How many have died…so near, so far…
In tempest of frost, of snow, of rain,
Off a stone trail…alone and lost…for
Want of moisture, or injured, in pain,

Or choice that’s the Last-brief, fleeting time
To save? Long…so long…gods’ rocky grave…
One foot before last…lives in such clime
That changes all futures, crushes with waves

Of destruction! Destinies undone!

Youths and their elders lie and they sleep,
Forever one with Mount Washington,
Sea on a summit, strong and so deep;
War lost for some…for others it won.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018



through falls and winters, clinging tight to crest of earth
harassed from very early times, before men’s birth,
wracked free of every dream she’s had, her wholesome worth,
survival pressed within, down clear to toes.

it wasn’t one brief moment when she lost it all,
gave up the hope of living long, of growing tall,
yet beauty never left her dance, her close-knit shawl,
wove time with its tomorrows and its woes.

she could live half a century, or full or more,
her blood breathe like a shattered thing from every pore,
her story go untold as buried book of lore,
her destiny a lawn where Stranger mows.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018


The chill of morning pricked my skin
And all the passions felt within.
My soles pressed firm to touch the earth,
Expending all my inner worth
To make me feel, for moment, one
With calm of nature, warmth of sun.

My stride was quickened, dew was drawn,
A king made out of lowly pawn
By boot felled swift on tapered trail
That freshened mind from tests and tales
I left behind to face what’s true,
In nature’s dawn made fresh anew.

It’s there I faced, lone and forlorn,
A part of me unknown yet torn.
And somewhere in the rise of sun,
Between a trot and open run,
I found earth’s passion to renew
And turned to heights as brave ones do.

In such reflections men find peace
Until the mountains’ mornings cease.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2014


Aeons it took to carve a world we let carve us,
The scars that pit yet yield the trails which wind to heart,
Traversed by souls they long to bring to peace; we must
Go back to prehistoric times which made their mark,
Return to gather nothing but a shifting sky…

A place where men must rest and in the evenings lie.
Arise! leave all regrets, as stars that fade with dark.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018

blooms scattered on the mountains


fine gauze wrapped ’round the mountain on that summer’s morn,
like mists of memories that rest until reborn,
as eyes hold what they cannot hold when heart is torn,
lone photograph which lingers in the mind.

they may have climbed to seal the bond they’d made for life,
first warmth of partnership they held as man and wife,
or bring back to their thoughts and prayers the loss of life,
great tragedies and hopes of humankind.

the roses, placed on monument with utmost care,
conclusion of a promise made or foolish dare,
enveloped heart within the mist; I paused to stare,
to ponder on the peak this precious find.

the storm took all these dreams one night by rain and wind,
regardless of rich destinies, of faith, of sin;
yet in the end a man must rise, new life begin,
continue on the path and hold to sign.

we’ll journey up this peak again another day,
reminding ourselves life at times bears souls away,
but cling we must to edge that Time shall never stay,
that spirit in the haze where we’re inclined,

blooms scattered on the mountains, bent and blind.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018


Rebecca M. Vogt
Copyright 2013

As dark descends, the stars ascend
Above the shadows of the wood.
And so it is with evil, good,
With death and life, with foe and friend.

I bathe in coolness, bask in fire
On nights as these, so silent I
Can hear things never heard in my
Daytime deafness, a pure desire

Found yet again, defying end.
It is in night that stars arise,
Much like the love within your eyes.
Fear not the darkness; rise and mend.

Hear! Rapt coyote calls to sky,
His worship clear with piercing truth.
At night such prayers give ample proof
We too can rise when all hope dies.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017



i just awoke, two hundred years beyond my time,
asleep beneath the trees, deaf, dumb, yes, even blind,
and rise to find a very different human-kind,
that’s lost its deepest, wisest sense of touch.

i cannot talk to people, who all walk alone,
their plans and dreams encompassed in a single phone,
a world whose cries for help are muffled by its tone,
insensitive to that more dear and much.

if i return to slumber, will all flesh be gone,
replaced by wire and diode, void of right or wrong,
encased in pure titanium, no heart, no song,
interred within man’s coffin and his crutch?

