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Memories of my travels between 1972 and 1982

Saturday, 25 June 2011

June 25th: Mount Paugus in Northern New Hampshire

On June 25th 1975 I was on Mount Paugus in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  I had hitched north from Massachusetts a couple of days previously, going further north through the mountains as far as Littleton and then back down to Intervale, where I was put up by a student doing temporary work with the National Forest. 

I had determined that I was going to get out into some of this country, so in the morning I went shopping in North Conway and bought a pair of cheap hiking boots, a plastic poncho and a Eureka nylon tent, total cost perhaps $50.  The camping shop also had a simple trail map of the area.  Then I bought some trail groceries, granola and raisins, chocolate and so on and hitched down on to the Kancamagus Highway to the west.  I found the beginning of the Bolles Trail and walked up past pretty brooks.  Then I had a long climb and a sharp descent to a crossroads where I camped.  I had seen no one else since leaving the highway.  I was tired which was not surprising as I was carrying my full rucksack with necessities for a year away.  I was also learning that I'd have to put up with black flies as well as mosquitoes. In the night I was disturbed by some animals - racoons possibly, though I was concerned about bears.

The next day I was on trails all day:  I didn't cover so much ground but it was pretty tiring.  First I went up the Beeline Trail, away from the brooks and thicker forest now that I was getting higher.  I went up Mount Paugus  by the steep Old Paugus Trail, a very beautiful climb through pines with a pretty view from a bluff.  I had a lunch break at the Old Shag Camp and and then walked up to the summit at 3200 feet.  There I enjoyed the view and met my first human being of the day, a hiker from Massachusetts.  I went back a different way, firstly down the steep Lawrence Trail where I met the only other people of the hike, a bearded man with four or five school children.  Now I had to get along a difficult ledge, where my pack seemed very much in the way, before a steep descent to easier lower ground.  I camped right on the trail at a good point, where I was back in the thicker broadleaved forest and running streams.  Again I was woken in the night, perhaps by deer this time. 

In the morning it was an easy walk along the Oliverian Brook back to the highway.  I stopped at a place where there were big boulders on the stream.  A short walk and a short lift took me to the Passaconaway Campground.  There I talked with the Chief Ranger, the boss of my host in Intervale.    I pitched my tent, gratefully putting my pack inside, and left to hitch into Conway.  A hamburger filled my stomach, I bought some groceries and hitched back to the campsite.  In the evening I wrote my brief notes surrounded by squirrels and chipmunks, and lots of birds,  which fascinated me at the time as they were all different species to what I'd seen before in Europe and Asia.  The mosquitoes and black flies had made my back a mess.

Next day I took an afternoon stroll up Mount Potash: it was lower, closer to the road and I didn't have my pack and I found the walk easy.  In the evening I was asked to join the family who were my neighbours for their evening meal of fresh fish.  We drank coffee and talked into the night over the campfire.

The next day I started hitching west to California, but first I had to get back south.

Brook in White Mountains:  Picture by Sean Munson, CC

White Mountains View:  Picture by LucienTj, CC

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