There are different kinds of walking pilgrimages. I certainly know many people who take them. The traditional Camino de Santiago--in all its variations--is popular among the Christians. Others--like the Muslim Haj--involve walking of another sort. That said there are other journeys that are less explicitly attached to a tradition but still carry a special meaning. For example, a year ago my son finished through-hiking the Appalachian Trail. The people who I know that have taken that journey describe it as spiritual and life-changing.
The key element is that the walk tells a story with both external and internal elements. To the extent that it does this, it can be considered a pilgrimage of sorts. I wrote about this elsewhere so I will cease traipsing down that road. All I want to say is that--among other things--climbing the 48 4,000 footers of New Hampshire over the last two years (from August 21, 2021 to August 27, 2023) constitutes a pilgrimage for me. Yes, this project was shoehorned in among other challenges of life. Also, it accounted for only about half the hiking I did during that time. Still, it counts as a pilgrimage. There was intention in the undertaking that included a desire to get out in order to take part in Creation.
I am listing the mountains in a series of posts in the order that I hiked them. In some cases there are specific articles or videos, which I will link to with minimal comment (the links are in "Longer Video" under the title of each section). Others I never got to writing about. They may get a paragraph or two more. Anyway, it is a record of a pilgrimage of sorts for people who might want to do the same or, at least, to know that it is done. At the very least I want to remember. This is the easiest way I can manage.
A Rough Beginning:
One thing that joins this first batch of hikes together is the simple fact that I shouldn't have done them. Right before the pandemic I injured my back. As the plague wore on, the pain became so bad that I could not walk more than a few feet before curling up in a ball on the floor. Many people never noticed, of course. All the world was separated by a disease. Technology--like zoom and video worship--meant that no one had to witness anything other than what I curated for the public. Still--just like everyone else--there was a lot going on. Also I was depressed...but who wasn't.
Anyway, eventually medical people could see me in person and it was decided that I should have surgery. I did this and it was a spectacular improvement! Having spent the previous year or so on my back watching YouTube hiking videos I was ready to go. However...rehab was slow. I was weak and there were stitches to worry about. I really should have taken my time. That said, Allison--my wife--had been climbing the 4,000 footers of New Hampshire and I wanted to spend time with her. FOMO is real, folks. So I began before I should have. All of these hikes were really difficult. Still...I made it didn't I?
Moosilauke #1 (August 21, 2021)
This was a mess of a hike. I made it to the top OK but felt miserable on the descent. There is a long post if you want more details. I am told it is a great mountain and I remember the views being spectacular. I think it may be a while before I climb it again, however.
Mount Cannon #2 (August 27, 2021)
This hike felt arduous at the time. Mostly I remember the first time involving falling down more than I would like. This was true for all of these. I really couldn't twist because of the risk of damaging the surgical area and the still-healing part of my back and spine. This meant just letting gravity take me and hoping for the best. The results were--thankfully--mostly comical. What a sketchy thing to do though...
The Tripyramids #3 & #4 (September 6, 2021)
All I have to say about this is that I weirdly had a good time. I must have looked pretty pathetic--I basically crawled up the mountain in the rain--because after we were done Allison suggested that perhaps mountain climbing wasn't for me. However, it was the first post-surgery hike I enjoyed at all.
Mount Tecumseh #5 (September 10, 2021)
Longer Post (including a later winter video)
This was my first solo hike of the 48! Most of these hikes were with people. However about a third of my hiking is by myself. I am also working on the "52 With a View" list. I do plenty of climbing in Massachusetts and some in Maine. Many of those are weekday trips when I duck out on my "clergy sabbath". I LOVE Mount Techumseh.
Mounts Tom, Field, Willey #6, #7, #8
(September 27, 2021)
This felt ambitious when we did it. It was a long loop with limited views. At the end we added Mount Avalon--a 52WAV mountain--which made the long hike beautiful. The hike still falls in the "shouldn't have done it" category, but I did feel like I was getting better.
Galehead and Garfield #9 & #10 (September 28, 2021)
The "longer post" is pretty thorough. The day after Tom, Field, Willey, and Avalon, we went up Galehead, thinking that was it for the day. Instead we kept on going for a singularly long haul that ended in the dark. Garfield was beautiful. Galehead was a slog. After this hike--while I wasn't really physically up to snuff--I stopped worrying about whether I could make it up or down. Future hikes indicated this may have been a mistake. Still, this is the end of the "first phase".
I am a full-time pastor in a small, progressive church in Massachusetts. This blog is about the non-church things I do to find spiritual sustenance.