February 13, 2013BETHLEHEM — Another winter Bretzfelder series has kicked off. Last Wednesday evening, 30 people enjoyed Mike Dickerman's lecture to start the four weekly February lectures. His talk was entitled, "A Labor of Love: Revising the AMC White Mountain Guide."
Littleton resident Dickerman and fellow hiking enthusiast Steve Smith, of Lincoln, spent a lot of time on trails in order to get the Guide updated. One major challenge was damage that Tropical Storm Irene caused. Two extra months were provided for the update process, which was necessary because so much of the trail system was damaged.
Working with Smith was a treat for Dickerman. "Whenever he's on the trail, he's on the job," Dickerman said.
Dickerman called the Guide "the Bible for White Mountain hikers." A hiking columnist and author, Dickerman informed attendees, "It was a real honor to work on something like this." Hiking trails in the White Mountains now cover 1,400 miles, Dickerman said.
The Guide, now in its 29th edition, was first published in 1907. Dickerman held up a copy of the then-slender book. Eighty cents was the cost for the Guide back then, and only 600 copies were published.
The pages of the current Guide are much bigger, and the size has ballooned to nearly three times the page length of the first edition. Dickerman said the Guide now gets called "The Brick."
Twelve sections are included in the 29th edition. This divides the trail system into geographic areas.
Dickerman shared several photos as part of his presentation. He recapped his adventures, including some falls and lots of ticks. Last season's tick population was much heavier than normal.
Dickerman said the editorial process included walking trails, fact checking, and general editing. He said Forest Service staff, local trail groups, and conservation organizations were all vital helpers in the update process.
Word of mouth and Internet postings keeps the Guide current, Dickerman said. He praised the numerous devoted hiking fans throughout the trail system. "Two of us couldn't possibly cover all the trails," Dickerman said.
Since the Guide only gets updated about every four years, Dickerman said the most current information was necessary. "Our goal was to be as accurate as possible," he said.
He covered a number of trails throughout the region. Dickerman said he embarked on hikes with a pole in one hand and the 28th edition in the other. He wanted to compare information in the old guide "to what I was actually seeing on the trail."
One of his trails was Kilburn Crags. The spot is known for the great views of Littleton and the Presidential Range.
Much of the revision work was done in late August 2011. Then Irene unleashed her fury. "Our September 30 deadline just went out the window," Dickerman said. The storm "really put a monkey wrench in everything," he continued.
Irene impacted more than 40 trails. Some of Dickerman's pictures showed hiking trails that Irene turned into temporary streams. Washouts and hazardous conditions developed as a result of the big storm.
The Guide's latest edition includes new descriptions of 15 trails. Some of those are the Falls in the River Trail in Pittsburg, the Loop Trail around Bald Mountain and Artist's Bluff in Franconia, and several trails in Shelburne.
Smith blogs about his adventures walking the Whites. Go to http://mountainwandering.blogspot.com/