all human-kind have left the simple call of love,
have left their dreams of flying to the stars above,
and have not come to point where they have said: “Enough!”,
replaced their hearts for switches and for such.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018



I’ve made so many more mistakes
Than I could ever count,
And on occasion I debate
My conscience and I mount
Each petty detail and each time
I made a choice gone bad,
Those fickle foibles and those crimes
That make a man so sad.
Forgiveness is the finest thing
A person can possess;
Yet, self-forgiveness with it brings
True reason to be blessed.
I grappel with that angel still,
Perhaps to my last breath,
To wring out blessing through my will
Or take it to my death.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017

Brief Candle: Memorial Day Thought 2018

This weekend is a contemplation of sad losses to us as a nation and to us as individuals. My sharing today is the loss of a youth so long ago, my high school classmate, Stephen Tingley. I enlisted in the United States Army a year prior to his enlistment in the United States Marine Corps. We lived in an age when Vietnam was fresh in the minds of Americans and soldiers were looked down upon, abused in public, and generally forgotten. Yet we served. We felt it was our duty. So when so many of our classmates went to college and very sheltered lives, we did not. This is his story. This is his brief candle:

(And 240 others who died, October 23, 1983, Beirut, Lebanon)

It’s funny how the dead peer through
Each blast of cold of all we knew
To make our memories more true
In curtained clarity.

He joined, as I did, hoisted gun,
We youths at best, our lives begun,
And thought it all might just be fun
In full sincerity.

Our uniforms were soiled as green,
And wills and wants were just as keen,
Our training made our muscles lean,
Yet one day leaner, he.

He died in first sound of a war
That has killed thousands by the score,
Yet his Two Hundred, lost of lore,
Lost to eternity.

I stood above his grave that year,
First saw his flag and then drew near;
Salute and sob he could not hear,
As silent as could be.

He sleeps within his barracks still,
And won’t awake, yet over hill
I see his colors, flying till
He stands eternally.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2016stevetingley


Fires that last start slowly.
I pause to toss in my twig,
You pause to toss yours.
And so burns the steady fire
Through years.

Loves which last start slowly.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018


i realize i’ve found that soul
which lies with mine as one,
adrift within the universe,
that lifts as ray of sun,

with power in the touch of hair,
a wind to tack my sails,
to lift to islands in the stream
of life, weaver of tales.

as trust is measured after storm,
so fate has brought us through
our myriad of defilades
and wars that made thus true.

that gentle agent of my life
has worn and damaged hands,
and swift-forgives a slip in tongue,
for patience understands.

this ever-faithful soul is Me,
we’re bound as tight as skin;
our step is measured by a song
both know by heart, akin.

the truest test of love to
last, unchanged by time or winds?
first love Thyself to love without;
stand strong! next tale begins!

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018


My mind has gone exploring in a wetland dream,
Between the peaks of glory and the clearest stream
Which snows have fed; their journey never ends, it seems,
Perhaps in truth our story, after all.

A spirit bowed is tended by a force unknown,
Each day of strength one simple line of person’s poem,
Created in a moment, to be left alone
Until the heart is stirred by restless call.

If God dwells not in temples, never seen by eye,
And scans from seamless perch far above in sky,
Yet deep within these senses where our treasures lie,
To guard the soul within our inner hall,

Then godliness, a structure built, but not by hand,
Nor architect and craftsman to exacting plan,
Each wetland dream retained within a woman, man,
O, why would we surround such with a wall?

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018



This dawn whispers so faint,
Like harp’s light cords in a dream,
Fingered by a faceless spirit,
Rising up to heaven.

This dawn whispers so bold,
Like an owl, weary of the hunt,
That blinks one simple eye, to hold
Forever within his plaintive cry.

This dawn whispers with hope,
Like a mother’s gaze, staring at her
Babe, suckling, newly born,
All night’s pains displaced by joy.

