• Everything Old Is New Again

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Last week, advocates for education who put children ahead of institutions were given a reason to smile: SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts, passed a critical vote in the House. If all goes well, new doors will open for parents seeking the right educational opportunities for their children.
    When it becomes law, individual student accounts can be created using ninety-five percent of the state’s per-pupil adequate education grant designated for that specific child. The details are available on-line. Basically, education savings accounts (ESAs) will empower parents of modest means to take advantage of a wider variety of schooling options if they believe their local public school is not a good fit. Who could be against that?
    The usual suspects are against it: The state’s elected Democrats; the public-sector unions NEA and AFT; the ACLU; and organizations that want school choice to extend only to those parents rich enough to be able to opt-out of the public system. I think of these people as modern-day Aztecs: Like priests of that Mesoamerican civilization, they have a penchant for human sacrifice. Opponents of ESAs are willing to sacrifice other people’s children on the altar of a public-school system they deify.
    They are also hypocrites. I haven’t read anything from ESA opponents denouncing rich parents who fail to support their local public schools when they send their kids elsewhere (depriving their districts of that state adequacy grant). The same people who never miss an opportunity to denounce “tax cuts for the rich” refuse to denounce “education choice for the rich,” and oppose efforts to expand opportunity to all.
    Why might more parents want that opportunity? Perhaps it has to do with public school’s track record. I read an article recently decrying “Disengaged Students and the Decline of Academic Standards.” The author, Paul Trout, an associate professor of English, began by stating that “It is bad enough that many students who enter college are underprepared, underskilled and generally dumbed down. What is worse is that more and more of them are entering college – according to UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute – ‘increasingly disengaged from the academic experience.’”
    Students are spending less time studying, doing homework, and engaging in academic pursuits. Record numbers say they are frequently bored in class. Children are “sitting for hours in mental states that approach suspended animation,” learning to “get by with the least possible effort.”
    The author places some blame for this on the “success model,” where “every student – regardless of talent, inclination, and attitude – must succeed.” Academic rigor is “jettisoned to preserve self-esteem.” And now, lowered standards, expectations, and preparation in K-12 is poisoning higher education. In a vicious circle, colleges lower their standards to meet the (in)abilities of “college ready” high school students, while also training and certifying the “earnest pedagogues who imposed the stultifying ‘success’ model on primary and secondary schools in the first place.”
    Trout believes that the number of disengaged students “has reached some sort of critical mass at the primary, secondary, and now college levels.” He provides some possible remedial actions and….oh, did I mention that the article was written in 1997?
    The problems Trout highlighted two decades ago are still with us today. Solutions have been proposed, tried, and failed – repeatedly – as that critical mass has grown. Yet the deifiers of public education refuse to question their dogma. Their faith in one system is unshaken, despite what the data show. They can look at drop-out rates, test scores proving large numbers of graduates aren’t proficient in core subjects, and higher public education spending per capita buying lower test scores than our economic competitors, while condemning as heretics those who seek a different path. For decades they’ve been burying their record of failure under a mound of edu-speak and arrogance.
    This is what their failure looks like: In the Smarter Balanced tests, students are assessed as either being on-track to demonstrating the knowledge and skills necessary for college and career readiness (whatever that means, given decades of dumbed-down of standards), or not on-track. Last year, for all NH schools and all tested grades, more than 4 in 10 students were not on-track in reading. More than 5 in 10 were not on-track in math. More than 6 in 10 were not on-track in science.
    There are real children attached to each of those statistics. Advocates for ESAs see them as individuals, worthy of the chance to go where they can succeed. Opponents treat them as just so much grist for the mill.
    Education freedom savings accounts are part of a badly-needed education Reformation.

  • Tribal Tribulations

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    E pluribus unum. It’s one of the few Latin phrases kids learn in school – or used to. Given the sorry state of civics education, perhaps the motto of the Great Seal of the United States has been left on the curriculum cutting room floor.
    The American ideal of a single people forged out of many – the melting pot – has fallen out of favor. In its place we have a strange mélange of micro-tribalism and identity-politics, pitting small groups against each other and the best interests of the nation. Soon we may need to update the Great Seal’s motto to E pluribus chao: Out of many, chaos.
    The irony of this regression into ever-smaller and more bizarre tribes is that we have never been more “melty.” Race had been the big dividing line, not just for blacks but Asians as well. Even within the “white” label there was a pecking order, with Irish, Italians, Poles, and Jews struggling at times at the bottom of the pile. The lines have blurred in 21st century America.
    Mixed-race marriages no longer merit notice in most of America. Christian churches ordain and marry homosexuals. More women than men earn advanced degrees. Movement between income quintiles is much more fluid than the “income inequality” protestors acknowledge. Race, sex, and hereditary wealth aren’t the gatekeepers they used to be.
    It’s hard to tell from the twelve-year-old black & white photo that accompanies these essays, but I am a ruddy-complected red-head; by appearance my ancestry is clearly “UK mongrel”. A recent DNA test confirmed that, but with a twist.
    Seventy-five percent of my DNA is from the UK, which Ancestry.com defines as not just England, Wales, and Scotland, but also Normandy and a bit of the Low Countries. The test picked up my St. Lawrence River French settler connection. My great-grandfather’s marriage to a French-Canadian Catholic girl got him kicked out of our Anglo-Protestant family, a banishment that lasted two generations. Times have changed.
    The only other high-confidence match – meaning there definitely is a DNA connection – was Senegal. Yes, West Africa. It was only 4%, but it’s there. Senegal was a big slave-trading area for centuries. It seems one of my distant relatives did more than sample the native cuisine.
    Based on the science of DNA, I’m more “African” than Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is “Native American.” Unlike Fauxcahontas, I won’t try to capitalize on a genetic connection (real, in my case) to get preferential treatment at Harvard.
    The senator’s former employer is being investigated by the Department of Justice for its race-based quota system that limits its Asian student population to about half of what it would be under a policy based on academic performance. Maybe Harvard should follow its Ivy League compatriot Brown University and adopt a process that allows applicants to “self-identify” as a “person of color.”
    Does that sound crazy? It’s the direction we’re heading, pushed along by Progressives who believe in the daffy notion of “social constructs.” Liberals claim the mantel of science, yet want us to believe that we can create our own reality just by wishing it so. Non-believers can either acquiesce or be forced out of the public square – violently, as we’ve seen on college campuses across the nation.
    DNA – our genetic code – is being cast aside in this rush to create personal realities. The problem with this, besides the obvious, is that newly-minted subgroups are now jockeying for position in the grievance hierarchy.
    Rachel Dolezal, the Caucasian woman forced to resign from her leadership position in the NAACP when she was outed as Black-in-her-mind-only, is still playing dress-up and staging a comeback. Blacks rightly reject the idea of race as a matter of “self-identification” that ignores their history and would open the racial preference system to, well, people like me.
    An administrator at a state university claims that campus LGBTQ centers are bastions of “homonormative whiteness.” The multi-colored rainbow flag is too “White,” it seems. The transgender movement works to normalize a psychiatric condition that favors “feelings” over the reality of XX and XY, leading to head-scratching headlines like this: “High School Boy Wins All-State Honors in Girls Track and Field.”
    When reality is considered a social construct, all bets are off. People will construct things that make sense only in their minds. Each “reality” will demand pride of place in the social hierarchy and spoils system. Progressives will insist that we accept these flights of fancy or risk the worst label modern society can apply: Judgmental.
    So, hang on. The social-construct roller derby is going to be bloody fun to watch.

