In September 1924, ten-year-old Barbara climbed Mt. Chocorua with her father. It was (I think) her first White Mountain peak. Eighty-eight years later (who knows—perhaps to the day?) I climbed the same mountain and shot this video, which will be pretty much the same as Barbara’s view from the top.
Here’s an excerpt from a letter she wrote to her friend Mr. St. John on October 5, describing her trip.
The next morning we had breakfast, fairly late, and broke camp, together with something additional—packing our packs for the spend-the-night. Three blankets were all we could conveniently carry for bed-clothes, only Daddy planned to keep a noble fire going all night. Then off we drove for Clement Inn, at the foot of Chocorua. When we got there, we left the car, put on our packs, and started up the Piper Trail. It was not steep at all at first, indeed it was almost level, but up above Chocorua Brook a slight change began. Still farther there was quite an abrupt change, and the hard climbing began. Then we were I think about half a mile from the cabins. We began to get tired, and our discomforting packs pulled back our shoulders, and tried their best to make our feet fly out from under us.… Read more
Your letter came just in time—I leave tomorrow morning early for the month, and Helen follows in a few days. The address will be: ℅ A. B. Meservey, 24 Occam Ridge, Hanover, New Hampshire.
Oh, I am so sorry that things are going so rottenly for you. There is no justice in Heaven or Earth, it seems. Really, I cried over your letter—as if that would help any! How I wish I could do something! My heart would tell you to pack up and go to B. R. at once. But there’s poor E. So I would compromise. I would go to him as soon as ever her need of you is abated a little. I don’t believe it’s a case of Money, A. D. R. … But then, of course I am probably all wrong. Only you mustn’t say that about not seeing him again. You mustn’t even contemplate such a thing. There is a limit to what the gods can do, you know.
There are three chapters of my book in existence now—pretty fairly good I think. Its title so far has been “Lost Island.” Does that sound intriguing? The few persons whom I have so far confided in have liked it—also have been enthusiastic over the outline of the story.… Read more
Although the name of the mountain hut isn’t given in Barbara’s story, she can only be referring to Lakes of the Clouds, which is about an hour’s walk from the summit of New England’s highest peak, Mt. Washington. Oakes Gulf, where “Jo” makes camp, is not far from the hut, to the south-south-east, between today’s Dry River Trail and Davis Path. It is beautiful country.
MOTHBALLS IN THE MOON by Barbara Newhall (sic) c/o N. Rogers, 3 Perrin Road, Brookline, Mass.
A wild dawn with the bare peak cutting it sharply–a surge of fire, setting aflame the wings of mist that clung about the tallest mountain of them all, the one that jutted up across an abyss of shadows. Nearer peaks stood in a long half circle, waiting for the sun. The distance was a blur of deep blue. Ravines were a nameless purple mystery. On the nearest peak, at its very summit, two figures stood in silhouette against red clouds–very small figures, alone and exalted. Each carried a pack. They were pilgrims, standing in awe before the creation of a world.
The sun thrust bright spears upward, and the mountains changed–softened a little through golden haze. Patches of yellow grass grew more yellow between gray rocks.… Read more