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Hiking: Combining art and the outdoors

By Ed Parsons
It is fun to combine art and the outdoors, and last Saturday I went to the opening of the "Museum of White Mountain Art in Jackson," put on by the Jackson Historical Society and located in the old town hall, which the historical society has restored. This was combined with the society's 10th annual White Mountain art sale, so there were two floors of paintings to see, with the museum upstairs

parsons-eagle-mountainThe view from Eagle Mountain. (ED PARSONS PHOTO)Afterwards I hooked up with a Jackson friend and we climbed nearby Eagle Mountain (1,613 feet), a small peak located behind Eagle Mountain House with great views east and south.
You could say that it was an appropriate hike, not only because it was so conveniently nearby, but because the view of the Eagle Mountain House from the summit, nestled between peaks in an upper intervale, was suggestive of a part of the world of the 19th century White Mountain artists displayed in the exhibit back in the village.
But we didn't think of that when we basked in the sun on the summit. Instead we were enjoying the signs of wildness in the outward view.
The painters from the White Mountain School were also looking for wildness. Yet they frequently painted it with a more agrarian or domestic foreground.
So, by visiting the Museum of White Mountain Art beforehand, I was getting a preview of what we would see later.
For those interested in the exhibit, the annual art sale, comprised of about 100 paintings of 19th century artists and selected contemporary artists, will continue this weekend and end on Sunday. That is located on the first floor.
In this exhibit, it was interesting to see a painting by a local artist I know, for sale next to a painting by Benjamin Champney. Also, two of the primary proponents of a present day resurgence to a style similar to the White Mountain School are displayed — Jackson residents Lauren Sansaricq and Eric Koeppel.
Upstairs is the present museum exhibit called "On the Road To Jackson," with many outstanding 19th century paintings. Memorable to me were the many works by Shapleigh (1842-1906). Some of these portray the mountains around Crawford Notch during his stay as resident artist at the Crawford House. Later he built a house in Jackson just uphill from the old town hall on Five Mile Circuit Road (the next driveway up on the right, with a circular drive).
The upstairs museum exhibit is open through Jan. 6 — on weekends 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on most days during the week. To check during the week, call (603) 383-4060.
After an hour, I left and drove to my friend's house nearby. We walked to a ski trail, and then, while climbing the steep hillside out of the village, we connected with snowshoe trails maintained by the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation. Using those, we soon connected with the 0.9 mile Eagle Mountain Path, which starts behind the Eagle Mountain House.
For those interested in the hike, don't worry about doing that, just drive up Carter Notch Road one mile from the village to the Eagle Mountain House. Drive behind the main building. In the upper left hand parking lot, drive to the end and park. An old grassy road starts there. Walk up it 100 feet or so to a trail sign on the right in a tree.
The trail gradually ascends, then gets steep below the top. Near the top, make sure to bear left out to the lookout rocks. If you want to later, you can continue up, and past the wooded summit. The trail ends, and walking a little further, you can catch a view north toward the next peak called Spruce Mountain and the mountainous horizon.
That's something a 19th-century artist might do.
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