This dawn whispers with many faiths,
Of wings, of paws, of hoof, of light,
Sung much less by the rise of sun
In beams of glory, than by mind’s own mists.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018


Each soul
Is a time-worn cavern
Upon a peak, distant,
In the sun.
It is fissured and cracked.
It has depth, discerning
What each life, worn, rich, re-torn,
Yet willing
Can yield, its treasure deep,
Held by hope

And those yields!
For in these depths, true,
Lay time’s untouched toils,
Places not dwelt in, pains
Pushed to darkened rooms
We seal;

Yet, in those same depths,
Less-touched treasures:
Diamonds, carved by ice,
Gold gifted, refined, scattered
In its streams——
And dreams! So many

Those mountains of the morning,
So stately,
Beauty’s beacons,
Are but one distant

The longed adventure,
That dreamed adventure
Lies beneath us, to
Be revealed,
To be discerned
Within and deep,
Beneath and through-
It’s true-
To din of dust.

Rise with me!
Take pause and ponder,
And, to our end,
Come claim our

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018

the rain is cold

it is night;
showers drum
their sure,
cool rhythm
upon my roof,
heaven cries
as we
saying what lays
close to soul,
charm that’s hidden
deep as heart.

the rain is cold,
less touched
than felt,
less prayed
than knelt,
love as fire,
bold desire,
our sun
that flares,
then melts,
by time.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017



This day is yours, for all those days you marked
Of little life that sprouts too fast, it grown
And raised in love, guided, fondled, known
With bond just you can know, held like spark
From birth; this day is yours, and this your throne.

Eric M. Vogt

Copyright 2017


The sun peers through this gentle morn
And finds me as a man reborn.
The wrens sing back and forth their song
With springtime gladness, winter gone.

In quiet moments, just like this,
I think of you and ponder bliss,
Each day a dawn to peaceful age,
My book well-torn and worn at page

Where we shake off our winters, love
As sure as sun that shines above.
But dark clouds reign, even at light,
And bring down rain, as dark clouds might.

Yet I hold on; perhaps, by chance,
They’ll pass and change our circumstance.
And even now gods goad to grave
Which all men bear; still, sun shall save

With springtime’s hope, with dawn’s new day,
And bring us close. For this I pray.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017


O, could you see what I see on brief morn that’s missed
By most, a pause that waits beyond our fingertips,
Whose brush, much like a lover’s slight and softest kiss,
Is time that slows the heart to feint of sleep?

I’ve yearned the life that longs for peace of yesterday,
A path ascending ages on a winding way
Which seems as trail of echoes, and I wish to stay
Upon its thrill, its death-defying peak.

I wish to know your firm desire beyond this line,
Your dream of densest universe beyond the rhyme,
That taste of heart and thought that could our souls define,
Those deepest woes that make you wish to weep.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018


I feel a piece of heaven’s just beyond the dawn,
A world of silent measure, wished like tender song,
Where peaks and crags ignore the deepest, darkest wrong,
In mountains of our hopes and of our dreams.

Some gather things that glitter, some embrace the flesh,
While some believe a steeple makes a faith more blessed,
But day brings all to light, they revealed by test,
Whether a man is holy or is mean.

And I prefer cathedrals that rise high from men,
To rest my weary troubles at a creature’s den,
While gazing out in rapture where the gods have been,
Beside the fall of clearest mountain stream.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018

But Are…

But are you truly as you say you are? I look for You—— Please tell me. Are you truly as you say you are? Do you feel as humans truly feel? Or are you an android—-a Bot in sheep’s covering? E


I see you as a shadow’s glance,
A gleam and shimmer of a light
That haunts me deep into the night,
A yearning more than true romance.

And still I wander through the sands,
In search of nurture for my soul,
Not satisfied, but set on goal
Which loosens heart by strands, by strands,

In search of love I can’t atone.

Eric M.Vogt
Copyright 2017


I hold to simple Beauty
Wrapped in nature, kingdom wide;
It stands rich and pure and free
Like a crag on mountainside.

And death can't be the terror
Nor the end it's said to be;
For the flavor of your fervour
In its grandest majesty,

From wide cisterns of clear water
To the boulders hewn and thrown,
Are your promise you won't waver,
That man never stands alone.

You echo in the silence,
And your song within the void,
And your power is your Sentence,
It so plain one can't avoid:

Yes, a hope remains, it hallowed
Through the whisper of my tears,
In your carving of a hollow,
Simple shelter through my years.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018


Creed of the Aged

“Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”


Alfred, Lord Tennyson,



As faith is proved by works,
By fruit is known the tree,
A lack of will by shirks,
And foe by enmity,
The way which love’s discerned
Is not by word, but deed,
A lesson that’s hard-learned,
Revealed by ache and need.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017


She does not seem like much to men,
The frail, fine maiden on the hill,
Preferring journey less to den,
To ponder joy and loss’ chill
With equal bond, engraved by will.

