Posts Tagged ‘tics’

by Mike Dickerman

Trail-related morsels picked up while planning the season’s first major excursion into mountain country…

To the delight of many (including yours truly) and undoubtedly the dismay of others, the U. S. Board of Geographic Names (BGN) has voted not to officially change the name of one of the peaks of our own Presidential Range.

Earlier this month, the federal agency decided not to approve a proposal that would have changed the name of 5,533-foot Mount Clay to that of Mount Reagan, in honor of Ronald Reagan, our nation’s 40th President. In an 11-0 vote, with one additional abstention, the BGN decided to retain the name that was bestowed on the peak more than 160 years ago, citing continued use of the older name in recent years and the board’s general reluctance to alter historic names. The peak is named for Henry Clay (1777-1852), a southern statesman and orator from Kentucky who went on to serve as U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives and Secretary of State.

The effort to rename the peak after President Reagan dates back to 2003, when the Republican-controlled New Hampshire General Court passed legislation approving the name switch. The name change was part of a nationwide effort under way at that time to name one prominent place in each state after Reagan. Despite passage of the state law, however, there has been virtually no usage of the name “Mount Reagan” to refer to the summit, which lies just north of Mount Washington. In fact, the altered name appears on no current hiking maps, and does not even show on the official state highway map, which still identifies the summit as Mount Clay.

According to Lou Yost, Executive Secretary of BGN’s Domestic Names Committee, the board’s May 13 vote on the proposed name change “was no reflection on President Reagan, it is just that the board does not like changing names.” He noted that over the last couple of months the board accepted public comment on the proposal and most of it— including about 160 emails— was against changing the name.

My guess is that we haven’t heard the last of this issue just yet as I’m sure there are already people out there planning a challenge to the BGN’s ruling…

This past winter may have been a relatively mild one here in the mountains, but Old Man Winter still left his unmistakable mark on certain parts of the region, such as the Bretton Woods-Zealand Valley area. I few recent trips up to the Cog Railway base area and a drive along the recently opened Zealand Road revealed that both locales were hard hit with wind, snow and ice damage over the past six months. The most impressive damage can be seen along portions of the Cog Base Road and along just about the entire length of the Mount Clinton Road, which connects the Base Road with the top of Crawford Notch.

To be truthful, I’m surprised they are even letting motor vehicles navigate the Mount Clinton Road as dozens of trees have either fallen across the paved roadway or are leaning precariously over the travel portions of the road. From what I’ve been told, snowmobile clubs working this past winter are responsible for what little clearing of debris has been undertaken along the road and in some places the passageways they cut through the downed trees seemed no wider than a sled or two. The heaviest damage is on the portion of the road between the Base Road and the parking lot for Edmands Path to Mount Eisenhower…

Like many hikers I’m not a big fan of ticks, so it was a little disconcerting to me recently when I undertook a brief off-trail excursion into a Forest Service wildlife opening and found myself almost instantly covered with the blood-sucking varmints. In just a five-minute period, more than a dozen ticks managed to attach themselves to my wool hiking socks. Fortunately I was smart enough to check my clothes as soon as I got back on the trail and I managed to dislodge all but one of them before resuming my hike. Later in the day, long after I’d finished my woods walk and replaced my hiking socks and boots with a fresh pair of cotton socks and sneakers, I fleshed out one last tick who was still clinging to the outside of one of my boots. For those keeping score, the total tick count for the day was an impressive 15…

To all you holiday weekend hikers headed into the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area, don’t forget that the suspension bridge across the East Branch of the Pemi a little more than a half-mile beyond the Bondcliff Trail no longer exists, and that the section of the Wilderness Trail between the Bondcliff Trail and the bridge is now officially closed. Removal of the 50-year-old span last fall effectively eliminated the popular 11-mile loop hike that formerly began and ended at the Lincoln Wood Visitor center off the Kancamagus Highway in Lincoln. This loop allowed hikers to walk up one side of the river and return via the opposite side utilizing the Lincoln Woods, Wilderness Cedar Brook, and East Side Trails. Technically, of course, it’s still possible to make the loop, but the crossing of the East Branch at the site of the former suspension bridge has to be considered unsafe at best and in times of high water flow would probably be near suicidal. In other words, play it safe and don’t try crossing the East Branch.

Mike Dickerman is a longtime hiking enthusiast, award-winning columnist, and author or coauthor of nine books related to the White Mountains region of New Hampshire. He lives in Littleton.

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