Eric and I used to call short hikes up the small mountains around Northwood, more than a walk but less than a several thousand foot ascent, hikettes. Climbing to Neville Peak, an open knob on the ridge of Nottingham Mt. in Epsom, is one of my favorite hikettes. On a clear day the peak of Mt. Washington, 100 miles to the north, is visible, a white cap behind the horizon of closer mountains in winter.
For the decades I’ve been hiking to Neville Peak it’s been mostly deserted. Now, with a new trail reopened by an Eagle Scout and my friend Alison’s efforts to publicize this local treasure in the Epsom Town Forest, we often meet one or two people on the trail, and when I got to the peak a few months ago was surprised to find a collection of cairns scattered across the open ledge.
Though my friends and I have been climbing to this spot for decades, we’ve never built cairns. As much as I like piling and balancing rocks, and always add to cairns when I find them on a mountain top, it had never occurred to me to build them on Neville, even though the open ledge is scattered with all sizes of loose rock, mostly granite.
When I was on Neville a few weeks ago I used a long flat rock to make a bridge between two square rocks and then started a pile on both the bridge and each end. Yesterday when I was there a new bridge was balanced on the edge of the ridge, framing the horizon of mountains.
Mt. Washington wasn’t visible but there was a garden of communal sculptures at my feet.