It a pleasure to review a new hiking book by Gordon DuBois, 72, of New Hampton called “Paths Less Traveled: Tramping on Trails (and sometimes not) to Find New Hampshire’s Special Places.”
Dubois has been the hiking columnist for The Laconia Daily Sun since 2015. This is a compilation of his columns. They encompass a wide variety of locations and difficulty in New Hampshire and beyond, and include many family hikes in the Lakes Region up to scratchy bushwhacks up isolated peaks.
His hiking resume is impressive. In the northeast, it includes the New Hampshire’s 200 highest, the New England 100 highest in winter, the Adirondack 46 highest, Northeast’s 111 highest, the Appalachian Trail, the Cohos Trail, the Long Trail and more. He hikes often with friends and always with his dog Reuben.
When I talked to him on the phone the other day, he had returned from bushwhacking up one of New Hampshire’s 500 highest. The summit log and its jar were gone, so he hung another, carrying a spare.
Dubois has seen the dramatic increase of hikers on popular trails, and in his column he has tried to make people more aware of quieter trails. “I wanted people to go to different places where they can enjoy solitude in nature.”
The book is divided into five distinct chapters and an afterword, so I will mention each one.
The first chapter is called “Hiking into History.” Dubois is the past president of the New Hampton Historical Society, and has a strong interest in man’s past in the mountains.
He has traveled around the state giving talks on the subject which includes logging, mining, an old ski area, cold war relics, plane wrecks, and even an isolated pond where revolutionary war soldiers hid out for the duration of the war after they had been captured by the British and released with a promise not to fight again.
The second chapter is about hikes in the Lakes Region. This includes a wide area from Mount Cardigan in the west to the Belknap Range, Squam Range and Ossipee Range. Each hike is described with an emphasis on its history combined with a pleasant recounting of his own experience with his dog Reuben and friends. The chapter includes long hikes to easy walks.
Chapter three is about conservation lands in the Lakes Region. This is a valuable chapter for those unfamiliar with places large and small that are easily accessed as you pass through the area or as destinations.
Of course, the Castle in the Clouds conservation area is considered. But have you heard of the Cockermouth Forest? Or the Waukewan Highlands? Just because they are south of the White Mountains doesn’t mean they are less wild. In fact, with less visitors they often are more so, and great for families.
The next chapter is called “Leaving the Crowds.” These are mostly about hikes in the White Mountain National Forest. They are good descriptions of journeys in both winter and summer, and include such classics as Huntington Ravine and Ice Gulch in Randolph. A good family hike in this chapter is the Hemenway Forest in Tamworth, passing though the big pines to the fire tower.
The next chapter is my favorite, and called “Wacky Bushwhacks.” These are adventures in the wild — not for everyone — but fun to read about even if you don’t bushwhack yourself.
Using a map and compass or GPS, Dubois takes us on both summer and winter hikes, many to reach the New England winter 100 highest and New Hampshire 200 highest peaks.
Also the winter hike into Jobildunk Ravine on Mount Moosilaukee is fascinating, and makes me want to go there. It is so visible from many points to the east, especially in the winter with its white rockslides.
The afterword is a chapter in itself, with sections on hiking safely, hiking for seniors, Leave No Trace, winter hiking, and even a section called “Reuben’s Words of Wisdom,” about hiking with dogs.
This book is a classic of its kind and an enjoyable read, and will help you find many quiet places to hike.
Presently, it can be ordered at Amazon and Dorrance Publishing. Soon, it will be available through The Mountain Wanderer Map and Book Store in Lincoln. When we all spill out onto the streets again, it should be at local bookstores.