Along Base Road
Mount Washington 6288'/ Mount Jefferson 5716'
Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail/Crawford Path/Gulfside Trail/Clay Loop Trail/Jefferson Loop Trail/Jewell Trail
12+ Miles 6000' + Elevation gain
Tim L, Justin F, Kevin, Judy and Emma
I've never really been good at planning out my life. I am more the type of personality that takes it as it comes. Many times I have seen my plans crumble to unforeseen circumstances. Generally, I make a loose plan, a tentative plan, with a back up plan in place in case things don't work out. Sometimes I have been able to reach the original goal, and sometimes I have not. When I started hiking mountains the goal was always a single mountain. That soon became two mountains, then maybe a range. Eventually, it became a list, and over and over again I began to believe I could accomplish my hiking goals as I faced them.
Down Low on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail
Not so with the winter 4k list. My first winter 4k was Mount Lafayette in 2001. I was interested in some winter hiking, but not sure how much. The thought of hiking all the NH 4ks in winter was not even in my mind. I wanted to survive one winter 4k hike, then go from there. Unfortunately my hiking buddy and winter hiking mentor injured his back on that hike, and has pretty much been done with winter hiking since then. Not having anyone in the small hiking community I belonged to who was interested in winter hiking kept me below 4000' for the next two winters. During this time I continued to winter hike the lower peaks, learning what I could about winter hiking and trying out and familiarizing myself with various winter equipment. It wasn't until March of '03 before I could convince my wife to attempt a winter 4k.
Mount Washington from the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail
On this first winter 4k together we chose Mount Pierce. My theory was that we could get a good feel for winter hiking on this trip. We could get above tree-line for a few moments, get some awesome views, and quickly duck back into the trees if it was too windy. As I stated previously, plans don't always work out perfectly, but I had learned to adapt to what was actually happening as opposed to what I had planned. Flexibility was and is always a key to success. On that first hike we stepped out of the trees on the Crawford Path and made the quick run up to the summit of Mount Pierce. The mountains were socked in, and there was a steady, piercing wind, (Bad pun intended). We found a spot somewhat out of the wind and had a meager lunch. Cold, but invigorated we headed back down, but could not find our tracks. The Crawford/Webster Cliff trail sign was obscured by deep drifts, invisible to us. We dropped down too low passing right over the Crawford Path without recognizing it. Fortunately I soon recognized my mistake and began to climb back up and towards the entrance to the trees as the wind whipped me, my wife and dog about. We forged through deep drifts as frozen pellets whipped our faces. Luckily, we were not far off course, many lessons learned on this hike!
Along the Crawford Path
Over the next few winter seasons we pecked away at the 4ks. The thought of completing "The List" was still not even in our minds. One by one we added to our winter list. I/we had been turned back on several occasions, but also we had forged on several times when we really wanted to turn back. The years went by, and as they did, different things would get in the way. There were health issues, family obligations... in general, there were more important things to do. Basically, life got in the way. At the start of this winter season I found I was within a few hikes of actually completing the winter 4k list, but I also knew I had saved some of the toughest ones for last. In January we managed to hike Mount Monroe and I found myself at the nice round number of forty. For various reasons, Judy and Emma were slightly behind in numbers, and encouraged me to go ahead and finish, for which I am most thankful.
A Look Back at Mount Monroe and the Lakes of the Clouds Hut
I found what was left before me as daunting a task as anything I had ever set out to do. I was facing a Bond Traverse and the Northern Presidentials. Having previously hiked them all a few times in the warmer months I knew what I was in for. In February, on my birthday I set out to face the Bonds/Zealand with a large, supportive group to whom I am most thankful. I managed to complete this first part of what I felt, at least to me, was an enormous task. With this huge monkey off my back I now found myself actually feeling as though I could accomplish this goal which I had never dreamed I would achieve. Still, in the back of my mind I knew I wasn't as close to it as I thought, though I could now see the finish line.
Emma, Judy and I on the Summit of Mount Washington taken by Tim L
As with all things in life, it is difficult to foresee how things will play out as you strive to accomplish what you have set out to do. Something that I had never dreamed would ever happen occurred on the first half of my Presidential journey. I managed to stand on the summit of two of the highest peaks in the White Mountains in calendar winter with my wife and dog, my two closest trail companions, and my two best friends. I had known all along, that on the right day we could do this together, but as the years wore on, it was beginning to look like it was just one of those dreams that I had hoped for, but would never materialize. I couldn't be more elated at our success on this venture!
Tim L and Justin F on Mount Washington #47 Single Season Winter Summit for Tim Justin's Second Time There in Six Days!
We have been struggling mightily with the logistics of me finishing this list. Should I just go and get it done? Will Jude join me on this particular hike? Is it right that we should push our aging dog and fearless, faithful companion through these long and arduous hikes? In the end we decided against pushing her through the 23 mile slog of the Bonds, but we knew, in the right conditions we could all make it to the summit of Mount Washington, so, we waited for a "Prezzie Day" and hoped upon hope that we would be blessed with the right circumstances. I was heartsick as opportunity after opportunity passed and one circumstance or another kept things from happening. Then, it happened: All things fell into place. The weather forecast looked favorable, Jude had the time off from work, Emma was looking good, and a good friend was going to make the hike and would be glad to have us along. Having faith that things would eventually come about paid off.