“Hiking is a bit like life: the journey requires you to put one foot in front of the other … over and over and over again. And if you allow yourself opportunity to be present throughout the entirety of the trek, you will witness beauty every step of the way, not just at the summit.” – Unknown
New Hampshire has a wide variety of mountains, trails, and waterfalls to hike but the thing most people try to obtain is conquering the White Mountain 4000 footers. Whenever you get up into the mountains and look around often most of us think “wow imagine standing on top of that mountain, it must be amazing” – well most of those exact mountains are there for the taking.
For me those mountains were all I wanted to conquer; the beauty they had to offer not only at the top but throughout their entire wilderness, however they are definitely intimidating. I would sit on AllTrails and pick all the mountains I wanted to hike and then laugh at myself for choosing 10 mile+ hikes, WELP nothing like choosing a hike over 10 miles to make my way into those 4000 footers! Mount Garfield was full of beauty and had so much to offer every step of the ascent – there were river crossings and flowers and snow and so much challenge to get to the summit – but it was worth every damn step I had to take. There were a few moments within my ascent where I thought I’ll just give up and wait here until the rest of my hiking party make their decent… instead I pushed myself to make it with everything I had in me; and I am so happy I did.
These views speak for themselves – the summit completely submerges you into the Whites, mountains in every direction you look.
Along this hike I was able to think and work through so many things within myself. Most hikes give you this opportunity, which is partly why I love hiking so much; being surrounded with nature clears your mind and gives you the ability to focus on what is important in your life at that moment.
I had never done a winter hike before and though it was not winter and a pretty warm day there was a whole lot of snow once we hit about 3000 feet in elevation. However, the temperature change was greatly welcomed. I imagined how beautiful it must be in winter to hike these mountains after a fresh snow fall, it must look and feel magical. I pictured the icicles forming on the rocks and hanging from the trees, and the white snow dusting the evergreens.
Now, the snow is a dirty and melting away to welcome the new life of spring atop these beautiful mountains. There is far more green than white and the trails are traced with muddy prints from animals and hikers passing along. Still beautiful in all sorts of ways.
Reaching the top was a feeling relief along with a extreme sense of accomplishment, I couldn’t wait to break my camera out and capture what was around me. But first I needed to sit and take it all in for myself (along with rest my legs). We brought lunch to eat at the summit, but to be honest I wasn’t exactly hungry; but still needed to fuel myself up to make our long decent. Lunch with summit views are always welcome in my life! Once I ate and hydrated I broke out the camera and started snapping away.
After spending about 45 minutes at the summit, we packed up and began our decent. Within 5 minutes I managed to fall 3 times on my ass, but thats my klutzy self kicking in. Once we were past the steep part it was pretty much clear sailing to the bottom. A little more than half way to the bottom my 2-liter bladder ran out and I of course left my 2 full Nalgene bottles in the car thinking 2-liters would be plenty. So the last 2-3 miles were rough. I will definitely bring Powerade or something like that next time I do a hike as long as this one. Crossing the river was our sign that parking was near and we seemed to pick up our pace from that point on. As we reached the car I chugged almost an entire bottle of water, took my boots off, slid on my Birkenstocks, and headed home.
For my first 4000 footers, this was a great experience. I struggled in a few spots but I pushed myself through regardless; I am so thankful that I did. I would highly recommend to everyone to always push yourself out of your comfort zone and reach for whatever it is you want – anything is achievable when you put you mind to it.