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The spirit of the season December 22, 2014

Posted by Jenny in Life experience.
Freshly fallen snow on Dry Brook, White Mts., New Hampshire

Freshly fallen snow on Dry Brook, White Mountains, New Hampshire.

I want to wish you, my readers, all happiness for the season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or anything else.

In my more Grinch-like moments, I pay too much attention to the negatives of the season, especially the commercialism that threatens to dwarf all other aspects. It occurs to me today that I can choose what I want to think about. Here are some things I would like to meditate upon.

—The woman at the convenience store yesterday who struck up a conversation with me, learned I had just gone on a hike, and said, “What a great way to spend the day!” It was a wonderful moment of random friendliness.

—The neighbor who told me he’d spotted a pair of bald eagles close to my house, and that “perhaps we will have a nesting pair.” I hope so!

—All the people who have climbed the Panther Stairs, which my friend Clayton and I did yesterday. In particular I think of Charlie Klabunde, who taught me so much about off-trail exploration. All of us share an enduring fellowship.

—I think of the beautiful things I saw yesterday, especially the line of shimmering clouds pouring over the stateline ridge. Clayton described it as “a cloud tsunami.”

—More beautiful things: leaves of galax that looked polished to a sparkling sheen; a pine clinging to a huge boulder, its branches shaped like Japanese brushstrokes; soft, spongy cushions of reindeer moss.

—My sister, who after a difficult stretch in our relationship chooses to welcome me to her house for a Christmas visit.

I thank you for visiting this site.






1. Jeff G. - December 22, 2014

“Thank you for visiting this site”. No – thank you for creating this site. Without it, and your willingness to drive to Cosby, Kate and I wouldn’t have had the chance to hike with you this past April up the back side of Mt. Cammerer. It was the highlight of our Spring Break for sure.

I’m glad you sent this out. It’s easy to get caught up in all the nonsense that is the holiday season. I just ran to lunch and had to pass the mall to get there. Yikes!

Have a good rest of 2014, Jenny. I personally always use the holiday season to slow down, take inventory of the prior year, and see what I can upgrade for the following year. It’s not always fruitful, but you gotta try.

Hope to be back down south in April. Hopefully you will be up for another adventure then.

All the best –



Jenny - December 22, 2014

And all my best to you and Kate! I definitely hope we can connect up again!

2. T E Stazyk - December 22, 2014

Thank you! Have a great holiday season and much health and happiness in 2015. I very much enjoy your hiking photos and narratives.

Jenny - December 22, 2014

I appreciate your kind words. I thought of you today—I was reading an article in the New Yorker titled “The Big Kill” by Elizabeth Kolbert. It is about the problem of invasive mammals in New Zealand. I learned a lot about the peculiar situation of NZ’s flora and fauna—no native mammals!. Then I took a look at your blog. Of course, you know all about the situation!

T E Stazyk - December 22, 2014

Thanks Jenny! By way of a small world story, Kevin and Gill Adshead who are interviewed in the beginning of the article are our neighbours and great friends. We collaborate on a lot of projects including pest control.

3. David A.Brown - December 23, 2014

Just so you know; I read and relish every posting.

Enjoyed the Panther Stairs travelogue, and will attempt the same this Spring.

Question: have you planned one of your backcountry trips that included an overnight? I’d like to hear your insight on off-trail hiking with a light pack, with the intent of camping South or SouthEast of Mt.Guyot.

I hope that you had a fine Solstice.

David Brown

Jenny - December 23, 2014

As I’m sure you realize, keeping pack size to a minimum is essential, not only because extra weight makes it tough to maneuver off-trail but because a bulky pack will constantly get hung up on brush. But there’s another issue, unfortunately more bureaucratic. Within the GSMNP, you must have a permit for any backcountry camping. It is not widely known, but the Park Service does issue a few permits for what they call cross-country camping. I believe this is because there was a very strong tradition of off-trail camping dating back to before the Park was created—for instance, the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club used to do a lot of off-trail backpacks. So they kept allowing it, but I have a feeling eventually they will prohibit it (I say that not because I see anything wrong with it but because they do not like it). I know they were still issuing cross-country permits this year. You have to jump through a lot of hoops. Look up the Park regulations (you can find them on the GSMNP website) and be prepared to cite them. You’ll have to talk to the top personnel at the backcountry office. They will not give a permit for camping anywhere near a trail, a shelter, or one of the backcountry campsites. You can’t stay more than one night at a cross-country site.

You might want to camp in the one of the national forests instead of the national park!

4. Jim Cornelius - December 25, 2014

Thank you for both of your sites — they are appreciated. Best of the season to you!

Jenny - December 25, 2014

Thanks, Jim! I’m glad you enjoy them.

5. Al - January 4, 2015

I know of two hikers who were granted a permit for Big Pool on Raven Fork. Was 20 or more years ago. There is still a fairly open, flat tent site there on the stream’s west side. No, I was not one of them.

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