Preparation, Patience, Perseverance

Preparation, Patience, Perseverance

One month after deciding that I should fly to New Hampshire just to go hiking… I still think it’s a good idea! In fact, I’ve made several steps in the right direction and things are going well. I’m still in the Preparation phase of the hike, but it’s something I don’t really do often, so I’m OK with being here now and learning. As I’ve become awareĀ from a variety of experiences, reading, and Boy Scouts, being prepared can come in quite handy and in some cases it can save your life!

Progress toward Seek the Peak is being made on several fronts. I’ve secured flights – I’d love to drive, but don’t feel like I can carve the time out to include the traverse to and from and spend enough time at the mountain. I’ve also raised enough funds to cover the entry fee and then some, thanks entirely to the most generous family and friends. I hadn’t raised funds for anything since selling popcorn in Boy Scouts, so while not unfamiliar, I was somewhat dreadful of having to ‘ask’ for money, even if it was for a good cause. More likely doubt in myself than in those I asked for support, they left no shadow of hesitance in their near immediate response – I hit my goal the day after I sent them all an email! Amazing! So thankful!

I’ve also been working on acquiring some potential hiking/camping partners. So far, there are 3 potentials who have expressed interest, 1 who has accepted and will be joining, and 1 who has declined. If the potentials purchase flights, I’ll consider them in! This may be the patience part of this journey šŸ™‚ It was my idea, I’ve been doing a lot of the planning, and I’m naturally the furthest ahead in logistics prep for the event and hike. I’m also very excited since it falls in line with my bigger dreams.

Much of the rest of my focus for the trip has been on route planning. This will be somewhat dependent on the rest of the group, so I’ve developed a few different alternatives including those with running, multi-day hiking, shuttle buses, and rental car-aided section hiking. The obvious limitations here are daylight, fitness, weather, etc, but the hidden constraint is the massive after party, all-you-can-eat, gorge-fest the evening of the event. I don’t frequent the all-you-can-eat places too much anymore, but I think at the back end of a potentially long and strenuous hike day(s), I’ll be ready to fill my belly with whatever is on the table.

The route itself is pretty clear based on the desireĀ to ascend at least 5000 feet of prominence, thus taking in the entire “Ultra-ness” of the peak. This isn’t necessarily a must-do for the rest of the folks that might join, but it’s a deal breaker for me. Part of the Ultra 57 adventure has been to work on development of an algorithm to determine the (ideally) shortest route from an accessible location to the summit. The route also can’t be up a sheer rock face or cross a large river or include travel other than by foot. I can say, little progress has been made on this, but it’s still a goal. For now, the old eyeball the contour map method has had to suffice. In the case of Mount Washington, there’s a perfectly placed campgroundĀ at about 1200 feet elevation and about 7 miles northeast of the trailhead that Seek the Peak is starting from. This couldn’t have been a more serendipitous discovery when I was browsing the map – the local terrain gives enough wiggle room that clearing 5000 feet of prominence shouldn’t be a problem and the ascent to the event trailhead is a gradual 1000 feet of gain over 7 miles. The only problem now is to see if it will be open this summer…unfortunately, it is currently closed for a multi-year renovation which means it will be brand new well after the time I need to use it! Nevertheless, even if we don’t actually camp there, we can probably park a rental car there or take a shuttle and it will make a good starting point.

From the campgroundĀ there are a couple options. We could ascend the mild slope via the White Mountain Road or a nearby trail running parallel to the road, or we could bag a few miles on the AT while making our way to Pinkham Notch, the starting point for the Seek the Peak event. If we go the AT route, we still only go 7 miles and while it’s not so gradual I think this is the likely choice if we must go to Pinkham. However, we may also be able to simply start from the campsite, bypass Pinkham Notch and head to the top if we pre-coordinate with event personnel. I like this option better because it cuts off a few miles and we still get to hike some AT, which I’ve never done before. Regardless of which path we choose, large and small trails are strewn about Mount Washington from every direction and several end at the summit. We’ll have several options to choose from on the roughly 4 mile ascent of the peak and I’m still figuring out which one we’ll go for – distance may play a factor here šŸ™‚ Perseverance, as always, will be required.

Lastly, part of my commitment to this lifestyle is to learn about others who have done it. Some who have abandoned all other things in life to hike, some who’ve started from an early age leaving nothing behind. Some who hike on the weekends with family or some who section hike one week at a time. One of the ways I can do that now is through reading. As I’ve mentioned previously, I am a subscriber to Backpacker, but I also want to prioritize time reading more in depth and covering details and building stories that simply can’t be done in a magazine. I’mĀ going to start a reading list and include current readings in each post. This will help me be held accountable – eventually this should fade as an accountability practice as a habit will form, but for now I’ll use it! I just finishedĀ Denali’s Howl by Andy Hall, a look back into the late 1960’s at the deadliest expedition on Denali from the unique perspective of someone who grew up in Denali National Park during the time of the expedition. It was a good start to this endeavor as I’ve read several other hiking/mountaineering books, mostly related to Everest, and this was somewhat refreshing to step away from the mountain that everyone always talks about.Ā The next up looks like it will be Buried in the Sky, a tale of two Sherpas who survived a tragic climbing disaster on K2 in 2008. After that maybe I’ll go back to The Kid Who Climbed Everest to ease my mind from all the expeditions gone wrong and maybe a little inspiration (plus I like Bear Grylls)!

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