Yet, though her form is cracked by pains,
The sorrows of her ungained dreams,
A universe lies in her brain,
Of heaven’s hope and stars’ bright sheen;
For she’s not really as she seems.

She has a tablet by her bed,
And shares her love with few, in truth.
But pen shall pace until she’s dead,
To live as free as she’s aloof;
Its fire shall be her only proof.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017

Bears and Aussies in the North Country and Other Reflections

Buddy, likely a direct descendant of the salty dog who once belonged to the Dread Pirate Roberts of PRINCESS BRIDE fame.


Looks like the weather is changing in the North Country. 60s and 70s for the next week. A couple of rainy days but mostly dry. I was hoping we would skip mud season this year. Has happened once before since I moved here. Insects are out but no sign of the dreaded black flies yet. They’re worse than mosquitoes. Kind of like a gnat. Fly in clouds and get into your eyes, ears, nose and orifice known to man and woman. But they sting. Nasty little things that mostly die out when it dries up here.


My faithful dogs, Jack and Buddy, are right at this very minute outside guarding the trash can. Jack is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Like the Queen’s, before she had to put her last one to sleep. I am still in mourning over hers passing, and over the passing of Jack’s half-sister Sissy last year. Miss her terribly. Jack is a loyal guard dog. Don’t let his size fool you. Those muscular legs have taken him up MT Washington and MT Adams, the two tallest peaks in New England.


Haven’t seen signs of black bears yet up here but I’m sure they are out of hibernation now.  And they are HUNGRY when they first come out! Bird feeders should be brought in and trash not put outside until right before collection. Otherwise you are tempting the bears——and fate. If they find some food they will be back and back and back again.

I just don’t understand the people who own chickens up here. You have to lock down the coop like Fort Knox to keep the bears, weasels, coyotes, foxes and other hungry critters out of there. The woods is Definitely not the place for chickens!

Believe it or not, the people in town see more bears than we do in the country. The primary reasons? Open dumpsters. And bird feeders. And people who feed them like they’re pets.

Annually, we have bear hunting season up in the North Country to minimize over-population. But I think that, about this time of year, they should have bear-feeding human open season. Just to cull the herd. Sort of like Darwin’s Natural Selection season for Homo sapiens. All those who own chickens or have bird feeders out or garbage out or dumpsters wide open all week should be on the menu. And a week after it’s over we can start Those Humans Who Feed Deer season. I’ll have to bring that up at the next Town Meeting. Have to keep the human species sharper than the wild animal species, after all…

As you can probably sense, I really like wild animals and look at them as having their natural place in God’s Order in the woods. But I don’t much like the two-legged variety of wild animal, though. Which is why I live in the woods, away from those beer bellied predators (and I’m not referring to Big Foot—- he’s a good friend of mine who lives in a cabin down the road).

Speaking of mindless predators, trying to train Buddy, my crazy miniature Aussie, is kind of like trying to train someone in the early stages of Old-Timer’s (which I am in, by the way…). There are good days and bad days. You think they’ve got it today and by dinner they’ve forgotten it (does this sound like Your hubby, ladies?). Buddy has the hardest head known to dogdom. If I put a couple of fake horns on him we could have a bull fight. But it would be more like the running of the horned canines at Pamplona, I think.

I finally had to put a shock collar on Buddy to train him. I really prefer positive reinforcement. I truly do. But I had to when he wouldn’t respond to the most positive of reinforcement. Otherwise the peace of the wooded community would be affected. You see, Buddy watches Jack very closely for his bad traits. And does not emulate his good ones at all. Jack barks at squirrels. And runs after them, chasing them off the property and thus preventing them from chewing on the wiring under the cabin. One bad trait. One good trait. They even out.

However, Buddy sees this and in his Teflon coated cranium he says “I think I will bark all the time at Jack.” Then he ignores the squirrels and other varmints which should stay in the woods, not under the cabin. One bad trait——impressed in Buddy’s mind. One good trait——-totally ignored. That is, until the shock collar comes into play.

