Wapack Hike for the Wild

When four best friends contemplated how to scratch their hiking itch during this era of social-distancing, they decided to through-hike the 21.5-mile Wapack Trail to raise $5,000 for wilderness. Hikers Tom and Suzanne Perry of Londonderry, NH, and Emilie-Noelle Provost and Robert Hamilton of Lowell, MA, had section hiked much of the Wapack in the past, but wanted to do something special this time—something that would make a difference. So the friends decided they would turn their hike into a Hike for the Wild fundraiser to give back to the wild places that give them hope and resilience through these challenging times.

Emilie-Noelle Provost, Robert Hamilton, and Suzanne and Tom Perry on one of their many hikes, snowshoeing in Concord, NH in Feburary, 2020.


“We love the Wapack and appreciate that such a beautiful wild area has been saved from development,” Emilie-Noelle said. “All of us have gotten such joy from being in the wilderness. Spending time in nature is especially important to us now. It helps relieve the stress and anxiety brought on by this uncertain time. We wanted to do our through hike as a fundraiser to help make sure that special places like the Wapack will always be there.”

Support the Wapack Hike for the Wild!

Emilie-Noelle, Robert, Suzanne, and Tom will hike the Wapack on June 6, 2020, with June 7 and 13 held as rain dates. Their goal is to raise $5,000 for Northeast Wilderness Trust’s effort to add 15 acres to Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve, through which the Wapack Trail winds. Their hike will begin at Wapack National Wildlife Refuge in Greenfield, NH, and end at Watatic Mountain State Wildlife Area in Ashburnham, MA.

Northeast Wilderness Trust has protected 1,935 acres surrounding the historic Wapack Trail. Most recently, the 47-acre Sawtelle Addition was protected in Feburary of 2020, completing the permanent protection of the entire shoreline of Binney Pond, and safeguarding a beautiful section of the trail that meanders over boardwalks alongside the pond.

Emilie-Noelle, Robert, Suzanne and Tom met at Framingham State University in Framingham, MA, and have remained steadfast hiking companions for 20 years. After talking about doing a through hike of the trail for several months, the emphasis on hiking locally due to the COVID-19 pandemic helped them decide that there was no time like the present.

The Perrys have hiked the French Alps and have climbed all 48 of the White Mountains’ 4000-footers. They have nearly completed hiking those 4000-footers in winter. Hamilton and Provost have climbed mountains in the Whites and the Berkshires, and in Norway and Quebec.

 

 

In the News: Muddy Pond & Binney Hill

 

This winter, two Northeast Wilderness Trust Preserves were featured in local news. A big thank you to the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript and Wicked Local Kingston for highlighting these special places and the wilderness message! Click below to read the full articles.


 

Wilderness Preserve Expands in New Ipswich

 

For more information, contact:

  • Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director: jon@newildernesstrust.org, 802.224.1000
  • Sophi Veltrop, Outreach Coordinator: sophi@newildernesstrust.org, 802.224.1000

For immediate release: February 7, 2020

New Ipswich, NH – The Northeast Wilderness Trust bought 47 acres of forest and wetlands from Shirley Sawtelle, safeguarding the last remaining unprotected shoreline of Binney Pond and a section of the Wapack Trail. The Wilderness Trust will manage this land as a forever-wild addition to its Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve, which it purchased in 2016.

The Sawtelle addition connects the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve to the Wapack Wilderness—a property owned by the Hampshire Country School and legally protected by Northeast Wilderness Trust.

“The Sawtelle Addition, while relatively small in size, is mighty in its impact,” said Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of Northeast Wilderness Trust. “It protects the final puzzle piece of Binney Pond’s shoreline, and is a critical linkage between two Wilderness Trust-conserved properties.”

With the addition of 47 acres to the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve, the entire shoreline of Binney Pond is now protected from development.

In total, a 1,963-acre landscape of unbroken wilderness is conserved by the Northeast Wilderness Trust in New Ipswich and Rindge. These Wilderness Trust lands abut a network of other private and public conserved lands, creating interconnected, diverse natural habitats that are needed by far-ranging species like moose and bobcat, both of which have been observed on the Sawtelle Addition.

“Northeast Wilderness Trust’s ongoing conservation of forever-wild lands in southern New Hampshire is part of a larger vision to secure a resilient New England landscape,” added Mr. Leibowitz. “In this region, wildlands and well-managed woodlands complement one another for the benefit of nature and people.”

Now that the Sawtelle property is protected as forever-wild, a connected corridor of 1,963 acres creates an expansive refuge for wildlife.

Mrs. Sawtelle wanted to preserve her property for its values to wildlife, including the beaver, heron, waterfowl, and amphibians that rely on the pond and its surrounding wetlands and forest.

“Nature is very important to my family,” said Mrs. Sawtelle. “We came to love it here because of the wildflowers and the animals…we’ve enjoyed the Wapack Trail tremendously.”

The 21.5-mile Wapack Trail, which leads from Mt. Watatic to North Pack Monadnock, the recently conserved property. The trail is maintained by the Friends of the Wapack, who partner with organizations like the Wilderness Trust to protect the lands surrounding it. Rick Blanchette, president of the Friends, has volunteered with the organization for 30 years.

“As a teen, I would climb Pratt and New Ipswich Mountains and wander the Wapack,” said Mr. Blanchette. “Adding this piece with the Binney property is huge—it’s just terrific to have it all done.”

In 2001, Jacob Varney and the Ashby Boy Scout Troop built boardwalks on Mrs. Sawtelle’s property. The boardwalks were Varney’s Eagle Scout project to improve the hiking experience without disturbing the natural flow of water or the fragile wetland soils. “That was just the best thing,” said Mrs. Sawtelle. “Everyone always uses them because the trail is so wet there.”


The Sawtelle parcel protects a short section of the 21.5-mile Wapack Trail, affording hikers views of Binney Pond and a pleasant meander along boardwalks built in 2001 by the Ashby Boy Scouts.

“From the boardwalks, one can see beautiful mountain laurels and herons in the summer,” said Mr. Blanchette. “I’ve encountered signs of moose on this land while hiking alone.”

The Friends of the Wapack are celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year. Only five miles of the Wapack Trail remain unprotected, and the Friends hope to accomplish this goal in the upcoming years. As for Mrs. Sawtelle, her 2020 goal is to hike from her house to Mt. Watatic for a picnic, crossing the newly protected trail en route.


About the Northeast Wilderness Trust

Founded in 2002, the Northeast Wilderness Trust conserves forever-wild landscapes for nature and people across New England and the Adirondacks. The Wilderness Trust owns Wilderness Preserves and Sanctuaries, and also protects land through legal means such as conservation easements. The organization currently safeguards more than 35,000 acres of wildlands in six states.