Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On The Trailwrights 72

Tuesday, August 19, 2009
Adams 4 - Presidential Range
Trailwrights 72 Completion
Youngest Finisher Of List

----------------------------

Over the many years I've been hiking, I had no idea where my journey was going to take me. I started way back in 1990-whatever and continued to hike through my teens and early twenties. I finished the AMC's 48 Four Thousand Footers (48), even made a movie about it and then I, like thousands of others, began to think about what was next. I became a trail runner and a long distance runner, and as I began to run ridges and tackle the tops of various peaks over the course of a day, I began to examine other peak-bagging lists. Many others before me moved on to hiking the New England 4000 Footers and/or the ADK 46. But one list stuck out to me and it was the Trailwrights 72(TW72).

Maybe it was the rules of the list that stuck out at me from the beginning. Similar to the list of 48, each peak on the list was 4,000 feet in elevation or higher. Also similar to the 48, it had a col rule which states that every peak on the list must rise "x" number of feet above the col of it's highest neighbor. The 48 list has a 300 foot col rule, eliminating a large number of peaks. But with a col rule of only 100 feet, those peaks all find themselves on the TW72. In fact, I think every single 4000' bump in the state of NH is on the TW72. But the big difference is that with the 48 you can count as many peaks in a day as you can summit. On the TW72, you can only count one peak per hike. I took this rule to the extreme, only counting one peak per day where-as it's relatively easy for me to arrange multiple "hike's" in a day. The final rule of the TW72 is that one must perform 72 Hours of Trail Work Volunteerism, 16 of which must be with the Trailwrights group themselves. If a rule like this was installed to the 48, I very much imagine that the number of finishers seeking a patch and/or scroll would drastically decline.

So I started to take a look at all of my days in the mountains and began to piece together the list of the TW72 (in spreadsheet format of course) and the dates in which I had climbed each peak. For each hike/run that I had travelled across an entire ridge, I would only count one peak. No date was every duplicated on the list and I soon realized that I didn't have far to go. This was of course back in 2005. It was August of 2007 when I climbed to the top of Mount Blue on the Moosilaukee massif and only had 6 peaks remaining. Given conflicting life schedules, rediculous gas prices and a host of other issues, I never thought in 2005 that I'd finish the TW72 almost exactly 2 years later. But that taught me something..

I began to see pictures of who had actually finished this list and realized that not many of them were very young. I did some research, asked around and found out that if I finished the list any time in the next 20 years.. I'd be the youngest. I knew what my goal would be and I tried like hell to achieve it. New Hampshire is a funny place. The weather has played a pivitol role in the delay of my finish. For instance, I rescheduled my final climb on two separate ocassions. The final peak alone and the list in general became my white whale. It haunted me as I thought about it often. But I also began to think about how it affected ME.. deep down..

I have a really deep feeling that the whole idea behind the creation of the TW72 list was to get hikers to slow down. To not treat peak-bagging as a game of sorts but rather as a long journey. If you will for a moment think about why it is that we embark on adventure, you may find out that the journey is a part of a process to self discovery. I always treated the "48" like a game, trying to determine how many peaks I could bag in a day.. and then I set out to bag those testy bushwhacks on the Trailwrights list. Slowing down for me is hard to do.. and my patience was most certainly tested. The bushwhacks were interesting, intriguing.. and some more time consuming than others.

The final years of reaching to finish the TW72 affected me in ways that the 48 never did. And one hike in general helped reshape my view of wilderness, peakbagging and exploration; and that would be the trip up South West Twin in August 2007. To this day that remains one of the most difficult days of hiking in my life. 3+ hours to travel .30 Yes.. Three Tenths of a mile through spruce and fir so thick that I couldn't see my feet, couldn't see left, right or ahead... I couldn't even see a view in places. I was completely consumed by the forest, completely consumed by the mountain and even though I was with my good friend Adam; I had no choice but to internalize the journey. It was there that I stood quietly, looking at nothing but green and inhaling the beauty around me that I realized that my journey's are only just beginning and that this list was slowly changing my life.

Over the next two years I slowly found my way to the final peaks. No bushwhack as tough or as adventurous as that whack of South West Twin, but fun never-the-less. I really felt a sort of kinship with the mountains, a hidden relation that I didn't yet know of. I signed my name into a few other cannisters and observed the names of the others who had been there as well. I went back up to ridges I'd been on what felt like a million times just to hit another peak once again so it would count on a different day and in the end, I finally made it to that final day.

