Waumbek is a whisper.
Upon reaching her first 4,000 footer, after this past year of triumphs, open spaces and spectacular landscapes, Janelle stands for a moment at the viewless summit looking at the snowy cairn marking the top. Her friends Alex and Sage are already settling in, digging into their packs for snacks. They’ve reached many such summits before and are familiar with the satisfaction of a below tree-line goal.
“Congrats, kid-o,” I say, “you’re now 6 feet over 4,000 feet, the highest you’ve ever been.”
She wants to ask me where the heck is the view? Later, she will timidly ask just how many 4,000 footers are below treeline. Instead, for now, she smiles and says, “thanks!” The joy of the 52 With a View list is that every reward, on every hike, is external. There is some view, somewhere, waiting on every hike.
The 4,000 footer list? Well, let’s just say you have to find inner peace on some of those hikes. That’s another lesson for another time. And in the end, I don’t even know if Janelle is interested in pursuing the 4,000 footers. I suspect she’ll hike with me wherever I take her, but just as our quest for the 52 was a mutual project, I want our next “list’ to be mutual as well.
So, for now, the girls celebrate Janelle’s accomplishment with candy bars and cookies. And we all head down the trail a ways and do find a nice view near the summit. Gray Jays buzz above our heads, little blurs. For some reason, they do not land on our hands today. That’s a joy that will have to wait for Janelle.
The others leave us at this lookout, and I have a few moments to watch the girl as she tries to attract the birds, standing there atop her highest mountain, all 52 (plus 1) peaks behind us. I try to be in the now, but I fail. The future is calling.
“Ready to go?” I ask.
She takes a deep breath, wipes her gloved hands and turns away from the view. “Yeah.”
What’s next for Buffalo and Tough Cookie: Janelle has already expressed interest in the Terrifying 25, and I have Trish, Alex and Sage to thank for that. This is a list of 25 of the most difficult and exposed trails in the White Mountains. In the year that we have been hiking, Janelle and I have hiked only one on the list, The Percy Peaks Trail. The list was developed by Trish and her girls, and I suspect Janelle is interested because of them. There’s nothing wrong with that, her friendship with Alex and Sage has been a positive force in her hiking and her life. But, she’s a long way off from tackling some of those trails. You can read about the list on Trish’s blog, here: The Terrifying 25
For now, winter has arrived, Janelle’s first for big mountain hiking and we have several goals for this winter season.
Learn how to snowshoe: In order to do anything else on the winter list, this has to be a priority. There’s plenty of local parks where we can practice, that is if it ever snows in Manchester again.
Lonesome Lake Hut: Janelle has never visited a full-on AMC Hut AND she wants to hike across a frozen lake. So this hike is a no-brainer.
Flume Gorge: We both love frozen waterfalls, and she wants to see ice climbers. So, a hike down to the lovely Flume Gorge is on tap.
One winter 4,000 footer: She’s done one and there are several 4,000 footers out there where the views and hike actually improves in the winter. Tecumseh. Tom. Pierce. Perhaps even Moosilauke. They are all within her ability.
Urban exploration: We both love exploring the unusual and off-the-beaten-path trails around Southern New Hampshire. Adventure is where you find it, and we plan on looking hard.
The book: It’s all hands on deck now as we prepare for the release of the book and (hopefully) all the events that will come out of that. Stay tuned here and on our Facebook page for updates and info on presentations as we’d love to meet you all!
Our supporters, friends and fans: Thank you! You all have energized us with your support and we can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend. Find peace, and keep hiking your own hike!