I have been out and about lately, as some of you know. Church is hopping. There have been crises large and small to deal with. Life just gets ahead of me sometimes, as it does for everyone. That said, I have also been hiking! This week, in fact, I made my way up Pamola Peak, down the Chimney, over South Peak along the Knife Edge, and on to Baxter Peak all on Mount Katahdin. I hope to post about that at some point. Many things went wrong but...the Knife Edge was a bucket list item for me.
In my few spare moments, though, I have been filling out my application for the NH48 4,000 Footers Club. Yes, there is an application process to join. Obviously one can hike all the mountains, become a "48er" and never make it "official". That said, I think it would be fun. There is a dinner at some point...and a patch. Also, it is an accomplishment with a set beginning and a set ending. In a life and job where one thing just flows into another as Sundays and seasons roll right along, there is comfort that in this, at least, there is a piece of paper in a file somewhere that said I did a thing.
The application includes lists of names and dates. It also includes a narrative. It seems like low-hanging fruit to post the narrative here...with slight enhancements since the actual report is rather dry.
Narrative: Mount Carrigain
Hiked on 8/27/23 #48/48
I found this final mountain to be fairly straightforward when compared to the ones I had climbed most recently. Mount Isolation had been my 47th, for example and that turned into a bit of an adventure. That was fine, though, I was finally–after waiting about a month–able to find a reasonable day for an ascent. My companion on this hike was my wife, Allison Nelson-Eliot, who finished her 48 on that aforementioned Isolation hike. That was hard to schedule, too. The rain has been an epic reminder of the strain we have placed on this "dying" Earth.
It is probably worth noting that I hiked most of my mountains with Allison but her application will contain some different dates from mine as she repeated some mountains with me after she did them the first time. As we waited for at least some of the water to run off Isolation she climbed with me. That meant second summit for her on Pierce, Eisenhower, Hale and others. I also introduced her to some of the "52 With a View" mountains that I love.
We did this hike as an out-and-back via the Signal Ridge Trail. It took us about 8 hours including rests and a celebratory stop at the fire tower/viewing deck on the summit. The hike itself was a bit of a slog. An early commitment to flatness disappears to be replaced by a steady–sometimes steep–incline strewn with those awkward granite boulders so common in northern New England. We cursed the hike many times until we reached the actual Signal Ridge. As I noted, it had been a month since any serious climbing had occurred. Then–even though cloud cover obscured the view at times–our mood improved. There is something about seeing the end-point for so long that really gets you going!
I am a people-person and–as with many hikes I have taken–I fell into conversation with a few of the folks around me. This trip we climbed with a couple of ADK 46’ers up for vacation and met a couple still in their single digits on the NH48. It was an amiable crowd to spend time with at the top. The view–as I mentioned–came and went, but we got some glimpses into Both the Pemi Wilderness and the White Mountain National Forest.
For me it really is about the people you meet along the way. I am a talker. Most people, I think, hike for the silence. However, in any group there is usually somebody more interested in the story than the view. We make eye contact. We venture some quick comments and observations. Eventually we recognize a fellow-traveler and stay connected for as long as we leapfrog each other up and down. This was a good mountain for small-talk and hiker-chats.
The way down was unremarkable except for how happy I was to have finished the list! This started as a way to spend time with my wife while rehabbing from a mid-Covid back injury that resulted in surgery. We hope to keep on climbing. Early in my rehab I got pretty far on the 52 WAV and we have begun picking away at the NE67. Who knows what we will get up to next?
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.