Yet Another Incident at Jerimoth Hill; Hikers Assaulted

Yet Another Incident at Jerimoth Hill; Hikers Assaulted

Josh Spooner
Josh Spooner

October 1st, 2002, 1:23 am #1

Folks:
Here's a link to an article in today's Providence Journal.

As a native Rhode Islander and a Highpointer, I'm embarrased by this, but I can't say I'm surprised. These incidents are going to continue to happen unless hikers either visit on the Open Access Dates or settle for the sign on RI 101. These landowners have made it clear that they don't want hikers on their property, and are willing to take some extreme steps to ensure that we know that we aren't welcome. My greatest fear is that someday, a hiker is going to fight back and is going to get seriously hurt or even shot.


http://www.projo.com/northwest/content/ ... 2b82d.html

**There is a free registration for the entire article.


Exerpts:

Pair learn tough lesson in climbing Jerimoth Hill
After a nighttime ascent of the state's highest point, two men from Alaska tell the police they were stopped at gunpoint by a property owner.

09/30/2002

BY NEIL SHEA
Journal Staff Writer


FOSTER -- Robert Thompson and Melvin Strauch thought it would be easy. Just park next to the highway and bushwack a few minutes through the woods to Rhode Island's highest point.


Between them, the friends have climbed hundreds of mountains all over the country, many of them in Alaska, their home state. So when they parked near the top of 812-foot Jerimoth Hill late Saturday night hoping to bag their ninth East Coast summit in as many days, they left their hiking boots in the car and started out in sandals.


After stumbling through the forest for nearly an hour, the pair finally emerged in a clearing and climbed the foot-high granite boulder that marks Jerimoth's summit. They snapped a picture and walked to Route 101. At their rental car, they high-fived each other.


Then two men lurched out of the bushes beside them. One had a shotgun, the other, a hunting rifle.


"They cocked their guns and pointed them at our heads," Thompson said. "They told us to get onto their property. [When we got there] [the older man] hit us with the gun barrel and made us lie in the dirt. He was yelling, 'I'm gonna [expletive] kill you guys.' "


Strauch, 42, who works at an REI store in Anchorage, tried to explain. But one of the men answered with blows. He hit Strauch and kicked him. Then he smashed Strauch's head with his gun butt. Thompson heard the thud and looked over. Strauch was bleeding.


We're going to die here, Thompson thought.


"We were determined," said Thompson, 39, who owns and operates an ejection chair thrill ride in Anchorage. "We needed to get [to] the summit."


"We told him we were just there to climb the hill," Thompson said. "We asked if it was OK to park there. He said his dad might get mad, but it was OK. So we went for the summit."


The elder Kelley and his son, William Jr., were waiting when they got back to their Mitsubishi, Thompson said.


With his face pressed into the dirt of Kelley's driveway, Thompson thought of his 6-month old daughter. He considered getting up and running away. But fear kept him glued to the ground. Both men said the elder Kelley kicked them a few times in the ribs and punched them in the head.


At some point, Strauch and Thompson remembered, the elder Kelley pointed the gun up above Strauch's head and fired a shot into the woods. " 'You ain't no climber!' " Thompson remembered Kelley shouting. " 'You've got sandals on. Where's your backpack?' "


He also yelled that the police were coming.


Kelley could not be reached for comment.


When the police asked the boy if he had given the climbers permission to cross the property, he denied it. Both boys said their father had never pointed his gun at the men. Thompson and Strauch said they never set foot on Kelley's property.


The police seized a shotgun from Kelley. Shaken by their experience, Thompson and Strauch decided not to press charges. They said they just wanted to leave Rhode Island.
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John Satterlee
John Satterlee

October 1st, 2002, 6:30 pm #2

Yes, this would seem to be another embarrassment for this little state that seems to have more than its share.

Without knowing anymore about the story than what was in the paper, I wonder if there is another side of the story. If these people who trespassed were so experienced, then surely they must have researched their hikes and been aware of the dangers. Trespassing is trespassing and even more dangerous with the reputation than that summit's history provides.

I have recently walked the section of the North/South trail that cuts though Foster, and between that and a few bike rides, I can tell you that some parts of the town seem to be the kind of places where you don't just go up to houses unannounced. Some houses just seem to be saying: "come in this yard and you will be shot", that is if the dogs don't get you first.

