I decided to hike to the top of New Hampshire’s 48 4,000-footers because of Patrick.
Patrick was my next-door neighbor, who became my best friend. He introduced me to the White Mountains not long after I moved back to Massachusetts when he invited me to roam up Mount Mousilauke, the westernmost mountain among the 48 4,000-footers, with he and his wife, Susan.
From the moment we set foot on the Gorge Brook Trail, just behind Dartmouth College’s Mousilake Ravine Lodge, I was hooked.
Since that day, I’ve covered hundreds of miles of trails across the White Mountains in every season of the year (winter hiking is actually my favorite); summiting several peaks, including Mount Mousilauke, more than once, and introducing many friends and family to the trails.
I hiked about half of the 48 4,000-footers with Patrick before we lost him to brain cancer in 2015. Since then, I have devoted the rest of my hikes in the White Mountains, with love and gratitude, to his memory.
Today, I completed my 48th 4,000-footer when I summited Mount Cannon, part of the Kinsman Range in Franconia State Park, about ten years after I started hiking those magnificent mountains.
My approach to joining the “AMC Four Thousand-Footer Club” has always been a bit casual. Rather than trying to tag all those peaks in a year, or in each month, or in some other highly organized, time-driven way, I’ve just looked for any opportunity I could find to drive north and hit the trails.
Here are a few of my favorite moments from my 48:
One of my favorite pictures: Me and Patrick on top of Mount Mousilauke on a chilly day just after New Year’s in 2012.
At 3,165 feet, Mount Monadnock is not among New Hampshire’s 48 4,000-footers, but its relative ease and magnificent 360-degree views have earned it the distinction of being one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world, after Japan’s Mount Fuji. Transcendentalists Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson visited it, and Emerson penned an ode to “Monadnoc,” in which he wrote admiringly, “Monadnoc is a mountain strong, / Tall and good my kind among.”
The name “Monadnock” comes from an Abeanaki word that means “mountain that stands alone.” Indeed, this particular trek up Mount Monadnock “stands alone” for me as the first time my wife-to-be, Margaret, and I hiked the trails together.
This vista below Mount Whiteface is one of the many reasons I love to roam the White Mountains.
An actual temperature just above zero with wind gusts over 50 MPH at the top of Mount Adams made for a particularly icy climb!
A weekend, 20-mile traverse of Zealand Mountain and the Bonds: West Bond, Mount Bond, and Bondcliff Mountain, with the Appalachian Mountain Club.
A winter weekend hiking expedition of North and South Kinsman Mountains, with camping at Lonesome Lake.
One of a few treks up Mount Washington, home of “the world’s worst weather” (though pretty mild this particular day in June), with brother, Mitch Riley.
Beautiful late autumn/early winter hike up Mount Waumbek with my wife, Margaret. We met “Bonnie and Clyde,” a couple of the White Mountains’ famous gray jays, who were hanging out at a trail juncture, waylaying unwary travelers and robbing them of their snacks.
An early “spring” camp site for me and my brother, Mitch, on top of Carter Dome.
Mount Cabot, in the Pilot Range of the White Mountains, is the northernmost 4,000-footer and also one of the longer hikes–a little over 14 miles for the route Margaret, brother Mitch Riley, Kristen Martin and I took on this early November day.
Return to Mount Mousilauke
Returning to Mount Mousilauke with new hiking friends, Noemi Custodia-Lora and Juana Matias.
Mount Chocorua, at 3,490 feet, is not one of the 48 4,000-footers; but it has a magnificent 360-degree view from the top, and this picture of my friend, Patrick, his wife, Susan, and I on one of our early treks together is one of my favorites.
October 2, 2021: The final 4,000-footer. A foggy New England autumn day to reach the Cannon Mountain peak with Jay Piercey, sister Avanelle Piercey-Riley, friend and long-time hiking companion Susan Fernstrom, wife Margaret Glenn, brother Mitch Riley, and Kristen Martin.
This one, and all the ones before it, are for you, Patrick.