Shelburne Trails Club dedicated a hiking trail to long-time resident John Gralenski

Members of the Shelburne Trails Club stand around the newly posted hiking trail sign “John’s Way,” named in honor of long time Shelburne resident John Gralenski. (COURTESY PHOTO)

SHELBURNE — On Oct. 19, the Shelburne Trails Club hosted a hike and a dedication to name the foot-path to Ray’s Pond from Shelburne’s Mount Ingalls summit in honor of longtime Shelburne resident John Gralenski. 

Gralenski passed away in September and left a lasting legacy in the town of Shelburne. In addition to serving as a selectman and member of the conservation commission, he was the hiking club’s go-to guy to learn the history of many of Shelburne’s “lost trails” that the Shelburne Trails Club has restored over the past decade.

When the club began to restore the long abandoned Scudder Trail to the 2,242-foot summit of Mount Ingalls, Gralenski related the history of the mysterious small “Ray’s Pond” signs found around a tiny high elevation pond or tarn on the north side of the Mount Ingalls summit.

He told of Ray Finnson’s earlier trail blazing in the Mahoosuc Mountains and of Finnson’s work with the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Finnson and Gralenski spent many hours together exploring those mountains and when Finnson was nearing death, he asked his friend to name a beautiful place for him. That place was Ray’s Pond, and for many years only those two small wooden markers identified it, seen only by those who were lucky enough to discover the old overgrown path down to it from the mountain’s summit.

With John’s help, the club reopened the old path to the pond and improved signs denoting it. The club was also able to have the previously unidentified pond designated as “Ray’s Pond” on National Geographic maps and on the club’s STC Shelburne Trails Map and Guide. With “Ray’s Pond” officially recognized for the first time on maps, and with the naming of the path as “John’s Way,” those two old friends are now joined together forever in one “beautiful place.”

More than a dozen of John’s old friends and his son Doug Gralenski made the Saturday morning 3-mile hike from North Road to the summit of Mount Ingalls to place the new “John’s Way” trail signs on the summit to direct hikers to the path to Ray’s Pond.

The hike offered great views of the Androscoggin River Valley and though peak fall color was just past, the mountains were still ablaze with late Autumn golden colors.

The hikers were also joined by STC’s volunteer hiking pack llamas carrying tools to clear recent blowdowns. At the summit, Doug Gralenski installed the new trail signs honoring his father and the group then descended down to Ray’s Pond to share lunch and stories about John and his friend Ray.

The Shelburne Trails Club, a 501 (c) (7) non-profit social club founded in 2010, supports and promotes safe use and stewardship of the Shelburne area trails.

To learn about club events contact the club at ShelburneTrails@gmail.com and request to be added to the club’s email list, or visit the club’s public Facebook page at facebook.com/ShelburneTrailsClub.

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