    Ken’s email is kengorrell@gmail.com

  • Cleaning House

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Philosophers and theologians have debated for millennia what happens to us when we die. I am supremely unqualified to contribute to their search for the material or spiritual truth. But six months after being named executor of a relative’s estate, I know a lot about what happens to our possessions when we die.
    The liquidation process has taken longer than it would have had my second-cousin-once-removed filed a proper will, or if our genealogical connection had been better documented. In addition to being named executor, I was his closest living relative. But when the court demanded proof, I had to spend months searching our extended family tree, shaking the branches to make sure no long-lost relation fell out.
    In the meantime, my wife and I had to sort out the finances and the contents of the household. Not surprisingly, creditors were more willing than the court to accept me as a responsible party in dealing with the estate, despite the fact that I had no access to the accounts. They’ll get theirs, in due course.
    The household goods, now shorn of whatever emotional worth they once had to the deceased or might have to the family or friends left behind, revert back to their practical, utilitarian state. Their value is now entirely in the eyes of people looking for a good deal on used stuff.
    That’s not always easy to accept, especially since my cousin had been living in his childhood home. He had kept a lot of his parents personal items. His mother had been a homemaker and bookkeeper; his father an engineer with Westinghouse. Her oil paintings adorned some walls while others sat in a closet. She had been a talented amateur. Her art will find new homes in the estate sale.
    His father’s patent book, awards, and memorabilia from an interesting life that included work on Gemini and Apollo are now nothing but momentary curiosities on their way to the trash bin. So, too, the photo albums, including pictures of their 1955 family vacation to Niagara Falls. After remarking on how well-dressed the vacationers were, into the bin they went.
    His parent’s wedding photo, in the typical 1940’s style that made them look like movie stars, was harder to throw away. But the death of their 65-year-old son was the end of their line. The frame was worth something, but the memories it once contained meant nothing to any living soul.
    My wife and I spent four melancholy weekends sorting the memory items from the items of marketable value. We did set aside a few personal mementos, tangible bits to help us keep their memories fresh in our minds. Neighbors stopped by to offer condolences and share their own remembrances, which helped make the whole process less wearying.
    But once the sorting was done, it was time to think like an executor. My cousin was not the sentimental type; he wanted his property turned into cash and distributed – after expenses and the executor’s cut – to the five youngest members of my family. Even without a proper will, he had made his intentions clear.
    To meet his expectations, we turned to an online estate auction company. The magic of the market never ceases to amaze me. In its purest form, sellers and buyers exchange items that each finds more valuable than what they had. I suspect that if all manufacturing were to cease for a year, and we could find a way to perfectly match sellers and buyers, all our material needs could be satisfied by swapping around what already exists. Perhaps that’s why capitalist invented planned obsolescence and the fashion industry spends millions convincing some people that they need to be trendy.
    Aside from some tools, lawn and garden equipment, and a few collectibles, I see little of value in this 1950s cape. But virtually everything here will find a new home in the auction, even the not-quite-mid-century-modern furniture that spent the last five decades in the hermetically-sealed formal living room. The alchemy of the online auction will turn lead into gold.
    The house itself will be seen by someone as the perfect place to live, and perhaps raise a family. It had first sheltered a young family of four, and in the end protected the last member of that family until the paramedics arrived. Soon, a new chapter will begin, and the house will again be a home. Old memories will be replaced by new hopes and dreams. Even in our inanimate objects there is a circle of life.

    Ken Gorrell can be reached at kengorrell@gmail.com

  • Never Too Cold To Play!

    Plenty of smiles and frosty faces to be found while cross-country skiing at the Bretton Woods. Charlie and yours truly at the warming cabin on the cross-country ski trail Porcupine Lane.

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

    “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes.”
    I’ve heard this said many times by people that like to play outdoors. I’ve said it to friends too, but this cold and snowy weather has been challenging.
    This week I wore all or a combination of these articles of clothing: face mask, baklava, neck gaiter, goggles, ear-band, hat, turtleneck, fleece sweater, down coat, windproof shell, long underwear, insulated pants, wool socks, insulated boots, insulated mittens and chemical hand warmers.
    I went skiing and snowshoeing. I stayed warm. No frostbite or cold toes for me. I adjusted the layers I wore to make sure I didn’t sweat while moving and added layers when I cooled down. And I went inside before I got cold.

    When the temperature is well below zero and you still want to ski from the summit to the base riding Cannon Mountain’s Tramway is the way to go. Snow conditions have never been better. Cannon Mountain lift tickets are 2-for-$77 on Tuesdays & Thursdays and NH Residents with NH ID $25-Wednesdays.

    At the beginning of the cold snap I skied in lovely falling snow at Pats Peak and their new lift to the top is fast and the loading carpet is fun. My team races in the adult league on Monday nights!
    More snow fell and then the mercury nearly fell out of the bottom of the thermometer. -10, -20 and on the mountaintops -30 F degrees was reached. YIKES! What a week.
    It wasn’t too cold to play and play on the snow we did!
    On Christmas day it was chilly but it was snowing. I met my friends at Mount Sunapee and we arrived just before for the lifts opened. We started out on the North Peak Triple chair while the majority of people were in line at the Sunapee Express lift to the summit. We felt like we were sneaking our fresh tracks for three runs in a row on Flying Goose. We delighted in finding untracked powder during each run.

    Jay blasting through the fresh powder snow at Mount Sunapee. The snow conditions are excellent. Thank you Mother Nature for all the snow but please turn up the thermostat!

    We then spent our time in the Sun Bowl. Although there wasn’t much sun there was lots of fluffy new snow to make us happy. Lapping Skyway and Wingding was great fun. The cold temperature kept the snow light and fluffy.
    This was the busiest Christmas morning I can remember and certainly the fresh powder snow encouraged many to get out early.
    The next day my friend Bria and I met in Lincoln to attempt to snowshoe Mount Hancock. We didn’t have an early start in hopes that the temperature would rise into positive digits. At the hairpin turn on the Kanc Highway we arrived to discover that the parking area was not plowed (Yes I wrote an email to the US Forest Service!). I had a shovel in my car and we cleared just enough to allow me to park my car in the entrance of the lot. We jealously watched a jeep blow right through the snowbank and into the lot. These were two more snowshoers starting off after 10 am with us.
    Long story short, Bria and I didn’t summit both peaks.

    Yours truly and Bria O’Neil snowshoe stomping up the trail to Mount Hancock. The snow covered trees did their best to hide the trail.

    All four of us summited North Hancock but we had difficultly on the ridge towards Hancock’s South Peak. We were in the clouds, snow blanketed trees hid the trail and we were moving slowly. All of us decided to turn around.
    We descended North Hancock following our snowshoe track and it began to snow hard.
    Bria and I decided to head straight back so we’d get out well before dark.
    The other pair separated with one taking off to run up South Peak from the bottom of the south loop and leaving the other behind.
    Bria and I stuck together. We were warm and happy and planned to come back another day, maybe on a clear winter day. The worst part was the drive back on the Kanc to Lincoln, it was a near white-out and the road was covered by several slippery inches of snow.
    Charlie and I went cross-country skiing at Bretton Woods and on the Franconia Inn’s trails. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are great activities when wind-chill is a serious factor. These slower paced sports in the woods where the trees hamper the wind make for a comfortable outing on the coldest of days.
    At Bretton Woods the tremendous Mount Washington Hotel deflected the wind as we crossed the snow covered golf course to reach the woods. The temperature was only -7F but there were many people out kicking and gliding and skating. People were even taking lessons.
    I can’t say enough about the snow conditions. The trails were perfectly snow carpeted, groomed and edged with magical snow-frosted trees.
    While skiing on the Franconia Inn’s trails I detoured off the Ham Branch Loop and headed up the Coppermine Brook Trail to Bridal Veil frozen Falls. I was quite comfortable and the packed powder trail had been well broken out by snowshoers. I made good time to reach the end of the trail at the Falls. The wall of icicles on both sides of the ice flow covered water were prettier than Christmas lights.
    Returning down the Coppermine Trail I enjoyed the 2.5 mile long downhill back home. I met four other snowshoers out on the trail too.
    Here’s a surprise, I also enjoyed a warm rest day. I stayed home and read a book and we went to see the new Star Wars movie. “May the Force be with you” and keep you warm.

