Cranmore Mountain Lodge
July 19-21, 2002

The NERSFL's annual summer 'canoe and hike' outing was held on the weekend of July 19 through 21, at the Cranmore Mountain Lodge, in North Conway, NH. Attending were 21 fun-loving guides and VIPís (visually impaired persons). We welcomed 3 new guides to our community.

Participants trickled in all day on Friday, then small groups drifted out to dinner, and while meals were generally uneventful, Marie and Joanne established a new record for the size of their desserts at the Lobster Trap restaurant. Later, an impromptu musicale of sorts took place in the inn's gracious music room, with piano solos by Joanne and Frank along with enthusiastic, if occasionally dissonant vocals led by Wally and Nancy.

After Saturday's breakfast(the first of several superb meals concocted by Chef Dave), Marie assembled the group, and participants divided into a fifteen-person Saco River canoeing group and a six-person hiking team headed for Black Cap and Cranmore Mts.

The riverites took six canoes along a five-mile trip, with a refreshing stop for bag lunches and a cooling dip in the wonderfully clear river. Barbara, Joanne, Paul and Frank showed their mastery of hot weather coping by finding a shady spot on the shore for a snooze. There was agreement that our canoeists were certainly the most graceful and efficient paddlers that day, contrasting with others on the Saco. Take- out point was reached in mid-afternoon, after which we were transported back to the canoeing center.

The hikers climbed Black Cap in an hour, then enjoyed bag lunches at the summit. To extend the hike, they took the Cranmore Mountain trail down the mountain, a rocky eroded downgrade with high grass and irregular footing, and all were spent by arrival at the bottom. Returning to the Lodge, an oasis appeared: three little boys with a lemonade stand! Wally, throwing financial caution to the wind, treated the group to lemonade, at 25 cents each. Linda described the hike as "Almost orgiastic!" We guess she meant challenging enough, but a pleasure, too.

Despite the rigorous activities of the day, on Saturday evening, the entire group was on the move again. After a first-rate dinner, several headed for "Peter Pan", presented in town, which was praised lavishly. Others went into North Conway to check out night life and shopping. Three rugged souls, Esther, Cindy and Phyllis opted to walk into town, a four- mile round trip. (Talk about energy!) As the evening darkened, their roles reversed and Esther and Cindy did the guiding! Less ambitious souls drove into town to enjoy shopping and ice cream. Linda set Conway's fashion reputation back years by purchasing and wearing a conical hat which might be worn by a sorcerer, a wizard, or a witch - a ticket to H. Potter's world, maybe?

A bit of music, dancing and singing topped off the eventful evening.

Sunday's breakfast equalled the excellence of all of the inn's meals, following which Marie chaired a meeting to plan the day's activities. Two adventures were offered: an "easy" hike, which turned out to be a trip on the Conway Scenic Railroad to Bartlett; and a more challenging hike on nearby North Mount Kearsage, also known as Pequawket.

The scenic railway ride was a delight for those ready for a bit of a "cop-out". It is an old-time tourist train with both first-class and dining cars. It passed by Mt. Attitash and Bear Mountain Ski developments, with enticing summer activities including water slide; crossed and recrossed the headwaters of the Saco River; and passed tent camp grounds and endless forestation. Ten minutes were allowed in the quiet town of Bartlett, after which the group enjoyed good conversation and cooling breezes on the final leg of the ride, and large fruit drinks in North Conway to top off the trip.

The hiking team spent four hours clambering up Mt. North Kearsage, on a trail aptly described in the guide book as ".. relatively easy., but not to be underestimated." In fact, the trail is strewn with rocks, boulders, and fallen trees, and tested the stamina of everyone. Despite the effort needed, climbers obviously enjoyed the challenge of the trail and partook of another fine bag lunch during a break. The hike ended in mid-afternoon when everyone returned in good condition to the starting point.

The highly successful summer outing ended late Sunday afternoon as twenty- one VIPs and guides let the inn for their trip home. There was unanimous agreement that our lodgings were outstanding, as was the cuisine. Innkeepers Kevin and Jean were perfect hosts; their chef Dave (Kevin's brother) provided top- notch meals and the inn's setting and atmosphere were conducive to a feeling of warm camaraderie for all of us. Nice job, everyone ... and nice JOB, Marie!

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