Don't forget that is the same town where a father accidentally, and tragically, shot his own son mistaking him for a deer. I mean if that can happen, anything can happen.

This is not to excuse the behavior of the guys who pulled out guns and terrorized the trespassers.

As I used tell my children, if you mess with a rattlesnake and get bit, don't blame the snake.

John Satterlee
Ashaway, RI
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HPLF
HPLF

October 1st, 2002, 11:25 pm #3

Folks:
Here's a link to an article in today's Providence Journal.

As a native Rhode Islander and a Highpointer, I'm embarrased by this, but I can't say I'm surprised. These incidents are going to continue to happen unless hikers either visit on the Open Access Dates or settle for the sign on RI 101. These landowners have made it clear that they don't want hikers on their property, and are willing to take some extreme steps to ensure that we know that we aren't welcome. My greatest fear is that someday, a hiker is going to fight back and is going to get seriously hurt or even shot.


http://www.projo.com/northwest/content/ ... 2b82d.html

**There is a free registration for the entire article.


Exerpts:

Pair learn tough lesson in climbing Jerimoth Hill
After a nighttime ascent of the state's highest point, two men from Alaska tell the police they were stopped at gunpoint by a property owner.

09/30/2002

BY NEIL SHEA
Journal Staff Writer


FOSTER -- Robert Thompson and Melvin Strauch thought it would be easy. Just park next to the highway and bushwack a few minutes through the woods to Rhode Island's highest point.


Between them, the friends have climbed hundreds of mountains all over the country, many of them in Alaska, their home state. So when they parked near the top of 812-foot Jerimoth Hill late Saturday night hoping to bag their ninth East Coast summit in as many days, they left their hiking boots in the car and started out in sandals.


After stumbling through the forest for nearly an hour, the pair finally emerged in a clearing and climbed the foot-high granite boulder that marks Jerimoth's summit. They snapped a picture and walked to Route 101. At their rental car, they high-fived each other.


Then two men lurched out of the bushes beside them. One had a shotgun, the other, a hunting rifle.


"They cocked their guns and pointed them at our heads," Thompson said. "They told us to get onto their property. [When we got there] [the older man] hit us with the gun barrel and made us lie in the dirt. He was yelling, 'I'm gonna [expletive] kill you guys.' "


Strauch, 42, who works at an REI store in Anchorage, tried to explain. But one of the men answered with blows. He hit Strauch and kicked him. Then he smashed Strauch's head with his gun butt. Thompson heard the thud and looked over. Strauch was bleeding.


We're going to die here, Thompson thought.


"We were determined," said Thompson, 39, who owns and operates an ejection chair thrill ride in Anchorage. "We needed to get [to] the summit."


"We told him we were just there to climb the hill," Thompson said. "We asked if it was OK to park there. He said his dad might get mad, but it was OK. So we went for the summit."


The elder Kelley and his son, William Jr., were waiting when they got back to their Mitsubishi, Thompson said.


With his face pressed into the dirt of Kelley's driveway, Thompson thought of his 6-month old daughter. He considered getting up and running away. But fear kept him glued to the ground. Both men said the elder Kelley kicked them a few times in the ribs and punched them in the head.


At some point, Strauch and Thompson remembered, the elder Kelley pointed the gun up above Strauch's head and fired a shot into the woods. " 'You ain't no climber!' " Thompson remembered Kelley shouting. " 'You've got sandals on. Where's your backpack?' "


He also yelled that the police were coming.


Kelley could not be reached for comment.


When the police asked the boy if he had given the climbers permission to cross the property, he denied it. Both boys said their father had never pointed his gun at the men. Thompson and Strauch said they never set foot on Kelley's property.


The police seized a shotgun from Kelley. Shaken by their experience, Thompson and Strauch decided not to press charges. They said they just wanted to leave Rhode Island.
1. Date: November 1st, 2002.
2. Time: 0440 hours.
3. Location: Jerimoth Hill, RI.
4. Personell needed: 8 aspiring highpointers (former
infantry persons desired).
5. Packing list (example; for those chosen): 3000 ci backpack, woodland camoflauge battle dress uniform with Nomex balaclava, level III bulletproof vest, 4 230 gram bear spray canisters, 6 Molotov cocktails, Mossberg Model 590 12 gauge police shotgun, 80 rounds Federal low recoil 00 buckshot, 170 rounds Winchester 1 ounce HP slugs, 12 day supply of food, complete first aid kit, gas mask, Highpointer patch. Who's in?

