Chiltern Trails Day

By Mike Boisvert.

On October 21, Boston’s Chiltern Mountain Club and GayOutdoors teamed up to perform trail maintenance on Welsh & Dickey Mountains in Waterville Valley, NH. Chiltern has been the official adopters of this trail for over 10 years. Ernie M. ran the trip with the assistance of Mike Boisvert, GayOutdoors Director. Trip participants Jon N., Jim M., Tim B., Cecil M., Steve L., Rick M. Josiah R. Will, Liz R, Kim T., John J., Nat S. (from Curious George Cottage) and Chuck C.

Free lodging was provided at the nearby Rock N River Lodge and participants began arriving after 6PM on Friday and socialized around the fireplace. Saturday morning, Jon and Mike cooked blueberry pancakes for everyone that included real maple syrup and coffee. (Courtesy of GayOutdoors.org)

The mountain was snow covered with about a half inch of new snow, the temperature was in the low 30s and it was windy. It sure felt like winter was coming in.

Around 10AM, everyone met at the Welsh & Dickey trailhead. The first order of business was to take down the old sign and put up the new one. Ernie then distributed grub hoes and fire rakes to everyone.

There was so many of us that we split into three groups. Nat led a crew up the Welsh side to clean water bars and point out mistakes we’ve made in the past cleaning them. Ernie led another crew on the Dickey side to do the same thing. And Mike hiked up the mountain into the snow to lead a crew up the Dickey ledges to rebuild (redecorate!) existing cairns. We reached the ledges in about 30 minutes. It was cold and windy.

We surprised how many people we counted hiking these mountains on a wintry like day; some of who appeared unprepared for the weather. We counted at least 100.

To make it easier for winter hikers to follow the trail Mike’s crew rebuilt cairns that had crumbled over the year. We also noted how in certain locations cairns led hikers in the wrong direction or were missing at key turning points – we took care of that too! We periodically took a step back and admired the work we did. We broke for lunch near the summit of Dickey with snow covered peaks all around us. The view of the Tripyramids from here is just amazing!

Most people start the loop from the other side so after lunch we started to count them. We surprised how many people there were on this wintry and cold day. We counted at least 100.

When we reached the summit of Welsh we marveled at the wonderful view of Dickey’s ledges. Later on the day, we met up with Nat’s crew for a happy reunion.

Returning back to our cars and the trailhead, we saw three ambulances pull up who were responsding to a call of a broken ankle. We had Cecil and Steve still up on the mountain so we were concerned it might be one of them. We asked one of the rescue personnel for more details. We were relieved to hear it was a woman. 

There was a group of 50 people huddled around the trailhead who were all from an Evangelical Church in Boston. We would have loved to have shouted out to them that they just walked a trail maintained by gay folks some of whom plan to get married! Imagine the look on their faces!  

Afterwards, we gathered back at the Rock N River Lodge where Jon cooked up some delicious burgers, accompanied by different types of salads and finishing it up with dessert. (Courtesy of Chiltern Mountain Club). After dinner we huddled around the cozy fireplace before retiring for the night.

On Sunday, Jon and Mike cooked up a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries, toast and coffee. After breakfast the group decided to take a short hike to the Goodrich Rock in Waterville Valley, a glacial erratic (gigantic boulder) with good views of the area. The weather was much better today with sunny skies and temperatures in the 40’s. We then returned back to the Rock N River Lodge to pack and celebrate a job well done.

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