    Under the lights, Becca Snowboarder floating on the powder on Pats Peak’s Hurricane Trail.

    I skied Cannon Mountain when it was a real -22F at the summit and the wind was nipping my nose through my baklava and fleece neck gaiter. Packed Powder is the word. Again I can’t say enough how perfect the snow conditions are out there!
    Cannon’s Zoomer chair has more protection from the wind and Zoomer and Avalanche Trails were super-duper. I took the Tram but I wasn’t crazy enough to ride the Cannonball Quad to the summit but many people seemed happy to do it. The most runs I could make in a row was three and then I would go inside to take a break. I like my nose and wanted to keep it.
    Oh and what about that full moon! I ended my holiday week where it began at Pats Peak. I went night skiing and from the top of the mountain the rising moon looked big and bright. 100% of their trails are open and the Hurricane was a smooth packed powder dream.
    Don’t let the cold keep you inside.
    Have Fun!

  • A Wintry Day At Loon Mountain

    Family members’ old season passes make lovely Christmas tree ornaments. My friend confesses that she copied the idea from another friend and I am going to copy her fine idea too!

    Snow, it snows!
    Every skier and snowboarder unloading their gear in Loon Mountain’s parking lot was happy.
    Light white flakes of snow fell from the sky all day and landed on top of the good snow base that was already established by Loon’s top notch team of snow makers and more snow direct from Mother Nature. Nearly every trail was open with the exception of South Peak, but South Peak is open now. (It opened the next day.)
    Mid-week the lifts open at 9 am and we were skating up to the lift corral at 9:02. Our tickets were scanned and we moved on to grab a seat on the Kancamagus-Quad, aka Kanc-Quad. I really appreciate high-speed lifts. Just think about all those poor children that didn’t get the chance to ride a long slow lift (or dial a rotary phone). Less time on the lift is more time on the snow. I can get a great morning of skiing in and feel like I skied a full day’s worth and that was just what I did.

    Walking Boss on Loon’s North Peak. Logging term-walking boss- supervisor of logging crews often walking between camps. Loon’s founder, Governor Adams, was a walking boss for the logging company Parker-Young.
    This old logging train greets you at the entrance of Loon Mountain. The resort’s three peaks are located just south of the Pemigewasset Wilderness where J.E. Henry’s railroads carried out timber to the sawmills in Lincoln up until 1948. The East Branch & Lincoln Railroad was the largest logging railroad in New England covering about 72 miles according to LoggingInLincoln.com.

    We skied directly over to the North Peak and speedily yo-yo’d up and down the black diamond trails of North Peak and the East Basin. The snow conditions were terrific and we were able to make big easy turns on Walking Boss and Flume. Moguls are forming on the side of Lower Flume but those weren’t in our plan. Our goal was to ski as many of the more difficult trails until our friends that stick to the Blue Squares showed up.
    From the North Peak summit we accessed the East Basin’s trails via Sunset and down Angel Street to Basin Street that was pure heaven. Steep and deep as anything in the East and conditions that were just getting nicer with the falling snow made the skiing excitingly fast and fun. We hit these trails several times.
    The East Basin Trails are my favorite, they’re steep and narrower, old school style. Loon Mountain first opened 51 years ago in December 1966 and this part of the mountain was at first considered too steep to ski. But just two years later, in 1968, trails were opened here and serviced with its own East Basin double-chair.

    Enjoying the snowy day on Ox Bow at Loon Mountain. The trail names are related to area’s logging history.

    Loon has changed a lot since it was first founded by Dartmouth Outing Club President-Logger- NH Governor Sherman Adams. The first high-speed detachable quad was installed in 1995—the Kancamagus Quad. Loon’s North Peak opened in 1984 and South Peak opened in 2007. You can learn more about Loon’s interesting history at NewEnglandSkiHistory.com.
    From the bottom of the North Peak we made our way back over to the Governor Adams Lodge to meet our friends. We skied down the gentle and twisty Brookway Trail to the base of the gondola. On the gondola we checked our cellphone and learned our friends were waiting for us at the lift.
    This meant just one more steep and fast run for us! Speakeasy, Rumrunner and the orange netted lined-race trail-Coolidge Street back to the Kanc-Quad.
    For the next hour we had more relaxed fun skiing with our friends. We skied the blue square trails Lower Picked Rock and Blue Ox riding the Kanc-Quad. We even rode the gondola to the summit of Loon Peak and followed the green circle route back down to Lower Picked Rock.

    On a bluebird day earlier this season, a lone skier on the fittingly named Coolidge Street Trail at Loon Mountain. The big mountain front and center is Big Coolidge Mountain and the pointy peaks of the Franconia Range can be seen further in the distance.

    Loon truly has terrain for all abilities to enjoy and terrain that all abilities can enjoy together.
    At lunch time I had to call it a day so I could get to work for the other half of the day. But before I left we enjoyed cups of hot chocolate and good ski area comfort food—chicken tenders and fries in the Governor Adams Lodge.
    The plow trucks were out and my drive to work was slow. Of course, at the end of the day when the lifts closed, my friends sent me messages telling me that the snow just kept getting better. They tried to make me jealous but they couldn’t do it.
    I had had a great ski day!

    New Year’s Eve!
    If you’re in search of New Year’s Eve celebrations look no further than your local ski resort. Fireworks, food, dancing and night skiing are some of the fun activities planned to ring in the New Year. Happy New Year to You and best wishes for a FUN Year!

  • Ski and Snowboard Fun at Waterville & Cannon

    Becca Snowboarder headed down Cannon Mountain’s Middle Ravine Trail. Cannon Mountain’s snow making improvements have produced a lot of white stuff! That’s the Peabody Lodge down below and behind it is the round bare top of Bald Mountain west of Artist’s Bluff.

    -NH Slopes Are Wide Open!

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

    Skiing and Snowboarding with friends and family is a wonderful way to enjoy season. Time spent together on chairlifts and enjoying the snow blanketed trails will make a lifetime of lasting memories.
    If you don’t know how to ski or snowboard please sign-up for a program at your local resort. They want you to learn and they offer affordable and enticing offers including everything you need—rental equipment, lift ticket and lessons. Check out SkiNH.com Learn to Ski/Ride Deals. If that still doesn’t appeal to you than you can always have fun snow-tubing.

    New Hampshire resorts have been blowing snow, grooming it out and spinning their lifts since Thanksgiving. After every cold night of snow making more trails open. I am betting by Christmas resorts will be boasting near 100% coverage. I hope Mother Nature kicks in more snow soon too.

    On top of the world at Waterville Valley! Visit online Waterville.com and SkiNH.com for current ski and snowboard conditions

    Last Thursday morning I met up with a friend for a couple of hours of skiing at Waterville Valley. We arrived at the lodge early so we would be ready to ride the first chair when the lifts opened.
    At the ticket booth we presented our lift ticket vouchers, purchased on-line the previous day. Pre-buying your lift ticket ahead of time at the resort’s website can save you money. Additionally we had to pay $5 for the new RFID pass. If we returned the card at the end of the day our $5 would be returned but if we chose to keep it we can reload them on-line and avoid the ticket booth our next visit.

