Hiking All The Trails in The White Mountain Guidebook
As of October 29, 2023, I became the 96th person to hike every trail in the White Mountain Guidebook (WMG). In August 2019, I started officially working on hiking all the trails in the WMG with only 19% completed, and since then I have reset all my data three times in the hopes of completing all of the trails in under 15 months. Unfortunately, two of the three times I had to forego my attempt due to circumstances out of my control. My third attempt, which I started June 19, 2022, I have stopped working on as of October 29, 2023 when I finished the guidebook (I had over 57% complete on top of the hiking I did while working on a timed attempt).
Why I Quit My Timed Attempt
As I finished off what would end up being my second to last hike towards a timed attempt to complete the guidebook, I realized that if I finished all of the trails, and then continued to hike the remaining 4 days of hiking to complete a timed attempt (over the course of my life I have hiked all the trails 1.57 times now) it would take away the excitement of finishing my first round of the guidebook. After finishing 97.6% of the trails in the guidebook in 16 months 10 days, I no longer needed to finish my timed attempt - I had gotten everything and more out of the 194 days I spent on trail working towards this goal.
When I made the decision to make my 194th day my final day, the excitement that I hadn’t felt about hiking multiplied tenfold. I didn’t feel annoyed that I had to go hiking, I felt elated. Despite the weather being less than ideal (it started snowing) and the day promising to be long (16.5 miles, 5400’ vert) that final day working on this project might be one of my favorite days hiking. Not because of sweeping views or pristine conditions, but because for the first time in my entire hiking career I felt like I had done something really worthy of celebrating. I had done the thing I never thought I could do.
In the last week since finishing, I’ve felt overjoyed and not the least bit upset about stopping my timed attempt. In fact, I haven’t regretted that decision at all. I transitioned into working more, and am happy that I don’t have to go hiking if I don’t want to (something I haven’t been able to say in almost 2 years). With winter fast approaching, I’m looking forward to filling my days with things other than just hiking. I even rode my bike for the first time in eight years last weekend because I had time to do it.
Being human is being multidimensional. This hiking project, although an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade, taught me what kind of a hiker I am (moderate paced, and enjoys stopping to take pictures, not a trail runner). It also taught me that turning a passion into a job takes a lot of the fun out of it. I’ve learned that there is a lot more to me than just hiking, and I’ve discovered other interests that are just as important to me as hiking, things I’ve had to put on the back burner for the last year and a half.
So although I’m looking forward to continuing to hit the trail every week or so, I’m thrilled that I can lean into some of my other interests and give myself permission to rest a bit more without feeling guilty for doing so. The trails will always be my home away from home. But now, I can visit them because I want to be there, not because it’s my job.
All The Data
16 Months 10 Days (485 Elapsed Days)
Total Days Tracing: 194
Total Miles Hiked Towards Tracing: 2099.36
Total Vert Hiked Towards Tracing: 602,002’
Trace Completed: 97.6%
Hikes NOT Completed during timed attempt: 8 (4 hiking days)
Bonus Hikes: 12
Bonus Miles Hiked: 140.70
Bonus Vert Hiked: 44,371’
100 Highest Peaks: 67/100
Total Days: 206
Altogether Miles: 2,240.06
Altogether Vert: 646,373’
Days Backpacked: 1 night
Individual Hikes: 254 (Some days I drove to multiple trailheads to complete multiple hikes)
Added hikes because of extenuating circumstances: 7
Days Worked: 80
Miles Driven: 46,000
Avg. Miles Driven Per Day: 223
Avg. Miles Hiked Per Day: 10.90
Avg. Vert Per Day: 3,138’
Avg. Days Hiked Per Week: 3.12
Days In Snow: 46
Days In Rain: 27
Months of Winter Conditions: 11/14/22 - 5/1/23, 10/28/23 (5 Months, 4 Days)
Had I completed the attempt as I had it planned, this is what the last 4 days of hiking data would equate:
Incomplete Miles: 29
Incomplete Hikes: 8 (4 hiking days)
Miles Left To Complete Timed Attempt: 49
Vert Left To Complete Timed Attempt: 13,469’
The most important piece of data, in my opinion, is the weather window. I had 11 months of snow-free hiking to get this done because the vast majority of these trails cannot be done in winter due to road closures and trail conditions.