But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain. Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard […]
President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962
We’ve been up here for a little over four years now. We’ve taken on our share of hikes up in the White Mountains, but the only mountaintop hike we had tackled was the relatively mild Welch-Dickey Loop Trail to the tops of neighboring Mt. Welch and Mt. Dickey, each a shade under 3000 feet high.
The goal this year: to start taking on (and taking down) the so-called 4000-footers in New Hampshire—48 peaks in the White Mountains, each at least (duh) 4000 feet high, ranging from #1 Mt. Washington (6288 feet) to #48 Mt. Tecumseh (4003 feet).
So over the July 4th holiday weekend this year, we took on our first: Mt. Pierce, #27 on the list at 4310 feet. The plan was to take the Crawford Path for the first 1.9 miles, split off on the Mizpah Cut-Off (0.7 miles) to reach the Mizpah Spring Hut, then take the Webster Cliff Trail (0.9 miles) from there for the last stretch to the summit of Pierce.
We started our trek fairly early Saturday morning from the parking lot of the AMC Highland Center Lodge, conveniently located directly across Route 302 from the start of the Crawford Path. The weather was decidedly gray and overcast, and rain was likely throughout the day, but we decided that we’d make it through come hell or high water (should have picked my words more carefully on that last part… foreshadowing…). We had packed some light rain gear anyway, just in case, so we figured we were set. An so off we went.
The first stretch of the Crawford Path is listed as “moderately strenuous”, but given that I wasn’t in exactly top shape, I thought the grade started to get steep awfully quickly. My sweetie—who’s been a regular gym rat since the beginning of the year—was able to recover her wind much more quickly than I, but in time, my body started to get the hang of things, and even I started to find the going a bit easier as time went on.