    Look at that nice snow! Waterville Valley Resort’s White Caps Trail has a splendid big view of nearby Mount Osceola! New this season at Waterville Valley is the improved New Learner’s Area with two new carpet lifts replacing the original J-bar.
    Skiing with friends is fun! Learning to ski better makes it more fun. Yours truly, Barb and Bria on the trails at Bretton Woods working on our turns.

    Waterville Valley (as well as Mount Sunapee and Gunstock) installed new RFID lift ticket systems. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags (lift ticket) that are attached to objects (Snowsport enthusiasts). All we had to do was pop the card in our jacket pocket and the reader would find it.
    I have had experience using these types of lift tickets before at large resorts out West and at Stowe, VT, where the lift line passes through a gate that is opened when a valid card is read. Waterville’s system is different because it has a gateless entry. The cards appear to be read while we were on the chairlift and those attempting theft of services will be apprehended at the top of the lift. The advantages are that the lift line moves smoothly, monitoring of tickets is continuous and poachers are going to get caught.
    The trails were covered with great snow and it was easy to turn my skis on the freshly groomed loose granular snow. The day was lovely with clear views to all the mountains near and those far away. The Waterville Academy set up a slalom course on one side of Tommy’s World Cup Run but we had plenty of room to enjoy the trail too.
    We skied non-stop for just over two hours and completed 10 runs off the White Peaks Express quad-chair. I confess I was ready to take a break after 7 runs but with our limited time I was convinced to keep skiing. I still dreamed of having a hot chocolate in the mountain top Schwendi Hutte.
    When our time was up we hustled into the lodge to grab an early lunch in the cafeteria before packing up and heading to work. We ate ski area comfort food at its finest, fries, chicken tenders and hot chocolate! It was yummy. But I will go back later this season and get my hot chocolate in the Hutte.

    Mount Lafayette on the other side of Franconia Notch and a Cannon Mountain skier near the top of Avalanche. Snowsports are alive and well in New Hampshire and the season is off to a great start.

    On Saturday, I met Becca Snowboarder at Cannon Mountain. At 7:45am I pulled into the parking lot and ended up parking right next to her, talk about good timing. Becca bought a season pass earlier this season at the best NH resident discounted price. I bet she doesn’t miss any Saturday mornings.
    The previous year’s five-million dollars investment at Cannon Mountain for snowmaking improvements continues to reap benefits. The mountain is able to make twice as much snow with half the energy and this season an additional 250 thousand dollars were made for snowmaking upgrades. Cannon’s investment and increased efforts to make snow are really obvious and have produced super results! On their opening day the summit was open; Cannon made snow for runs from top to bottom.
    Cannon and Franconia Notch had a nice gift of 2 to 5 inches of fluffy white snow earlier in the week. The Notch’s nearby peaks had frosted white tops but the floor of the notch had some snow too. While we were at the ski area, my husband Charlie took out his most beat up pair of cross country skis and was able to kick and glide on the bicycle path from the Tram to the Lafayette Place Campground. It wasn’t ideal but he had fun.
    Becca and I joined the lift line with all the other excited skiers and snowboarders. Cannon has a well-earned reputation for having one of the larger first run seeking crowds.
    We rode the Peabody Express quad-chair round and round while most zoomed right over to ride the Cannonball to the summit. The dramatic views of Mount Lafayette and the Franconia Range were outstanding while we had By-Pass to Cannon Trails nearly all to ourselves for several runs in a row. You could have fooled me this wasn’t mid-winter.
    Good snow and lots of trails made for a fun time. Being on the summit of Cannon is always nice and Tramway and Upper Cannon Trails were covered with snow edge to edge. Rocket and Gary’s were open too and snow guns were blasting on other trails.
    The season is off to a good start and it is just going to keep getting better. Don’t forget to get your team together for your favorite adult race league! Sign-ups are happening now and if you can’t find a team contact the race program and they’ll help you find some teammates.
    I am all set to race Monday nights at Pats Peak.
    Whoohoo winter!
    Have fun.

  • Hey Bungalow Bill

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    One of the lesser works on 1968’s The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) was The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, a song mocking an American who went on a tiger hunt during a spiritual retreat in India. The Beatles had been part of that retreat, and John Lennon found mixing hunting with spiritualism discordant.
    One can imagine Lennon’s song-writing reaction to President Trump’s reversal of an Obama-era ruling making it virtually impossible to import some big game trophies from certain African countries. Though Trump reinstated the original ban last week, the caterwauling media – both main stream and social – made two things clear: This is an emotional issue, and few understand the connection between conservation and capitalism.
    Hunting is a proven conservation technique, here and in Africa. While populations of elephants, lions, and other trophy-worthy African wildlife are dwindling in some countries due to poor land management, bad government, tribal traditions, and illegal poaching, in other countries the business of big-game hunting has helped to increase such populations. But after the Cecil the Lion incident a few years ago, journalists know they can tap a rich vein of emotion when reporting these stories. In the Trump era, journalists prefer emotion over facts.
    At Fox News, Army veteran and former military intelligence analyst Brett Velicovich denigrated trophy hunting, employing class-warfare rhetoric and sounding every bit like the antifa morons committing mindless violence on college campuses. America has been poorly served by our intel community in part because of “analysis” like this. Velicovich used Zimbabwe as his springboard to attack those who believe that hunting is a valid part of conservation efforts. Yes, Zimbabwe has been a political mess, bad for man and beast under the rule of its 93-year-old dictator, Mugabe. But other African nations have demonstrated tremendous successes, and last week Mugabe was removed from power. I hope current intel analysts saw that coming.
    For those who prefer facts over sentiment in their analysis, the reasons to support African trophy hunting are compelling. Even left-of-center media outlets have made the case. In 2010, The Economist reported that “Governments have mostly failed to protect Africa’s wildlife. But other models— involving hunters, rich conservationists and local farmers—are showing promise.” The article pointed to economic and social problems in Africa – not rich American hunters – as the primary reasons behind declining big game populations in some countries. To protect endangered species, “The first step is plain economics: a recognition that the wild has to pay its way.”
    The BBC – no part of the vast right-wing conspiracy – published a piece in 2015 pointing out that with big game hunting, “the nuances of this story are too complicated to be understood by a generation raised on films like the Lion King, and the resultant Walt Disney sentimentality towards Africa’s wildlife, and who are all too eager to tweet their disapproval.” In the real world, the “Circle of Life” isn’t a poignant song; it’s bloody and brutal. It’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, not a cute cartoon.
    Are big game hunters the callow cad immortalized by the Beatles? No. In 2006, a researcher in Kenya found that eighty-six percent of hunters interviewed for a study said they preferred hunting in areas where a portion of proceeds went to local communities. Nearly fifty percent indicated they’d be willing “to pay an equivalent price for a poorer trophy if it was a problem animal that would have had to be killed anyway.”
    Even CBS’s 60 Minutes managed to air a balanced segment in 2012 focused on the rise of African game hunting in Texas. “How did thousands of Texas ranches become home to the largest population of exotic animals on earth? It’s thanks to trophy hunters like Paul.” The opposing view was presented by the delightfully-named Priscilla Feral, president of an international animal rights group. Despite carefully-managed and growing populations, she doesn’t “want to see [exotic animals] on hunting ranches. I don’t want to see them dismembered. I don’t want to see their value in body parts.” One can only wonder what she thinks about the legal practice of killing a viable human fetus in the womb by dismembering it.
    National Geographic reported in 2007 that “southern white rhinoceros grew from just 50 animals a century ago to over 11,000 wild individuals today, because hunts gave game ranchers a financial incentive to reintroduce the animal.” The World Wildlife Fund pegs the current population at more than 20,000. That’s conservation capitalism in action. It’s a shame this complex issue became just another excuse to bash President Trump. The animals deserve better.

