Summer on a Shoestring

Learning to Climb in the White Mts.
June 27, 2017, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Recreation, Uncategorized

Hello All! Claud here!

It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through the summer! I think that it’s safe to say that our crew has fallen in love with the White Mountains. The members of our group who were here last summer have been wonderful about recommending great restaurants, swimming spots, and hikes.

A wonderful thing about living and collaborating with so many other people is the unique perspective that each person brings to the group. As a new graduate student this has helped me to feel more prepared for the upcoming year. Whether I’m learning how to rate Beech Bark Disease from Trey, or how to find the best hikes from Adam (who’s definition of an easy hike is very different than mine…), I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from my fellow Shoestringers!

This past weekend has been a wonderful example of this experience. On Sunday, Alex Young took myself, my friend Emily (who visited us for the weekend), Milda, Trey, and our Forest Service friend Dylan out to Fryeburg, Maine to learn a bit about rock climbing. The spot was called Jockey’s Cap because of some reason that I either forget or never found out. We spent a good portion of our time bouldering, which I loved enough to ignore the massive blisters forming on my fingers.

climbing ripsfoost

We focused on three different boulders, the names of which I also don’t remember. After I became more comfortable with the idea of high rope climbing, Alex, Dylan, and I decided to try climbing the ledge. Alex led the climb, which I now know means going up first to set up cams (which keep us from falling very very far.) Alex and Dylan both knew what they were doing so I was free to sit back and wait for my time to shine.

alex y up

Unfortunately, just as I was about to have my turn it started to pour. Guess that’s weather in the mountains! We packed up and headed back into town to meet the rest of our group for some much needed pizza. Once we got there I won a free piece of not super fresh pizza because I got a special black gumball from the gumball machine!! Though the employees didn’t seem very pleased to fork over a free slice, my excitement was enough for all of us!

After I finished my subpar but deliciously free pizza we headed back home for a much more satisfying dinner cooked by Shiyi.

Although I didn’t get my chance to high rope climb, I’m completely satisfied with my Jockey’s Cap experience. These next 5 weeks are sure to be just as exciting and enriching as the last!

That’s all for now! Claud out 🙂


August 2, 2014, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Cooking in the white house, Recreation

By: Hannah Babel, Miami University

Since the summer is coming to a close and my family is visiting this upcoming weekend, the past weekend was my last with the shoestring crew. This summer here has been an amazing one, filled with simply splendid people and spectacular sights. And to start to wrap things up, I could not have asked for a better week/weekend.

After a very long couple of weeks in the field and lab sampling and processing our soil samples, the hustle and bustle finally slowed down just in time for our science night to learn all about the up and coming NEON project in Bartlett. NEON stands for the National Ecological Observatory Network. The corporation is still in the construction phase, but we had two speakers (including a former shoestringer) that are part of the Bartlett Experimental Forest site come to share with us what they are all about.

The following morning we all woke ourselves up at the crack of dawn so we could leave Bartlett by 6:45 and head to Hubbard Brook for a tour that the one and only Don Buso was going to give us on the experimental watersheds. It was a wonderful day to hike around Hubbard Brook, but despite seeing all there was there, the most exciting part of the day was having Don share a bit of his knowledge with us. That man captured us all with his stories of history and science and most of all his enthusiasm about the work that has been done there and what we are learning.

Don Buso

      The man himself, Don Buso.

The weekend finally rolled around and Friday night everyone seemed a bit tired so we all took naps. Some of us were out for the night, but then some of us woke back up and played some board games. Shinjini and Adam had their hand at Uno while Eli and I picked up some ice cream, played Pirateers with Donny, and took a stroll down the tracks to the Saco. If I had known what was going to be in store for me for the next day, I would not have gotten back up and slept through the night; but then again, sometimes you have to sacrifice a little sleep to make the most of every minute in a place like this. (So I guess it was worth it).

Saturday morning I woke up with a text from Soph asking if I was up for hiking Washington that day (they were planning on hiking it Sunday since Eli hadn’t summited it yet). I said “Let’s do it!” And off we were. Since Justin and I had hiked up Tuckerman’s earlier in the summer, a different path up the mountain sounded more exciting to us. Soph suggested Huntington’s Ravine since it seemed to be just a little steeper and we heard it had spectacular views. Immediately the trail was much more fun, and a quite a bit steeper. Crossing and following the rivers up to the ravine was stunning and an adventure. We reached the ravine, stopped for lunch, and up the steep part we went. This was no hike, this was rock climbing. My slight fear of heights was tested to the maximum, and Soph and Justin took the courageous spots of safely guiding me and Eli up the dodgy path (if you can call yellow arrows painted on rock faces a path).


