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Profile Updated: February 20, 2022




Yes! Attending Reunion
Residing In
Falmouth, MA USA
Patricia Harcourt
retired from the National Marine Fisheries Service
Nathan, born 1982
Sarah, born 1984
Nicholas, born 1988

My "now" photograph was taken at the summit of Zealand Mountain in New Hampshire by Marshall Hoyler in February 2022. Classmates may recall that several years ago, Marshall asked in our Swarthmore class notes if anyone wanted to go hiking in the winter with him. I volunteered, mainly because I could not imagine why anyone would deliberately risk hypothermia and frostbite for the chance to struggle for hours up mountains while carrying a 40 lb backpack. I was curious to find out what the attraction was. Also, I thought Marshall lived in California. I live in Massachusetts, so I figured I would be safe from actually having to go out into the cold.

It turned out that Marshall lives an hour away from me. He had all the gear I needed for a winter camping expedition. There was no excuse for not going to New Hampshire in January, so off we went, me full of trepidation and Marshall calm, organized and confident. We hiked most of the way through a snowy woods up to Mount Hale, NH. I learned how to walk in snowshoes. We spent the night in a tent at about 0 degrees F. I was introduced to the joy of freeze-dried dinners. And I fell in love with winter hiking. There is a fierce beauty in the snowy wilderness and exhilaration in facing a physical challenge -- if things go wrong, there are serious risks to being in such remote, cold places -- and surmounting them through careful preparation and vigilance.

Now I know what someone would risk hypothermia and frostbite to hike in the wintertime. I feel more alive when I am hiking than at any other time in my life these days, except when I am comforting my new granddaughter.

I am forever grateful to Marshall for taking a tyro under his wing, and am so glad I went to Swarthmore. The friends I made there continue to enrich my life.

School Story

I learned some fundamental principles of boat design in the first Crum regatta. Several contestants were designing craft based on using an inner tube for bouyancy. I decided to outwit everyone and use two inner tubes stacked one on top of the other to gain additional buoyancy.

This concept worked well on the downstream leg. On my craft -- supported by my two inner tubes and propelled by a frisbee lashed to each hand -- was faster on the downstream leg than were the other inner tubes.

It was on the upstream leg, however, that I developed a visceral understanding of the concept of drag. With two inner tubes, one completely submerged in the flowing Crum water, I found it practically impossible to paddle back upstream. Everyone who finished the race passed me as I struggled against the current (except, of course, those who had already passed me on the way downstream -- they were long gone!). I came in dead last and utterly exhausted. It was days before my arms stopped being sore. But I had won a profound respect for the amount of drag water can exert on a vessel.

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