White Mountains | New Hampshire Public Radio

White Mountains

Justine Paradis

In New England, the Waterman name is like mountain royalty. But beyond a tight circle of outdoors-people, they're not a household name. 

In February 2020, Sam Evans-Brown visited Laura Waterman, one of the most influential voices in American wilderness philosophy, for a conversation about writing, living off-grid, protecting Franconia Ridge, and how she's changed following the death of her husband.

Plus, another round of Ask Sam, in which the team discusses plant hair, shellfish, and birds-as-dinosaurs.

Have you hiked Mount Lafayette in N.H.'s Franconia Notch? We talked with N.H. author Ty Gagne about his new book “The Last Traverse: Tragedy and Resilience in the Winter Whites." It’s the true story of two friends on a winter hike that goes awry, and the search-and-rescue efforts that keep it from becoming a bigger tragedy. What makes it especially relevant for this moment is the insight into how we make high-stakes decisions and manage risk in uncertain situations. 

Airdate: Friday, January 1, 2021. Originally aired December 2, 2020.

Have you hiked Mount Lafayette in N.H.'s Franconia Notch? We talk with author Ty Gagne, about his new book “The Last Traverse: Tragedy and Resilience in the Winter Whites." It’s the true story of two friends on a winter hike that goes awry, and the search-and-rescue efforts that keep it from  becoming a bigger tragedy. What makes it especially relevant for this moment is the insight into how we make high-stakes decisions and manage risk in uncertain situations. 

Airdate: Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Brian Pocius via Flickr CC

Restrictions on setting fires in the White Mountain National Forest have been lifted now that the region has gotten more rain.

Forest officials enacted rules Sept. 25 that allowed fires only in metal fire rings, pits or pole mounted grills provided by the U.S. Fire Service in designated campgrounds or picnic areas.

The restrictions were put in place after an extended period of dry, warm weather and several fire incidents in the forest. The restrictions were rescinded late this week.

Sean Hurley for NHPR

Two people died while out on trails in the White Mountains this weekend.

A man from Massachusetts was climbing at Rumney Rocks when his equipment malfunctioned during a descent and he fell more than 50 feet to the ground. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Another man died Saturday evening after falling from Arethusa Falls in Livermore, near Crawford Notch.

Sean Hurley

The coronavirus pandemic has drawn increasing crowds to the great outdoors, including many popular hiking trails, swimming holes and recreation areas in the White Mountains. But the burst in popularity has created new problems for the folks who manage New Hampshire's national forest.

Courtesy Kelly Trinkle

The seasonal attraction called Ice Castles allows visitors to explore a landscape straight out of the movie Frozen. Open for just a few months on a former farm in the White Mountain town of North Woodstock, N.H., the massive ice installations draw adults and kids alike to a world of sub-zero architecture.

But last spring, as the temperatures rose, a neighbor’s basement looked more like the set of Waterworld, prompting a lawsuit against Ice Castles for allegedly failing to control the runoff from its property.

Mount Washington Auto Road

Every other Friday on Morning Edition NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown tracks down answers to questions about the environment and outdoors for our listeners in a segment we call “Ask Sam.”

 

David from Denver, Colorado asks: I studied geology ... and we learned extensively about the long and complex geological of the New England region. And I can’t help but wonder what was the maximum elevation achieved in New Hampshire and New England generally?

Note: This edition of Ask Sam originally aired in November, 2018.

Search and Rescue in N.H.: Pushing the Limits

Nov 4, 2019
Andrew Drummond/Ski The Whites

In addition to hikers on N.H.'s many trails, there are also a growing number of  trail runners, backcountry skiers, bikers and climbers. As adventurers in New Hampshire's backcountry press at limits previously untested or left alone, this trend is joined by modern technologyin presenting a new series of challenges for rescuers and for society in general.   

Sean Hurley

Owl's Head mountain in Franconia was briefly in the news after a hiker died there last week. Officials say it was a medical emergency made more complicated by the trail's remote location.

Among hikers, Owl’s Head is a regular topic of conversation. To some, it's the best hike in the state....for others, the worst.