For example, now I hear Buddy yapping outside. I look. No bears. No squirrels. Just Buddy yapping at Jack. So I press the Warning Button on the collar’s controller.

The Warning Button has a picture of a little flashlight above it. I think it signifies that when an errant dog hears the collar’s loud beep, a light bulb should come on in the deviant canine’s hard-packed brain matter. It should tell the dog: “Hey! Whatever you are doing, stop doing it!”

It all could end at that Beep, but Buddy won’t let it. Now, I am a Master who has been highly influenced by baseball ever since the Amazing Mets won the World Series in 1969. It was an improbable, almost impossible, occurrence that happens once every few centuries in the baseball world. Almost as improbable as the premise that Buddy will stop his illicit activity on the First Beep. He’s just got too hard of a cranium for that.

I believe with all of my heart that this is because Australian Shepherds like Buddy are direct descendants of the dogs of the original criminals sentenced by the British Crown to spend the rest of their days on a big kangaroo-filled island halfway ‘cross the globe. They were kicked out of Britain because they were incorrigible. And their shepherding dogs were kicked out with them. For much the same reason. Since I have met Buddy, that is my Grand Theory of Aussie Butt-Headedness, and I’m sticking to it until a better hypothesis shows itself to the scientific world.

But back to baseball’s influence on shock collars and me. The First Beep is generally ignored totally by Buddy. Its purpose is to send a shot across the bow of the Australian Prison Barge. As this first pitch is thrown across Buddy’s home plate, the little umpire that Should be (but unfortunately isn’t) in his head yells “Strike One!”

However, as the inappropriate behavior continues despite the First Strike Beep, a Second Beep is initiated. The Second Beep’s signal to the canine brain is : “Yes, that First Beep was a shot across the bow. This is the Second and Final Warning. Stop it Now.”

In other words, “Strike Two!”

Inevitably, however, Buddy’s little criminal Australian cranium says “He’s just bluffing.” So he continues his game with the same tactic, namely, “Do What You Want To Do, because it’s A Dog’s Game, not a Human’s…”

The inevitability of Strike Three is a sure Law of the Aussie Universe, as sure as “Gravity Makes An Aussie See If He Can Survive a Jump Off A Hill”, or “Energy=Brain Matter times the Canine’s Butt-headedness Squared”, or “1+1+1=2”.

The button right below the Warning Button on the collar’s controller is signified by a bolt of lightning. It travels as fast as lightning, too. Above it on the top of the controller is a dial with tick marks, starting at 1 (an insignificant tingle) and ending at 10 (the bolt of lightning).

I have tried level 1, 2, 3 and on up. But the combination of thick fur, thick skin, and thick brain matter makes 1-9 ineffective on an Aussie such as Buddy. I believe he is the direct biological descendant of the original salty dog who belonged to the Dread Pirate Roberts, of Princess Bride fame. That’s my 2nd Theory of Aussie Hardheadedness, and I’m sticking to it. I’m about to have Buddy lick a swab to send in to to prove it. I’ll let my readers know if the hypothesis is proven or not.

Anyway, after the Third and Final button push, it gives Buddy electroshock therapy which resets both his cranium and his disposition. If I had bought it on Amazon, I would have given it 5 Stars, and completely recommended it to all owners of criminal Aussie descendants.

I hope this exposition has revealed to you the low state which I have sunk to in the woods of the North Country of New Hampshire. I think that I, too, have contracted Old-Timers disease. I believe that I will undoubtedly have to order a shock collar for myself soon, to remind me where I left my car keys. And my car, for that matter. Will let you know how it all works out.


Eric M. Vogt

Copyright 2018








The springtime firmly yields its rain,
A constant chatter on my roof,
Of life’s regrets, its pulse and pain
One can’t forget, for thought bears proof
That comes with age in clarity.

Pretend that winter’s gone away
Forever! Drink its dark downpour!
Deceive your soul that it shall stay,
Your wrinkled hand and fright ignore;
Spring’s rain descends for fools as thee.

