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Thursday, October 26, 2017
Speak up for Pack Monadnock road

To the editor,

In my Backyard Birder column last week, I did my best to explain what walking the Pack Monadnock summit road means to so many people. I wrote in response to a plan by the State and utilities (Eversource and others) to run an 18-pole power line along the upper half of the road, crossing the road at least eight times. I received an email from Dave Buren in response to the column. I can’t imagine a more compelling testimony to what the roadway means to people lucky enough to have it in their lives. He’s hiked it for decades. It’s a letter that stirs emotion. “Your Birder article touches to the very heart and spirit of the Pack Monadnock climb. I smiled to myself at Carl’s comment (during one hike), ‘I’ve been to church today.’

“My wife Mary died of brain cancer in 1995. My four kids and I sat watch with her throughout the night, there was a strong rain with sleet pounding the windows. ... She died before dawn. After the shock and grief settled a bit, I walked over and opened the slider to get a breath of fresh air. The sky was crystal clear with sparkling stars!

“ ‘Come on guys, let’s go!’ We all got on our winter clothes (it’s January) and drove over to the Pack. We hiked to the summit, mostly in silence for it was our cleansing meditation and our church service. Later, I spread some of her ashes at the summit.

“Thanks for expressing my sentiments so eloquently. Dave”

Dave said I could share his letter. To the planners, the road was just a road and that’s where you put power lines. They are learning – as soon as the plan was announced – that the road is a trail likely second in use only to Monadnock’s White Dot Trail. Huge buses unloading school kids at the bottom is one reason, along with locals who hike it as many times a week as possible. Year-round. (The road is gated for more than half the year.) Plans were to start cutting trees along the road in November. That’s been postponed – we’ve heard it said. The State set up a site to receive comments (millerproject@nh.gov) – finally.

The power line was planned without public notification. Not even The Nature Conservancy, whose Joanne Bass Bross Preserve fronts along a good stretch of the impacted roadway, knew of the project. Add your voice, please. The upgrade is required by national code. Request a solution other that a power line along the road. Walk it, too. You’ll likely see more fellow hikers than cars.

Francie Von Mertens

Peterborough