Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Muse: Alex and 2011-2012 Winter Hiking

The winter solstice fast approaches.  Ten days from now, scores of hikers will strap on their snowshoes and hit the trails of the New Hampshire Four Thousand Footers.  From 5:00 am on December 22 to 1:00 am on March 20, hikers will bag 4K peaks and count them toward their "winter 4K" lists.

Alex and I will be two such hikers; this'll be our fourth winter hiking season and we hope to finish up that list by March.  (We would have finished the winter 4Ks last year, but Alex had an accident in January and broke her leg.)

This winter will be unusual for us in two major ways. 

1) We're out of easy peaks -- each of our remaining winter hikes are over ten miles in length (many are much longer) and/or require a great amount of time above treeline.  I've no doubt Alex can handle the coming months -- she's ready for what lies ahead -- but my nerves are a bit on edge as I contemplate, for example, that 23.5 mile Bonds/Zealand traverse.

2) This January marks the 30th Anniversary of a tragedy.  In 1982, the girls' father, Hugh Herr, and his climbing partner, Jeff Batzer, had an accident on Mt. Washington that resulted in amputations for both boys and the death of a rescuer, Albert Dow.  This is the year Alex, Hugh's daughter, will hike Washington in the winter (though the hike will not happen in January).  I've been approached by several well-meaning and responsible journalists who've wanted to write a story about Alex's climb of Mt. Washington and tie it in with the story of Hugh and Jeff's accident and Mr. Dow's death.  I've politely declined those requests.  The only person who will write about Alex's ascent of Mt. Washington will be me, on this blog.  It will be a difficult trip report to write, for there is much I want to say.

Ten days 'til winter.   Sage'll probably take a pass for much of this season, by the way.  I'm sure she'll come with us every once in a while, but she has no current interest in pursuing the entire winter list. 

Looking forward to the season and the challenges it will bring.


Anonymous said...

Best wishes have a wonderful winter season.FWIW I Have follow your stories on this and another forum, being a reletvely new hiker i draw inspiration from your blogs and adventures

David Grover said...

You're making me so I want to get hiking again!

Patricia Ellis Herr said...

Anonymous, thanks so much for the nice words. Are you a NH hiker? If so, then you're in luck -- there are so many trails to choose from around here, there are ones for every ability and ambition. Maybe I'll see you out there sometime..?

Patricia Ellis Herr said...

David, thanks. Hope you get out there soon! :)