On Tuesday, August 19, 2009 I stood on top of Adams 4. Adam and I were running the Presi-traverse and it was calling to me. We diverted from our plans and decided to grab it. Not just "bag the peak" but to visit it. To see it, to touch it, to smell it.. to be it. I stopped on top of the jagged pile of rocks about 3 feet to the left of Lowe's Path and took in the entire scene; the scene for it's beauty inside and out. It's hard to not internalize during these moments. To reflect and offer yourself some introspection on the journey you just completed and to think about what is to come. After finishing the TW72 I can honestly say that I don't care what is next so long as my journey continues to to feed my curiosity for those lesser visited wild places. Keeping in mind that those wild places aren't necessarily out of doors, they reside in our soul as well.

Huge thanks to Hal Graham who was the creator of this list and the first person to finish it. Hal confirmed for me that I am indeed the youngest to complete the list of peaks, now all I need to do is 16 more hours of trail work, all with the Trailwrights Club.

TrailWrights 72 Summit List
Mountain Elevation Date
  1. Cannon - 4080 - 5/24/92
  2. Lafayette - 5240 - 6/28/92
  3. Tecumseh - 4003 - 7/4/93
  4. Eisenhower - 4760 - 7/5/94
  5. Lincoln - 5089 - 8/10/96
  6. Flume - 4328 - 6/28/97
  7. Field - 4320- 6/30/97
  8. Hale - 4054 - 7/17/97
  9. Washington - 6288 - 7/28/97
  10. Monroe - 5374 - 7/16/98
  11. Osceola - 4315 - 5/18/03
  12. Galehead - 4024 - 8/3/03
  13. Waumbek - 4006 - 5/23/04
  14. Cabot - 4160 - 5/30/04
  15. Passaconaway - 4043 - 6/4/04
  16. Garfield - 4480 - 6/13/04
  17. Moosilauke - 4802 - 6/20/04
  18. Isolation - 4004 - 6/27/04
  19. Jackson - 4052 - 7/3/04
  20. Wildcat "C" - 4298 - 7/10/04
  21. Moriah -4049 - 7/12/04
  22. Owl's Head - 4025 - 7/14/04
  23. No. Hancock -4400 - 7/18/04
  24. Carter Dome -4832 - 7/25/04
  25. No. Kinsman -4293 - 8/1/04
  26. Jefferson -5712 - 8/8/04
  27. Zealand -4240 - 8/21/04
  28. So. Twin -4902 - 8/24/04
  29. No. Tripyramid- 4160 - 8/29/04
  30. Carrigain - 4680 - 9/4/04
  31. Madison - 5367 - 9/5/04
  32. Little Haystack - 4760 - 2/5/05
  33. Mt. Tom - 4051 - 2/19/05
  34. East Osceola - 4156 - 3/6/05
  35. Liberty -4459 - 3/26/05
  36. So. Kinsman -4358 - 4/17/05
  37. Whiteface -4000 - 5/8/05
  38. No. Twin -4761 - 5/14/05
  39. West Bond -4520 - 5/21/05
  40. Adams - 5774 - 5/30/05
  41. Adams 5 - 5266 - 6/5/05
  42. Lethe - 4584 - 6/10/05
  43. So. Moosilauke - 4523 - 6/11/05
  44. So. Hancock - 4319 - 6/19/05
  45. Boott Spur - 5492 - 7/2/05
  46. Bond - 4698 - 7/4/05
  47. Clinton (Pierce) - 4310 - 7/5/05
  48. Willey - 4285 - 7/30/05
  49. No. Carter - 4520 - 8/6/05
  50. Guyot - 4580- 8/27/05
  51. Bondcliff - 4265 - 9/11/05
  52. N. Lincoln - 5000 - 9/13/05
  53. So. Tripyramid -4080 - 9/18/05
  54. Franklin -4904 - 10/22/05
  55. Mi. Tripyramid - 4120 - 12/20/05
  56. So. Carter -4420 - 2/2/06
  57. John Q. Adams -5394 - 2/22/06
  58. Hight -4675 -6/10/06
  59. Clay -5531- 6/17/06
  60. Middle Carter - 4600- 11/12/06
  61. Gulf (Slide) Peak -4760 - 5/26/07
  62. Wildcat "D" - 4060 - 5/28/07
  63. No. Isolation -4293 - 7/7/07
  64. Sam Adams - 5551 - 8/11/07
  65. SW Twin (BW) -4357 - 8/12/07
  66. Blue -4529 -8/19/07
  67. Middle Osceola - 4200 - 8/29/07
  68. Wildcat "A" -4422 - 5/24/08
  69. Jim - 4172 - 5/26/08
  70. NW Hancock -4020 - 6/1/08
  71. West Osceola - 4114 - 6/26/09
  72. Adams 4 - 5348 - 8/19/09