If it's over 4,000 feet -- It counts for me!

Nancy - August 18, 2006

On June 6, 2006, we hiked Little Haystack (elevation 4,780), Lincoln (5,089) and Lafayette (5,260). Each peak is above 4,000 feet. Wowsers -- 3 peaks towards our 4,000 footer total. Not so fast. Little Haystack doesn't count. What do you mean it doesn't count?

On July 24, 2006, we did a 23-mile, 15-hour death march that included Zealand Mountain (4,260), Mt. Guyot (4,580), West Bond (4,540), Mt. Bond (4,698) and Bondcliff (4,265) and back. We earned every one of those 5 peaks. Whoops! Not so! Mt. Guyot doesn't count. How could it not count? It's above 4,000 feet!

On August 10, 2006, we climbed Maine's highest mountain, Katahdin. First we hit Pamola (4,919), then across the Knife Edge to Katahdin South Peak (5,260) and then Baxter Peak (5,267). Yeah! Three of the toughest peaks we have ever done. Raise your hand if you think they all count. Wrong! Both Pamola and South Peak do not count!

Okay, let me first give credit where credit is due. Whoever first came up with the idea of starting a club for people who have climbed all the 4,000 footers in a particular state was brilliant. Just brilliant. It sets an attainable goal, but one that requires time, energy and commitment. It is a goal people feel pride in accomplishing. The 4,000 Footers Club encourages hikers to experience all of the mountains in a state and pushes people past familiar territory into new adventures. Bottom line -- it encourages people to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature while exercising! Who could ask for anything more? And it's all on the honor system. I love that!

When you have an idea in the grown-up world, most often there are rules associated with it. Why? Why can't it just be as simple as hike all the mountains 4,000 feet high and over? Why do there have to be rules that stipulate what counts as a 4,000 footer? If the mountain is over 4,000 feet -- it should count! Heavens sakes -- I mean really. What terrible outcome would happen if we actually included all the 4,000 foot mountains in THE 4,000 footer list? The number of peaks in New Hampshire and New England would increase? Yeah. So what?

If the purpose of the 4,000 Footer Club is to help people set a goal and then celebrate its accomplishment -- every single 4,000 foot peak is a victory. To summit and find out you don't get the prize is demoralizing -- and for no good reason! It makes no sense! It is a disappointment in a concept that has no room for disappointment. It should be a celebration of attainment and physical fitness and nature and beauty and views and moose. If given the choice, I'd rather find ways for people to earn more points, rather than take them away. Hey, maybe you could get extra points if you see a moose or a bear. (We saw a moose -- +1!) And maybe we could get extra points if you loose your hiking boot to a mud hole (almost but not quite). Or how about earning extra points if you've joined the Peak Poopers Club (my hiking buddy Pat has this honor -- +1!) All of this is on the honor system too, now.

Com'on guys. If its 4,000 feet -- it counts. Please, loosen the restriction and fix the list and I'll stop coming up with these crazy ideas.

Now, I've read the reasoning -- if you can call it that. The AMC Committee has determined that the peak must be 4,000 feet high AND must rise 200 feet above the low point of its connecting ridge with a higher neighbor. I guess they decided that because if there was less than 200 feet difference between one peak and its neighbor, then it just wasn't that demanding a hike and therefore shouldn't count! What are they thinking? If the Club is about achieving hard, difficult to attain goals, then hard should be rewarded. Maybe there should be double the points on peaks if you summit faster than book time. Or how about counting a peak twice if it's over 5,500 feet? Or you get to multiply each summit by three if you jog the entire way. Why does it have to be about hard anyway? Whatever happened to a freebee? If a peak is a bit easier because you only have to climb 199 feet in elevation between it and its neighbor -- yeah! A break! In life there are natural breaks. Couldn't the AMC Committee give us a break?

But the 4,000 Footer Club isn't about hard. It is about the natural world, our environment and beauty. It is about pride, accomplishment and fitness. It is about joy and success. It's about fun! There can't be too much of any of those things! When we reach the summit of a "non-counting peak," do we skip the bliss of sitting on a hot rock eating lunch? The high-five-we-made-it moment? Should we just walk across the summit, head down, and hike right on through, not acknowledging the peak or the scenery just because it doesn't count? No! We should celebrate and take every moment on every peak to fully absorb the experience of getting there and back. It's that simple. And the 4,000 Footer Club should be that simple as well.

Anyway -- I make my own rules in my peak bagging challenge. I'm not in a contest with anyone but myself. I'm doing it for the thrill of each climbing moment, for the magnificence of the views from the top, for the connection to nature and to Pat, my hiking friend, for the chance to feel and see what my body can do, and ultimately for that high I feel inside of me each time I get to the summit sign. Mt. Guyot, Little Haystack, Katahdin/South Peak and Pamola -- pay no mind to the AMC Committee. You count as far as I'm concerned.

August 14, 2006 -- 22 peaks bagged!