Huntington Ravine

      Terrifying, yet so incredibly thrilling.

The views were worth it. This time climbing Washington I could see out and I was breathless, possibly both by fear and the beauty of the view each time we reached a flat spot or that I would glance over my shoulder. It wasn’t until I got home and did some quick reading that I found out what I had done that day was the steepest, most challenging, and most dangerous hike in all of the White Mountains. I am awfully proud of myself, but owe a lot of that to the amazing climbing buddies I had to get me through it.

Mt. Washington View

      (photo cred to Justin for this one, as well as the previous two.)

After we climbed down the mountain and got back to the White House, we realized how hungry we were, but lacked much energy to do any cooking and we jumped in the car. We headed for Moat mountain (a townie bar it seemed). And found the family style BBQ on the menu. All you can eat BBQ. It was too good, we all ate past the point of being full and Justin ate abou 3 times his weight in brisket.


     With a good amount of reorganization, we were able to fit all the plates on our table.


Sunday morning: Soph and Justin must’ve gotten up early because when I reached the White House they had already stared cooking up a perfect mountain breakfast. As if we didn’t eat enough the night before, we had a lovely assortment of berry and banana pancakes, eggs, toast, bacon, and fresh berries.


       Breakfast of champions (the Huntington’s Ravine champions that is)

Later on, we went out berry picking for eating or jam making. The day had started out rainy, but we were happy to see it clear up since the little time we have left here should not be spent cooped up indoors. We went along the tracks until we got just past the slab and closed our weekend with a swim in the Saco and some swings off the rope. I am not ready for this summer to end and this Midwestern girl is not ready to say goodbye to these magnificent mountains.


RR Tracks

It’s going to be a very hard goodbye


Club 550, and a little Bartlett fashion
July 23, 2014, 6:11 am
Filed under: Recreation, Uncategorized

By: Sophie Harrison, University of Michigan

Last week was a special one for the Shoestring Crew. Monday marked the start of the Bartlett stomach bug outbreak (Eli was the first victim and Hannah and I soon followed), and we had back-to-back birthdays to celebrate! Justin turned 22 on Wednesday, and Eli the big 2-1 on Thursday. By the time Friday rolled around, the birthday boy/patient zero and I had recovered enough to enjoy a night on the town. Naturally, we decided to get out to the famed Club 550 in North Conway.

“The White Mountain’s own Party Spot!”

“It’s an experience.”

-Sean the middle school teacher

“Not a lot of teeth.”

-Adam Wild

Our party posse was Adam, Jerome, Justin, Eli, his girlfriend Lauren, and I. We put on our best flannels (just kidding, kind of) and headed out. Hannah was super kind and drove us there. Club 550 is right off route 16, nestled in the corner of a strip mall next to a Chinese restaurant.

The excitement was palpable! The birthday boys got in free and we were greeted by some outrageous black lights. The place was not hopping, but the night was young!

(Apologies for snapchat photos)

(apologies for snapchat photos)

There was an empty checkerboard dance floor, brought to life by the black light glow. Aw yea. The age demographic was decidedly older than us. Most people looked to be in their thirties or so. Not the most refined folk.  I don’t know. Who knows. We got drinks and played ping pong until it was time to boogie.

image (4)

(There was also this spot with some nice lookin’ leather couches where Justin made a friend)

(There was also this spot with some nice lookin’ leather couches where Justin made a friend)

Dancing. What can I say! We danced the night away! Even our glorious leader shook it!  By then a decent amount of people were on the dance floor… a creeper on the prowl, couples, a bachelorette party, and one dude with a killer beard who had all the moves. As much as we love to science, it was nice to put it aside for a bit and just dance.  And when things were winding down, the DJ granted Justin & Eli’s wish (plea) for Akon with the final song.

It was a fun time, and definitely an experience. Thanks Club 550! We will return.

