Friday, April 1, 2011

48 Great Accomplishments, Climbing New Hampshire's Highest Peaks - Guest Blogger Post

By Stephanie Reitan

Becoming a part of the White Mountain Four Thousand Footer Club makes me so proud as I reflect back on what it took to get here. My experience of hiking all 48 of the highest peaks in the beautiful state of New Hampshire has been one of great memories, growth, frustration, excitement, and a lot of hard work. I have to admit that at first I was not interested in hiking all of these mountains, let alone even one four thousand footer! I had hiked throughout my life sporadically, usually smaller mountains such as Mt. and Pack Monadnock, Mt. Major, and Mt. Willard. I loved hiking but the thought of very long trips just didn't appeal to me. Matt, my boyfriend at the time – now my husband, however, had heard of the club and it had piqued his interest. So, each time we would decide to go for a hike, he would conveniently suggest one of the four thousand footers. I caught on to this quickly and would usually put up a stink, and try to convince him to do a smaller, easier day hike. I don't know how it happened, but at one point I realized that I had already hiked so many of the four thousand list. I became hooked and decided that I must accomplish this goal as well!

Steph, Matt and Dasher on the summit of Mount Jackson, with Mount Washington in the background

So, Matt, myself, and our Korean Jindo Dasher decided we would do this together, as a family. Matt and Dasher had already hiked some mountains without me, but very generously offered to hike them again with me so that we would finish the list together. This took place over summers from 2006 to 2010. At first we started out slowly – life was busy and I was working on my Master's degree in Education, so we hiked when we could. At the end of 2007 we were in the midst of planning our wedding for the following June, I was wrapping up my studies before starting student teaching, and we were thrown a big curve ball. I became very ill and was diagnosed with a chronic illness. We went on to deal with this as best we could, but my health was greatly diminished and unfortunately we were unable to do any hiking the entire year of 2008. In the spring of 2009, my health was restored and so was our passion for hiking! We could not wait to get out and hit the trails. I remember the first hike of that year was Mt. Tecumseh on Memorial Day weekend. It was a great hike to get us pumped for the season and we were able to conquer many mountains throughout the summer and fall.

Steph perched on West Bond, with Bond Cliff in the background

Steph, Matt and Dasher on Bond Cliff

When 2010 rolled around, we decided that we really wanted to meet our goal before the summer's end. Matt and Dasher were still several mountains ahead of me, but I had completed 28 of the 48 peaks. So we knew it was going to be a busy season! Of course, we had left many of the more “challenging” hikes for the end and we knew it was time to attack them! I'll never forget the dreaded Owl's Head – a grueling hike crossing rushing rivers and battling millions of black flies on the slide portion of the trail – only to reach a top with no view! We knew what we were in for though and by the time we made it back to the car we were so proud of ourselves. Another memory of our more difficult days was hiking Jefferson, Adams, and Madison as an out and back – with our poor dog's pads getting completely shredded on the rough rocky peaks. Of course we had so many amazing hikes that these by far surpass the tough days. My favorite hike of all time would have to be hiking all three of the Bonds in a day. We started out via the Lincoln Woods Trail – a familiar start because that is also where we began for Owl's Head – and it seemed as though we would be walking a flat trail forever. The ascent then began and then that seemed to go on forever! Until we were finally at the top of Bondcliff – and I will never forget the moment I turned to look behind me and saw the most absolutely stunning view of the White Mountains that I had ever seen! I remember it literally taking my breath away. We spent a good long time on each of the Bonds that day, just soaking it all in and resting after the long trek out in the middle of the wilderness. It was a long trip back to the car and we were sore for days but it was a trip and day that I will never forget and will always have the best memories of.

Steph, Matt and Dasher on Mount Isolation, the end of their journey for the 48 peaks!

For our very last hike, we completed Mt. Isolation. It was another great day and it was truly an amazing feeling reaching that very last peak and realizing that we had accomplished our goal! Completing this journey with my husband and dog was an amazing experience that we are so proud of. It brought us even closer together and made us realize how thankful we are to live in such a magnificent state. It has provided me with memories that I will never forget and we look forward to the day we can hike some of the very same trails again with our children!

Steph, and her husband, Matt, are dear friends of mine. I've really enjoyed hearing about their adventures in the Whites, climbing the 48, 4,000 footers the past few years. I can't wait until they decide on another list to tackle! I want to extend a big thanks to Steph for letting me use her 4,000 footer essay for a blog post. Please note that the content of this post (text and pictures) are property of Steph and are protected under my copyright - Karl



  1. Holy Cow, that pic on Bond Cliff. That awesome and scary at the same time. Good post. Thanks for sharing your friends' adventures with us.

  2. Great post. Congratulations. I finished last year on Iso. Fantastic stuff. Dasher is a great looking dog.

  3. Wonderful story! Congratulations Steph and Matt. This is such a great journey and so much better when done together. We're looking forward to every peak in the second half of ours (yes, even Owl's Head).

  4. Good times! I've still got about a dozen left, but it's amazing how much a list like this sucks you in. Congratulations, and good luck with the next list :)

  5. Congratulations, this was an inspiring post! I currently have 47 of the 48 done with just Owl's Head left; I look forward to joining the club

  6. Great story and congrats, awesome accomplishment! Hoping to get there myself someday :)

  7. Thanks everyone for your positive comments! We are very excited to have met our goal...we just received our patches in the mail and are planning to attend the Awards Celebration this coming Saturday, April 9, in Stratham. Should be fun!

    @Tim - I was very nervous taking that picture on Bondcliff...but we had to do it!

    @cooperhill - Thank you, I think Dasher is pretty cute too, and congrats on finishing last year!

    @Mark - Thank you and good luck in your journey as well! :)

    @Ryan - Good luck on the last few that you have...you'll be done before you know it! I don't know if I'll be doing any more lists....not anytime soon anyway!

    @Grant - Thank you and congrats to you! Only Owl's Head left....good luck!

    @squeakytrees - thanks and good luck in your own journey!

  8. Catching up a bit on posts - but Congrats!! Dasher is just a beautiful dog - I love that Dasher is in all the photos, too. Like most of the others, I've got some left to go before I finish (15 more).