Ascend the highest mountain seen,
Grow gardens flowered with your fate,
And slay the foulest Philistine,
But death must come, and shan’t be late,
In search of winter’s woe and we,

To mock or mend, enslave or free.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017


If a man must meet dark defeat,
Let him meet it with dignity.
If a man must leave this short life,
Let him life leave with full zest.
If he must be led, then be led free,
To disrobe his every strife.
And then he shall by God be blessed.
Yes, then he shall by God be blessed.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017


A weariness has smothered all,
The springtime wonder and the life
I’ve come to love, yet tragic fall
Has made, as hungry slice of knife
The hollowness here as I lay.

It’s not the things that crumble ‘way
For which I grieve; such things are vain.
It’s those I’ve come to love and trust
That I shall miss, the source of pain
Which plagues me, morose, to my end.

But, I attest, I’ve tried to bend,
For flesh of hands cannot control
A single other, foe or friend,
And such has never been my goal.
But grief, dark grief, won’t let me mend.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017


Peace eludes me;
Love comes in eves.
As each day grieves.
No one believes.

Terrors reserved
Within each thought,
They not deserved,
Yet each is bought.
Not what Christ taught.

I must not swerve.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017



This lull comes to me much too late
To be of aid in coolest clime,
To raise my soul, like spouse her mate,
To deal a deadly blow to Time.

Man’s but a wishful wanderer,
A fleeting shadow borne by dust,
A glow in air, mist of ember,
A shifting whisper wracked by rust.

And so I wander once again,
By starry heavens through the night,
In comfort of a passing friend,
As faint forms fade through lack of light.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017



My 3 Year Sabbatical


Where have I been for three long years? That is what I ponder as I write this note to you. Some are still here, faithful to their blog, writing, revealing, pondering, living…

Where have I been? Right now I am in shock I think. Those universes which we create are so easily vanquished, and the parallel realities that were always down, deep in the inner being, cry out to be released.

I guess this is my crying out.

Where have I been? Back on that cosmic gerbil wheel named Reality. And I just jumped off. For the second time.

If you can read this, I am glad you’re still out there. I have a lot of reading to do to catch up with you.  As I learn patience again and delve into my inner artist, please be patient with me. I will reveal the entire dream in its due time and in the grandest way I know how. Or die trying…



MT. Hubris

MT. Hubris stands enshrouded, high within a cloud,
A symbol of the haughty and the vain and proud,
Its castle filled with dankness, with its pain endowed
Upon the lowest forms within the earth.

There love won’t penetrate, souls soiled beyond relief,
A den of murder, lies, of stolen hordes, of thief,
Like shadow deep in heart that masks a dark deceit,
As mob that waits for evil to give birth.

Its knights are torn and tarnished, of another age,
Forgotten in the memories of squire and page;
Its steeds, once bent on glory, pace the ground with rage,
Filled deep with flame that pants within their hearth.

I cannot visit there, for windmills won’t align,
My foe is in the forest and my woe is Time;
Yet to the depths of core, I stand against all crime
That’s borne in depths of man and robs his worth.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018



foul fate has found me cast in want,
and destiny has missed my soul;
my sin is such i won’t recant,
no matter prize or lofty goal.
and now it’s we must bear its toll.

you see my love in eyes and way
your heart is mended in my touch,
yet lacking touch, we damned by day
that dawns for love, but not for us;
but men are larks, and sing we must.

if there were future and a fire
which flamed beyond this moment shared,
yes, form to phantom named Desire,
then we should be its perfect pair,
united, as we are, by stare.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017

A Matter of Life and Death


MT Adams NFS Warning Sign, Airline Trail

It was the second week in September a couple of years ago. I spoke to a workmate who is an avid hiker and told him I wanted to climb MT Adams in the Presidential mountain range of New Hampshire, USA. My friend told me up and down how the Airline Trail was the quickest and most true way to the top, which it is. I looked at the topographic map and my guidebook and said to myself  “I can do this on a day hike. No worries.”

