Fri, May 24, 2013
In the late 1800s, a group of dedicated and energetic men (Charles Lowe, Laban Watson, James Gordon, Hubbard Hunt, Eugene B. Cook, William H. Peek, George A. Sargent, William G. Nowell, Charles Torrey, J. Rayner Edmands and, later, Louis F. Cutter) began forging trails in the White mountains around Mts. Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Madison as well as the Crescent Range of Randolph, NH. By the early 1900s, logging in the Randolph area had demolished much of their original efforts, but the men's advanced age did not allow them to fulfill their desire to maintain the trails they constructed. Understanding the predicament, John H. Boothman encouraged the community to create the Randolph Mountain Club (RMC) in an effort to retain the amazing network of trails created by these pioneers.
The RMC is a smallish club founded in 1910 by avid outdoorsmen attempting to maintain the legacy of these dedicated and energetic men, who cut almost a hundred miles of trails. As of 1997, the RMC had over 750 members providing a variety of outdoor activities, not the least of which is maintaining the hundreds of miles of trails by experienced trail crews. The RMC also maintains several hiking shelters, including Gray Knob, Crag Camp, The Log Cabin and The Perch. Gray Knob and Crag Camp are two beautifully built cabins, similar to the AMC shelters. The Log Cabin and The Perch are more like traditional shelters with only basic shelter from the elements (open to the outside air). All of the RMC shelters are open year round. Two caretakers (who provide some basic assistance including controlling the number of guests at their site) are hired for the summer, and for the rest of the year one caretaker watches all four sites.
The Gray Knob cabin was originally built in 1905 as a private cabin by Dr. E.Y. Hincks and his family. With a capacity of 15, this cabin is cozy but well appointed. There is a $10 per night fee to use Gray Knob, which is a bargain considering the quality of the shelter, and because reservations are not accepted, guests must bring money with them. Space is available for food preparation, but guests need to bring their own food, utensils, and stoves. Water can be found ¼ mile away at small spring. Sleeping arrangements include some mattresses, but guests are encouraged to bring sleeping pads and sleeping bags (guests are warned that the temperature will probably not exceed 40 F).
Gray Knob is located below the rocky outcropping on Nowell Ridge, just below treeline, on the Gray Knob Trail a few minutes walk east from Lowe's Path, and at the southern end of the Hincks Trail.
Like Gray Knob, Crag Camp started out as a private camp. The original structure was built by Nelson H. Smith, but was demolished in favor of a new building in 1993. Crag Camp is located on the edge of King Ravine, along the Spur Trail and has room for 20 guests. The overnight fee is $10, which the caretaker collects from mid-June through August and on busy weekends. Other times of the year the caretaker from Gray Knob collects fees. Stays are on a first come, first served basis so campers should be prepared to camp elsewhere if the cabin is full. Amenities are very much like Gray Knob, and include a mattress, water (a quarter mile away), and space for cooking.
The Perch is located near treeline in Cascade Ravine, on The Perch Path, a few hundred yards from both the Israel Ridge Path and Randolph Path. The Perch was originally built by J. Rayner Edmands in 1890. The current structure has been re-built and moved several times, and includes a lean-to and tent platforms that are available on a first come, first served basis. A composting toilet is available, and fresh water can be found 50 yards from the main site. The Perch is very popular on weekends because of its low fee ($5) and accommodations for groups, so alternate plans should be made for weekends. No fires are permitted.
The Log Cabin
The Log Cabin is an Alaskan Trapper-style, three sided shelter located on Lowe's Path, 2.5 miles from Lowe's Store. There is no permanent caretaker at this site, so the $5 fee may be collected by another caretaker or mailed to the RMC. There are no mattresses or cooking supplies, so campers will need to plan to carry their supplies with them. The maximum ten guests can find water right outside the Cabin, and an outhouse is just off the site. No fires are permitted.
For more information about the RMC and the services it provides, visit their web site at http://www.randolphmountainclub.org
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Chris Oberg & Robert Havasy