Voice of the Wapack – Fall 2023
Our Spring / Summer issue of this year’s newsletter focused on the story of the creation of the Wapack Trail and the Wapack Lodge, the roles of the trail founders, Frank Robbins and Marion Davis, and the maintenance and protection of the trail over the past century. As we near the end of this centennial year, our focus for this issue is the same as for our upcoming annual meeting, to share personal remembrances of Marion, Frank, the Trail and the Lodge. See our other recent post where we have a transcript dedicated to those memories. See also a summary of the many centennial events we have held thus far. The feedback for all has been great. We thank all of you who have participated!
Our annual meeting will feature a presentation by Al Jenks titled “Tales of the Trail: Her Story, My Story”. Al will relate his memories of Marion Davis and stories about her life, including the creation of the Wapack Trail and the Lodge. He will also tell his personal story of how he became Marion’s neighbor and friend, and how he came to create Windblown Cross Country Ski Area. We hope that you can join us.
It was my pleasure this year to welcome Gail Coffey as our newest Director. Gail’s many talents include grant writing and web design. She is also an ecologist who has led events with the Beaver Brook Association, the Harris Center,and others. She has also worked with the Nature Conservancy and other conservation organizations. Gail and her husband Gerry are the adopters of the Beebe Trail and the Raymond Trail. Gail brings a wealth of experience and talents to our board. We are excited to have Gail on our FoW team. Welcome aboard Gail! – Rick Blanchette, President
A Memorable Centennial Year
We kicked off our Wapack Trail Centennial Celebration with a history hike around Mt. Watatic on May 6. The hike was lead by Chris Gagnon, president of the Ashburnham Historical Society. Chris led us to the sites of the Children of the Woods Tavern and the homesteads of the Spalding and Nutting families, where we heard the stories of these first settlers of that area. We made a stop at the Borden Monument on the NH /MA state line, where Chris explained the remarkable 19th century surveying technology used to establish the state line.
Our second centennial event, done in collaboration with the New Ipswich Historical Society(NIHS), was a presentation by Larry Anderson. Larry is a freelance author and biographer of Appalachian Trail creator Benton MacKaye. MacKaye was a frequent visitor to the Wapack Lodge. The event was held at the New Ipswich Congregational Church hall. Larry’s topic was “From Drovers to Trail Blazers, the story of the creation of the Wapack Trail.” Larry described the annual cattle drives from Concord MA to New Ipswich, in which Frank Robbins and Marion Davis participated. His main focus was placing the creation of the Wapack Trail in the context of the long distance trails movement of that time, including the Appalachian Trail, and showed how the Wapack Trail played an important role in that movement. The talk was very well received by the more than 65 attendees. There were exhibit items from the FOW and the NIHS. Refreshments were served.
On August 12, the Friends of the Wapack and the Northeast Wilderness Trust (NEWT) held a nature and history hike at the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve in New Ipswich. The hike was led by NEWT Wildlands Ecologist Shelby Perry. Shelby pointed out and explained many interesting things along the trail, from mushrooms to tree growth patterns, to toads and wild-flowers, and nature’s rewilding process. Shelby’s enthusiasm and interest in nature is contagious; every-one commented about how much they learned about nature and enjoyed the experience. We also stopped at the site of the Binney family farm, where Rick Blanchette told the story of the first settlers of Binney Hill.
Despite the fore-cast, we had a good turn-out for our September 9thhike at the Wapack National Wildlife Refuge to the summit of North Pack. The hike was co-lead by refuge manager Matt Hillman, and FOW board member Bruce Myrick. Matt spoke about the Refuge and answered questions along the way. Last year we celebrated the 50thanniversary of the refuge with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and erected a plaque to honor the donation of this land by Laurence and Lorna Marshal.
On September 23 we held our Temple Mountain history hike. We enjoyed a loop hike on the Beebe and Wapack Trails and also hiked out and back to the stone chairs. We discovered the sites of several trail photos from the1920’s, and Rick pointed out sites of the former Temple Mountain Ski Area and related some of it’s history. We had a great turn out despite the foggy skies, which did clear up late in the morning.
Remembering Sean McInerney
It is with great sorrow that we heard of the sudden passing of Sean McInerney. Sean was a key member of our trail crew. I first remember Sean at a trail workday to clean up after the 1998 ice storm. He also cleared trails after the great 2008 ice storm. He was an important part of our crew that restored the historic CCC shelter at the summit of Pack Monadnock at Miller State Park. Sean helped create the Beebe Trail, and participated in many trail work days over the years. He adopted the Berry Pasture Trail and a section of the Wapack Trail. Sean was a Scout Master, and in 2008 he helped his son Jon with his Eagle Scout Project, which included building the kiosk and benches at the trail head parking lot on Temple Road in Sharon. I could go on and on about all that Sean has done for the trails. Mostly, he was a good friend who was always cheerful and considerate, and lifted us all in our work on the trail. Rest in Peace, Sean. We miss you.
– Rick Blanchette