I don’t usually hike with other people. Do not do as I do. It’s not safe. However, to explain my unsafe, warped reasoning: it’s not that I do not like people—well, most people—it’s because I don’t want to either be unceremoniously rushed up a mountain by a quicker climber, or to be held back from my lofty goal by a slower climber. Even if they could haul a tent or run for help in case of an emergency. But I do bring the next best thing: my Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Jack the Crackerjack Welshman. Jack is my ever-patient friend, climbing partner and personal trainer. He has short yet muscular legs and climbs in front of me like a little mountain goat for a ways. Then Jack perches himself on a rock above me and stares down, as if taunting me to reach him. When I do, he once again gets out in front of me and the life-coaching continues. If I am too slow he may even give me a bark or two until I shape up and join him. Needless to say, my personal trainer has gotten me into fairly good shape for an old guy and has seen a lot of adventures with his owner. We have singly climbed MT Washington, MT Madison, MT Monroe, MT Eisenhower and MT Pierce together. He is getting older now, along with his owner, but I am sure he will continue to be my personal trainer on the trails far into the future.

My helpful human trail advisor and work friend was half my age, however. Soon after, I got on the Airline Trail and it took me much longer than first assumed. It is a rather steep and root and boulder-pitted trail that eventually rises over scenic King’s Ravine. At one point on my journey I was looking several hundred feet down from a thin trail that hugs an almost vertical drop! I was quite exhausted when a topless, packless young man ran (yes, Ran by me, obviously with MT Washington in his sights). I gasped, being a ripe age of 55 years old, and I felt that this scene mimicked the old tale of the race between the infamous Hare and Turtle. But the Hare did not stop to take a nap in my tale. It was a beautiful day and the Turtle stopped to enjoy the views and take numerous pics. Then the Turtle pressed on, even though he was not on his planned schedule, keen on his goal of the summit, a place that rather reminds me of walking on the moon. Not that I have ever had the pleasure of doing so. But I did see Neil Armstrong take his steps for all mankind in 1969 on a black and white T.V. set in my elementary school classroom. And believe me, it looks just like the moon on the summit.

When I reached the peak I apprehensively realized that the sun had already started to descend. Yet, because it was a wonderful, nearly cloudless day on the Presidentials, I rested a while in satisfaction with my corgi Jack and took more pics. Then a nice couple in their twenties came up with their small dog. He and Jack had fun jumping from boulder to boulder and playing King of the Hill, uh, Mountain. In the meantime, I was losing the sun. We parted, they in search of their camp site and I in search of Madison Springs AMC hut.

I had decided that I did not want to go back down the Airline and end up at the bottom of King’s Ravine in the coming dusk, so I chose a longer but much more gradual trail, the Valley Way off neighboring MT Madison. The step by step walk down the boulders was slow and tedious, the rocks still damp from a rain storm the day before. I finally got down to the hut and started down the Valley Way. I soon realized that the sun was not only going down, it was on the wrong side of MT Adams. It was going to be quite tenuous to make it down to the parking area before I totally lost daylight.

I stopped to check my pack and, although I had an emergency kit for a over-nighter, I had forgotten to transfer my flashlight from my large pack to my day pack! But I, in my Hemingway-like bravado, said to myself “I can barrel down and do this.” Yet, not only was the sun on the other side of the mountain, I was also below tree line. Dusk caught me so quickly beneath the trees that I unknowingly went down a false trail on a long-abandoned path. When I started to step over downed trees I realized my mistake and decided I just had enough daylight to strike across the brush and find the true trail.

I intersected with the Valley Way just as darkness enshrouded Jack and I. I estimated we were only about halfway to the car. I laid down my poncho on a table rock in the middle of the trail, pulled out my emergency blanket, put Jack on my stomach, and laid my head on my lumpy pack—a sort of human/corgi sandwich for wild animals to feast on.

Fortunately, it was just above freezing that night. Although you can still get hypothermia in the 40’s, I was dry, well below treeline and sheltered from the wind. A week later it would have been below freezing and snowing where I made my makeshift camp. I didn’t freeze that night, but I didn’t sleep well, either.

On a side note, Jack apparently slept very well and comfortably on my paunch, because in the middle of the night some creature sniffed the emergency blanket and he didn’t stir. The creature decided we weren’t tender enough and went on its way. Of course, while I was laying on a very uncomfortable flat boulder, Jack felt like he slept on a plush king sized bed that night.

As soon as dawn began to break the next morning we started off again and made it back to the car safely.

