In classic Needle style, Monte Ball writes about his first excursion to the Presidential Range – the 1965 Senior Whites trip. You can read the full article in the upcoming edition of the Needle, scheduled to be released in early February. The following is a preview.
Gracious Living at 6,288 Feet—an Historic trip report by Montague G. Ball, Jr.
Although never a camper on the scale of a Kasper, a Nagler, or a Swan, I remember taking some great trips at Pine Island—including Mount Bigelow with Jack Lord, Old Speck with Peter Houck and Bill Rummel, and several war canoe cruises down the Kennebec with Ken Howe, Al Hipp, Tommy Sat- terfield, and Cammie Arrington. But my most memorable excursion was the 1965 Senior Whites, which was my introduction to the Presidential Range of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
That summer I was technically in the Navy, having completed a two-year tour as a deck officer on a cargo ship homeported in Norfolk, Virginia. Vietnam was heating up; the armed forces were trying desperately to hold on to their Reservists. In my case, the Navy offered a wide choice of billets if I would agree to extend my commitment two more years. I signed—but on the condition that I be granted a two-month leave of absence before reporting to my new duty station. Those two months were mid-June to mid-August, during which time I was assigned without pay to the Naval Reserve Training Center in Augusta—where occasionally I had to make an appearance.
What I had engineered, of course, was Another Great Summer at PIC— most of which I spent flopping around in a sailboat and taking life very easy. However, as the summer began to wind down, an agent of change intruded on my comfortable lifestyle. He was the director, Tim Holbrook—a fire-eating workaholic who never had enough to do, and usually did it all himself. We followed in his train—in awe. Anyway, as the previous director, Chip Handy, had expanded Pine Island’s canoeing program into the Allagash, Tim was determined that our hiking trips would extend to New Hampshire’s White Mountains. To my astonishment, he announced that I would lead Pine Island’s first ascent of Mount Washington—with the very able assistance of David Carman, who had done a lot of climbing in the Presidentials. Signed up for the trip were (left to right in the photo) Howard Ferguson, Coley Hoyt, John Timken, John Goodhue, and Jeff Kilbreth.
“You’re perfect for the job, Ball,” Tim assured. “And, besides, you need some exercise.” Me, perfect? As to exercise, I had no idea what lay around the corner…
Ever the efficiency expert, Tim took charge of the logistics. And aware of my disinclination to move fast in the morning, he shifted our trip to the First Cabin the night before departure. “No breakfast for you, Ball—unless you get on the road! And then you can choose: McDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts.” Both options were rare treats and eagerly anticipated, all part of Tim’s plan to get us an early start. But Route 2 to Pinkham Notch was slow going, and even with breakfast on the fly, it took us much longer than anticipated to reach New Hampshire’s White Mountains. As I recall, it was just noon when we finished a quick lunch and began the climb to Tuckerman Ravine. And that is when things began to fall apart…
Stay tuned for the rest of the story!