And now for a little Bartlett fashion…

Michael, Justin, Eli and I are the proud owners of hand-knit bear and moose sweaters from Bart’s general store. They are well-made, comfy, warm, and they scream White Mountains New Hampshire.

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I haven’t earned my moose sweater though, because I haven’t seen a moose here. Interestingly, I’ve been having bear-themed dreams so I’m wondering if I might have chosen the wrong sweater animal. Here’s hoping for a moose spotting before we leave!

image (9)


…I don’t want to leave!

An Accidental Summit
July 16, 2014, 2:34 am
Filed under: Recreation, Uncategorized

By: Justin Turlip, REU NYU

Adam asked if we wanted to go see the snow in Tuckerman Ravine. Maybe we could sled, he said.

None of us had any idea where or what Tuckerman Ravine was, but there was a resounding “yes!” at the mere mention of snow after sweating profusely while spreading fertilizer up and down hills all day long.

Adam, Stephanie, Chelsea, Hannah, Michael, Riot, Danny and I hopped into two cars around noon on Father’s Day 2014 to hunt for snow. We packed lunches, and Adam and I brought tubes, just in case the snow was begging for some sledding.

We parked at Pinkham Notch and I finally realized–after seeing a bunch of signs–that Tuckerman Ravine was on Mt.Washington. Sweet.

We started up a trail passed the lodge, passing a young couple with a little boy. The little boy was wearing a Superman costume, leaping and bounding from rock to rock, his cape billowing at every jump.

Adam and I like to push ourselves, so we moved up the rocky, wide, hilly trail a bit more quickly than the rest, and before long we were all separated. About a mile up the trail we reached a bridge over a rushing creek and decided to wait for everyone there. About a half hour later everyone caught up to us. After realizing we were still no where near the Ravine and that this wasn’t just an easy hike, Stephanie and Chelsea decided they would rather wait in the lodge. Adam, Riot, Michael, Hannah, Danny and I pushed on, the trail getting narrower, steeper and rockier all the while. The vegetation changed as well, from the hardwoods we were all familiar with in our plots, to conifers living happily in the cooler air of the high elevation. We reached a cabin, where we saw a few intimidating signs for the trail that would take us to Tuckerman. It also let us know there was water nearby.



We hopped on the trail, but stopped at the water spigot to let our Glorious Leader top off our canteens. Then we were on our way again, thirsty only for the sight of snow. All along the trail, we saw signs that warned of us of danger up ahead–much of the trail was in fact closed due to the risk of avalanche.


As we came over the crest of a steep climb, the vegetation had shrank to little more than alpine shrubs and small trees.


Then, at long last, we saw the Ravine. It was filled with dirtying snow, a few fresh ski tracks from those daring skiers who couldn’t bear letting an ounce of snow go to waste, and creeks cutting snow and ice into dangerous crevices.


Adam and I ran up the next little hill, were the first to reach the snow, and had enough time to make a pile of snowballs to hurl at the slowpokes. After a snowball fight that left our bare hands red and numb, we took some pictures.

Hannah is hardcore

Hannah is hardcore











While I was up on a rock doing stupid poses for pictures, I looked down and saw a bright blue stone in a puddle filled with a bunch of less interesting stones. I reached in and pulled it out.


It was a rock painted with the Superman symbol! Clearly, the little boy that we had passed at the beginning of the trail had not been wearing a mere costume–young Superman had flown to the top ahead of us and left his mark at the Ravine.

After I showed everyone the clue Young Superman had left behind, Adam and I decided it was time to tube. We took the tubes out of our backpacks, blew them up, then staggered and slipped our way up the snowy hill a ways. We barreled down the mountain for a short ride, until we had to jam our feet and hands into the snow to try and stop, or we would end up in the rocks or a crevice.


Adam had brought a swimming tube made for a toddler, so after a couple of runs it popped and wasn’t of much use. So, he decided to go skiing. Only, he hadn’t brought and skis. Only running sneakers. He clambered up the hill once more, got a running start and hopped onto both feet as if he were skiing and went whizzing down the mountain for a surprisingly long time. He managed to stop before the rocks and looked up at us with a big stupid smile on his face, “You gotta try that!”

I did, but my hiking boots had a heel that dug into the snow, so I couldn’t reach the speeds that he did and I certainly wasn’t as graceful.


