December 18, 2012

On Hiking All 48 White Mountain 4000 Footers

After a couple month delay, Katy and I finally filled out the AMC 4000 Footer Club Application. It's sitting on the desk next to me right now, waiting to be mailed. A completed application consists of a full list of dates of each ascent as well as a personal account of your final peak (or any other peak if you choose). Naturally I thought it would be suitable to include a copy of my Mount Carrigain blog post to satisfy this requirement for my application. However, Katy has also written her own reflections on our 4000 footer journey to go along with her application. She suggested that I might post it to this blog and so without further ado, a guest post from my wonderful wife:

December 16, 2012

Appalachian Mountain Club
Attn: Four Thousand Footer Committee
P.O. Box 444
Exeter, NH 03833

Dear Sir or Madam:

Thank you so very much for reviewing my application for the Four Thousand Footer Club of the White Mountains. I am writing to provide a brief account of the ascent of our final peak and to perhaps share a few other musings of my adventures in the Whites.

Let me begin by telling you that I am no “wilderness woman.” My husband, Owen Kellett, and I climbed our first 4,000-footer on October 4, 2009. At the time, Owen and I were not married – we were not pregnant. He already had a dozen or so 4,000 footers under his belt, whereas my mountaineering skills were virtually non-existent. He invited me to climb all 48 of the 4,000-footers out of the blue one evening at home. He told me that if we finished them, we would attend a pizza party and receive a patch and a scroll. Since I am not one to turn down a good adventure (or pizza and an award), I was “all in.”

I recall climbing Mts. Lafayette and Lincoln, our first hike, and thinking to myself that I wanted to gnaw off both legs and die on a rock. I enjoyed the hike overall and my time with Owen, but I found that I was not mentally or physically fit for the challenge. I anticipated that the climb would be a struggle, but I had recently finished the Boston Marathon, so how hard could it possibly be in comparison!? Well, it was much harder than predicted. Despite the challenges of our first climb, we decided to persevere.

Owen and I climbed all of the 4,000-footers together. We became moderately obsessed with hiking! We were married on June 12, 2010, and we hiked the Na Pali Coast in Hawaii on our honeymoon. We returned from our honeymoon and hiked some more. Then, I started law school. Hiking became our outlet. We hiked during my semester break and every long weekend. We bought snowshoes and hiked during the winter. We vacationed in Acadia and hiked there. Summer weekends consisted of waking up at 5:00 a.m. and driving up north to complete our day hikes. Then, our hikes got longer! We became much faster and could handle five peaks in a single day. I thought to myself, “Presidential Traverse, here we come!”

We never did complete all of the Presidentials in a single day, but we finished our last 4,000-footer, Mt. Carrigain, on October 13, 2012. Sawyer River Road opened and we jumped at the opportunity to cross our last mountain off the list. We bundled up when we arrived at the trailhead because it was much nippier than any of our recent summer hikes. Owen’s sister joined us on the trail, but we secretly had another tag-a-long with us as well, because I was more than two months pregnant! We cautiously climbed Mt. Carrigain at a much slower pace than usual – I could not get enough peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I craved icy cold milk. We had previously climbed Mt. Zealand and the Bonds in approximately eleven hours, yet it took us eight or so hours to climb Mt. Carrigain alone. Crossing the ridge and climbing the fire tower at the summit of Mt. Carrigain gave me such a bubbly feeling because well, there were dozens of other hikers celebrating their final peak with champagne, but also because I realized just how far we had come since climbing Mt. Lafayette. I reminisced with Owen on the descent back to the car and realized that, even though Mt. Carrigan was our last 4,000-footer in the White Mountains, this was only the beginning.

Owen and I are looking forward to climbing the New England 4,000 footers, but our next adventure will be a journey into parenthood. We plan to introduce our child to the White Mountains once s/he is old enough to walk – and we hope that s/he has similar hiking adventures in the future. The White Mountains gave us tranquility and the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of Boston city-life. I suppose I am a “wilderness woman” after all.

Many thanks,

Katy Kellett


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