Will Robinson, Middlebury, a Harwood alum who grew up in Warren, recently completed hiking all 115 peaks over 4,000 feet in the Northeast. That’s 46 mountains in the Adirondacks, two in the Catskills, five in Vermont, 48 in New Hampshire, and 14 in Maine.
“Two years ago I hiked the 48 4,000-footers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in a single season winter, and this past winter I started out the season with the plan of doing a single season round of the Adirondack 46 4,000 footers in New York,” Robinson said. That took him about five weeks.
“I was then encouraged by a friend to follow up the single season Adirondack 46 with a single season White Mountain 48. I was reluctant at first. I was looking forward to having a more laid-back rest of the winter. I also knew that if I did follow up the 46 with a 48, I would not be satisfied because I would not be able to get the Northeast 115 4,000 footers. It just didn’t seem remotely possible.
However, nearing the end of the White Mountain 48, I realized if absolutely everything went perfectly from here on out it would be possible to do the Northeast 115. After that I finished the 48, took a day trip to the Catskills to knock off their two 4ks, hiked the Vermont peaks as after-work night hikes, then went off to Maine for a week to finish off the project.”
In 86 elapsed days and 36 days of hiking, he covered 583 miles with 210,000 feet of elevation gain.
“Winter can be the most beautiful season to hike, but it can also of course be the most challenging and treacherous. During this project I dealt with estimated 60 mph winds with even higher gusts, -35-degree F wind chills, days where the temperatures were -20 degrees F at the trailhead without the factor of wind. In the winter you also, of course, have to deal with the ice and snow, the snow being much more challenging than the ice. For the majority of my project I was able to plan my hikes out so as to do hikes that others had done recently which let me hike on broken trail. That means I was hiking on trails that others had already hiked on and packed down the snow a bit. When I got to Maine, however, we got a fresh dumping of a foot of snow, and the trails over there just are not as commonly hiked in the winter as the other parts of the Northeast. This led to a lot of trail-breaking. For those who have never broken trail in a foot of snow, let me tell you, it is tiring work. Not only the trail-breaking, but there is trail-finding to deal with. With a layer of fresh snow it can be hard sometimes to tell where the trail goes.”
As for what challenge he’s facing next, Robinson said, “I am going to be taking the spring fairly easy. Then in the summer I plan to go to Colorado for around seven weeks and hike as many of the 14,000-footers that I can in that span of time. I will then be heading to Pennsylvania to race in Eastern States 100 which is a 103-mile race with around 20,000 feet of elevation gain.” No rest for the weary.