Hey y’all! Back in November I finished up the 67 New England 4000 footers, which is all of the mountains over 4000 feet in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. And so, to reflect on my years of hiking in New England and all of the mountains on the list, I present you with my New England 67 Superlatives.
So you guys might’ve noticed that I took quite an extended hiatus from blogging. For those in the know, this probably isn’t much of a surprise, but for my few readers who aren’t my immediate family or friends, I was finishing my PhD dissertation this semester. And uh, that s*** is hard, y’all. And time consuming. And so, for the last several months my poor blog collected dust as I toiled away in my windowless office, finishing my dissertation. But the light is at the end of the tunnel, and I’m reactivating the blog, starting with this post. Anyway, enough rambling from me, lets get to those New England 67 Superlatives.
First hike: Franconia Ridge loop (Lafayette and Lincoln)
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, all the way back to May 2010. I moved to New Hampshire the previous summer and had done a few short hikes but nothing like the Franconia Ridge loop. My friend Frankie recommended it as a hike with waterfalls and great views, and said it was “moderate” in difficulty (Frankie is GD liar). My friend Emily MN and I headed out, prepared with running shoes and naiveté.
You, gentle reader, may be aware that the Franconia ridge loop is (1) hard and (2) still full of snow in May. Emily and I quickly discovered how ill-prepared we were, and spent most of the day in soaking wet sneakers, butt scooting our way down the trail on our rain jackets. By the time we got back to the trailhead it was 9 hours after we started. We were exhausted, broken, and more than a little cranky. It’s a confusing wonder that either Emily or myself still hike after that day, but it’s funny in retrospect, right Emily? Right?? ………
Most work for no reward: Owl’s Head / Reddington + the Crockers
Ah, Owl’s Head. Everyone’s favorite 4000er. Psyche! But seriously, Owl’s Head sucks. By the time you get to the base of the mountain you’ve already hiked for 8 thankless miles through relatively monotonous woods. The scramble up the mountain itself can barely be called a “trail”, and at the top you get nothing. NOTHING!
I hiked Owl’s Head as part of a modified Pemi loop and as we descended, it started to rain. The slide was slick and wet and I recall some crab walking. To add to the general ambiance of the day, the trail to the 13 Falls tent site is more or less a swamp in wet weather, so by the time we got there my shoes more closely resembled tiny soaking baths for my feet. Lovely.
Reddington and the Crockers are much less mileage than Owl’s Head, but you have to go up, then down, then up, then down, then up, then down, then up, then down, then up, then down, in order to do all three mountains in one day. And none have views at the top. The “bushwhack” to Reddington is thankfully mostly a trail, but still annoying enough to get your legs and arms full of scratches (don’t wear shorts). On this hike I also managed to bruise my toes enough that my toenails turned black and blue, and they just recently grew out, almost a year later! Horray!
Most likely to kill you accidentally: Tripyramids
Everyone talks about the North Tripyramid slide for its class 3 terrain and hands-on scrambly-ness, but the South Tripyramid slide is steep enough to be annoying and is FULL OF SAND. EVIL, DANGEROUS, SAND. David took his worst tumble ever on the way down from South Tripyramid and did several nail-biting rolls before he caught himself with his hands. I thought I was going to have to……. leave a body in the woods. Because lets be real, I wasn’t going to drag him out of there.
Most likely to kill you on purpose: Mt. Washington and Katahdin
Surprising to exactly no one, Mt. Washington and Katahdin are two of the most dangerous mountains in the northeast. These mountains expose you both to (1) the weather and (2) opportunities for some serious falls. But the risk is worth the reward! Katahdin’s knife edge and Mt. Washington’s winter route are probably my two favorite trails in New England (and they have the best photo opportunities, too! IMHO)
Most surprisingly awesome: Mt. Mansfield
I didn’t know much about Mansfield before I climbed it. I just knew it was ON. THE. LIST. But Mt. Mansfield turned into a surprisingly awesome mountain. Emily K and I drove up from her house in southern Vermont during the busy ski season in March of 2016. We started up the mountain with only a paper printout of a map and a relative idea of where we were going (very responsible, I know). It turns out the summit cone of Mansfield can get a bit sketchy in the winter. We were warned by several groups to turn back or find another way up, but decided to keep going up the trail and turn around if we had to. The summit cone WAS indeed a bit sketchy, especially since we were outfitted with microspikes instead of crampons, but we made it to the top. The views were expansive, and we witnessed two seasons from one mountain. To the west, the snow had melted in the lower hills and valleys, while to the east it still looked like full-blown winter. It was prettyyyyy magical!
After making it to the top, we decided we certainly didn’t want to go down the way we came, so we trudged our way towards the ski area. After postholing approximately 500 times, we made it to the ski lodge on top of Stowe and had ourselves a cozy little lunch. One of the ski patrol guys chatted us up and informed us that we could not hike down the ski run for obvious reasons. Uh… oops. He was nice enough to guide us back to the long trail and we got in some epic butt slides on a closed ski run. Once we got back to the hiking trail, the entire way down was one butt slide after another. Mt. Mansfield rating: A++
Most “This would’ve been awesome if I had a view”: North Brother and Old Speck
I completed both of these hikes on cloudy, socked in days, but I know the views would’ve been amazing. Had I been able to see them. RAWRRRR.
Most lame: Mt. Hale
It takes a really long time to drive there from Seacoast New Hampshire. There’s nothing special about the trail. There’s no view from the top. I bickered with my ex-boyfriend the entire way up. ‘Nuff said.
Most arduous: Owl’s Head, Abraham-Spaulding-Sugarloaf traverse, Semi-pemi loop, Mt. Isolatio- HAHAHA JK ALMOST ALL OF THEM LOLZ
Last hike: Mt. Ellen & Mt. Abraham (VT)
My last of the 67 was completed on a chilly November day with Emily K. Luckily for me I have a friend in VT with a car, so we dropped one car at the Jerusalem trailhead and drove over to the Battell trailhead. Lincoln Gap road was already closed for the season due to some early snow, but the Battell and Jerusalem trailheads were still easily accessible.
The day was chilly and overcast, and we blasted through the trail. I didn’t even take a celebratory picture at the top of either mountain, my ears were too cold! Luckily I had my own personal paparazzi to document the occasion.
But I was finished.