    Ken’s email is kengorrell@gmail.com

  • First Runs at Bretton Woods

    Yours truly and Becca Munroe enjoying the snow on the Range View Trail at Bretton Woods’ opening day. Brettton Woods was the first resort in New Hampshire to open for skiing and snowboarding this season.

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

    A couple weeks ago I made it up for Bretton Woods’ opening day to ski. Bretton Woods enjoys a surprise and gives short notice when they’re opening for the season, usually just less than 24 hours.  As soon as they can get us on the mountain they do it.  When the temperature drops the snow guns start blasting and I know it is time to keep my eye on social media. I checked my email a little more often too.

    A young skier carves a turn on the snow. From Bretton Woods’ slopes big views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range can be seen.
    Riding the lift at Bretton Woods.
    Donated food piled near the ticket window at Bretton Woods. Omni Hotels & Resorts “Say Goodnight to Hunger” program supports local food banks and pantries. Skiers and Snowboarders donated food and were given an opening day lift ticket at Bretton Woods.

    Since the temperatures dropped quickly, I wasn’t caught off guard this year when I saw their mid-afternoon Facebook post in bright big red letters “Open Tomorrow.” In my inbox there was an email from the resort that read, “Open Friday, November 10th from 1 -4 pm”.  The price of the lift ticket was a donation of non-perishable food. The annual opening day food drive is part of the Omni Resorts “Say Goodnight to Hunger” campaign that supports local food banks and pantries.

    I arrived at the ski area a little after 2pm.  By the look of the big pile of food next to the ticket booth the skiers and riders had been generous.  I stacked my cans on top of the others and with a lift ticket attached to my coat I hurried out to make my first run of the season.

    My friend Becca received my text that I had arrived. She beat me to the slopes and had taken one run on her snowboard and was now waiting for me in front of the lodge.  We rode up the Zephyr high-speed quad chair. Brrrh, it was cold out, only 16 degrees. We were both bundled up tight and we pulled our neck gaiters up high to protect our faces from the snow that was exploding out of the snow guns.  At the top I stood up from the chair and let gravity take me away from the lift—Weee I am skiing!  I joked, “What run should we take?” The punchline, “The open one!”

    All the snow guns were blasting adding more snow to the Range View Trail as we skied and snowboarded down the mountain.  To keep my goggles from icing I learned quickly to keep my face turned away from the snow guns.  Hands in front, shifting my weight from ski to ski, big turns and quick turns and I let gravity take me down the slope fast.  I stopped half way down the trail. I turned back up the hill and watched Becca turn her snowboard and slide down to meet me.  We both laughed and told each other how glad we were that we made it!   We both were excited to be out for the first time this season. I felt full of joy to be outside skiing on the snow. Yeah Winter.

    Becca on her snowboard heading down the Range View Trail while the snow guns of Bretton Woods blast more snow on the trail. Mount Deception is the mountain looming in the distance–it is named Deception because the 3,600’ mountain looks really near but it is deceptively far away.

    Mother Nature gave us a good inch of snow the previous night and the view down to red roofed Mount Washington Hotel was surrounded by its white golf course that was no longer green.   Bretton Woods stayed open for rest of the weekend and Veterans skied for free and there was a lift ticket special of just $25 to ski.

    I returned on Sunday and enjoyed the much warmer day, nearly 32 degrees, a beautifully groomed slope and a sunny mountain vista. No snow was being blown on Range View, it was covered edge to edge with deep wonderful snow. The snow guns were blasting all over the upper trails and more trails and lifts will be open. Congratulations to Bretton Woods for being the first resort to open in New Hampshire this season.

    More New Hampshire resorts are open this week. Loon, Cannon, Waterville Valley, Cranmore all announced plans to be open by the time you’re reading this.  Please check SkiNH.com for your favorite mountain’s snow conditions report before heading off to hit the slopes.   Have Fun!

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send  comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.

  • Wet Waterville Valley Walking

    Yours truly in the wet foggy forest on the Snows Mountain Trail in Waterville Valley.


    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    We met at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Campton just off of Interstate 93’s exit 49 because we had not decided where we were going to hike. Danielle and Amanda were already inside when I arrived. After grabbing a coffee and looking at the maps we made our decision. We’d drive to Snows Mountain in Waterville Valley and wing it from there.
    New Hampshire was hit hard by the Halloween tropical storm that dumped heavy rain and whipped the trees. Thousands lost power, flood damaged and closed roads and hiking trails were hit hard too. We didn’t know what we would find but we hoped by staying at lower elevations and away from raging brooks we’d increase the odds that the trails would be passable.

    Nothing to see here folks! Amanda and Danielle on the Snows Mountain lookout, misty rain, fog and clouds made it a day to look at the things that were near and not far away.

    From the base of Snows Mountain we headed up the Cascade Path and turned on the Elephant Rock Trail. The trail was covered with leaves and we tossed a lot of sticks and branches off the trail as we headed to the top of the Snow Mountain chairlift. Oh yeah, the rock, it doesn’t look like an elephant. The tree that made up its trunk is long gone.
    The clouds were thick and we didn’t see any mountain views only threatening skies all around us.
    We continued on the Greeley Ledge Trail and it was no great loss that it was cloudy since the ledge has no open vista. A three inch diameter tree at chest high was across the trial. I whipped out my folding saw and we made quick work of its removal.
    At the intersection of the Snows Mountain Trail we went left but when we looked right there was a mess of tangled trees blocking the trail. We’d deal with that later maybe.
    As we hiked higher into the fog the forest looked spooky. We made our way up to the spur path to its no-view-today view point. On our way down we did enjoy a blurry sight of the Waterville Town Square below through swirling clouds from a cut opening along the trail. The fog traded places off and on with light rain.
    We tossed sticks and limbs and cleaned out a water bar to help the water off the trail but we were happy to find the trail in decent condition.

    Danielle demonstrates she is willing to lend a hand with her folding saw! The Waterville Valley Athletic and Improvement Association (WVAIA), the outdoors club of Waterville Valley, maintains nearly 23 miles of trails in the White Mountain National Forest. The Association does a great work maintaining the trails and organizing activities. Please visit their website at WVAIA to learn more about their trails and the Association.


    Amanda and Danielle on the Yellow Jacket Trail. Pines Flats, Yellow Jacket and Tri-Town Trails make a nice loop for hiking. The trails are multi-use trails; hikers, mountain bikers and in the winter cross country skiers enjoy them too. Smarts Brook is lovely and short walk up the Pine Flats Trail will lead you to a lovely gorge.

    At this point the southern terminus of the Snows Mountain Trail dumps you out in the driveway of a private home. We walked up the road and went up the ski trail until we reached the large Forest Service sign for Snows Mountain Trail. Please note that no cars are to be parked in the private neighborhood, parking is at the base of Snows Mountain only.
    We headed up the trail through the forest and tossed more sticks and limbs until we reached the tangle mess we saw earlier near the trail intersection. We went to work with our folding saws, our tiny folding saws! These were big trees. We were able to cut and remove a couple trees and the branches until all that was left was a couple of easy step-overs. We retraced our way back to the ski trail.
    Since it was just misty rain we headed back up the Cascade Path and did a quick out and back on the Boulder Path. The giant boulder sitting in the middle of Slide Brook was surrounded by high fast flowing water. Danielle and Amanda would have to come back another day to get the short section of the trail on the other side from Livermore Road.
    There were a few big trees across the cross country ski trail where the trails overlap. But I am sure the Nordic Center is aware because we could see that they had been out clearing water bars on the trail.
    Back at the car we pulled out the map, the new map that accompanies the 30th edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide. We noticed the short trails near the beginning of the Smarts Brook Trail. I read the trail descriptions and the guide reported that there was a bridge crossing the brook so we could make a 3-mile loop and not drown.
    There were no other cars in the Smarts Brook Trail parking area but that was no surprise because of the wet weather forecast. It was mid-day, it was still misty rainy and we were still happy to be out walking.
    We headed up the Pine Flats Trail that leaves right from the parking area. This is a pine-rooty trail along Smarts Brook and it passes along a lovely deep ledgy gorge.
    We turned right on the Yellow Jacket Trail and it started to rain lightly and get darker. The trail was wetter and there were a handful of small bridges over small streams. The trail rejoined the bank of the roaring Smarts Brook. We were extremely happy to see that the storm had done no damage to the bridge that would take us over the brook and to the Smarts Brook Trail. We turned right and in a short distance we turned left on to the Tri-Town Trail.
    The light rain turned into a downpour. Danielle and I uselessly rushed to put on our rain jackets. Amanda didn’t. She left her wet coat back at the car and we decided the rain was her fault. That last mile felt like the longest mile of the day. Drenched we marched on and climbed over several rather large trees that will need a big chainsaw to be removed.

