The Trail Register
Dispatches from the North Country and more
As my friends and Instagram followers may already know, E and I are back from our two-week thru-hike of the Cohos (pronounced co-ahs) Trail, which runs the length of Coös County, New Hampshire’s northernmost county, up to the Canadian border, before briefly slipping in and out of Canada on the last short but steep leg to the terminus at Fourth Connecticut Lake, the humble source of the Connecticut River.
As with our hike of the Northville-Placid Trail last year, I want to share excerpts of the daily journal I kept on trail, but I don’t want that to live (primarily) on Instagram. So I’ve taken advantage of a newish Substack feature to create a second newsletter publication within Pinch of Dirt called The Trail Register1, where I can share journal entries from this long trail and perhaps others in the distant or not-so-distant future.
By moving these journal entries to Substack, I can share longer posts, higher-quality images, and start weaning myself from a platform I am addicted to but don’t really like very much.
However, I know everyone here might not be interested in my trail tales, or in receiving an almost-daily email for the next two weeks, starting tomorrow. And that’s OK! If that’s the case, go to your Account page and unclick the box next to “The Trail Register.” You’ll still get regular Pinch of Dirt posts (if you leave that box checked), just not my dispatches from various and sundry long trails, now or in the future. And no hard feelings!
The rest of you can expect to see “Cohos Trail, Day One: Davis Path Trailhead to Stairs Mountain” in your inbox tomorrow.
As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time perusing the “Long-distance trails in the United States” Wikipedia page, I can’t say this article about snowshoeing part of the Cohos Trail was my first introduction to the route. But I believe it was the piece that inspired me to do more research and propose another thru-hike… (Miles Howard for The Washington Post)
Howard also dayhiked part of the Cohos with Kim Nilsen, the man who came up with the idea for the trail, which was only “finished” a decade or so ago. According to Nilsen’s daughter, Willow, use of the trail has “exploded” over the past year (Howard for the Appalachian Mountain Club)
Willow thru-hiked the trail in 2019, and wrote an essay as much about her father’s quest to build the trail as her journey in his footsteps (Willow Nilsen for Northern Woodlands)
As of 2015, Kim himself told a New Hampshire Public Radio reporter, “I’ve never hiked my whole trail end to end!” (Sean Hurley for NHPR)
In non-Cohos news: Yet another installment in the ongoing “what to do about crowding in national parks” debate, this one suggesting the country merely (lol) equip the most popular parks with the funding and resources necessary to handle greater numbers of visitors. This is a great example of a “well, duh” solution, as is my favorite specific, the well-trod suggestion to ban cars from the most popular parks and shuttle people from adjacent towns/communities instead (Jonathan Thompson for The Land Desk/High Country News)
Unsurprisingly, environmentalists and national park enthusiasts on Twitter seemed generally in support of spending more government money on parks, but since this suggestion was in opposition to the call for the creation of new national parks, the New National Parks campaign didn’t like it.
Must-read: Lauren Stroh does an admirable job marrying the personal and the (Louisiana) universal in this essay about living through four hurricanes in just 367 days. “But if you want to compare storms, I will not let you,” Stroh writes. “Each hurricane brings with it different changes and variations on historic traumas. They all reveal new and spectacular insights into our failing infrastructure, national apathy and disinterest, and institutional failures of aid. Anyone who is from here will tell you: every hurricane that hits, for the ones it fucks up, is the worst one ever.” (n+1)
Cold case: This story about the first Appalachian Trail thru-hiker and the man who says he was a fraud is a poignant delight, a meditation on the meaning of thru-hiking and individual striving (and failing). And I was not remotely surprised to learn (or relearn?) that the first—purportedly first—AT thru-hiker was a poet bent on doing something nobody had ever done before so that he could write and publish a book about it. A real heartstrings-puller. (Bill Donahue for Backpacker)
A trail register is the logbook, usually at a trailhead, where hikers and backpackers can record their comings and goings.