NHPR's Sean Hurley has recently set out to reach the summit of all of New Hampshire’s 48 mountains over 4,000 feet. Owl's Head was a natural place to start.

Museum Exhibit Explores New Hampshire's Grand Hotels

May 20, 2019
Sara Ernst

The Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University is featuring an exhibit on the history of Grand Hotels in New Hampshire.

These luxury resorts soared in popularity at the turn of the 20th century. Today, there are only four hotels of their kind left in the state.

Sean Hurley

If you’re looking to sleep overnight on Mount Washington in the winter you have two choices.  You can stay at the Hermit Lake Shelters near Tuckerman Ravine - or you can stay at the go-to-spot for winter climbers - Harvard Cabin near the base of Huntington Ravine. But, as NHPR's Sean Hurley learned when he recently spent a night at Harvard Cabin, the pleasures of those winter days are matched by their dangers - and the responsibilities of the two mountain caretakers go beyond simply keeping track of guests.

Wind. Footsteps. White snow.

Samantha Brady/AVSAR

With pleasant weather comes a busy hiking season in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. A misread map, a sudden storm, a forgotten headlamp - and suddenly a hike could turn into a matter of survival. We look at a new book, "Critical Hours," that offers a history and a celebration of the search and rescue workers and volunteers who save lives in the White Mountains.  The growth of inexpensive but sophisticated navigation devices and mobile phones have become part of the experience for both hikers and rescuers. We examine the impact of ubiquitous technology and the future of search and rescue operations. 
This rebroadcast will air Tuesday, January 1 at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Top Shows of 2018: The Pull of N.H.'s 4,000 Footers

Dec 25, 2018
walknboston; Flickr

For the holiday week, catch the top shows of 2018. There are 48 New Hampshire peaks over 4000 feet, drawing hikers from all over.  The  official Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) Four Thousand Footer Club was formed in 1957 to introduce hikers to some of the less known sections of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. For most hikers, it's about the experience and the view, but for some, it's that and more: peak-bagging to complete "the List", or the much tougher "Grid".  We explain the terms and hear tales of those drawn to N.H.'s 48.

This program will rebroadcast on Wednesday, December 26th at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. 

At the end of the year, the Exchange team likes to bring back the most popular, and beloved, shows of 2018. This year, we chose our top ten, based on our own favorites and listener engagement, and asked you to vote for the five you want to hear during the holiday week. Check out the shows you chose, and tune in starting December 26th to hear them all. 

WMCC

  White Mountains Community College says it's expanded its Academic Center in North Conway to provide more educational offerings to students.

A new lab will allow the college to offer life sciences classes and launch a veterinary assistant program. The expanded center will provide access to an autoclave, centrifuge and other scientific instruments.

Melanie Robbins is Director of Academic Centers for the school. She says the college has seen a slight decline in enrollment, but the vet class at the new location is at capacity with 16 students.

Wildcat Mountain Facebook

The Wildcat Mountain ski resort in the White Mountains will have the earliest opening ever in its 61-year history Saturday.

It comes after a mid-October cold snap that bucks the overall warming trend for New England winters.

Wildcat Mountain spokesman Jack Fagone says it's usually not cold enough for snowmaking until closer to Thanksgiving.

That wasn't the case this year – with a recent week of weather in the 20s and lower, as well as a surprising amount of natural snowfall.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Community members in the Mount Washington Valley are invited to a listening session on housing Monday night.

At the meeting, residents will be asked to imagine new kinds of housing developments for open land in their towns, without the constraints of current local zoning regulations.

Victoria Laracy is Executive Director of the Mount Washington Valley Housing coalition, which is putting on the sessions. She says the region's housing shortage is a big concern for businesses in the area.

SectionHiker.com

A dilapidated bridge in a North Country wilderness area is officially slated for removal this fall. Officials in the White Mountain National Forest Service finalized their decision on the Thoreau Falls Bridge this week.

The old wooden bridge in the Pemigewasset Wilderness has been closed to hikers since last fall. It spans a rocky creek bed that sometimes floods.

District ranger Brooke Brown has now officially decided the bridge doesn't belong in federal wilderness, which is meant to be primeval and undisturbed.

