PINKHAM NOTCH — Black fly season greetings to you and your favorite fellow victim, as they have come out in earnest these past few beautiful days of at long last spring here in the Mount Washington Valley.

Spring, as our cover story in today’s edition illustrates, is Tuckerman Time for many, and we’re not just talking about the great local brewing company, which has launched its outdoor summer music series, featuring the return of the Simon Crawford Band last night and continues today with the Mallett Brothers Band from 3-6 p.m. (Mike Malkin and Becca Deschenes are indoors at the Tasting Room on Sunday, also 3-6 p.m.).

Meanwhile, the Mt. Washington Auto Road and Great Glen Trails are gearing up, with drivers able to use their own private vehicles to head up the 7.6-mile Auto Road starting today.

Lisa McCoy, director of marketing and events for both GGT and the Auto Road, notes that drive-yourself options are in effect for May 14-15 and May 21-22 and that the road is to be open daily for its 161st season starting May 28, Memorial Day Weekend, with two-hour guided tours beginning that weekend.

Many folks are no doubt making plans to drive their vehicles up the road to ski the East Snowfields, always one of the local rites of spring for diehard skiers.

Tyler Ray, chief of Granite Backcountry Alliance and one of the people who has led the responsible “Ski Kind” backcountry ski movement in the White Mountains, says: “The East Snowfields will be sweet, prime condition for a mid-May day of 80 degrees. We ask everyone that everyone walk on the rocks and protect the fragile alpine ecosystem.

"My wife, Anne, and kids Nelson and Levi (8 and 7) are planning to come to enjoy the natural amenities that Mount Washington offers on the roof of New England. We’ll be bringing suntan lotion and of course, in keeping with the spirit of the season, Hawaiian shirts,” said Ray.

“We open at 9 a.m. (we used to be open at 8 a.m. for the whole season,” said McCoy, who urged everyone to stay on the rocks after they walk off the road and not to park on the sides of the road, either — she says everyone should park either in the pullout ear the start of the snowfields or at the summit parking lot.

For further information, call (603) 466-3988 or go to mt-washington.com. For info about skiing, go to the mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org.

RECORD ON MOUNT WASHINGTON? Brian Fitzgerald, director of science and education for the Mount Washington Observatory, reports that the Obs summit crew recorded a new record high temp of 58 degrees Thursday, May 12, breaking the old mark of 57 set back in 2001 and that on Friday the 13th, the record was unofficially broken of at least 58 degrees compared to the old reading of 55 set back in 1985.

The record for May 14 is 61, set back in 2004 so the forecast is calling for high temps up there at the 6,288-foot summit of about 60 degrees, “So, it could be close!”” said Brian.

The normal maximum temperature for May on the summit if 42.5 degrees. For more, go to mountwashington.org.

LAST WEEKEND saw nice services to honor the lives of two very noble locals. The first one I attended was Saturday morning at the Conway Congregational Church (the Brown Church) for late former valley pharmacist Kim Ficker, 73, of Fryeburg, Maine, husband of Karla Ficker. The second was Saturday afternoon at the jampacked Fryeburg Fairgrounds Expo Center for late attorney and community leader Peter Hastings, 86, of Maine’s oldest continuously run law firm, Hastings Law Office.

If there was a common theme at both celebrations it was both men's mutual love of community and family and that they shared an upbeat outlook and were characterized by their wonderful smiles. Both exemplified lives well-lived.

SPEAKING of living good lives, many friends turned out at Horsefeathers last Friday night to help celebrate former state representative and retired N.H. Fish and Game law enforcement chief Henry Mock of Jackson, who marked his 13th 72nd birthday. The cake was fabulous, showing a side view of a walking bear, on whose sides were depictions of pine trees, showing Henry’s love of nature.

ON THE MUSIC front, Jonathan Sarty of Aspect Productions New England LLC this week announced a new entertainment series, the Rock n Blues Concert Series, to feature three different venues.

The series kicks off May 29 with the Blues Project featuring Jon Butcher and Deric Dyer (who has played saxophone with Tina Turner and Joe Cocker) at the great new barn venue at the Old Saco Inn and Bistro in Fryeburg; and continues May 30 with the same act at the Inn on Main in Wolfeboro, Toni Lynn Washington Band featuring Roberto Morbioli and Jon Sarty as the opener June 11 at the Inn on Main; James Montgomery with Diane Blue July 2 at the Inn on Main; and the same act July 3 at the Wildcat Inn and Tavern in Jackson, with all shows at 7 p.m.

Other shows will include Once An Outlaw July 16 at the Inn on Main, July 17 at the Old Saco Inn and July 31 at the Wildcat Inn and Tavern. For more information and tickets, go to aspectproductionsnewengland.com.

BLUES RETURNS to the Red Parka Sunday night, May 15, with Diane Blue and the Boston Blues All Stars from 5-8 p.m. after the RPP’s recent spring break/clean-up.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, kudos to all the volunteers who helped with the Valley Pride Day cleanup last Saturday, May 7. Great job — now if it could only stay that way!

THE VALLEY ORIGINALS presented their annual get-together for vendors and members at R. Ben "RBW XIII” Williams’ Barley & Salt Tuesday night. It was so great to see so many friends after the past two years of not having the event due to the pandemic. Some still wore masks —including yours truly as this pandemic continues, alas.

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS to one all, including (belatedly) retired local cooperative weather observer Briggs Bunker, who turned 91 on May 10, which of course was deemed a 50-center in Briggs’ honor by current observer Ed Bergeron on WMWV 93.5-FM's Morning Weather Show” Tuesday; Nordic Nate Harvey, Laura Cummings of White Birch Books, pickleballer Lenny Gulino and the Snowflake Inn’s Sue Methot (today); Steve “the Glove” LaRusso, Josh Dexter Snell and local witch Kelly Rogers (5-15); Kiwanian Peter Levesque, state Rep. Jerry Knirk, ski instructor John Macdonald, attorney Bonnie Gould, Steve Frost and Kit Morgan (5-17); former Sun managing editor Bart Bachman, Ian Donaldson, artist Gwen Rober, Sandy Stowell and Bill Connolly (5-18); North Conway Fire Chief Pat Preece, artist Virginia Moore and Maureen Forbes (5-19); Jim Terry and John Sledzinski and my niece, Sophie-Rose Riopel, who turns the big Sweet 16 (all 5-20).

KUDOS TO Big Dave and Sue Hausman of Big Dave's Bagels, who for the fifth straight year won "Best Bagels in N.H." honors in WMUR TV-9's Readers' Poll this week. Grab a bagel and a cup of Joe to go as you head up to the ravine or the snowfields. Lastly, go Bruins!

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