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Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Northeast 111

    3 years, 54 hikes, 17 road trips, 4 states, 5 mountain ranges (White, Green, Adirondacks, Catskills, Longfellow), 191,202 feet in elevation gain, 622.8 miles hiked, 19 hiking partners, dozens of sleepy towns, 5 hostels, and 115 of the northeast's highest mountains summited. Last week, I finished my last 4,000 ft. mountain in the northeast, earning myself a membership in The Northeast 111 club, which actually contains 115 peaks due to modern surveying corrections: The 67 New England 4,000 footers, 46 Adirondack High Peaks, and Slide and Hunter Mountain in the Catskills. 

    This project gave me rain, sleet, snow, ice and sunshine - from mud season to bug season - every range and every hike was different and illuminating. Words can't describe how much I learned along this journey. What started as short weekend trips to re-center from work, get some exercise and be in nature manifested into longer personal growth retreats where I would eventually become more mindful of myself and life. The big mountains and painfully long hikes taught me how insignificant I am, and how unimportant day to day drama is in the grand scheme of things. The sweat, aches, pains, spruce traps (chest deep snow cavities concealed by baby spruce trees), persistent mosquitos, and poison ivy taught me to find comfort in being uncomfortable, and that the most rewarding points of view require endurance. These cheap weekend trips - often spent camping in the trunk of my SUV - gave me an outlet to recharge and explore the old growth forests, ancient geology, waterways, and sleepy towns of New England on a shoestring budget. Grounding experiences like these have a way of bringing awareness to what is meaningful and true in life and, most importantly, what is not. To all the magnificent sites seen, friendships forged, deep thoughts contemplated, and memories made along the trail - I'm forever grateful!  AMC48, ADK46, NE67, NE111!

Mt. Marcy, Adirondacks, NY - Photo: Kinley McCracken