(C) Chester Ludlow, 1972

Rain clouds are just starting to roll in over Franconia and Chris Brooks is leading me through saplings and overgrown grass. We’re trying to find a trace of the buildings that once stood here.

 

“It’s always hallucinogenic when I come in here, because it doesn’t look like anything I remember,” Brooks says.

 


Flagsonthe48.org

 

New Hampshire hikers have once again honored the lives lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The 17th annual "Flags on the 48" memorial hike was held Saturday. Hikers placed American flags on the summit of each of the 48 mountains in New Hampshire with peaks above 4,000 feet.

Organizers say the first hike was a spontaneous effort by six hikers who raised a large flag on the first Saturday after the attacks in 2001 on Mount Liberty.

Taylor Quimby

About a mile from downtown North Conway is a house. A sign out front says, “Residents Only.” An old silver camping trailer sits off to one side, half buried by tall grass and weeds. A half-dozen bikes are parked in the driveway.

Inside, it’s dark and smells strongly of mildew.

Fernando, who is just about to turn 21, is leaning forward, his elbows on his knees. He and four others sit around a coffee table, laughing awkwardly about the radio reporter who knocked on their door just a few minutes ago.

Wikimedia Commons

A sewage facility in the works in the town of Plymouth will give the state a new market for recycled cooking oils, fats and grease.

There's only one plant in New Hampshire that currently processes what's known as FOG, which comes from places like commercial kitchens. FOG can cause costly, unsanitary sewer overflows and gum up standard wastewater treatment systems.

The state’s existing FOG disposal facility is in Allenstown.

Justine Paradis

Do you ever wonder about the sounds we hear every day, by choice or by circumstance? How does the sound of our daily environments affect our lives and minds? One man seeks the quietest place in the White Mountains and we explore the art of the soundscape.  

Going Local: The White Mountains

Jul 25, 2018

We look at the White Mountains as part of our regional series, Going Local.

The White Mountains have some of the best hiking, ATV trails, skiing, and other outdoor sports opportunities in the country, and the region features plenty of attractions for families and adventurers alike. However, sustainable workforce opportunities and affordable housing remain a challenge for the area, and the ever-growing popularity of tourist attractions like Mount Washington present problems for both traffic, and conservation. We'll talk about what makes the White Mountains region unique, and what is on the minds of people who live there. 

James Napoli

Dennis Follensbee took a hike in the White Mountains about a month ago. He wanted to get away, to find some peace and quiet. Or, as he puts it, “nature sounds and not people sounds.”

As he climbed out of the valley, the trickling of water from the brook below slowly faded away. The leaves rustled in the trees. But then, all of a sudden, he hit a ridge and everything changed.

“You feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, pushing through the forest,” he said. “And then you hear the brrrrrruhhhh coming through, all the way from Lincoln, and you’re like, man!”

It turned out it was motorcycle week.  The noise was echoing across his path.

Sara Plourde; NHPR

The Exchange will explore a different region of the state every Thursday starting July 12th: the Great North Woods, the White Mountains, the Lakes Region, Dartmouth/Sunapee, the Monadnock Region, the Merrimack Valley, and the Seacoast. 

We look at what makes each region distinct, the biggest issues facing that part of the state, and what people who live there love about their home. 

Courtesy photo

Victoria is 23 and working her way through college. Over Memorial Day weekend, she and her parents piled into the car and drove from New York for a vacation in the North of New Hampshire.

Hanging out at the hotel, taking a ride on the Cog Railway, that kind of thing.

New Hampshire officials say visitor safety is a concern at Franconia Notch State Park as more people park illegally along the shoulder of Interstate 93.

Officials say in particular, visitors have been parking outside of the designated parking lots at the Falling Waters/Old Bridle Path Trailheads and Lafayette Place at the park.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

A long-running debate is heating up on top of New Hampshire's highest peak. It’s attracting more visitors every year, but some fear its delicate ecosystems are at risk from proposed development and overuse. 

Scroll to the bottom of this story to see a timeline of the history of development on Mount Washington.

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