    A good view upstream at Smarts Brook between the trailheads of Pine Flats and Smarts Brook Trail, right on Route 49 in Thornton. Danielle takes her Tibetan prayer flags with her on every hike and she places them on a summit or a lovely place in remembrance of a hiking friend that left us too early. She returns the flags into the pocket of her backpack and shares the photo of the flags with family and friends.

    Tri-Town Trail -what three towns did this trail cross? We guessed Sandwich, Campton and Thornton. I knew the trailhead was in Thornton and maybe on the Pine Flats and or Yellow Jacket Trails we crossed into Waterville Valley. So were the three towns included Waterville Valley using the other trails? (I checked a map at home and it looks like the Tri-Town Trail is in Sandwich and Thornton only).
    The trail finished back on the Smarts Brooks Trail and at the end of the trail, on the edge of the highway bridge there is a nice view up the brook and up the highway across to Welch Mountain. We stood there a few minutes soaking in the view.
    Soon it will be snowing! Have fun.

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.

  • Colonists & Indians -A Historian’s View Of NH In 1871


    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    “Out with the old and in with the new” says the old New Year’s adage with much that is reasonable behind it.
    It is not always wise to be rid of the old, however, and that includes old books. I almost passed on the opportunity to read from a book published in 1871 that I found in the local library titled “The Merrimack River” until I discovered that it was as much about the people and events that could somehow be connected to the river as about the river and its tributaries. The author, J.W. Meader, presents a view of New Hampshire, from his perspective, of a New Hampshire we never knew because we weren’t here.
    Of the Merrimack River Meader contends “As a great natural feature, the Merrimack…surpasses all others in the harmonious blending of the useful and the beautiful…, it is from its source to its mouth, literally a vast system of mill-privileges with excellent water power, materials and conveniences for dams, and an ample and unfailing supply of water. The amount of manufacturing along this stream is not equaled by that of any other river in the world… ”.
    Concerning the early settlers, the Puritans, Meader expresses the opinion that they left the old country because they were unable to persuade their countrymen to believe as they did, not because they were the victims of religious intolerance and became the religious intolerant when they settled in America. Both opinions are probably true; they were both victims and perpetrators of intolerant behavior.
    Rev. John Wheelwright and his flock, who bought land from the Piscataqua River to the Merrimack River from the Indian Chief Passaconaway and his association of chiefs, after banishment by the Puritans, went “to the wilds of New Hampshire” and settled in Exeter with his followers. Here, says Meader, they established “…the first genuine democratic form of government ever established in America.”
    The prominence of witchcraft in New Hampshire as well as Massachusetts in the latter half of the sixteen hundreds was viewed as a “delusion” by author Meader, though supposed witches in New Hampshire suffered the consequences, though not as severely as in the neighboring State. Meader had much to say about the life and acts of the Indians, indicating that when the white man discovered the Merrimack he found a prize, a prize with “dusky barbarians” on it in “primitive canoes”. He said “ Here on this river’s brink, civilization and barbarism met, – light and darkness, – day and night struggling for the mastery; and who could doubt the result?”
    And “Civilization found this beautiful river…”. Opinions like that may sound discriminatory, but they also help us to understand the thoughts behind people’s actions and reactions. Those called “stalwart and hardy pioneers” were also the “exterminators” of the red man. But the native inhabitant of New Hampshire did not leave without a fight, even though many may not realize how perilous it was in New Hampshire, when the Indian feared extermination and the pale-face feared the death-dealing raids of the Indians. When much of the land above Concord was “unexplored and entirely unknown” by the white man the native Americans gathered around New Hampshire’s big lake and at other locations surely not realizing that in the coming days both they and the colonists would both be fighting for their survival. The not so long ago historian (1871) drew a picture in words of the white man struggling for survival in the wild country of New Hampshire inhabited by wolves, bears, wildcats, moose, and deer, along with the American Indians, who, if there were more of them and they were better organized the progress made by the colonists would “…have been greatly impeded, if not altogether stopped.”
    The people of the tribes “would often swoop down upon the scattered settlements as swift, sudden, and unexpected as the hawk, …..families awoke at the dead of night to hear the fearful war-whoop, to see their homes enveloped in flames, and the deadly tomahawk and the dreaded scalping knife gleam in the light of the burning building.” But the white man fought with his own determined and savage acts of violence against the Indian. “A price was set upon his toplock the same as on the wolf, and other wild animals, only much higher, and the more daring and adventuresome among the population turned their attention to the hunting and scalping of Indians.”
    The most famous of the Indian hunters was said to have been a Captain Lovewell of Dunstable, who gained particular notoriety for capturing a group of ten Indians in what is now the town of Wakefield and marching into Boston with their scalps on poles, only to lose his own life in another hunting venture.
    The stories of cowboys and Indians in the western parts of the United States are probably better known to New Hampshire residents than the conflict between colonists and Indians in our own localities as immigrants from across the sea and began a new nation. In his book about the Merrimack River, Mr. Meader tells some of their stories. I should point out that book writer Meader also wrote that “…the North American Indian possesses, and often displays, in his nobler nature, those higher excellences and sublime qualities which adorn and embellish the human character.” The result of the conflicts between the Colonists and the Indians the Indian was that for the most part the Indians were “out” and the Colonists were “in”.
    “ The Merrimack River” is a book about other people who came to New Hampshire, including Shakers and Quakers, Presbyterians and Catholics, and others along with information about the scenery, landscape, and wildlife of New Hampshire while including developments along the Merrimack. Books like this, though full of a writer’s biases, as are many of today’s books, should not be thrown out, because the discerning mind can glean knowledge and wisdom from them as they tell the stories of a New Hampshire we never experienced.

