Tag Archives: White Mountains

In Rain, It Can Still Shine

Look on the Bright Side

On Saturday, May 13th, my friend Tiff and I were both itching to go on some form of an adventure. We had been carefully keeping an eye on the weather all week, but much to our dismay, it was not in our favor. The weekend was scheduled for rain all night and cloudy skies all weekend. In fact, northern portions of the White Mountains were warned to be getting a Nor’easter. Even with this forecast, we both agreed that we couldn’t pass up on a weekend to get outside, do some form of hiking, and tent-camp. 

We arrived at the Old Bridle Path trail-head at about 6:00 p.m., both of us anxious to get up Rattlesnake Mountain in New Hampshire and set up camp before the rain came in. For those that have hiked Rattlesnake Mountain, you know it is a great hike-to-view ratio. We geared up, shouldered our packs, and began the hike, with Tiff’s dog, Skyler, leading the way. We arrived at the summit in no more than 20 minutes, quickly realizing that we may get lucky and not see any rain for a little while yet. After setting down our packs, we decided we would set up camp as fast as we could so we could enjoy the last bits of daylight, take some photography, and bask in the views. Tiff, in addition to a tent, had also brought her hammock, so we sought out two trees at a good distance to hang it and put our feet up. 

All set up

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Faces of the White Mountains: Joe Dodge

Faces of the White Mountains: Joe Dodge

This series will highlight important figures in the White Mountains, both past & present.

It may be argued that no other White Mountain figure in history wore as many hats or involved himself in as many disciplines as the nearly ineffable Joseph B. Dodge. A native of Manchester-by-the-sea, Massachusetts, Joe left his family’s furniture business to join the Navy as a submarine radio operator at age 17. Upon his return at 23 years old, Joe headed north for Pinkham Notch in the White Mountains to become hutmaster at the AMC lodge. His legend grew from there.

Joe in his element
Photo courtesy of NH Magazine


In 1922 Joe’s long career with the Appalachian Mountain Club began with his acceptance of the position of hutmaster at Pinkham Notch, nicknamed Porky Gulch for its impressive population of porcupines. His tenacity for improving his surroundings was immediately evident as he tackled projects that summer ranging from constructing new facilities buildings, building canopies, cutting firewood and killing those nuisance porcupines in great numbers. In Spring of 1926 Joe ‘threw away the key’ upon arriving at Pinkham Notch camp and it has remained a year-round facility for the AMC ever since. Eager and insatiable as Joe’s appetite for projects was, the AMC was able to produce enough challenges to match. In 1929 the committee added a list of improvements and additions to the growing hut system in the White Mountains with Joe as chief coordinator. By 1930 he was cruising the spans of trail between the discontinuous link of AMC huts, scouting locations for new constructions. The Galehead and Zealand Huts proved the culmination of this mission. Several other hut projects followed in the years to come, but Dodge’s own self-proclaimed crowning achievement was a feat of engineering; a miniature dam and plant on the Cutler River that would provide additional power for the ever-growing demands at Pinkham Notch from 1939 to 1960.

Greenleaf, one of the AMC Huts on the shoulder of Mount Lafayette


Many an errant tramper can thank their lucky stars for Joe Dodge; one estimate puts his number of rescues either led or directed above 100. In a 1949 Saturday Evening Post interview, Joe in his distinctive candid way explained his rescue technique thusly, “My theory… is that if some damn goofer is lost, you should figure what any sensible person would do, and then look in the opposite direction.” 
Perhaps as notable as those he had saved is how many accidents he likely also prevented. Joe was a constant at Pinkham Notch during the 1920s and 1930s, touching base with most who passed through, doling out expert advice and instruction in his characteristic loud and colorful language.

Madison Hut, the first of the high huts

Mount Washington Observatory

Spending countless hours outside of four walls, paired with his innate fascination with science culminated in perhaps Joe’s most impressive endeavor; the Mount Washington Observatory.
Joe not only co-founded the observatory in 1932 but continued his service as its managing director and treasurer until his death in 1973.
With a handful of donors and a four-hundred-dollar grant from the N.H. Academy of Science, the combined efforts of Joe, Bob Monahan, Sal Pagliuca, and Alex MacKenzie created the observatory. Its mission was to collect key weather data to increase understanding of the extreme conditions on Mount Washington. Not long after, on April 12, 1934 the observatory solidified its importance by recording the world’s fastest surface speed wind observed by man: 231 mph. Over the years, the institution has grown by leaps, encompassing new technology, providing forecasts for trampers and climbers, and evolving into a national resource for weather observation and research.

The original team of Alex McKenzie, Bob Monahan, Joe Dodge and Sal Pagliuca. Photo courtesy MWOBS

The observatory crowns the 6,288 foot Mount Washington

Honorary Master of Arts Dartmouth College

The depth and breadth of Joe’s influence is perhaps best described during a speech given by the President of Dartmouth College, Dr. Dickey, upon conferring an Honorary Master of the Arts to Joe in 1955:
“Onetime wireless operator at sea, longtime mountaineer, student of Mount Washington’s ways and weather, you have been more than a match for storms, slides, fools, skiers and porcupines.  You have rescued so many of us from both the harshness of the mountain and the soft ways leading down to boredom that you, yourself, are now beyond rescue as a legend of all that is unafraid, friendly, rigorously good and ruggedly expressed in the out-of-doors.  And with it all you gave this College a great skiing son.  As one New Hampshire institution to another, Dartmouth delights to acknowledge you as Master of Arts.”

