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Bristol's anniversary celebration kicks off with "Winter in the Woods" gathering

A group of snowshoe enthusiasts prepared for a hike up to Inspiration Point in Bristol last Saturday during a Winter in the Woods event that helped kick off the town's bicentennial celebration in 2019. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
January 23, 2019
BRISTOL – The Year 2019 is an exciting time in the Town of Bristol, as it celebrates 200 years since its founding in 1819, and as a prelude to the special events that will happen throughout the year, residents were invited to attend "Winter in the Woods" at the Slim Baker Lodge last Saturday, a traditional New England day outdoors.

Hosting the event were members of the Slim Baker Outdoor Education Center who also partnered with the Pasquaney Snowshoe Club for guided hikes up to Inspiration Point and through the 135-acres of wooded property on Little Round Top Mountain in Bristol.

Slim Baker Lodge and the ensuing foundation were created in honor of the area's much beloved New Hampshire Fish and Game Conservation Officer Everett "Slim" Baker, who died of cancer in 1953 at the age of 42. Just after his death, members of the community convened to find a way in which to honor Baker, and through the foundation they created, his love for nature and the outdoors still lives on today.

Last weekend Jen Walker, Executive Director of the center, was on hand to greet guests from not only Bristol but nearby towns who came out to enjoy the day. There was a bonfire with marshmallows for all to enjoy, snowshoeing and sledding that kept little ones entertained throughout much of the day. Those who hadn't brought sleds soon found cardboard and other old-fashioned means to go sailing down the short hill in front of the lodge.

Many adults preferred a snowshoe hike to the top of Inspiration Point where an amazing view of Bristol Village can be viewed. Wishing to only give first names, Cindy of Hebron said she had once enjoyed snowshoe hikes with the Pasquaney Snowshoe Club but had lost touch with them.

"When I heard they were going to be here today, I had to come out to network with them again. Plus, it's just a great day for a hike," she said.

Joining her group for the short but arduous hike to Inspiration Point were two new fulltime residents to Newfound, Kate and her husband Rich. They couple said that after seasonal stays in the Bristol area they were happy to have just moved here fulltime and were excited about the day's activities.

"We really like the people here, and we love being outdoors. When we heard about today, we went out and bought micro-cleats for the hike so we're ready to roll," said Kate.

As they and others, including a canine companion, started their winter uphill trek, another group of all ages was gathered around a nearby crackling bonfire.

Adults engaged in small talk about the community and their lives while children toasted marshmallows and tossed more sticks into the blaze.

"This is great," said Garlyn Manganiello. "It lets us all get out and about and enjoy a beautiful winter day!"

As squeals of delight echoed up from the sledding hill, still more people sat before a roaring fire inside the lodge where they, too, conversed and made new friends while enjoying cookies and warm beverages. There were also displays of past articles about "Slim" and the lodge along with old photos and information on current activities available at the lodge.

Walker said that when her organization heard the Bicentennial committee was looking to hold events throughout 2019, they jumped on board.

"They came up here looking for a winter location to hold an event and this was a natural fit," she said. "It's the perfect time to get people up here to see all we have to offer. This place is a gem and it's just outside of downtown Bristol."

Assisting Walker and the board of directors for the activities were not just members of the Pasquaney Snow Shoe Club but the young Cub Scouts of Pack 59 who helped with the bonfire and other details of the day.

"We've had a steady flow of people come up here today, even before the 2 p.m. start time. It's been a great day all around," said Walker.

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