“Hey Goose?” Famous words when someone comes to find me at some random time when they know that I am not really working but being the “caretaker” or “Mayor” and something whatever it may be is calling my name. On this particular morning in early June, I hear Beth calling my name in that lovely tone. It was just after 6 am. “What going on Beth?” I answer in my sleepy voice. “There is a Bear. She responds in a tone of disbelief. When I hear those words my mind goes into hyper active mode. I snap awake and into action. I think to myself “number one”. We have had no bear activity all spring until this point. I jumped out of my tent and looked to where Beth was pointing, towards the main building. What I see is a 300 pound or bigger bear looking in to the window of the rat proof. Just sitting there on its hind legs, peering in the window, clearly thinking about how to pass through this wall and hit gold. To my surprise I see his or hers, couldn't tell, arm disappear through the wall of the building. I blink and confirm what I saw. I spring to action and start to hurl rocks from my tent to the bear with each rock I throw I walk a little closer to the bear, getting real close a couple of times to hitting the little bugger. The bear slowly retreats to the woods I get to first door of the main building and grab a metal chair. I bang it a couple of times onto the picnic tables. Without warning the bear runs a couple of steps at me and huffs real laud. I hit the table again. Standing my ground strong I yell a couple more times and the bear started to head up the hill behind the main house. When it got out of my view I run into the building and grab the air horn. Looking out the office bathroom I see the bear less than 5 feet away from me. I let the horn rip. Winner, Goose! The bear took off into the woods. An awesome first bear encounter and I am sure it will not be the last.
The word that I would choose if I were to tell someone in short what my job here at Camp Dodge really is “caretaker”. I have the responsibilities to make sure this lovely place of Camp Dodge is ready with arms wide open for all those who want to show up. However unlike all other caretakers of the White Mountain region I am in a front country setting. The good the bad and the ugly come from this fact. I love all the types of people that can visit the area, bummed by the fact that at least on this one fateful morning a car rally race, going on at the Auto Road, could be heard from my tent. But with this fact of being close to the road I do get some really fun opportunities like moving a bunch of mulch and compost around for the garden with the front-end loader. I get to sit all high up and feel as though I am a kid playing in a sand box yet again. Except this new sand box is huge and my toys are even bigger. All in all driving this beast of a loader, at least to me, is wicked fun and I would say it is one of the better perks of the job.
Camp Dodge has had a long history. Being in one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world and a started by the CCC in the early 30’s, the history for this place runs long and deep. It is a great pleasure for all our staff to be able to share this history with all the people young and old that comes through this place. From time to time we get some visitors that were either stationed here in the army back in the 50s or people that have been doing trail work in the region for 40 plus years. What I am learning the longer I hang around these parts the more I realize that I have not been here all that long yet and I really cannot claim any sort of know how about what this place really holds for secrets. There are two visits that have happened this year; one was from the old trail adopter of the wildcat ridge trail. Unfortunately he had to give up his trail after a heart attack. But he was just stopping by to see what was going on and how Camp Dodge was looking at its current. He and I talked for a little while, he told me that he thought the place looked great, which I thought was a great thing and he also told about when in his day of doing trails the person that was in my position, they called the “Mayor”.
As summer rolls on so does the garden. The garlic that was planted last fall was picked in the middle of the week by the four week Leadership Crew. We managed to harvest just shy of ten pounds of garlic. Wicked!!!! Onions and potatoes are looking nice and green. We planted a monster lettuce bed, when we cut just a fraction of the lettuce, we got 10 gallons. Had enough greens?? The Kale and Swiss shard are also looking nice a rich with their big leaves. Cannot wait put this into a stir fry! The peas made there last hurrah. For the season so far we have pulled roughly 15 pounds of sweet little pods. Wild raspberries surround the garden and the black berries are soon to fallow. Last year the best crop was the good old green bean. These little guys are just now starting to make their show. Day in and day out the beans seem to be appearing out of thin air, every other day a large bag of bean gets picked from the fields. This year with more bean plants I expect that soon enough we will be rolling around in a bath of beans. The Zucchini is also exploding faster than the Dodge staff can pick them. Veggie after veggie is exploding out of this grand garden. BOO YA.
On Friday July 25 the forest service put on a festival that was in honor of the Weeks Act. The Weeks Act is the bill that was put into law that allowed for the forest of the east coast to start getting protected. In the early 1900 the Whites Mountains were left for stumps and ash. To the dismay of many, Congressman Weeks put together a bill that supported the protecting of the White Mountains as well as helping improve the local industry. This year was the 100 year celebration for the completion of this bill. Out four week Leadership Crew got to be a part of all the festivities but demonstrating how to build a native and prefabricated bog bridges as well as rock cairns and scree walls that a typical hiker would see in the alpine zone. Many faces came and went looking with great curiosity about what we were doing. The members of the Leadership
Crew got to interact with the public talking about all of their experiences in the woods. It was great to see the team share all the knowledge about what they have learned.
Summer is rolling along faster than a big rock down a steep hill, hope everyone has a great day and gets to see the sun and a plant grow, this is 3-1 goose clear with Camp Dodge Journal #3