Hitting 30% Traced in the White Mountains of New Hampshire
In my last reflection I had completed forty-nine days of hiking and traced 22.9% of the trails in The Whites. Fall foliage was at its peak and October was starting off being my busiest month yet. While working two days a week and hiking three to four days, there was little down time. I entered October knowing that I had to make the days count and couldn’t afford to take days off anymore (not that I had been over the past few months anyways).
The determining factors that will either make or break this attempt are out of my control. Weather and trail access are what dictates what trails I hike and when I hike them. When people ask me how I planned out when I would do my hikes, or how I decided when to hike what trails those are the factors that dictated the plans that I made for this attempt. With fall fading, I stepped up my game in October. Yes, I wanted to take more time off. Yes I was tired and sick of the long drives to the Speckled Region. But none of that mattered. What mattered was getting the hikes done. The trails won’t hike themselves, you know.
This is my job now. That is what I continue to tell myself every day and there are two options: I substitute teach or I hike (I’ve yet to go into work instead of hiking). October I tackled all of the trails in the Speckled Region with the exception of one section that I will do in winter. For my lifetime tracing, I have officially closed out the Speckled tab - the first tab that I have hiked 100% of the trails on. I’ve begun to work on some trails in the Moosilauke region as well as the Carrigain region now, too, and even some hikes in the Dry River Wilderness. These are sections of trail that I’ve never seen before and my lifetime tracing has reached over 70% now. I’ve hiked over 1,000 of the 1,400+ trails in the White Mountain guidebook - something that didn’t feel possible just three years ago when I sat at 36%.
Each hike imprints itself upon me. Every day that I am out there those trails are the star for that 24 hour period of time before quickly fading from my mind, replaced by the next set of trails. I forget what day it is as they all blend together now in a pattern of hike, work, hike, work, hike, hike, rest. I still have another 11 months of this and yet I am already mentally preparing for the transition away from this lifestyle knowing that it will be hard to go down to hiking two days a week let alone one or less. This is my life now. I realized this week that my job is a full-time hiker. Something a lot of people only imagine doing, I have somehow managed to do even if it’s only for 14 months.
What I wish they knew was how hard it is. How incredibly hard it is to keep going day after day after day. That I am trying to catch my breath all the time and feel like I’m never going to have enough time to get everything done that I need to do. But it’s not the hardest thing I’ve done. And on days when it feels impossible, I remember what I did in 2020 and 2021. I remind myself that I already did the hardest thing. This isn’t the hardest thing, cancer treatment was. If I could do that, I can absolutely do this.
Total days passed since 6/19/22: 139
Days hiked: 63
Days worked: 17 (not including freelancing)
Miles Driven: 16,000 (this is 98% to/from hikes only)
Most days in a row “off” from hiking: 5
Most days hiked in a week: 5
Overall Elevation: 212,975’
Overall Mileage: 706.21
Miles Traced: 450.1
Percent Traced: 30.6%
Miles per day avg: 11.2
Elevation per day avg: 3,381’
Miles driven per day avg: 254
Times per week I get gas: 3-4
Tracing Days Left: 129
NEHH Days Left: 21