New Hampshire’s 52 With A View by Ken MacGray has kept me dreaming and planning for the past few weeks. The closer we get to Memorial Day and the advent of the hiking season, the more excited I get.

Subtitled, A Hiker’s Guide, 52 With A View is a great resource for those of us who are tired of the crowds encountered on many of the higher peaks in the White Mountains.

I have hiked many of the mountains listed but many more I have never summited and a few I had never heard of. As I read the book, I began to compile a list of those I want to hike this year and next. The fact that they all have a view to make the effort rewarding stuck me as a great idea.

The book is divided into six regions with peaks from Mt. Monadnock in southwestern, New Hampshire to Magalloway Mountain in the far north.

Some of the nearby mountains listed are, Black Mountain, Blueberry Mountain, Mt. Cube, Smarts Mountain and Mt. Willard.

I found the idea for 52 With A View and its founding group, the Over The Hill Hikers, most interesting. It seems that in the late 70s a group of retirees in their 50s and 60s moved to Sandwich, NH and became friends. They started hiking together in 1979. In 1981 Lib Bates moved to town and soon took charge of organizing the hikes, becoming affectionately know as the Den Mother. It was about that time the the group took the name of Over The Hill Hikers.

After hiking the 4,000 footers in NH and peaks throughout New England and New York, they came up with the idea of developing a list of peaks less than 4,000 feet in elevation but that had a view.

You can go to: overthehillhikers.blogspot.com to see what the Over The Hill Hikers are up to.

You can order 52 With A View from www.bondcliffbooks.com.

The Bears Are Out And They Are Hungry

Wildlife officials from Vermont and New Hampshire are warning people that bears are out of their dens and looking for food. It is time to take in the bird feeders and clean up around them.

Remember the slogan, “A fed bear is a dead bear.”

“Apples, beechnuts, acorns, and berries were mostly plentiful last fall enabling bears to enter their winter dens in good condition,” said Forrest Hammond, Vermont’s bear biologist, “but our recent warmer temperatures will stimulate them to emerge and seek any food sources they can smell.”

“Due to the mild winter and abundance of fall foods such as acorns, bears have been more active in some areas during this past winter,” said Andrew Timmins, bear project leader for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. “This is not particularly uncommon and a sure sign that bears will likely become active during March. This year’s mild winter has resulted in a request for the public to suspend the bird-feeding season two weeks earlier than normal.”

Bears are very fond of suet and bird seed, especially black oil sunflower seed, which they can smell from a long distance. Bringing feeders in at night doesn’t work, because bears will still feed on seed that is spilled on the ground.

Bird feeders are just one of the things that can attract hungry bears. Other sources of food that bears find appealing are pet food, barbecue grills, garbage, household trash containers, open dumpsters, campsites with accessible food, and food wastes.

“Bears have an extremely acute sense of smell, long memories, and high intelligence,” said Timmins. “We really need the help of residents this spring to prevent emerging bears from returning to locations where they have been previously successful in finding backyard food sources. It is harmful for bears to become conditioned to forage around homes and in residential areas because they will lose some of their natural aversion to humans. Bears are much better off in the wild relying on natural food sources.”

Purposely feeding a bear is not just bad for the bear, it causes problems for your neighbors, and it’s also illegal in Vermont.

Anyone who has a problem with a bear in Vermont should report the incident on a form on the website, www.vtfishandwildlife.com, under Living with Wildlife. Hammond said, “There is a section in the form where you can ask us to call you to provide advice.”

Maine Governor Waives License Requirements And Opens Fishing Early

Governor Janet Mills directed Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso on March 20 to open all inland waters for fishing and to waive the requirement that anglers need a recreational fishing license to fish the inland waters of Maine.

The order, which is effective immediately, will run through April 30 and is intended to encourage Maine people to enjoy the outdoors as they confront the challenges associated with COVID-19.

“As an avid angler, I know there’s nothing better for the heart and soul than a little fishing,” said Governor Mills. “As we continue to navigate this challenging time together, I hope this order will motivate Maine people to do what we have done for generations: take to our lakes, rivers, and streams to cast a line. The great outdoors is still open. Please enjoy it safely.”

“During these times, getting outside and enjoying the outdoors is a wonderful way to recharge, while maintaining social distancing practices,” said Commissioner Camuso. “Waiving the requirements for a license will give people more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.”

Effective immediately, any person (except those whose license has been suspended or revoked) may fish without a license through April 30. All inland waters that traditionally open to open water fishing on April 1 will now be open to open water fishing.

