If there’s anything a hiker loves as much as a summit, it’s a list. The most famous in these parts is the 4,000-footer list, the 48 high summits of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Finding that old hat, some hikers moved on to finishing all 48 in a single season, or in every month (these days it’s all about The Grid).
There’s also the New Hampshire Highest Hundred, the New England 4,000 footers, 52 With a View and even the Adirondack 46ers. That’s a hell of a lot of hiking to keep track of.
Hikers are always debating lists. Sure, completing one is a great feat of endurance and logisitics, but does it become more accounting than hiking?
I find myself in both camps. I’ve been chasing the 4,000-footer list for two years and I want more than anything to finish this year. But after that, I don’t know. Sometimes I think I’d be happy just hiking Chocorua , Eisenhower and Moosilaukee over and over again. Sometimes I look ahead to the challenge of another list or similar feat. That’s one of the great things about hiking — it fills as many needs as there are hikers.
That being said, if I do another list, I want it to be something special. The current hiking lists are old, stale and not nearly delicious enough. They’re all about height. What about width? Specifically, my width?
I give you The Fat Man 15:
1. Pudding Pond Trail. Like Bill Cosby, I love pudding. I’d fill my CamelBak with it if I could. I especially love the Green Hills Preserve in North Conway, home to Peaked and Middle mountains. The nearby Pudding Pond Trail loops around — you guessed it — Pudding Pond.
3. Gorge Brook Trail. My favorite trail up one of my favorite mountains, Moosilauke. Gorge is also what I tend to do after hikes.
4 .Bacon Ledge. ‘nuff said.
5. The Subway. Part of a challenging trip through King Ravine. The combo also comes with chips and a drink.
6. The Blueberry Ridge Trail up Speckled Mountain. No joke — this part of the White Mountains, in Maine’s Evans Notch, offers some of the best hiking around.
7. Cannon Mountain. There’s no clever pun here. There is, however, a full-service snack bar at the summit. For this hike to count, one needs to throw back a burger, hot dog and fries at the top. Ice cream optional.
8. Sandwich Dome. Unlike Cannon, this peak does not come with actual sandwiches, as I was disappointed to learn when I hiked this Waterville Valley gem in 2009.
9. The Sugarloaves. Sure to cause a diabetic fit. Two lumps, please.
10. The Butterworth Trail. Nothing fuels you better for a day of hiking than a nice, syrupy stack of pancakes. Though I would rather have real New Hampshire maple syrup, preferably from my grandfather’s family trees in Chocorua.
11. Devil’s Kitchen, off Mt. Madison’s Howker Ridge Trail. I know he’s evil but I love his food cake.
12. Cherry Mountain. For the antioxidants.
13. Mushroom Trail, in the Fox State Forest. Gotta have a vegetable in here somewhere. Might as well be one that’s good on pizza.
14. The Perch. Who doesn’t like fish? This Randolph Mountain Club shelter is a great spot for an overnight in the Whites.
15. Clam Rock. Fried, with tartar sauce, fries and a side of slaw.
So there you have it. The Fat Man’s 15. It’s actually not a bad list, especially one that started as a riff on appetites — hiker’s appetites for lists, and mine for rich, gooey food. There are easy hikes like Pudding Pond and Mushroom Trail. There are a handful of 4,000-footers and some fairly challenging hikes in the Presidentials. There are climbs in northern New Hampshire, southern New Hampshire and even Maine. You’ll experience the solitude of Evans Notch and the mania of Cannon. You can spend half a day on the Sugarloaves or sleep overnight at the Perch. Do all these 15 hikes and you’ll begin to have an appreciation for what this little part of the world has to offer.
Damn — I thinkI’m going to have to hike this little joke of a list.
And I’ll have to think of a suitable patch for finishers. Maybe a defibrillator with two hiking poles crossed in the background. I do know our yearly award ceremonies will be held at the Dairy Queen in Glen. I’ll be easy to spot — just look for the dirty, sweaty guy inhaling a Blizzard.