By dusk no one left the campfire without an
accompaniment. Even the most trivial tasks were done in a guarded
fashion. I opened the door to the outhouse with caution only after
peering through the thicket of spring foliage and hemlocks. Any
movement, large or small, would send us in the opposite direction.
Pat and Joan came back from the tent platform, visibly shaken from
fear. Kathryn and Guillaume weren’t especially anxious to spend
another night in the hammock, knowing they’d be ALMOST alone during
Kathryn and Guillaume
We discussed every precaution that we should
take against a bear. Don rigged up a strong line over a high tree
limb with a strong hook capable of hanging all foodstuffs in the
hiking party. Each person double-checked his personal belongings for
food whether sealed or canned. We weren’t taking any chances.
Don and Joan would take the first watch from
9 to 11, Bruce and Pat would take over at 11, Jack and I would take
watch from 1, Guillaume and Kathryn offered to take watch at 3, and
Michelle and I would take watch at 5. I don’t think any of us would
be sleeping very much anyway, but we’d need our rest, nevertheless.
The crackling campfire offered comfort as we
looked out over the edge of the shelter floor. Once in a while a
stick would pop and whistle. Charlie-Dawg took notice and then put
his chin back down on the edge of the deck. Though we were tired from
our hike, it was going to be a restless night; tossing and turning
with the picture of those claw-scathed trees were etched in our
It was around three in the morning. Snap!
My eyes popped open. Jack turned and looked out in the direction of
the noise. The dying embers of the campfire did well to last this
long, but they did little to give us any comfort during these moments
“Where are Guillaume and Kathryn anyway?
They’re on watch! Wonderful.” Jack propped up on his elbows as my
words barked into the darkness. His flashlight did little to
penetrate the milky fog.
Snap! This time it was closer and seemed to
be to the left side of the re-vegetation area. One thing was
obvious. It was moving toward Pat’s hammock. A guttural noise
penetrated the silence.
“C’mon, Jack, we have to do something quick.
Let’s get our boots on! Guillaume! Kathryn! You out there?”
Then Jack made an ugly nasal noise as he
snored yet another tune. Now I knew this was simply a nasty
Now, I shall tell you the truth about our
weekend. Nothing tragic happened. It was marvelous. Actually we had
a terrific weekend hiking from Mt. Zealand to Ripley Falls. Of the
sixteen who’d originally signed up for the hike, we left the parking
area as a group of nine. Those who braved the threat of a wet weekend
were Pat B, Bruce H, Jack L, Joan W, Michelle M, Guillaume M, Kathryn
D., and Gramps (that’s me). Things happen, plans change, that’s
Michelle, Don, Jack
Someone emailed, “I’m wimping out, but I
promise to get my feet wet every day this weekend… in the Jacuzzi.” I
won’t say who he is, but his initials are D. K., and he resembles Dave
The air was heavy with moisture, but the
ground was still dry. We stopped for lunch at Zealand Hut, just in
time to see a train of day hikers led by an AMC team. At this point
we could still see Whitewall Mountain and the boulder fields from the
Zealand Falls (upstream)
During last summer, the AMC had been busy
adding on an annex to the main hut complex. They’ve moved the
bathrooms over to the new unit. I’m not sure what the final
arrangement will be, but at present, one must go outdoors beneath a
roof-covered boardwalk to get to the new building. Seems rather
inconvenient, but the familiar odors of the old bunkhouse will only be
from body odor and stinky boots now.
We made good time from Zealand Hut over the
Ethan Pond Trail. Once through the boulder fields on the face of
Whitewall Mountain, we were less than a half hour from Thoreau Falls.
The fog became very dense, and the droplets tickled bare skin.
Actually it was a blessing in disguise. Bugs, if any, won’t fly in
the stuff, so we wouldn’t have to deal with them.
Everyone had a good look at Thoreau Falls,
refilled water bottles and went back to our campsite on the opposite
side of the trail. We found suitable spots for our tents, gathered up
some kindling wood and started a campfire. I’d prepared a wrapped
shish kebab for each hiking participant. Once the coals were in
abundance, we tossed our evening rations in the “microwave”.
We enjoyed a relaxing evening around the
campfire, told some stories, tried to sleep and awoke to the
pitter-patter of a brief morning shower. This always happens five
minutes after I’ve decided to answer the call of nature...but then
By mid-morning we were already at Shoal
Pond. Several anglers were practicing a new language. Jack said one
fisherman caught some fish but looked rather small. Fishing can fun
and relaxing anyway.
The weather cooperated with us for the rest
of the day, and there were even brief periods of sunshine. Since we
took only brief breaks, we arrived well ahead of schedule at Ethan
Pond Shelter. Kathryn and Guillaume couldn’t resist making a snowman
from the patches of snow along the trail.
After a closer inspection of the claw scathed
trees less than 30 feet from the front of the shelter, we decided it
best to hang our food over a tree limb. Don had the strongest rope,
so most of us took advantage of his good nature.
We thought it would be nice to have a
campfire to ward off the chill and to give that “we’re home” feeling.
Joan did a marvelous job gathering some birch “paper” and lit off a
great campfire. It burned all through the night.
During the night … NOTHING AWFUL HAPPENED.
We slept. Not even a plastic tote with some trash placed beside the
top step by the clawed trees attracted anything except our curiosity.
Good thing, I suppose, that we didn’t have any nighttime visitors from
the Smokey family. Michelle, by the way, reminded me that she was
also a “real woman”, since she elected to sleep in her tent.
