Photos & Text by Sarah Wilson
My favorite part about living in Boston is how viable it is to escape it. And whenever I feel the need to get away from the concrete and the traffic, The Whites are it. For me, it’s waking up at 6:00 am on a Saturday to be on the road by 7:00, leaving behind the Tobin Bridge and Prudential until I-93 merges to a single lane through Franconia Notch, and it’s only mountains.
It’s the anticipation at the base of the mountain that in a few hours, you’ll have another of the 48 4,000 footers crossed off your list. It’s the beginning of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail when a break in the trees reveals the peak, and the size makes almost makes you doubt that’s the mountain you’re climbing. It’s not realizing you’ve made it to the alpine zone until you notice it’s cold on an 80 degree day. It’s when your legs are burning through the two miles of straight incline on Mount Liberty, and you look back for the first time on the way up, realizing how much height you’ve gained in so little time. It’s trying to determine the best foot placement to make it over boulders on Mount Jefferson while wondering how exactly you’re going to make it back down. And it’s when you’re 4,000, 5,000, maybe 6,000 feet up and in every direction, it’s only mountains.
I prefer the Presidential Range in the Whites. Those, to me, feel (and are, based on height) the most significant. But the Whites can be as easy or difficult as you want them to be. There’s plenty of opportunities for peak-bagging — once you make it to one summit, it’s likely another will be within a mile, and you can conquer more than one mountain in a single day. For longer multi-day, multi-mountain hikes, AMC maintains huts at various points across the Presidential Traverse, or you can simply camp. But whether you’re doing a day hike, staying for a weekend or on the final legs of an AT thru hike — nothing in the Northeast compares.
All photos (C) Sarah Wilson, 2014