COMMUNITY/OPINION

Photo by Steve Lipofksy/Lipofskyphoto.com

By Francie Von Mertens

On Saturday, over 100 people gathered at Miller State Park in Peterborough and Temple to voice exuberant support for keeping the 1.3-mile road to the top of Pack Monadnock mountain free of utility poles.

After whoops and hollers, canine included as suggested by the photo, many hiked the road, experiencing why it’s one of the most popular walking trails in the region.

State agencies and Eversource had planned an 18-pole line along the upper half of the road, with tree clearing to start in November.

The project was postponed soon after a mid-October public information session where people spoke to the popularity of the roadway as trail, evidently not known by project planners at the time.

All agree that a utility upgrade to the summit is needed, and state agencies and Eversource have indicated they are working to find alternatives to a roadway power line.

Supporters of the trail formed the Pack Monadnock Road Alliance that has continued outreach to state agencies and Eversource, enlisting wide support through social media including a Facebook presence and email updates.

Roadway foot traffic begins early each day. David Baum is a 6:30 a.m. regular who meets others at that time, including in winter dark.

“We’re not the only early ones,” he said. “Our group passes other hikers every morning, including a daily group at 5:30 a.m. This time of year, footprints in the snow tell the tale of high trail use.”

Earlier on Saturday, leading a hike to the summit, Baum told the group he began hiking the road 20 years ago, highly motivated after heart surgery. He also hiked the trail with his future wife, proposing to her at the summit.

“Mine is just one of many stories. We are a passionate group, and we are pleased we have the state’s and utilities’ attention. And we intend to continue our outreach.”

The Monadnock Beat thanks Francie Von Mertens for this piece. Click here to read an interview by Monadnock Beat’s Meghan Pierce for the NH Union Leader with David Baum about his 20 years of hiking the summit road.