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dbruber
dbruber

October 1st, 2002, 11:31 pm #4

I'll join up, but now without air-to-ground support.
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Steve Gruhn
Steve Gruhn

October 2nd, 2002, 12:43 am #5

Yes, this would seem to be another embarrassment for this little state that seems to have more than its share.

Without knowing anymore about the story than what was in the paper, I wonder if there is another side of the story. If these people who trespassed were so experienced, then surely they must have researched their hikes and been aware of the dangers. Trespassing is trespassing and even more dangerous with the reputation than that summit's history provides.

I have recently walked the section of the North/South trail that cuts though Foster, and between that and a few bike rides, I can tell you that some parts of the town seem to be the kind of places where you don't just go up to houses unannounced. Some houses just seem to be saying: "come in this yard and you will be shot", that is if the dogs don't get you first.

Don't forget that is the same town where a father accidentally, and tragically, shot his own son mistaking him for a deer. I mean if that can happen, anything can happen.

This is not to excuse the behavior of the guys who pulled out guns and terrorized the trespassers.

As I used tell my children, if you mess with a rattlesnake and get bit, don't blame the snake.

John Satterlee
Ashaway, RI
I know Mel and I am certain that he did not go into this misadventure spoiling for a fight. I am also sure that Mel is telling the truth when he said that he asked for permission to park and access the highpoint.

It is interesting to note that the two victims were assaulted upon returning to their rented car, presumably parked on the edge of the public road.

And the name of the assailant is a new one to me. Has the Ed Bouchard property changed hands?
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Bill
Bill

October 2nd, 2002, 10:50 pm #6

Folks:
Here's a link to an article in today's Providence Journal.

As a native Rhode Islander and a Highpointer, I'm embarrased by this, but I can't say I'm surprised. These incidents are going to continue to happen unless hikers either visit on the Open Access Dates or settle for the sign on RI 101. These landowners have made it clear that they don't want hikers on their property, and are willing to take some extreme steps to ensure that we know that we aren't welcome. My greatest fear is that someday, a hiker is going to fight back and is going to get seriously hurt or even shot.


http://www.projo.com/northwest/content/ ... 2b82d.html

**There is a free registration for the entire article.


Exerpts:

Pair learn tough lesson in climbing Jerimoth Hill
After a nighttime ascent of the state's highest point, two men from Alaska tell the police they were stopped at gunpoint by a property owner.

09/30/2002

BY NEIL SHEA
Journal Staff Writer


FOSTER -- Robert Thompson and Melvin Strauch thought it would be easy. Just park next to the highway and bushwack a few minutes through the woods to Rhode Island's highest point.


Between them, the friends have climbed hundreds of mountains all over the country, many of them in Alaska, their home state. So when they parked near the top of 812-foot Jerimoth Hill late Saturday night hoping to bag their ninth East Coast summit in as many days, they left their hiking boots in the car and started out in sandals.


After stumbling through the forest for nearly an hour, the pair finally emerged in a clearing and climbed the foot-high granite boulder that marks Jerimoth's summit. They snapped a picture and walked to Route 101. At their rental car, they high-fived each other.


Then two men lurched out of the bushes beside them. One had a shotgun, the other, a hunting rifle.


"They cocked their guns and pointed them at our heads," Thompson said. "They told us to get onto their property. [When we got there] [the older man] hit us with the gun barrel and made us lie in the dirt. He was yelling, 'I'm gonna [expletive] kill you guys.' "


Strauch, 42, who works at an REI store in Anchorage, tried to explain. But one of the men answered with blows. He hit Strauch and kicked him. Then he smashed Strauch's head with his gun butt. Thompson heard the thud and looked over. Strauch was bleeding.


We're going to die here, Thompson thought.


"We were determined," said Thompson, 39, who owns and operates an ejection chair thrill ride in Anchorage. "We needed to get [to] the summit."


