Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March at the Knob

March always brings back fond memories of our times in the eighties (and 1990) at Gray Knob. Few hikes can match a run up Lowe's on a bluebird day with three feet of snow on the ground. Each section, the flats, the first hill, upper flats, the stairs, the lower and upper chutes all bring a different set of challenges tempered with the solace and beauty of the changing forest. The snow softens the sounds, with only the crunching of your boots (we never, ever, needed any stinkin' snowshoes on Lowe's), crisp air, and the songs of a pair of chickadees in your ears. This is paradise.

While I was only a spring and summer caretaker, three of my closest friends were in that ultimate vocation, winter caretaker at Gray Knob. This job provides the incumbent with cold temps, rough weather, stunning silence, and the best sunsets, coupled with an unsurpassed outdoor playground. There were visitors too. Living at the Knob provides far more powerful influences than any television or xbox could ever kindle.

Because Pete and John and Phil were up there, I was a regular visitor, sometimes staying for two weeks at a time. Weekend trips always brought the three am arrival, which they always looked forward too, or at least tolerated.

As the years have passed, the ability for a caretaker to communicate exactly what they are experiencing to you and I has become easier. We had the logbooks, some of which have been transcribed, and some which have been locked up to protect the guilty.

Now the Randolph Mountain Club website has a running journal going from the 07/08 winter caretaker, Sally Manikian. There are also other caretaker journals available. Read her stories and get an understanding of why this place has such a powerful influence on the folks who have lived there.

Here's one of her pictures, of the Davis Woodruff Memorial Rocking Chair, at the Quay.