By mid-morning the weather took a turn for
the worse. It was obvious we would be wet by day’s end. With only
four miles between the parking area and us, we donned packs and said
“Good-bye” the Ethan Pond. Though the trail has been greatly
improved, the light to medium rainfall made the descent quite slippery
in places. A few of us took falls on slippery rocks or puncheons, but
the injuries were more embarrassing than painful.
Charlie scouts the Shoal to Ethan Pond Trail
Many know the northern end of the Ethan Pond
Trail at Ripley Falls is a heart breaker going up end and a tough knee
knocker coming down. Because the rain was coming down rather hard at
this point, visiting Ripley Falls was abandoned. Of course, this
consensus vote didn’t occur until Kathryn, Guillaume, Bruce and I had
already made out way to the falls.
Oh, Michelle did see her moose crossing Route
302. Actually I thought Bruce
and I did a fair representation of what a moose looks and sounds like.
Charlie-Dawg slept all the way home, and then he ran around the house
through the woods for a few minutes. It's not fair. I can barely
As Sharon Arkoff puts it, “A good time was
had by all.”
Your host, Ern Grover
A few words from those who
participated in the event:
Michelle M. wrote:
Jim and all those that pulled out of Ern's backpack because of the
You missed a great backpack! Ern's shish-kabob was tasty! It drizzled
here and there Saturday and Sunday, but not enough to matter and just
enough to keep the bugs away! Monday was a steadier rain, but who
cares at that point cuz you're going home anyway! And, a group of us
even saw a moose standing in the middle of the road as we were driving
back to Zealand to get our cars! Very awesome (especially since Jack
saw it and didn't hit it)!
Thanks to Ern for yet another fun trip! By the way, this is not the
official trip report - just thought I'd let folks know it was fun.
Sorry to those that missed out.
Good Luck Jim in your quest to see something off of Mt. Washington – I
know today you couldn't even see Mt. Washington as we drove by it.
The weekend was fun! Thanks so much for running it and for making the
tasty shish-kabob. Actually, I just posted something on the chat
(isn't posted yet) about how much fun the weekend was. You'll have to
see it before you know what I may have already given away in terms of
stretching the truth! Your story is pretty funny though and I think
you should go with it - by the way, I was also "woman" enough to sleep
in my own tent away from the hut you know :-)
Anyway, we came upon a moose in the middle of 302 on the way back to
Zealand. Jack saw it and said "Oh, shit," - I said, "what?" and he
said, "There's a moose standing in the road!" We slowed down and he
stood there for a minute or two and then mosied (or moosied - hee hee)
over to the other side. He was huge! It was very cool because I had
never seen one before.
Hope Charlie doesn't get sick from all that junk we gave him.
Thanks for running a fun event. I really had a good time.
Hope to see you again at another event before you leave for VA.
Very funny, Ern - you clearly got home ALOT sooner than we did
weekend everyone - thanks Ern for the great Saturday dinner and
leadership, K and G for the ride back to Z - everyone - for great
company - look forward to seeing ya'll on other GONE hikes. Pat
Jack L. wrote:
My turn! Not only
did Ern accept as true the completely unfounded rumor being spread by
Michelle about me snoring, he chose to perpetuate AND immortalize it
in print! I smell a libel suit!
comeback for Jack:
Yeah, well, I
believe unfounded means that no one has heard you snore
and from the small amount you dozed off and were snoring when many of
us were sitting there, you were founded! No libel there dude!
For the record, I did not tell Ern I was "man" enough to sleep in my
own tent - I said I was "woman" enough.
Thanks everyone for such a fun time! Hope to see you all again!
(with my head
I appreciate very much of your leadership, gourmet Saturday dinner,
and bringing the saw so that we could keep up good campfire for two
nights and one morning in wet weather condition. I really had a
wonderful memory of my first backpacking trip hiking and camping with
everyone in 2003 Memorial Day long weekend.
Your story is very funny and I enjoyed reading it.
Special thanks to Jack to give me a ride and Don to lend me one of his
poles. Also many thanks to everyone’s friendship, I really had a
good time and wish to meet you soon somewhere in the hiking
Ok folks, here comes my serious side.
An addition to your report Ern- leaving the parking lot I hadn't even
reached the speed limit when I saw a leg step over the guard rail
ahead, causing me to mutter "whoa...moose!" We slowed to a crawl as
the bull ambled across 302 and up the banking on the other side. He
was kind enough to give us a full profile before checking out the four
gawking GONErs in the suv. A milestone as it was Michelle's first
I was hoping for the best on our trip and was more than rewarded. I
knew about half our group prior to the hike but am grateful I can
count four more of you among my circle of friends.
Ern was the first face I met at my first event nearly three years ago.
It wasn't until last July when I joined him at Gulf Hagas that we met
again, though he occasionally entertained me via his postings on the
chat. Many of his tales either inspiring, stirring memories, or
causing reflection upon reading them. He offered me endless advice on
organizing a trip, ensuring success for the canoe trip Michelle Hamil
and I ran last August. I knew I had done something right when he
recruited me to lend a hand at Bartlett Inn last November, barely
giving my feet a chance to hit the ground as we returned from a hike.
Those of you who've not met her will have to believe me when I say his
wife Anneke truly is his "better half." OK, just barely, as you all
know by now they don't come any better than Ern. He's opened his home
and imagination to us all, and led us on adventures both real and,
well, "real." I truly hope our parting handshake was not our last. If
so, Thank You my Friend.
To All of you...Be Well
Thanks, Jack. You’re good people. How much did I say I’d give you to
write that about me?
Hope to see each of you folks again1
Ethan Pond - Sunrise