Adam ran up and did it a half a dozen more times, clearly having a blast.

Then we explore the Ravine some more. The rest of the trail up was closed because of the risk of avalanche, but we decided to make our own trail up where we thought it was safe enough. We clambered up some huge boulder and through some bushes, taking care to disturb the delicate alpine vegetation as little as possible. Michael was wearing a pair of skateboard shoes and was struggling on the loose, slippery terrain, so he decided to turn back and wait at the lodge with Stephanie and Chelsea.

When we reached the top of Tuckerman Ravine, we laughed at the sign that told us it was too dangerous to climb.


We also realized that we had made it pretty far up the tallest mountain in the Northeast, to simply turn around and head home seemed like a waste.

Of course, the last mile or so was the hardest. The closer we got to the summit, the colder is got, and the more the wind began to gust. We hadn’t dressed for the place that claimed with pride to have “The worst weather in the world.” And the climb got steeper and rockier still. We didn’t see many people, but the people that we did see had jackets, long pants, hats and hiking poles–clearly more prepared than us.

We took a few short breaks to warm up and catch our breath behind large boulders that kept the wind at bay. Then we made our final push for the summit. We made it up all 6,288ft of Mt.Washington and took a picture to prove it.


Then we went inside to get food at the concession stand. Yes, there is a concession stand at the top of the mountain. And a gift shop. And a museum filled with leather clad  bikers and heavyset mothers who “summited” in minivans packed to the brim with small children. It’s kind of anticlimactic. Oh well. I got a sandwich and a hot coffee on top of a mountain and it really hit the spot. The visibility was pretty awful at the top, and there was a screen that showed us what the weather was.


Then we realized that we had left Stephanie, Chelsea and Michael in the lodge for quite awhile. We had no cell service to call them. Also, Hannah has a bad knee and wouldn’t be able to move down the mountain too quickly. Hitchhiking down the mountain was forbidden and the cog train was too expensive to justify. We decided that Adam and I would run down the mountain as quickly as we could, pick up the three hanging out in the lab and head home in one of the cars, while Hannah, Riot and Danny would take their time so Hannah wouldn’t hurt herself.

Adam and I had a blast running down the mountain, choosing our lines with care and deft, moving as expeditiously as the terrain would allow. We arrived at the lodge around 7:30pm. Chelsea gave us a death glare as we walked in the door and uttered not a single word to us–clearly not happy about how long she had to wait. Michael, however, had picked out a new geology book from the gift shop, and Stephanie was contentedly curled up asleep on a ledge.

We drove back to the White House. Adam drove, I sat in the passenger seat examining Superman’s memento, and we talked about the hike even though the others clearly didn’t want to hear about it.

Hannah, Danny and Riot made it back alive and well about an hour later.

And that is the story of our impromptu hike up Mt.Washington.




Shoestring Crew 2014: Week 1
June 8, 2014, 1:37 pm
Filed under: Recreation, Uncategorized
20140603_193434By Jamal
On June 3rd, Jarred and I joined the Shoestring crew while they prepared for their summer research. After measuring out fertilizer to add to the plots next week, we stepped out of the lab to take a walk to the Saco River. While we were walking down the railroad tracks, I was surprised to see a big, black bear on my first day up at Bartlett. The crew scrambled for their phones to take pictures. While we did not get good quality shots, most of us were excited to see it and scared to get any closer. When we got too close it finally wandered back into the woods. After seeing the black bear, the sunset over the mountains, venison stir fry, rhubarb cake with ice cream, and talking about research I could truly say it was a good first day.


The Man, The Myth, Christian Riese Lassen
November 4, 2013, 12:13 am
Filed under: Recreation

By Eric MacPherson

When someone thinks of forest ecology the logical next thought is puzzles. While thinking about puzzles two names come to mind, the guy who invented the jigsaw, and Christian Riese Lassen.

Adam picked up a box of 12 puzzles from a yard sale for 25 cents, a price that I’m sure Tony would have said is too much. One particular rainy weekend that box was opened and what resulted was a love affair with the spectacular work of Christian “The Dolphin Whisperer” Reise Lassen.

