New England 4000 Footers

Last week, Debbie and I received an envelope from the AMC Four Thousand Footer Committee. It contained our patches for climbing all 67 New England peaks over 4000 feet. We finished on Memorial Day Weekend with an epic trip to the mountains of western Maine. We had finished hiking the 48 New Hampshire 4000 footers several years ago. We also had completed the five mountains in Maine when we completed our End-to-End Hike of Vermont’s Long Trail in 2005. We had five mountains left to climb in Maine, but took care of those in May.

People love to debate the pluses and minuses of peak bagging. My own opinion changes from time to time. In the end, I enjoy the thrill that comes from completing a list of peaks. These lists have inspired many others to take to the trails. It has also helped increase hiker awareness of the environmental aspects of trail use and trail maintenance. The AMC 4000 Footer Committee manages three main lists of mountains, but there are numerous other minor and unofficial lists. Elsewhere in the Northeast, the Adirondack Mountain Club does a lot of work with the 46 4000 foot peaks in that region. Another group maintains the list of people who have climbed all of the Adirondack 46ers.

Debbie and I would like to climb the 46ers someday. We haven’t done any of them. We spend most of our time in New England, but it would be wonderful to explore the Adirondacks. Back in New England, over the next x number of years, I plan to climb all of the New England 4000 footers in winter. The winter list has more people on it than you would think. Several people have created their own variations of climbing mountains in New England. Peak bagging is an art form. There are people who have climbed every mountain in every month, every mountain in every season, and every mountain one at a time. This last group was written about our friend, Sherpa John, on his blog last week. The Trailwrights 72 is a variation of the list that is arguably more pure because you can only count one mountain per day of hiking. If we followed that list, we would still be working on it, which is probably not a bad thing. The whole point of the lists is to get and keep people on the trails and caring about the environment.

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