Warning: This blog post has EMOSHUNS and FEELINGS. Enter at your own risk.
When I moved to New Hampshire in 2009, I knew that it wasn’t permanent. The difference was back then, I didn’t care.
I was a graduate student and graduate students are, by their nature, temporary residents. We hang out, get our degrees, and leave. After I finished my master’s in 2011, I had the option to head to Ithaca for my PhD or to stay in New Hampshire. I had a really difficult time choosing where to go, but ultimately decided that I didn’t want to leave. New Hampshire had already infected me, 2 years in.
Flash forward to 6 long years later, and it’s time to go. For real this time.
I’m sitting in an apartment that I’ve lived in for 8 years, and soon, it won’t be mine anymore. I’m driving around my idyllic little Seacoast town that soon, won’t be home anymore. And I’m hiking the most beautiful mountains in the northeast*, that soon, won’t be my backyard anymore.
I can’t really over-emphasize how profoundly the last 8 years here have changed me as a person. Climbing has become my life, but in a not-so-distant past, I didn’t care about it at all.
Once, I was a recently-graduated college student in Boston, moving to the “boonies”, aka New Hampshire, for grad school. I was upset about the prospect of wasting 2 years of my life in a podunk town, away from the music scene, good food, and civilization as I knew it (I wasn’t being dramatic about it at all).
During my first fall here, a friend suggested I should try going for a hike. It was leaf peeping season (I had no idea what that was) and if I lived up here I might as well see what all the fuss was about. My friend from undergrad and I drove up to Maine to hike Mt. Caribou, my suggested itinerary. My very first hike.
The foliage in the fall of 2009 was one of the best years in memory, and immediately, I was hooked. Despite the whining and the sweating and the complete lack of leg muscles, I wanted to hike again. And again. I couldn’t walk down a staircase the day after a hike, but I didn’t care! I asked people to hike with me every weekend until all of the leaves fell off the trees.
And the rest, we say, is history. In retrospect, that hike up Mt. Caribou completely changed the trajectory of my life. I got into hiking, climbing, backpacking, ice climbing, and mountaineering. I’ve traveled all over the world to climb some awesome mountains, to see the wildest places, the most epic scenery. And it’s pretty much all because a friend suggested I should try going on a hike.
Life is funny that way, isn’t it?
So now, it’s time to go. To leave the mountains that turned me into the hardened, rugged hiker I am today (JK, I still complain all the time). To leave this beautiful place that has been home for the better part of a decade.
And so… what’s next?
I’m headed south of the Mason-Dixon line and David’s headed for the west coast. As academics, we have to go where the wind takes us (er, where we get postdoc offers). You can expect an odd mix of Shenandoah-centric and California-centric posts, along with the usual sprinkling of world travel-y content.
In the immediate future, David and I are off to Banff, Jasper, Yoho, and Glacier National Park of Canada, so you might be seeing Canadian Rockies content for quite a while (I daresay no one will complain).
After that, you’ll just have to wait and see.
So here I am, signing off in New Hampshire for the last time. I can’t bear to say goodbye, so I’ll just say this: until next time, New Hampshire.
*fight me, ADK