"We told him we were just there to climb the hill," Thompson said. "We asked if it was OK to park there. He said his dad might get mad, but it was OK. So we went for the summit."


The elder Kelley and his son, William Jr., were waiting when they got back to their Mitsubishi, Thompson said.


With his face pressed into the dirt of Kelley's driveway, Thompson thought of his 6-month old daughter. He considered getting up and running away. But fear kept him glued to the ground. Both men said the elder Kelley kicked them a few times in the ribs and punched them in the head.


At some point, Strauch and Thompson remembered, the elder Kelley pointed the gun up above Strauch's head and fired a shot into the woods. " 'You ain't no climber!' " Thompson remembered Kelley shouting. " 'You've got sandals on. Where's your backpack?' "


He also yelled that the police were coming.


Kelley could not be reached for comment.


When the police asked the boy if he had given the climbers permission to cross the property, he denied it. Both boys said their father had never pointed his gun at the men. Thompson and Strauch said they never set foot on Kelley's property.


The police seized a shotgun from Kelley. Shaken by their experience, Thompson and Strauch decided not to press charges. They said they just wanted to leave Rhode Island.
--The hikers claimed to have "never set foot" on the assailants property. I'd say that is very astute surveying at 10.30 at night.

--I'll go along with the friend who said they had no negative intent...but just what WAS the motivation? Was it "I don't want to miss my flight and sit for hours."? I bet they did anyway.

--I know the mind-set of doing fast strings of HPs, all too well. If I was doing ten, I had many thoughts of cutting corners by 7 or 8. But acknowledging bad stewardship of property does not condone making ones own rules...even if a child sez it's OK.

--These owners obviously have no game plan. If I owned that parcel, I'd rope off the logging road and add a large sign. "Stay within the ropes and enjoy our Highpoint...Stray and find out what real life (not the TV show) is all about!

--College or fraternity scavenger hunts are fun.....THIS IS NOT ONE!

--I volunteered to work a few Open Dates. I drive three hours just to get there and have to get out of bed at 3.30 or 4.00am to do it....on holidays and weekends, just to help fellow members. On one trip, trying my best, I was 40 minutes late. Scores of people were already trespassing and no rational explanation was ever given. Two questions: If you were me, how would you feel? and If you were the trespassers what would you say to me? "You jerk...you screwed up my schedule by 40 minutes"?

In the email thread I gave a possible solution to the club...to protect it's responsible members, volunteers and the viability of the club...I'll repeat it here. If a member claims an award that includes Rhode Island, but the member does not appear on any volunteer's list of Access Date attendees, then there is no award.

Sincerely,
Bill Stempek
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WingLady
WingLady

October 3rd, 2002, 12:29 am #7

<<< If a member claims an award that includes Rhode Island, but the member does not appear on any volunteer's list of Access Date attendees, then there is no award. >>>

I understand your frustration and thank you for your volunteer work at RI.

Please, folks, let's respect the owners' rights, or we may lose the right to legally visit this highpoint at all. Visit during an Open Access day & follow the guidelines, or simply visit the Highpoint sign on the highway. Both methods "count" as far as the Club is concerned.
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Bill
Bill

October 3rd, 2002, 12:53 am #8

....it fosters situations like this. A small minority of members have proved, in North Dakota, Rhode Island and Kentucky, to name a few, that their way makes sense to them....therefore it is right.

I still say tighten the reigns before Macho Grande makes it a bad scene for all of us.

The period of "we really want a ton of members" should be over by now.

I'd rather reward someone who helicopters to every HP over someone who sez "Thanks for all the work and infomation, Club; now I'll do it my way".
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John M.
John M.

October 3rd, 2002, 10:21 pm #9

Back in 1998 when we just had the sign policy, the situation was far worse, with many confrontations. The access owners disliked the Club, and vice versa.

The Open Access Dates changed everything. The true high ground became legally accessible, 1,000+ members have since visited it in peace, the owner is as happy as a clam with this arrangement, and it truely defines what is now trespass.
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Bob Devin
Bob Devin

October 5th, 2002, 3:49 am #10

Sir, My brother and I would like info on access times for the access date 13Oct 2002. He lives near Hartford,
and I live in Reno NV. and like to make this date. Thank-you in advance for the particulars. Cordially, Bob D.
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