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.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


I’m taking physical inventory this morning and I’m happy to report I am all here. Other than a couple of skin issues (blister, chafing) I have recovered nicely from the Bonds Traverse. As a matter of fact, if it had been a blue bird day yesterday---it wasn’t, it rained---we probably would have hiked. Atticus is doing extremely well showing no signs whatsoever of the long hike.

The blister is my own fault. When I ran marathons a lifetime ago I used to put a thin layer of Vaseline all over my feet. I typically do the same before a long hike. For whatever reason, I didn’t do this the other day and ended up with the blister on my left fore foot. It shouldn’t be a problem.

Today’s forecast looks good, tomorrow looks a bit stormy. So I’m thinking the Kinsmans today, but don’t hold me to that because you can already tell I make up my mind on the way to the trailhead quite often, and an off day tomorrow before a run of good days for hiking. Sunday we’ll do something that gets us back to the couch and the television before the Super Bowl but other than that I’m open for most anything, depending on the weather and conditions.

Yesterday’s rain iced up leaving the snow with a good crust. I will bring my crampons for the next few days, just in case, but will most likely try to get by as I nearly always do with my snowshoes and microspikes. It will be interesting to see what the conditions are.

As far as the Bonds Traverse goes, one down and one to go; in trying to do all 48 twice we’ll have another go at this. I’m just not sure when as of yet. The Bonds is always a true test in winter and one of those hikes considered one of the biggest challenges. Here are the others:

Owls Head- An 18 mile round trip over several stream crossings with a climb up an icy slide in the last mile. It is in the Pemi Wilderness so doesn’t get broken out all that often.

Southern Presidentials- I include Washington in this group and on the day we do Washington we’ll also do Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce. As always, this is a challenge due to weather above tree line.

Northern Presidentials- This tough hike includes Madison, Adams and Jefferson and is one of the most dramatic in the Whites. It is more taxing the Southern Pressies because of the elevation gain and terrain. (On the rare occasion I felt up to it, I would possibly consider a Presidential Traverse that would knit together all the Presidentials but that would be in round two.)

Franconia Ridge- Yes, we already did Lafayette, Lincoln, Liberty and Flume, but we have to do them again in round two.

Bonds Traverse- Round two; you already know what this entails.

Isolation- It is aptly named. Several stream crossings, unless you get lucky and follow a well stamped out bushwhack. This is just south of Mt. Washington. Not a lot of elevation gain but again, it is isolated.

Carters & Cats- These peaks are on the fare side of Pinkham Notch. I don’t have the mileage in front of me but I’m thinking about 17 miles to cover Middle Carter, South Carter, Carter Dome, Wildcat A & Wildcat D. The true challenge in this one is climbing all the way down into Carter Notch after Carter Dome and then willing myself to climb all the way back up the steep trail to Wildcat A.

Twins & Galehead- Three peaks but to get to them you need to do some water crossings that have to be frozen. That hasn’t always been the case this winter. This route is about 15 miles, I do believe.

And there you have it. Those are the more difficult hikes we have left and they all have to be done twice except for Franconia Ridge and the Bonds Traverse. That’s the bad news. The good news is two-fold. Typically, with most of these hikes, we get several peaks. Secondly, now that we have 31 peaks under our belts we are better physically equipped to handle these hikes.