Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

January Comes to an End


Here on the last day of January we are back home in Newburyport tending to business and running errands. The Undertoad was published last week and will not come out again until next week so we will be heading north again tomorrow morning. Not sure yet what we’ll be hiking. As always, it will depend upon the weather.

One of the challenges we have in winter hiking is hiking around Atticus’ comfort level. We’ve done well in keeping him out of the harsher elements to this point. That’s one of the reasons we haven’t been above tree line all that much. Those who watch weather tell us that it’s been a mild winter. Not above tree line. There’s only been a couple of days so far when we could go above tree line and one of those was the first day of winter and on that day we had previous plans to hike Carrigain. Had I known the mild days would be few and far between we would have changed our plans.

What we have left to finish all 48 in one winter are the following hikes:
- Moriah
- Isolation
- Franconia Ridge (Lafayette, Lincoln, Liberty, & Flume)
- All the Presidentials other than Jackson (Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, Pierce)

When the weather gives us the opportunity we’ll either break the Pressies into the three Northerns (Madison, Adams, Jefferson) on one hike and the rest on another, or else we’ll give a Presidential traverse a try (excluding Jackson). I’ve been intrigued by a Pressie Traverse since last winter. And while we are not the fastest hikers, we are constant. My weakness, due to my size I’m sure, is the up hills. And yet my strength also has to do with my size. I don’t get cold very easily and once up high I have the ability to keep going without losing too much energy.

Earlier this month when we did the Carters and Cats I was happy with the way I felt throughout the hike. Again, not fast, just constant. And while I’m sure a Pressie traverse would be utterly exhausting, it would also be a great experience. As for the distance, Atticus and I planned a lot for longer distances this summer. With winter in mind and with the understanding that we wouldn’t be able to hike as often as others might be able to because of the weather and Atticus’ lack of size and ability to hold up to the winter, we started doing longer and longer hikes, often times doing a 16-21 mile hike every week or two.

We were planning to hike Isolation yesterday but it was extremely cold and at 4,000 ft and above the winds were strong so we canceled the hike. We also canceled the Isolation hike the day before, too…and on the previous Friday. On Friday we didn’t bother hiking. On Monday we were on Tecumseh.

Our total for the month of January was 24 peaks. We the 14 we did in December our total for winter is 38 peaks, with 35 of them going towards a round of 48 and the two Hancocks and Tecumseh as repeats.

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