Driving north on I-91 and just past the Hanover exit, I caught one of my favorite glimpses: Mt. Cube with Mt. Moosilauke just beyond it. Their summer cloak of vivid green was gone, however, replaced by mid-September’s tapestry of brilliant red, yellow, and orange foliage. The grandeur of autumn set the perfect stage for Pemi’s first Annual Fall Alumni Weekend.
The bridge to camp rumbled under my car as I arrived early on Friday, a day made complete with 73-degrees and a crisp blue-sky. The buildings and grounds staff was painting cabins on Intermediate Hill and Larry was busy in the Nature Lodge. The first guests to arrive on Friday afternoon—in true stealth mode and with classic energy—were Bob Zock and Dave Spindler, who took an immediate jaunt up Mt. Cube. Their dope stop included a visit to an old haunt in Bradford, with a return to camp timed perfectly to meet the rest of the crew, soon to gather in the lodge.
As the afternoon sun fell behind Pemi Hill, more rumbles from the bridge signaled new arrivals. Cruising in were Jon Hyde, Steve Webster, and John Taylor. This was Taylor’s first trip back to the shores of Lower Baker since his year on the counseling staff in 1970. His influence from that summer remains deep in Pemi’s culture. As it turns out, he was a motivating force behind Larry’s Maine stories…more on that later! Next to arrive were Matthew, Alison, and Anneke, aka the Egbert Family, who entered the newly renovated Lodge in awe of its enlarged space, which was perfect for Anneke, age 2, to run in circles. Soon, Anneke and family retreated to their home for the weekend, Lower 2.
We awoke Saturday to a gorgeous Pemi morning, with a few hearty individuals taking their Polar Bear dip while the remaining ventured to the Shower House. Fred Fauver, serving as host in the Big House, enticed Alumni with the smell of scrambled eggs, sausage, and coffee, the latter of which brought Deb Kure skipping up the hill from her Garden House residence. Parker Shiverick joined the group and filled in the last seat at the large Big House table.
After breakfast, the bikers—Fred and Peter Fauver, Steve, and John—took off on a 46 mile route that took them north to Oliverian Notch, through the old village of Pike, and across to Haverhill before heading south to Orford. Zock and Spindler left on another adventure, this time to tackle Dead Man’s Hill across the pond, where they bushwhacked their way to the rock face that is visible from Pemi’s grounds.
The other hikers—Kure, Hyde, and Shiverick—jumped in the Pemi blue van and headed towards Mt. Moosilauke. After arriving at the Ravine Lodge, they ventured up the Gorge Brook Trail to the east peak, switched over to the Carriage Road towards the south peak and descended using the Snapper Trail. As any Pemi hiker knows, no trip is complete without the requisite cheese and pepperoni on the summit. This group had prepared well and was able to reward some Appalachian Trail thru-hikers with leftovers; what a prize!
Meanwhile, back at Pemi, the temperature climbed into the low 80’s and Matthew Egbert returned to a favorite spot on Lower Baker – the helm of a Sunfish. Perfect wind from the northwest allowed him to tack to and fro as he made his way towards Flat Rock with a long run back towards Senior Beach. I ventured over to the Lower Lake on a kayak, a place I seldom get to visit during the summer months.
After lunch, more rumbles announced the arrival of the Sargent family. Jake and Ann arrived in their mini-van with Janie, Zander, Nick and bikes in tow. With boundless energy, they leapt out of the car, ready to explore Pemi. After quickly unpacking in Lower 7—their home for the night—they were on their bikes and the journey continued. Stopping in the Nature Lodge, they were greeted by Larry who handed each their own personal piece of mica!
Within the hour, Josh Lucas appeared. His weekend respite to New Hampshire was the perfect break from the hubbub of life on “The Hill”…the other one. Half of Lake Tent ’97 was now in attendance!
Soon the bikers returned, followed shortly thereafter by the hikers. Everyone gathered at Senior Beach to swap stories, connect with the weekend’s newcomers, and to enjoy a classic Pemi barbeque that included delicious beans cultivated in Larry’s Native American Garden. Al and Bertha Fauver made an appearance, welcoming Alumni back to Pemi and offering their sage wisdom. As the sun began to set, folks gathered around the campfire circle to hear from Larry and John, who shared some classic stories, including Larry’s Learning to Shoot; always a crowd favorite. Matthew brought out his guitar for a few sing-alongs. We sung our best rendition of the Campfire Song before the little ones headed to bed. The opening lyric, “If I lived to be nearly a hundred, and ev’ry year one of joy, I wonder if I should remember, the times when I as a boy,” felt especially fitting for this alumni group.
Sunday morning we awoke to fog but the Pemi spirit was never brighter as a few brave Polar Bears took the plunge and all enjoyed the breakfast that followed once again in the Big House with Fred’s pancakes and coffee, with a warm fire taking the edge off of a cool, crisp morning. Post-breakfast, folks began to depart, carrying back not only their own copy of the Pemi History Book and the Pemi Kid magnet but also a rekindled sense of belonging to the Pemi community.
Jake Sargent offered his perspective to the weekend. “After 8 years away and three kids later, all of us felt right at home with the place, the people, and the bugs in the squish. Introducing our children to Pemi at this time of year and in this relaxed and welcoming way is a memory that will surely be with the rest, and among my Pemi best.” Before departing on Sunday, the Egberts shucked beans from the Native American garden with Larry and Deb. Looking back over their weekend, Matthew summarized it with, “We shucked beans with Larry and Deb, went canoeing and sailing and I played some guitar, so I guess my occupations for the weekend were Wild Foods, Canoeing, Sailing, and Guitar. Perfect!”
Perfect, indeed, with gorgeous weather and transcendent spirit that seems to infuse everyone who spends time in this place.
Circle your calendars for September 25-27, 2015 for the Second Fall Alumni Weekend.