Once was enough

The Boston Globe has a terrific story today on a small group of backpackers who hike “the grid.” There are 48 mountains in New Hampshire with an elevation of 4,000 feet or more. The idea is to hike each of them during each month of the year — 576 summits, in other words. Why? Who knows?

Given that it took me from 1968 to 2007 to do all 48 peaks just once, the grid is not on my horizon. Earlier this year, though, when I went to a recognition dinner for those who had completed the 48 (cold pizza in a high school cafeteria), I was struck by how mundane my achievement seemed.

There were people who’d hiked all 48 peaks in the winter. People who’d hiked all 4,000-foot peaks in New England, or the 100 highest in New England. I, on the other hand, was in by far the largest and least-distinguished group.

Yet I felt liberated. I’m never able to go hiking as often as I’d like, and for years I had planned my trips around the need to check off a particular peak or peaks. Now I can hike wherever I want to. And I’ve found that I enjoy the Appalachian Trail in the Berkshires and Vermont as much as the White Mountains, but for different reasons.

The hiking is less intense (not such a bad thing now that I’m in my 50s). You’re closer to roads and small villages, yet there are fewer hikers. And if it’s summer, you don’t have to worry about freezing to death above treeline, always a concern at the White Mountains’ higher elevations. Sorry, but no grid for me.

The Globe story, written by Tom Haines and photographed by Mark Wilson, appears in “g,” the new, tabloid-size home for features and arts. Strictly from an aesthetic point of view, the story justifies the format change — it takes up the entire centerspread, with a post-to-post graphic across the top featuring all 48 mountains. It never would have looked this good on a standard newspaper page.

More: I was remiss in not noting that the Globe story is accompanied by a slideshow, an interactive graphic and a video. I would have liked to see more video, though.

9 thoughts on “Once was enough

  1. acf

    Dan: I’m in the same age bracket as you, and felt the same when I read the story. Torturing myself so I can achieve the ‘grid’ is not my idea of fun, and don’t tell me you do it because it’s there. Also, in spite of the beauty of the mountains in the winter, I don’t want to freeze my butt off and my toes too, in this quest. Give me some nice weather, too cold for bugs, but warm enough for comfortable hiking. The older I get, the more I understand snowbirds.Al

  2. Christian Avard:

    Dan,May I suggest Stratton Mountain in southern Vermont? No.. not the ski area. Stratton Mountain. It’s next the ski area and also part of the AT. Stratton Mountain has one of the last fire towers in the northeast. I wrote a story on a couple who have been there since the late 60s and go back every spring/summer. It’s very unique. Might wanna check this Web site out too http://www.firelookout.org/Hope all is well.

  3. Brian Kliewer

    I wish I could do that sort of thing. I would love to go hiking like that. Maybe not in the middle of winter, but to do this kind of hiking. My hip joints would never allow it, though, thanks to the condition I was born with. Long story. Anyway, I envy you guys.So, I’m doing my own sort of challenge. I’m painting the White Mountains in very small format. 100 paintings in 100 days, with some of them being of the White Mountains. I love the White Mountains, so I couldn’t leave them out of it.

  4. Ani

    A friend of mine remarked the other day that she wasn’t sure whether she’d ever actually seen a mole or just thought she had from the experience of reading a Sylvia Plath poem — bringing the world to people through art is quite a gift.

  5. Brian Kliewer

    Dan:I didn’t show my website because I didn’t want to SPAM your blog, or look like I was. They are on my blog and my site. They can be seen at http://www.kliewerstudio.comMy brother and I took a drive over Route 302 a while back and it was just gorgeous! Some of the small paintings will be done larger as well.It has been a fun project. I send out nightly updates Mon-Fri to people who subscribe to my newsletter and so far, all the feedback has been extremely positive. Many have commented about how they enjoy getting the updates, especially amid all the bad news lately. So, that has made the whole thing even more worthwhile to me. If I can brighten someone’s day, I’ll take that!Brian

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Christian: I hiked Stratton when I was in Boy Scouts back in the early ’70s. Would love to do it again. Thanks for the idea.

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