Friend of mine who is a Registered Maine Guide told me Saturday that Sebago Lake is nearly ice free and that there is considerable open water in southern Maine. Going fishing sounds like a good idea.

Bits and Pieces

I have listed many events in the past couple of weeks and in this column that may or may not take place as the coronavirus spreads. Be sure to check before you go to avoid wasting your time. Right now everything is in flux and cancellations and restrictions will likely increase.

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The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department postponed deer and moose hearings scheduled for the month of March to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

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The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has postponed its public meeting about Eastern coyotes previously scheduled for March 31 in Danville to encourage social distancing and to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

The department is providing information about the Eastern coyote on their website at this link: https://vtfishandwildlife.com/learn-more/vermont-critters/mammals/coyote

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Amid concerns over COVID-19, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has postponed all Hunter, Bowhunter and Trapper Education courses for the well-being of students, volunteer instructors and all Vermonters.

In the meantime, Vermonters can do online work for hunter education, bowhunter education, or trapper education.

“Now more than ever we want to encourage Vermonters to enjoy the outdoors and harvest local food,” said Hunter Education Program Coordinator Nicole Meier. “Although classes are canceled for now, we will offer more courses later this year. With many of us confined to our homes, this is a great time to do the online or book work ahead of your class.”

Students should watch the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website for more information about when classes will resume. Here is a link to information about classes and the online homework: https://vtfishandwildlife.com/hunt/hunter-education

Vermonters who are not Hunter Education certified but would like to go hunting with a mentor can purchase a mentor license online.

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The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has scheduled a public meeting on proposed season dates and bag limits for the 2020-2021 waterfowl hunting season on Tuesday, March 31, at 6 p.m., at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s headquarters, in Concord. As of now, I have not been notified of a cancellation.

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Those of us who love to hike still can but the AMC facilities, including Zealand and Carter Notch huts are closed. The Dartmouth Outing Club has closed its cabins and huts as has the Randolph Mountain Club.

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Norwegian musher Thomas Waerner has won the famed Iditarod sled dog race coming across the finish line at Nome with a time of 9 days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds.

Linda and I have been following the annual event since we first visited the ceremonial starting point in Anchorage and then the real starting point in Willow 25 years ago. It is a grueling 1,000 mile test of man and dog. In various trips to Alaska and other places we have met several of the past winners and often their lead dogs.

Because of COVID-19 several of the towns along the route asked that the check points be moved out of town and race officials urged people not to come to Nome for the finish. Most of the events that take place after the event such as the banquet were cancelled and all public buildings in town were closed to the public.

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Mark Breen reports in the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium’s Skywatch Almanac that on March 26, 1847: ”Rain turned to snow along with howling north winds, 30 inches in Barnard, VT.”

He also tells us that on March 27, 1913: “Soaking rains, including 3.72 inches in Woodstock and 4.40 inches in St. Johnsbury caused severe flooding. Great damage to bridges and railroads was noted state-wide.”

Parting Shots

As we hunker down in the face of COVID-19 it is a good time to take stock. Reading books long ago set aside or, in my case, piled on the coffee table and beside my desk is a good way to make use of the time. I wrote about a new hiking book in this column and recommend it to you who hike as a way to plan for summer and take your mind off the present situation.

It is also a time we can do those chores we keep putting off. For me it means cleaning out my shop in the cellar and working on the piles of materials in my office.

It is recommended that we keep our distance from others but that does not mean we have to confine ourselves to our homes unless we are in one of the vulnerable groups. I will be 74 this spring but will continue to spend time wandering our woods with my dog. One especially frustrating day last week, after three long video conferences related to COVID-19, I grabbed my chainsaw and tractor and headed to the woods to limb and skid out trees, I had felled last fall. It felt good.

Because of my responsibilities as Bradford Emergency Management Director and other things I am involved in, I have daily meetings and sometimes more, conducted by phone or computer and countless email updates from various state and federal agencies that I get. The woods become my refuge to recharge and clear my head. Physical activity such as felling and skidding trees for firewood is my tonic.

Remember, we choose to live here because we want to be where family, friends and neighbors are priorities. We are resilient and don’t wait for outside help. We watch out for one another and step in to help when needed.

Yes, it will get worse before it gets better but it will get better. The old adage of emergency management is prepare for the worst, hope for the best. We will get through this.

Syndicated columnist Gary W. Moore may be reached by email at gwmoore1946@myfairpoint.net or at Box 454, Bradford, VT 05033.

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