6-27-2020 Parsons-52 with a View

The new edition of “New Hampshire’s 52 with a View: A Hiker’s Guide” removes five hikes and adds five new ones. (COURTESY PHOTO)

This month a second edition of “New Hampshire’s 52 with a View: A Hiker’s Guide” has been published. The first edition published in July 2019 had six printings and sold 2,500 copies and was the second bestselling book of 2019 at North Conway’s White Birch Books.

For the second edition, author Ken MacGray worked on revisions of descriptions of the hikes, scouted out alternative trailheads and parking lots, checked camping alternatives for each peak, gathered his own black and white photos of views from all the peaks, procured an overview map of the state to indicate where the different peaks are located, worked with AMC cartographer Larry Garland to get accurately measured LIDAR elevations of all the peaks and more.

This May, the list of the 52 peaks was officially revised by its originators, the Over the Hill Hikers of Sandwich. Five of the peaks were retired and five more added. One reason was the gradual disappearing of views caused by forest growth. Those retired are Black Mountain in Jackson, Carr Mountain in Wentworth, Hibbard Mountain in the Sandwich Range, Iron Mountain in Jackson, Mount Wolf in Lincoln, Square ledge in Albany and West Royce Mountain in Evans Notch.

MacGray knew that these peaks were worthy and enjoyable hiking goals, so a chapter describing these delisted hikes was added at the end of the new edition, likely a tradition for future new editions as well.

The peaks added to the list include Pine Mountain in Gorham, Rodger’s Ledge in the Killkenny Range, Table Mountain in Bartlett and Mounts Morgan and Percival in the Squam Range. The latter two are normally traversed together in one hike.

These are all interesting peaks, geographically and culturally. In adding Pine Mountain, MacGray talked with the director of the Horton Center, a Christian camp located just below the summit. The camp itself is off limits to hikers, and the trails easily bypasses it. Also a view point called Chapel Rock where the camp holds services is off limits to hikers in the summer camp season.

The view from the south ledges where hikers go on Pine Mountain has a dramatic view of the northern presidentials — the drop from the summit of Mount Madison to the valley of Gorham is the longest in the east.

Rodgers Ledge is a wonderful destination in the great north woods. It was named for Colonel Robert Rogers of Rogers Rangers fame. Fleeing south after a raid on Saint Francis in Canada, the Rangers passed through the area. The wild view from Rogers Ledge lends itself to legend.

Table Mountain was the site of a historical forest fire in 1984. At the time, it was the largest fire since the inception of the White Mountain National Forest. The slow regrowth of trees and vegetation on the summit ledges has been observed and studied.

The traverse of Mounts Morgan and Percival is a perfect Lakes Region hike with views of both Squam Lake and Lake Winnipasaukee. There is an interesting cave route near the top of Morgan, and another descending from the top of Percival. The Squam Range was mapped by Brad Washburn in 1973, and his height marker is located on top of Morgan.

An interesting thing about mountains is that the quality of the view is not a function of its height. Some peaks below 4,000 feet have better views than some of the 4,000 footers. When Lib Bates of Sandwich came up with the original "52 With A View" list in 1991, she was well aware of this. Also, a few smaller peaks are more difficult to climb than some of the higher ones, like Mount Chocorua and South Baldface.

As MacGray states, Bates would likely be quite amazed and delighted at the booming popularity of her list today. Yet, it is not surprising, a day spent on a moderately high mountain is rarely not a delight.

Included in the new edition is a nice history of the "52 With A View" list, a comprehensive hiker resource section, including winter hiking, and even hiking in the time of COVID-19. In the weather section, one tip I didn’t realize is that you can search the name of a peak in the National Weather Service’s site and get the closest forecast.

There is a popular Facebook page called "NH 52 With a View," presently with about 5,000 members, and another called "New Hampshire’s 52 With a View-A Hiker’s Guide" for the book itself.

The book can be ordered on MacGray’s website at kenmacgray.org/52/.

It also can be ordered online at the Mountain Wanderer Map and Bookstore, Bondcliff Books and Amazon. Also news is out that White Birch Books is open, so check with them at (603) 356-3200 to see if they have it in, or order it.

Don’t have the first edition? Here is your chance for a more comprehensive version with five more hikes. If you have the first edition, there is definitely room next to it for the second on your outdoor bookshelf.

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