge

Cold Brook Bridge

 The first falls were Cold Brook Falls, sort of classic with a cave in the ledges on the left side.

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Taking a right side loop (and missing the Cold Spur Ledge Falls as a consequence !) on the Monaway and Cliffside Trails I came to Spur Brook Falls before rejoining the Amphibrach Trail.

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I continued on the Amphibrach until its junction with the King Ravine Trail, one of the oldest trails in the White Mountains having been laid out by mountaineer Charles E. Lowe and named after White Mountains rusticater, chronicler, and Lowe client, Thomas Starr King in 1876. As a side trip I headed down this trail to where Cold Brook crossed it. Here I found what is called Canyon Falls.GRANDLOOP 7-24 007  

Returning to the Amphibrach Trail I climbed to the major trail junction known as the Pentadoi.  The Amphibrach had been paralleling the “Canyon” of  Cold Brook and I was thinking there might be some interesting falls there so through some controlled falls of my own, lol, I bushwhacked down into it. Here is what I found.

Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon
























Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon









After clawing  my way up and out of the canyon I took a side trip on the Spur Trail to elegant Chandler Falls.

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Back to the Pentadoi and now onward on the King Ravine Trail as it headed up the ravine. After a bit I came to the gentle Mossy Falls, above which Cold Brook would soon disappear into the boulder field at the base of the King Ravine headwalls.

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Just above Mossy Falls I came to these signs.GRANDLOOP 7-24 022GRANDLOOP 7-24 023
 As it was getting late, the trail rougher, and the trees smaller, I headed back down the Ravine Trail to where the forest might support my hammock and camp. After a search I found a site, one that had been used before. A cup of miso soup and dinner of quality bean noodle ramen followed camp setup. Switching out my wet outer clothes and socks for dry ones I entered the Hennessy Hammock and adjusted the down underquilt. With my sleeping bag used like a quilt over me  and lulled by the white noise of Cold Brook as it tumbled nearby I soon fell asleep and spent a restful night in my cocoon.
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The next morning, exploring the immediate area around camp I found, as I expected, several other old campsites which trail keepers had disguised with brush to discourage permanent use, and one unofficial permanent site with a fire ring  (boo !) and recent bough bed. In the spirit of leave no trace I also covered my site with brush after I’d packed my camp away. Someone woodswise would have no trouble identifying a campsite even with the brush on it and would hopefully return it to that state when they were done with it.
Under a lowry sky, with the ridgelines enveloped in mist, I headed up the King Ravine Trail again. Although the Grand Loop as conceived allows you to follow the KRT to the ridgeline by the AMC’s Madison Hut, summit Mts. Adam & Madison if you wish, then return to Appalachia down the Snyder Brook drainage, I decided because of the summits being socked in to short circuit the upper part of the loop. Taking the Chemin des Dames Trail up the left side of the King Ravine headwall  I reached the Airline Trail.  If this steep, slippery, groin puller was the “Path of the Ladies” I can’t wait to see what the two alternatives, the final lurch of the King Ravine and Great Gully Trails are like ! All three are “not recommended” for descents.
Chemin des Dames Trail

Chemin des Dames Trail

Airline Trail

Airline Trail

 Heading down the Mt. Madison buttress ridge the Airline Trail follows I soon turned off  onto the Upper Bruin Trail, descending into the Snyder Brook drainage, connected with the Valley Way Trail, and followed that, passing a platform tenting area, to the Lower Bruin Trail.

Along the Lower Bruin Trail I bushwhacked down into a ravine where I found this pretty little stepped cascade.


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Further below in the ravine were upper, middle, and lower Duck Falls.


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Below the Duck Falls I got off the Lower Bruin Trail and onto the Brookside Trail. From far above the Duck Falls Snyder Brook is virtually one long cascade, and this continues with the ravine  rough going and often obstructed with fallen timber.
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A pretty spray

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Salmacia Falls


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Below Salmacia the gradient begins to mellow.

The wonderfully serene Upper & Lower Tama Falls.

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 Upper & Lower Salroc Falls


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Further along


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The final cascade on the loop – Gordon Falls


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All in all  a very satisfying two days spent in an area well worth exploring more.

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While hiking the other day I came across the first ripe low bush blueberries of the season growing on the ledges of a not to be disclosed mountain. I took the time to pick enough (a quart/liter) for a pie.

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Arethusa Falls-Crawford Notch

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Peabody Brook-Mahoosuc Range

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Dryad Falls-Mahoosuc Range


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Memento Mori-Dream Lake, Mahoosuc Range

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In The Eyes Of The Maker

Thoughout my travels in the Tasmanian wilds I was struck by a timeless spirituality that seemed innate  to those places. It opened my eyes to many things.


Oh, Oh Deep water
Black, and cold like the night
I stand with arms wide open
I’ve run a twisted mile
I’m a stranger
in the eyes of the maker

I could not see
for fog in my eyes
I could not feel
for the fear in my life
From across the great divide
In the distance, I saw a light
Jean baptiste
walking to me with the maker


Daniel Lanois  “The Maker”

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