Lessons Learned:

1. I am getting older. I cannot leap tall buildings in a single bound anymore.

2. I have designated a flashlight to both my day pack and my overnight pack, even for just a day hike. I was being cheap and you really can’t put a price on preparedness.

3. I don’t fully trust the advice of maps, guidebooks and other hikers. They do not know me personally or the unique personal and environmental conditions I will face. And topographic maps are general outlines of distances and grades. They show little detail when you are climbing on the moon. Though I always keep updated on the Mount Washington Weather Observatory’s prediction for the day, I assume it could change on a dime and go downhill quickly.

4. I am always prepared, as I was, to stay the night, even if I am just on a day hike. I could have broken a leg on the trail at one of many points. I only saw 3 people going up and none at all going down that late in the season. I have to be ready for the worst. Remember, rescuers may not come up the trail after dark, depending on conditions, even if you call for them or hit your GPS transponder (and there is little cell service below treeline anyway).

5. Heed the advice on the sign posted above. If weather conditions suddenly change for the worse, don’t be a Hemingway. Go back down. Going below tree line could save your life.

Fortunately, I had just read the book NOT WITHOUT PERIL by Nicholas Howe. It speaks of the many people who have lost their lives on this range. You can’t read that book without gaining a healthy fear of climbing up there. I reread it this winter just to remind me and I will keep rereading it periodically until I can’t hike anymore. So, fortunately that day I had an emergency kit, albeit lacking a flashlight (a grave error).

Also, recently I read a great book that just came out about a veteran climber who lost her life on MT Adams a few years ago called WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME by Ty Gagne. Read it. A sobering account which shows that just one mistake can be a fatal one up there. The weather changes on a dime. And GPS equipment is not always 100% effective to show rescuers where you are. In fact, hers was activated too late. She was already in advanced stages of hypothermia above treeline on Adams. GPS showed her, at different times, in 5 separate points impossibly far from one another. That evening rescuers could not ascend above treeline without great danger to themselves. In fact, they were adversely affected by the conditions even below treeline. There were 125+ MPH wind gusts that night and early morning! The next day several search teams had to comb Adams and Madison at great risk to themselves to find her body. Once again, READ IT if you are a hiker. A good account to keep one alert and honed with a proper respect for the often sudden and fatal conditions on these mountains.

I never travel as light as she did. Ever. I always have an emergency pack with enough food, water, layers of clothing, and equipment to stay the night and perform first aid. You should too. A few extra pounds could save your life or the life of a fellow hiker one day.

I hope this account helps you to avoid the same pitfalls of decision-making that I and others have experienced up there, and will help you to make better decisions than we. And remember to climb with a friend. Do as I say, not as I do!

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2018


View from MT Adams on that beautiful day.

I Loved You

I loved you as I loved the world,
before my youth was lost,
a sigh, a scent, a breast, a cost,
which, when it’s gone, all’s tossed,
when beauty’s pondered and it’s yearned,
when lust is all we own,
the child we held, once grasped and loaned,
we two, as one, bemoan.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2014


We are here,
in the last
sliver of our lives,
with no one, nothing,
but the yokes
of our memories
and the garlands
of our hopes
and dreams
and needs.
But the moments
fade away.
We have no time
for such things,
for the hesitations
and the insecurities
and the lack of trust.
If we have
but one moment
to hold to,
but one person
to hold to
in the moment,
let our moments
be forevers
and our seconds
be eternities,
for tomorrow
may not come.
We may have
no more tomorrows;
we must not sorrow.
Let love have its moment
and let tomorrow come,
what will,
what may.
Let us smell
the scent of flowers.
Let us lie as one
in gardens of today.
Let us look to stars
ashine in black of night.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2014

The Measure of Man’s Courage

The measure of man’s courage lies
In where he runs his race,
Not in how fast or with what size
He stands, his style or grace,
Nor in the plot of land he claims
Is his before the end,
Nor richest reach, nor lofty aims
Unreached beyond the bend,
Nor mountain staid by soft intent,
Nor lady lost and mourned,
Nor battle waged in discontent,
Nor mantle he adorned.
The courage lays in challenge scorned
By proper and the best,
A life interred and spent alone,
Through time, true to the test,
To hold to hope when will has gone
And strokes have halved the heart,
The herald held within his song
When friends turned foes depart.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2014