Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesday Trip Report: Redlining

This isn't the usual trip report.  I won't be describing a specific peak or providing pictures.  Instead, I'd like to express my thoughts about redlining.

To White Mountain hikers, redlining means hiking all 549 trails (1420.8 miles) in the White Mountain National ForestTo date, only twelve people have accomplished this feat -- that we know of, anyway.  Over the next few years, dozens more will surely follow.

Redlining is an excellent notion -- in fact, I'm happily pursuing the goal myself.  I do want to emphatically state, however, that I have no desire to rush through all the trails, finish ahead of anyone else, or create massive mile loop hikes in order to combine as many new trails as possible into one outing.  There's nothing wrong with any of that, of course.  Those are all legitimate ways to "get 'er done" and I respect anyone and everyone who's out there checking off the miles.  That's just not the way I want to do it.

Every hiker takes to the woods for his or her own reasons -- it's all good.  Some like to set speed records, some like to spend every second of their spare time in the woods, and some, like me, simply like to get out and see something new on a regular basis.  I enjoy walking a path I've never walked before.  It's as simple as that.  I like to amble, I don't like feeling as though I have to check off multiple trails in one day, and I could care less how soon or late I finish this quest.  I just want to get out there and see something new.

I figure it'll take me fifteen years of casual hiking to finish all the trails in the Whites.  If I'm mistaken and it actually takes me much longer, then that's just fine.  Of course, after I'm finished with the White Mountain trails, there'll be the state park trails, the New Hampshire town trails, the trails which lead up Cardigan, etc. etc. etc.  In other words, if I want to see something new every time I take a hike, then it's a good thing I live in New Hampshire.  I've a lifetime of hiking ahead of me.  That's not a bad thing.

Hike free or die.

Have a wonderful 4th, folks.  I'm taking the next few days off to celebrate the 4th and...well...hike.  :)


Sharon said...

Hi Trish,

I've been reading your blog for several weeks now and have so enjoyed many of the back posts. I first heard of your book from Jeff who blogs at hikinginthesmokys.blogspot.com. In the midst of preparing for a seven week trip through New England, I decided to wait and purchase the book to read while I was actually IN New England. I bought it a the Yankee Bookstore in Woodstock, VT and simply could NOT put it down. I thoroughly enjoyed it and love the fact that you keep the blog so regularly. The only thing that would've been better was to have met you (all of you!!) while I was in NE.

This post just really resonated with me and I decided it was time to say "hello!" My hiking territory is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We have over 900 miles of "official" trails and we call the goal of doing all of them, "coloring the map." I've personally backed away from TWO different hiking groups because the focus became so much more on the things you mentioned that these people had totally forgotten to enjoy hiking! Or why we were out in the woods in the first place. Thankfully, I've found others with whom to hike that share my philosophy of slow hiking, don't miss anything and it gets done when it gets done! Plus I've learned to love solo hiking.

I'm hoping to return to New Hampshire soon and spend a couple of weeks that are totally focused on hiking. Didn't get to do enough of it while there in June. Maybe we can hike a mile or two together (slowly, of course)!

Please continue to take care of yourself!

Keep hiking and by all means, keep writing.

A friend in Tennessee,

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Hi Sharon,

Thanks for the compliments regarding UP! I'm glad you enjoyed the book. :) I'd love to share a few miles with you when you return to NH if the timing works out.

Regarding hiking -- I truly don't think there's anything wrong with hiking quickly, or trying to set records, or doing as many trails as possible in one day. I know lots of folks who enjoy the woods and mountains that way, and I'm glad those approaches work for them. It's all good, to each her own.

My approach is to simply try a different trail whenever I feel like hiking. Sometimes I'll want to do a massive loop hike, and other times I'll only want to do an easy mile. I expect Alex and Sage will have children of their own before I accomplish redlining the Whites. :)

I'm glad you've found hiking companions who share your style, and it's great you are comfortable hiking alone. Trying to hike with folks who aren't a good fit is never a fun experience.

Thanks again for your kind message, and happy hiking,