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Explorer Patch Experience

by Michael Gould

June 3, 2024

LRCT is celebrating 45 years of conserving the Lakes Region! Throughout the year, we will be sharing memories and stories that took place on LRCT conserved lands – moments made possible thanks to incredibly generous and dedicated donors, landowners, conservation organizations, towns, volunteers, staff members, and supporters. 

(written October 13, 2021)

Friends sometimes ask me why I pursue patches and accuse me of being goal oriented and even a peak bagger. True perhaps, but I then turn to them and ask them if they have ever gazed over Trask Swamp at sunset or stepped into the Devils Den or climbed Bald Knob and looked over the lakes on a sunny day, to which they must admit they had not. [LRCT’s] patch program and others like it have given me countless priceless days wandering about in some of the best spots in NH, spots that I had never heard of and would never consider hiking without your encouragement. Its like checking off the items on your Christmas gift list except, the gifts are for yourself.

In my humble opinion, nature is spectacular in all seasons and weather. While I now have so many more memories, I hope you won’t mind me sharing one with you. It was on a grey Sunday afternoon that I walked around Knights Pond. One of the advantages of hiking on such days is that you typically have the trail to yourself. I hiked the dirt road to the picnic area (I call it the beach) and ducked into the narrow trail. As I got around to the tip of the peninsula, I heard voices across the pond and pulling out my binoculars, I could see a couple back at the beach fly fishing. The look on the girl’s face was pure joy. I continued over the bolder field and progressed around the marshy area alone with my thoughts. Hiking alone on a nice trail on a grey day allows me to delve into thoughts that could never surface on the hectic crazy busy days that permeate my work life. It’s for this reason that I try to spend every spare moment up in the mountain and lakes regions of NH. 

I always feel a bit sad when completing a list. It’s the feeling that I used to get when a semester ended at school and you had pack away the lessons learned and bid farewell to friends that you have enjoyed for months. It was this feeling that I had when hiking Jocelyn’s trail this past Sunday afternoon. I slowed my steps trying to take in the solitude of the moment a bit longer. I recalled moments on the various trails in the program and basked in a feeling of accomplishment. Alas, the wooden post marking the blue blazes came into view and I realized another list was done. 

While I will certainly hike some of the trails on this list again, I will be moving onto redlining the Castle in the Clouds trails. Having completed the Belknap 12 and Ossipee 10, I have hiked many of the trails. Looking forward to exploring the less utilized ones. And so another semester begins.

So many trails, so little time.

Interested in starting your Explorer Patch journey? Get started here.

Do you have a special memory or story that took place on one of LRCT’s conserved lands? We’d love to hear it! Help us reflect on 45 years of LRCT by filling out our form and sharing your story.