Finishing the NH 48 takes commitment, not matter how experienced you are. It doesn’t matter if you have hiked around the world, through hiked the Appalachian Trail, or have never conquered a 4000 footer. For me, it was not only something I loved to do, but it it was almost a right of passage for me to begin my adult life after college. Here are my tips for conquering them all, whether its the NH 48, New England 67, the AT or any other trail.
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1. Get comfortable hiking alone…of course be safe
The biggest mistake I made early on in my conquest was not hiking alone. I used to only go if I could get someone to go with me, which often meant I wasn’t going to be hiking that weekend. The truth is, people are flaky, so you can’t let the hold you back from accomplishing your goals. If your lucky enough to have a consistent hiking buddy, thats awesome, but I still recommend going on hikes alone. It is an eye opening experience. There were times where I spent hours alone in the woods, even full nights alone, without seeing a single person. It is something that takes time to get used to, but I grew to love it. At the tail end of my 48 it was crunch time, and people had better things to do, so I was solo hiking nearly all of my hikes. It allows you to go at your own pace, whether your going for a stroll, or a hard workout. It allows you to enjoy the solitude and beauty of nature. You may even come across a moose or two! Just be careful!
2. Don’t be afraid to just wing it sometimes.
Sometimes the best trips can’t be planned, and you just have to go with the flow. If a friend asks you to go for a hike, and you have some time, just do it. You’re not going to get to the top and be like “man I wish I folded my laundry instead of this”. You have a free day on the weekend without plans? Hop in the car, grab some granola bars and waters, and make your way to the mountains. Don’t know where to go? Pick one off the list random. Since I was often in different parts of NH when I had this free time, I usually pick mountains that are closest drives from where I am headed to after, or coming from.
3. Suck it up and drive…even when you don’t want to.
For most, its a long ass drive to get to the mountains. Early in my life I was blessed to only have a short drive into the heart of the whites, but at UNH, I had to drive 2 to 3 hours each way just to get to the trailhead of choice. When I decided to do them all within a year, that whole year I was going to school full time, working on the side, and during the summer I was working 45+ hours per week. What did I do? I made sacrifices, sucked it up and made the drive to make sure I did the things I loved to do. I often drove all the way up on days after classes just to trail run a mountain. Every single time the drive was terrible, but every single time I hit the peak I felt like I finally was where I belonged. Even when it was raining, cloudy, and I had no view. It’s worth it.
4. Take a few weekends solely for hiking
My absolute best hikes were weekend trips. Spending the night on top of a ridge is one of the most incredible things. Not only does this type of extended hiking allow you to bag numerous peaks in one day, it’s just an all around amazing experience. Grab a hiking buddy, make sure you have the right equipment for the possible weather scenarios, plenty of food, and a deck of cards. There is nothing, and I mean nothing as beautiful as waking up before sunrise, walking on the tops of mountains and ridges as the sun rises in the distance. These times will never be forgotten.
This one is pretty simply. At some point, you are going to have to give up something else to go hiking. Don’t let yourself get the fear of missing out because your buddies are going to the bar, or your girlfriends are going shopping, or some other less stereotypical activity. Get fear of missing out on the mountains. That’s what I get. Trust me, they are cooler than $2 drink night.
6. Get hiking buddies/make some new friends
I don’t have that many friends that love to hike. So I made some new ones that do. It helps a lot. Sometimes you aren’t always motivated and they can pick you up and get you moving. Sometimes you don’t feel like hiking alone, and other times you just want to share the experience. If you can, get a hiking buddy, its a big help.
Just sharing the experience can be a great thing. One of my favorite things to do is bring people to beautiful places that they likely would never see in a million years if you didn’t drag them along. Even if they complain the whole way up, by the end they almost always tell you how worth it the experience was.
7. Go with loved ones
This goes hand in hand with the one above, but deserves its own category. Maybe your loved ones are your hiking buddies, maybe your loved ones have never hiked before. Make them come with you at least once. Not only will it be an incredible experience, but you’ll be able to share something you love, with the ones you love. Hiking with my girlfriend is amazing, even when she complains! I absolutely love hiking with my family as well. On my last peak, I planned the hike out weeks in advance and invited my whole family. Being the wonderful and loving people they are, I had a nice big group of my loved ones that came up to celebrate finishing the 48 with me. It was awesome.
8. Get in shape
Yes, finishing the 48 quickly will definitely get you in good shape, but if your in shape before you start, this becomes a walk in the park. I started using my solo hikes as workouts, where I could trail run and bust out peaks very efficiently. I would also like to point out, that if your in shape, and not struggling to hike, it makes the experience far more enjoyable. It is often the reason you can’t bring loved ones, or can’t drag your friends to go hiking with you. Be healthy, its good for more than just the trekking.
List of the NH 48 (Difficulty Included)
Please keep in mind this is a very subjective list. It is also my opinion of the easiest route up each mountain. I am comparing each mountain to other NH 48 4000ers, which means no mountain (even the “easy” ones) should be taken lightly. If you are not experienced, do some research and prepare accordingly. To map out routes, I often use http://4000footers.com/nh.shtm