The resulting 12 puzzles created a sort of competition as to who can do the puzzles the fastest, and also how fast all of them can get done. Needless to say the end of the weekend resulted in the completion of all 12, ranging from easy 100 piece ones to hard 500 piece ones.  Our entire tabletop became a shrine to Christian Riese Lassen.  At dinnertime I would look down at my plate of “Tony’s famous chicken legs” and see the head of a sea turtle peaking out from underneath my plate.



After a few weeks of a colorful tabletop, we realized they had to go. The puzzles thought otherwise and some were stuck to the table. After loosening all the pieces we knew we couldn’t destroy them. There’s only one logical thing that can be done. Preserve the puzzles with glue and duct tape for all future Shoe stringers to enjoy. And where does one construct a Christian Riese Lassen shrine? Well in the boring white bathroom of course, because nothing says “good morning, hope that was a good shower” like a unicorn gracefully aside a lake, or a giant tiger head.

Hopefully the shower has a Christian Riese Lassen shower curtain soon, which he makes, or a CRL soap dispenser, or even CRL soap, which I’m almost positive he makes.   The guy has his designs on everything. CRL 2 CRL 3

(Notice the man himself, in the black and white photo in the lower right corner. Yep he is riding a white horse, no biggie)


Now one might expect the Christian Riese Lassen fad to die out with the last of the 12 puzzles was hung on the wall. However, you’d be wrong. Megan could not contain herself and so before long we had a 1000 piece 3 ft wide masterpiece. I only use that word because I can think of a word better than masterpiece. With some help form Hongzhang’s son who is 3 by the way, I finished that puppy in no time.



Nothing says Northern Hardwood Forest like a 3 foot ocean panorama.



Strawberry Fields Forever!
October 9, 2013, 4:13 pm
Filed under: Cooking in the white house, Recreation

By Cleo Warner

One of the greatest things I’ve found about summer in the Bartlett area has been the berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, service berries; they are all here once the warm weather rolls through. The greatest part is that you can get them for free if you know where to look. So far we have collected blueberries on the side of 302, raspberries from various bushes behind the white house, service berries from second iron, and the smallest strawberries I’ve ever seen from the grass by the dorm back door.  Little did I know that the berry lottery was waiting for us at the very end of strawberry season.


It was a sunny Sunday afternoon when I was able to convince the group to drive down to the strawberry stand off Westside Road, promising them I heard that the price for picking had gone down as the season was coming to a close soon. I was of course only able to do this by reminding them how great jumping in the river would feel after we spent a little while in the sun. So we piled into two cars and set off on the adventure, only to find that the stand appeared to be all but abandoned upon our arrival.

My heart sank. After our outing to the terribly disappointing Conway strawberry festival (which, yes, was also upon my insistence), I had promised that this experience today would make up for the let down of the last. Yet when we pulled up to the stand, we were met only by an unenthusiastic teenage boy most likely set up by his parents to sell what appeared to be some store bought blueberries and the remaining of their homemade jams. I leaned out to ask if we could still go pick berries from the field and was answered with the information that strawberry season was “officially over”. The situation was looking increasingly bleak by the moment, and everyone knew it. But with our Shoestring crew tenacity we pushed further.

“Can we go look? Just check if there’s anything?”

“I mean, there’s nothing there, the season is over, but I guess you can go look if you want”

After a minute or two of debating amongst ourselves, Adam decided that was all the permission we needed, and that it was at least worth the look. Within about a minute of stepping out of the car and into the fields, we were sure glad we took this opportunity. Strawberries could be seen from nearly right off the road. End of the season? No more left? Had these people been blind? Some of the rows towards the back appeared to never have even been picked this season. We hit strawberry a secret heaven and it was all ours!

We grabbed any container we could find. Whether it be stray cups from the car, an old tote bag, our shirt ends folded over to double as a sack, or left over picking containers strewn through the fields. We filled them all. Everywhere you turned you were met by berries even bigger and more abundant than the last you grabbed. We continued like this for over an hour, scouring row after row until our fingers were died red and our stomachs began to ache. I won’t lie, a few of us may have gone a little strawberry mad.


In the end though, our berry insanity paid off big time. We sorted the loot into categories of strawberries that could be eaten in the next few days, those that needed to be used immediately, and those that we would freeze to save. This, believe me, was no easy task, but well worth it when we had enough strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake, and strawberry smoothies to last us to the end of the summer. Moral of the story: strawberry season isn’t over until the Shoestring crew says it’s over.