About The Author

Elizabeth Kane

Elizabeth’s love for the White Mountains is unparalleled. Despite working 40-50 hours/week, she manages to spend every spare minute in the Whites and her knowledge of the trail system is impressive. Her pup, Katahdin has likely logged more hours on the trails and tagged more summits than most do in their lifetime. On any given day, you can find Elizabeth hiking, trail running, fly fishing, climbing, mountain biking, or backpacking. She considers the White Mountains her home.


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Overcoming the Obstacles of Disability to Pursue Extreme Sporting Dreams

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Kevin’s Story

Kevin is my best friend. For the entirely of our friendship, I’ve admired his seemingly innate ability to excel at multiple sports with a drive and exactness I could only dream of replicating.
Several years ago, in a cruel twist of fate, he lost his leg in a devastating car accident. His family and friends imagined that Kevin would be mourning the loss of his athletic pursuits and give up entirely. Much to our shock, Kevin redoubled his efforts, and tackled new challenges head on with the same aplomb as before his accident. Needless to say, he is more inspiring to me than ever.

If you’re living with a physical disability but still crave the rush of an extreme sport, there is a world of opportunity still available to you. Whether you’re in a wheelchair, have mobility limitations, or are suffering from vision or hearing loss, extreme sporting is within your grasp thanks to adaptive technologies and organizations that’ve specialized designs to help.

Wheelchair Sports

For those who require a wheelchair for basic mobility, even sports like basketball, volleyball, and handball may seem out of reach. An increasing number of local gyms offer specific schedules for wheelchair-based gym sports, and some cities have even dedicated entire clubs and leagues for people with disabilities.

Of course, the scope of wheelchair-based activities aren’t limited to sports you can play with a ball on a court. One such sport is sled hockey, which is similar to hockey but with some modified equipment.

“Sled hockey follows most of the typical ice hockey rules with the exception some of the equipment. Players sit in specially designed sleds that sit on top of two hockey skate blades. There are two sticks for each player instead of one and and the sticks have metal picks on the butt end for players to propel themselves,” says USA Hockey.

Extreme chairing is another way to utilize your wheelchair to get your blood pumping. Varieties of this sport include power wheelchair racing, chairing in halfpipes and skate parks, and kart cross (motorized wheelchair motocross).

For the Visually Impaired

A visual impairment – even total vision loss – is no reason to prevent you from having fun with extreme sports. Taking to the water in its various forms is one of the more popular outlets for those living with vision limitations. Scuba diving, sailing, and kayaking are all sports that vision-impaired athletes are enjoying with success. Many water sports involve teams or tandem participation, in which with the aid of a guide an athlete participates and is kept within safety parameters . Hiking and backpacking are also examples of extreme sports that rely on a team framework. For a more independent experience, you can even take a service dog out with you on your hike.

Sports with the Best Adaptive Equipment

Some sports have so much wonderful, well-tested adaptive equipment available that it’s almost the same sporting experience for those with disabilities and those without.
Proper gear is required for any athlete depending on the sport. Certain equipment makes sporting pursuits safer and more comfortable to the user. Thankfully gear companies are constantly engineering their products and the foray into pieces specialized for those with disabilities have been exceptional.

Rock climbing is one such sport. “Rock climbing can be incredibly difficult. It’s a sport that places great demands on your body, core strength, and ability to handle heights. Despite this, climbing is also a fairly popular extreme sport amongst the disabled community, performed both on dedicated climbing walls and in the mountains. Adaptive climbing walls and trained guides mean visually impaired people can learn to scale most rock faces,” says Seable.

With special harnesses and lift mechanisms, even those with little use of their legs can climb to great heights and enjoy honing their skills on the walls.

Skiing is another sport that is perfect for adrenaline junkies who happen to have a disability.

“The primary methods for adaptive skiing and riding are stand-up, sit-down, snowboarding, and ski bike. Stand up skiing includes 2-track, 3-track, and 4-track, while sit skiing includes bi-ski, dual-ski, and monoski,” notes Adaptive Adventures. As you can see, there are tons of options to suit your specific disability. Depending on your skills level, you can choose to sit, stand, and have the support of anywhere from two to four ski blades.

Finally, surfing is gaining popularity among the disabled community thanks to various organizations dedicated to getting people out on the water despite their disabilities. Special surfboards that come with kayak-style paddles are good for some, as is prone surfing where you lie prone on a board and have a partner to assist you with riding out and catching waves.

As my friendship with Kevin has demonstrated, with grit, determination and some good gear, the realm of disciplines of extreme sporting is more accessible than ever.