  • I Like The Blue One

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Last week, we got our first glimpse of the eight border wall prototypes vying to replace the inadequate – or non-existent – barriers along our nearly 2,000 mile national demarcation with Mexico. I like the blue one.
    We call it a border, but it is much more than that. It is a boundary containing our national identity; our political, economic, and social order. Without it, we are not a nation-state, and our political rights – from the Bill of Rights to present laws – are meaningless. That millions of Americans fail to understand this is testament that we have done a poor job teaching civics in our public school classrooms.
    The promise of a physical barrier along our southern border was a big part of what put Donald Trump in the White House. Seeing those prototypes put a smile on my face. The concrete and steel sections lack grace, but what they represent is beautiful national resolve.
    Six wall sections were the color of desert sand, one was gray metal, but one was sand-color at the base with dark blue metal stretching toward the sky. I don’t know which will prove the most impervious to illegals trying to steal that which doesn’t belong to them, but the blue one struck me as most esthetically-pleasing.
    Function must trump esthetics for our border barrier, but I have one suggestion for the final design: Make the wall educational. Use the wall as a classroom white board, a place where ideas can be written and lessons taught. In those areas where Mexicans and Central Americans are most likely to try to break into our country, let’s adorn the wall with engravings of the words that make the United States a great nation, that separate us from all others.
    What could be more natural on a wall marking a national boundary than the ideas that mark us as unique? For some, “nationalism” is a dirty word. But the desire to form a distinct state, a “more perfect union,” is what created our nation in the first place. Nationalism is embodied in our Constitution’s preamble: “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
    The words – in English and Spanish, of course – that should be permanently engraved on the south-side of the wall include the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. I’d add the Gettysburg Address and a couple of other historic presidential speeches. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, Reagan’s “Tear Down this Wall” speech from Berlin should be up there. After all, this is not a wall holding a people prisoner to a tyrannical state; this is a wall protecting a free people from those who would take from us that which is not theirs.
    Pictures worth thousands of words might cause a few potential illegal aliens to pause in their tracks. Despite Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s claim that Mexico is “a proudly mestizo, multi-cultural and diverse nation” and a country that “firmly believe(s) that this mestizo fusion is the future and destiny of human kind,” a collage of the most recent 10 Mexican presidents and first ladies shows a very Spanish-looking, and in some cases Anglo-looking, group. Mexico is a racially and ethnically-stratified county where indigenes hold little power; Pena Nieto throws stones from his perch in a glass house.
    Pena Nieto is leader of country with a national average IQ 10 points below ours. Illegal immigrants from Central America passing through Mexico come from countries with average IQs 10 points lower still. This is one reason why the debate about who will pay for the “big, beautiful wall” misses the point. Even if President Trump can’t find a way to tax remittances from Mexicans living in the US – money earned here but spent in Mexico – the wall will pay for itself by stopping even a small percentage of illegals from settling in our country.
    The Center for Immigration Studies made a compelling case in a paper earlier this year that due to lower earning ability and higher use of social services, “illegal border-crossers create an average fiscal burden of approximately $74,722 during their lifetimes.” If a wall stopped a mere “9 to 12 percent of those expected to successfully cross in the next decade” the social and economic savings would be $12 to $15 billion – enough to cover the cost of the wall.
    A nation has a sovereign right and obligation to its citizens to protect its interests and control its territory. The United States has been failing at this basic duty for decades, at substantial social and economic cost. Mr. Trump, build up this wall!

    Ken can be reached at kengorrell@gmail.com

  • China’s and Japan’s Elections Contrasted

    John Metzler

    by John J. Metzler
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    UNITED NATIONS – The political optics could not have been more contrasting as China selected its leader and Japan elected its Prime Minister. In a grandiose and stunning setting, draped in the trappings of crimson and gold, 2,300 Chinese Communist Party (CCP) grandees predictably anointed Xi Jinping as the paramount leader of the People’s Republic. Across the Sea of Japan and lashed by heavy rains, 55 million Japanese voters re-elected Japan’s long ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
    The study in contrast between these two East Asian giants could not be more obvious. The People’s Republic of China staged its 19th Party Congress with the usual minority in charge.
    President Xi Jinping has been elevated to the political heights and raw power not seen since the sanguinary days of tyrant Chairman Mao-Tse-tung more than a generation ago.
    Though Chairman Xi commands a fundamentally changed and economically vibrant China than few could have ever imagined, politically, the levers or power and control have not seen the reform of the socio/economic sector. Stifling media censorship and political control remain the hallmark of the CCP system.
    The Party/State rules, not the government in the traditional sense. People are often surprised to learn that in a country of 1.4 billion people, a mere 90 million or six percent are members of the ruling CCP, the sole political party.
    Xi (64) first assumed power in 2012. Abe (63) entered office in 2012. But both men experienced a very different political trajectory.
    Chairman Xi came into power amid the collective leadership that characterized the post-Mao era since the 1970’s. Chairman Xi has been granted the mantle of absolute power, a moniker not seen since Mao. Today Xi leads the world’s largest and powerful authoritarian state. As a special touch, an amendment to the CCP Constitution enshrined “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”.
    A laudatory article in the state run China Daily extolled, “According to the new plan, the CCP will basically realize socialist modernization in the first stage from 2020 to 2035, before developing China into a ‘great modern socialist country’ that is ‘prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful.” Continue reading  Post ID 3117

  • Off Year Elections

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    It’s Almost Election Day!!
    What did you say?
    Election Day?
    No Way!
    But it’s true.
    This is what is called an “off year” election. I believe they call it that because, unlike other years, everything about it is a little “off”. It’s not quite normal. At least what we have come to consider normal as far as elections go.
    Unless you live in certain areas, you won’t even realize it is almost Election Day. There won’t be the daily delivery of oversized political mailers that tell you how bad the other candidates are.
    You won’t be bothered by smiley, enthusiastic (and soon to be disappointed), young campaign workers who will come to your door and try to persuade you to vote for their candidate.
    You won’t have your favorite commercials about your favorite pharmaceutical be displaced by one ad after another for someone or the other who is running for something.
    It will almost seem normal, like nothing is happening. As if there is nothing to worry about.
    But don’t be fooled.
    There just still might be an election going on in your town or city that you don’t even know about.
    It might for your local school board, or for your city council or even a ballot question about something or other that one day suddenly has an effect in your town and you say: “Hey, when in the heck did this happen?” or “How in the heck did he become a city councilor? No one asked me” only to be embarrassed to find out that there was an election and you didn’t know anything about it. Continue reading  Post ID 3117

  • Random Walks And Thoughts (Think Winter)

    Oktoberfest is fun! Charlie and Yours Truly with new friends at the Acadia’s Oktoberfest. October is behind us but you have one more chance to wear your Lederhosen or Dirndl at Pats Peak this Sunday for their annual Oktoberfest/Ski &Snowboard Sale.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    By the end of October a year ago there was snow above 3000 feet. Winter hasn’t teased us yet and it has been easy enjoying this extended warm weather but I am looking forward to winter and to skiing.
    Last weekend Becca and I went out hiking to visit the officially abandoned Sugarloaf Mountain Trail (Benton Range). The old trail still sees some use by people that haven’t forgotten it. Long ago the trail was maintained by Camp Walt Whitman, according to my 1976 AMC White Mountain Guide.
    We easily followed the trail from the forest road but once we hit the ledges we quit the trail. Ladders or rock climbing gear would be necessary to be safe and that is most likely the reason this trail was abandoned. We bushwhacked along the base of the cliff to the south and we were able to wind our way up to the ridge between Sugarloaf and Hogsback. Our compass came in handy for making a beeline through the woods to the summit.

    Becca making her way along the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, Benton Range, upper ledges. Since we couldn’t climb straight up them we went around them to the south and wound our way to the summit.

    From the open ledges we enjoyed the big open views over to nearby mountains and afar–Black Mountain and the Kinsman and Franconia Ranges. Becca and I have been to the top of Sugarloaf before via more difficult bushwhacks.
    While enjoying the summit we took the time to look at an old map and we noticed a nearby peak marked with a ski lift. We decided once we got back down we would go check that out.
    The drive was short to the former Swiftwater Valley Ski Area on Whites Pinnacle in Haverhill. The ski lodge is still operational and a wedding reception was in full swing when we arrived. The lucky couple could not have asked for a nicer summer-like day. We walked way around the lodge and hiked up the mowed hillside and we checked out the defunct rope-tow that is decaying on side of the slope.

    We hiked up old ski trails to the summit of Whites Pinnacle in Haverhill, NH. Looking down the former Swiftwater Valley Ski Area’s old rope tow slope down to the Lodge. According to NewEnglandSkiHistory.com the ski area had a rope tow and a chairlift servicing 650 vertical feet. In 1978 the ski area was renamed to Monteau. The ski area opened December 1973 and it final season was the winter of ‘89-’90.

