Our Green and Stone-Ribbed World

June 30, 2014


    A year ago I wrote a piece for this Web site (titled “Why Climb a Mountain?”) about the publication of the seventh edition of my father’s 50 Hikes in the White Mountains. This year brings the publication of the sixth edition of its sequel, 50 More Hikes in New Hampshire.
    The first edition of 50 More was published in 1978, and the back cover explained, “Dan Doan turned a lifetime interest in hiking and talent for writing into his first guide published in 1973: 50 Hikes in the White Mountains. Four printings later the book had sold 50,000 copies and spawned an entire series of similar guides for each New England state. Now, in his latest book, Doan offers an entirely new selection of trips. These focus on the less traveled routes of this state of scenic splendor . . . Doan does more than just direct—he makes the outdoors come alive. His text draws on an enormous store of information gathered over five decades of hiking and writing: anecdotes, legends, and practical advice about history, geology, plants and animals, weather and hiking.”
    The White Mountains and north-central New Hampshire were what Dan knew best, so for this sequel, which covered the entire state, he explored new territory in south-central and southern New Hampshire. I was living down in Farmington then, and with Dan I climbed the best-known mountain in the area, little Blue Job (pronounced as in “the patience of Job”). Neither he nor I had climbed it before; it was something new for both of us to learn. Decades later, when I took over the updating of the hiking books after Dan’s death in 1993, I learned a lot about my native Granite State while working on 50 More, driving around the state locating trails with Don (Don, my husband, not Dan, my father—oh, the confusion a vowel can cause!). Hiking the trails, I realized more than ever how much Dan had learned too. For example:
    The Barrett Mountain hike is so far south it heads toward Massachusetts, and Dan wrote:

Blueberries in June? To a man from central New Hampshire, June is early for blueberries. Although later he’s accustomed to extending the season by going farther north and upward in the mountains, he thinks finding blueberries during strawberry season is too much luck for his own good. Nevertheless, I ate blueberries on Middle Barrett one recent June 22 and at home the same day picked strawberries for supper.

    Dan’s writing made 50 More, like 50 Hikes in the White Mountains, as enjoyable to read in an armchair as to use on a trail. Here are some more quotes:

    The universal reaction at the instant of stepping out on the rock is awe blended with delight (usually indicated by an involuntary gasp). The impact lingers in your memory. It’s not the scenery alone; it’s the power underlying our green and stone-ribbed world.
    The forest is spacious and lively with migrating birds. A myrtle warbler, yellow, white, and black among a shadbush’s white-lace flowers, can make you a lifelong birdwatcher.

    The seasons reverse themselves as you climb. Early spring surrounded you at the start along Tecumseh Brook. There all kinds of plants were rushing to airy life after a winter protected by fallen leaves. Now at 3,000 feet, late winter encloses you.

    But pause and look back so you’ll fix this section in your mind for the return trip. Heedless hikers, having lingered overly long at the falls, have been know to hurry inadvertently into the little clearing and then take a false trail leading only to the bosky wilderness.
    The Pemigewasset Wilderness flames no more with the lumberman’s forest fires but annually burns symbolically with the red leaves of swamp maples in the lowlands. The mountainsides display the yellow of birches, the tan of beeches, the orange of sugar maples, and the lemon of poplars.
Campfires, as Thomas Jefferson said of liberty, require eternal vigilance.

    During my years of updating the book and working with the Countryman Press editors, I’ve had to replace five of the original 50 More hikes because of various changes that have occurred, such as obscured trails and views. One of my replacements has had to be replaced! The book’s original subtitle, “Day Hikes and Backpacking Trips from the Coast to Coos County,” was changed in the fourth edition when I took over and decided on a hike in the very far north, near the Canadian border, to replace a White Mountains hike. The subtitle became even more alliterative: “Day Hikes and Backpacking Trips from Mount Monadnock to Mount Magalloway.” Don and I had eyed Mount Magalloway while checking sites in Dan’s history of northern New Hampshire’s Indian Stream Republic, which we were readying for posthumous publication by the University Press of New England. I felt that Magalloway must be part of one of his hiking books, and thus I found a place for it in 50 More—and quoted from Indian Stream Republic: Settling a New England Frontier, 1785–1842, while writing up the Magalloway hike that Don and I did. One of the quotes:

The settlers who declared themselves an independent republic were descended from] the wanderers and the rovers, the explorers, the footloose, the men seeking quick wealth through fur, the men defending their log huts, the men taking to the woods-life as to a drug (pounding heart of the chase and the ultimate freedom, which they could never give up).

    Over the years, the maps have changed in both books. Originally, the trail routes were simple line drawings. Then in 1991 Dan oversaw the change to “brand-new maps,” said the back cover, “which feature the described trail routes superimposed on sections of government topographic sheets. Unlike the old sketch maps, the method allows the hiker to orient more easily to the surrounding terrain.” Now in the sixth edition of 50 More, GPS coordinates have been added, and elevation graphs!
    The biggest change in 50 More is the same as in last year’s new 50 Hikes in the White Mountains. Color. The photographs are in color, almost all of them taken by Robert J. Kozlow, including the charming cover photo. It’s a beautiful book.

© 2014 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved




Ruth's Neighborhood Blog Entries Directory

Book Reviewing (June 2017)
Winter-Spring (May 2017)
Three-Ring Circus
(Jan 2017/Mch 2017)



Restoring the Colonial Theater (July 2016)


Reunion at Sawyer's Dairy Bar (Sept. 2015)

Going to the Dump (May 2015)



A Curmudgeon's Lament (Jan 2014)

Aprons (April 2014_

Our Green-and-Stone-ribbed World (June, 2014)

Playing Tourist (Oct. 2014)


Favorite Books (January 2013)

Penny Cats (March 2013)

Why Climb a Mountain (June 2013)

Sawyer's Dairy Bar (Oct. 2013)



Neighborhood Stoves (Feb. 2012)

Mother West Wind (May)

Niobe (July 2012)

Robin SUmmer (Sept 2012)

Marion's Christmas Snowball (Dec. 2012)



The Colonial Theater (May 2011

Mother Goose (June 20110

The Lot (Dec.r2011)