When I started hiking the 48, I had zero intentions of finishing quickly. I’m the type of person that loves too many different things—fitness, fishing, hiking, and athletics—to focus on a single activity. What I quickly came to understand is that hiking aligns nicely with those passions. Not only could I spend the weekend kicking my ass on a long trail run, but I could end it, begin it, or break it up with fishing. Throughout my small journey through New Hampshire, I certainly learned some lessons on hiking the NH 48 4000 footers.
I feel at home outdoors, and the more time I spent on the trail, in the mountains, or on the river, the more I loved it. It became an addiction to be there, and every moment I had to spend away from the mountains while at school or at work, I wished to be back doing what I love. That’s when I set my goal to finish the 48 within a calendar year. While some people have finished within a month (the crazies do the grid), and this year’s new record is seven days, I asked myself what was reasonable for my working schedule. With proper time management, and sacrificing certain things, I was able to tackle my objective.
Some of those lessons:
Find a way to make time to do what you love to do. This doesn’t just apply to hiking, but to everything. If you truly enjoy something, you need to find a way to bring that enjoyment into your life frequently. Obviously, balance is important, but when it comes down to it, make sure you do what makes you the happiest. I’m 22 years old and probably a bit naïve, but I don’t think I’m wrong with this one. I watch so many people go through their daily lives, get into rhythms, attach themselves to things that don’t make them happy, and miss out on opportunities for amazing experiences. If I have learned one thing from my 22 years on this planet, it’s the necessity to keep in touch with your passions.
Some of my best experiences were shared with other people. Make sure you share your passions with loved ones. Not only can you help someone find a new favorite activity, but you can help them get to understand you better as well. On the flip side, some of my most memorable moments on the trail were when I was completely alone, isolated and far away from anyone. These moments can be eye opening, a little scary, beautiful all at once. It is important to experience both sides of this, sharing moments, and isolating yourself in the moment, as they are both so different, but very rewarding.
Finishing the 48 was bittersweet. I felt proud that I had accomplished my goal, and experienced it with loved ones. A deep connection to my home state developed, as if I’d completed a right of passage. Now I could explore beyond New Hampshire and broaden my experiences. Most importantly, the 48 made me realize how essential it is to my happiness to make sure I always make time for the things I love.
So what’s next? Well, I obviously have to finish the NE 67, right? I feel compelled to experience all of the United State’s national parks, and I want to hike around the world. But these are life goals, and time will allow me to do those things. What I’m enjoying most right now is sharing the amazing experiences I had in NH with my friends and family. I will jump at any opportunity to share a hike with someone, to show them what I experienced, and to maybe turn them into an avid outdoorsman like myself. I have begun spending more time doing these things with my family, which has brought me even closer to them, and I can see that I have sparked a passion within them, too. It is an amazing thing to see.
Why everyone should try hiking in NH:
Whether it was standing atop Mount Lafayette overlooking Franconia notch, gazing over the edge of Bond Cliff, almost being killed by a moose on Mount Isolation, waking up to a downpour in my hammock on Hancock, freezing in a blizzard on Mount Moosilaukee, or sliding down the snowy slopes of Carter Dome, every moment will stick with me forever.
Whether cold, rainy, windy or beautiful, I always managed to have an amazing time. Anyone can turn the White Mountains into some incredible memories, and I would love to see more people take advantage of what their home has to offer. Treat the land with respect, and enjoy its beauty.
Author: Max DesMarais is a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire, now working at Vital Design in Portsmouth. He has a passion for hiking, fishing, fitness and digital marketing. You can reach him at his hiking and fishing blog.