    Becca and I continued up a path straight up the mountain that was once the line of the small ski area’s double chairlift. Well it wasn’t that small it had 650 vertical feet of skiing.
    On the summit of Whites Pinnacle, elevation 1,470 feet there are a few relics of the former lift and one of the trails is still used for hiking. The old trail wound its way more gently down and we both think we should come back to ski and snowboard it sometime this winter.
    We decided our day shouldn’t be over yet so we drove over to Kinsman Notch and then towards Franconia to check out a little pond. From the road we whacked down to the pond and found a fisherman’s path along its edge. The water was low and there were a few salamanders swimming around near the shore. There also was a unique view of South Kinsman high above and across the water that made this unplanned outing well worth our small effort.
    We enjoyed our mostly unplanned and random day.

    From Sugarloaf Mountain, Benton Range, the views of the Kinsman and Franconia Ranges are an eye-filler. The tip-top of Mount Lafayette peeks up between North and South Kinsman Mountains. Foliage is past peak and soon these peaks will be frosty white.

    ***Ski areas have been putting out reminders that they’ll be open in a month. There is still time to buy your season pass for the ski/snowboard season at the best rates but time is running out. The SkiNH.com website has all the links to your favorite resorts and an events calendar.

    ***Saturday, November 4th – 6th Annual Simmer n ’Brewfest at Cannon Mountain. Gourmet soups galore from local chefs & eateries, brews from over 15 New England breweries and live music. For online tickets— www.cannonmt.com.

    ***Also on Saturday, November 4th is the Gunstock Ski Club Sale in Gunstock’s Main Lodge. New shop and used consignment equipment will be for sale. The sale helps support the Gunstock Ski Club youth ski racing program; more information at www.gunstockskiclub.com.

    ***Sunday, November 5th –Pats Peak Ski Team 47th Annual Ski & Snowboard Sale and the Pats Peak Oktoberfest in November. Two great events in one—King Ludwig’s Bavarian Band, German Food and Beer Garden, kids’ activities, woodsman show and sale of new & used ski and snowboard equipment and apparel. You can register your items for sale on-line; for more information visit www.patspeak.com.

    ***The 35th Boston.com Ski & Snowboard Expo is November 10-13th at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center. This is the place to go to get excited about the upcoming winter snowsport season. Nearly every ski resort in New England is represented at the Expo along with many resorts from the Western United States and Canada. Ski and Snowboard manufactures will be showing off and selling their newest equipment. Super deals and giveaways are all part of the fun; for more information www.skisnowexpo.com.
    Think Snow and have fun.

  • The Witch’s Brew Mystery Woman Unmasked – Part II


    >>Click to read PART ONE of this two part column <<


    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    The results of investigative reporting may not be welcome to those who prefer that the identity of the alleged witch be kept a mystery, but even perhaps the earliest printed account of the story admits that Granny Hicks of New Hampton, though perhaps looking like a witch and having some peculiar habits and some unexplained insight, was not really a witch.
    If, however, the person(s) who identified the supposed witch as one Esther Prescott Hyde was correct the story is still full of unsolved mysteries. We still do not know how Granny Hicks (or Esther Hyde) knew who the five young masked men who destroyed her cottage were and how she could correctly prophesy how each would die. We do not know when she came to live in New Hampton and where she went after the destruction of her home. We do not know how she could live in the same town as a son and grandchildren with the townspeople not knowing of the connection. And other questions persist. Esther Prescott Hyde died in 1817 at the age of 64 and her body was buried in the New Hampton village cemetery in the Prescott family lot. This fact does not match the tale told by some that Granny Hicks was never seen or heard from again in New Hampton after her house was demolished. Some think that her death occurred in the same year that she lost the house. Her gravestone identifies her as the wife of John Hyde, but with no indication that he is buried near her.
    No mention is made of her first husband, John Prescott, but her son, John, and his wife, Elizabeth Nichols Prescott are buried beside her. Also in the lot in front of the three previously mentioned is a smaller gravestone marking the graves of two of Esther’s granddaughters, Esther and Sarah Prescott.

    The tombstone of Esther Prescott Hyde who died in 1817 at the age of 64 and her body was buried in the New Hampton village cemetery.

    Aunt “Est” and Aunt Sa, as they were called turned the Prescott house on Main Street into a Girl’s Boarding House for young ladies attending the New Hampton Literary School and developed a reputation for a high-quality housing establishment.
    These granddaughters of Esther Prescott Hyde, the alleged witch, were portrayed as follows by newspaper editor E.C. Lewis : “The Prescott girls were universally loved and admired. Shrewd, bright, quick witted, natural nurses, hard workers, sharp of tongue, and close at trade, they were generous and public spirited.” Sarah died in 1885 and what was called the “great fire” of 1887 destroyed the boarding house and two other buildings. The land was sold to Judge Stephen Gordon Nash who had a public library which was named for him built at that location; the library continues to serve the town to this day.
    It would appear that land in New Hampton given to Esther Prescott Hyde by her father on the banks of the Pemigewasset River became the home of one or more of her grandchildren.
    My investigations lead me to believe that John and Elizabeth Prescott’s oldest son Rufus, and the youngest, Perrin, settled along the river. Prescott family history records state that Perrin was “… a farmer, residing with his family of six, in New Hampton, N.H.” Indications are that Rufus was also a farmer cleared land next to his brother’s property on land previously owned by their mother, father, and grandmother (Granny Hicks).
    In finding a record of statistics concerning Granny Hicks (correctly Hyde) and her siblings (the Rollins family from Epping) with the dates of their births and deaths the date of death of Esther alone is missing, indicating that her ties with the family in her later years were not close. Moving on, though, let me mention two of “the witch” of New Hampton’s great-grandchildren who served in the Civil War. Perrin Prescott and his wife Susanah’s oldest child, Rufus, was born in 1833. It is thought that he attended a one-room school located on his father’s property, failed his Aunt Sarah’s efforts to enroll him in the N.H. Academical and Theological Institute after he told the headmaster he didn’t care for his son and became a travelling salesman. He served one hundred and nine days in the Union Army with the Sixth Volunteer Regiment of Massachusetts, fought in the battle of Winchester, Virginia in 1864, was promoted to corporal and guarded rebel prisoners in Delaware.
    Rufus’ brother, John Francis Prescott, served for three years in the 12th New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment, beginning as a private and also being promoted to corporal. According to “THE PRESCOTT MEMORIAL” he was a “brave and intrepid soldier” who participated in seven battles, including Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Fort Royal, Port Waltham, Drury’s Bluff, and at Cold Harbor on June 1 and 3 of 1864. Young John Prescott was wounded on the field of battle at Cold Harbor and “…lay on the field from 5 o’clock A.M. , to 8 P.M., when he crawled back to his own lines.” In November of 1864 Prescott was captured and spent 96 days in the awful Libby Prison. He wrote of the conditions at the prison saying that “ we suffered incredibly from cold, hungers, and filth “, and “ It is impossible to give an adequate description of our sufferings while in prison; a great many were frozen to death, being so weak from starvation that they could not walk to warm themselves. I have walked all night, many a night, to keep from freezing.”
    So there is a little of the information I have found about the brew, or maybe I should say “brood” of the witch of New Hampton, who was not really a witch at all, but is still a person of some mystery.
    Was she the quiet woman who gave the children gifts and was adored by them, or did they throw sticks and stones at her as one version of her life tells us. Was she alienated from her family? Did she and John Hyde have any children? Those and many other questions still persist if Esther Prescott Hyde really was the person called Granny Hicks and the Witch of New Hampton.