We were climbing out of Boston at dawn and I looked to the north and saw the white outline of Mount Washington.
I pointed to the hills and said, “I climbed all 48 of the Four Thousand Footers up there in the White Mountains.”
The captain said, “Okay, that’s enough. You’re not allowed to point at anymore mountains you climbed. You’re done.”
Apparently, as we zig-zagged across the country, without realizing it, I pointed at a lot of mountains. One too many, I guess.
As a 737 guy in Chicago, I zig-zag all over North America from Aruba to Anchorage. I look out the window a lot. I’ve written about my connection between flying and hiking before. I’m no Edmund Hillary. But I think back and I’ve walked up a few hills. I thought I’d catalog a few of them and get it off my chest. This way I can stop driving my captains crazy.
Here’s stuff I’ve pointed at out the window that makes me happy to remember. I even attached some photos that were taken in the pre-digital era. And maybe it’ll help me come up with a list of places I still want to hike. Minnesota is outstanding but the one thing–maybe the only thing–it lacks is big, big hills.
(After rummaging around in my attic for all those loose photos that I thought were neatly organized in photo albums, I’ve come to realize that I’ve hiked more mountains and trails than I can remember. So, I’m going to go after this thing in several installments of The Fun Dome. So hang on.)
I’ll start with the White Mountain National Forest Era. I was born in Littleton, New Hampshire in 1967. Got dragged up some hills early. Left for the Midwest and three different towns in Minnesota and Michigan. Came back to NH (Live Free or Die, baby) for high school in Plymouth. Ended up hitting all 48 of the Four Thousand Footers in the Appalachian Mountain Club guide. I never applied to the AMC for entry into the club. But, despite my faulty memory, I know that I carefully and diligently “knocked the bastards off.” Somewhere on my parents’ bookshelf in Maine, there’s probably an AMC guide with my summits checked off in the back. (I bagged the last several mountains during my summer leave after college before I went to pilot training. I procrastinated and had to link up four or five mountains on the east side of Pinkham Notch in the rain. Note: Don’t procrastinate.) But here are a few photos from this era for fun.
– Cherry Mountain Fire Tower. Jefferson, NH. Circa 1967. Maybe my first trip up a mountain? Fire tower’s gone now.
– Little Unknown Pond. Kilkenny, NH. Circa 1972. Wet and buggy. Trout the size of your finger. Lots of bones. Bug dope. Type II fun described here. Learned in a phone call to dad today that I went on an earlier trip to the same place when I was about three that was even “better.”
– The Lead Mine. Gorham, NH. Circa 1972. I remember bitching because I didn’t have enough snacks and my dad got fed up and we turned for home before the final destination. Or maybe that’s not what happened at all. I mean, come on. I was five.
– All 48 Four Thousand Footers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. 1981-1989. Mount Washington is the big daddy. 2nd highest peak in the Appalachians. Ran up the Auto Road twice in my teens during the footrace. Lots of pictures in no particular order.
When I look back, I realize those hills aren’t something you remember individually. They get into your bloodstream. Maybe the same way salmon can find the stream they came from.