Every year, the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire hosts a fundraiser titled “Seek the Peak“. With the reasonable request that participants raise $200 to help support the important work up on that mountaintop, hikers are treated to special prizes, drawings, good vibes, and camaraderie. There’s also their world-class afterparty to look forward to when everyone returns to sea level. Organizers seem to have tuned into the most primal and otherworldly “carrot” to chase – a full-blown Thanksgiving style meal at the finish. Make no mistake, this is hands down the most refreshing gravy you’ll ever have.
For the second year, a group of our employees headed to the event to take on whatever challenges the notoriously moody mountain put forth. This time around, that big pile of rocks was more than happy to have hundreds of people of all stripes climb all over her. With hardly a cloud in the sky, everyone who got above tree line was treated to unreal views in every direction – a rare but very welcome occurrence.
The Hyperlite Mountain Goats got an early-ish start at Pinkham Notch. Our team’s pace would be dictated by the blend of experience in it – accomplished thru hikers to new-to-the-region individuals (not to point any fingers in my own direction) that had no idea what this iconic New England trail can do to naïve knees and ankles. Despite this, we were cookin’ pretty well on the ascent up our chosen route on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Collective spirits were high with everyone we encountered, and the determination to reach the peak was palpable. It was hard to think about anything else but getting up and over the chaotic expanse of stones to boulders, and the siren’s call of pizza and hot dogs in the Visitor Center.
Reloaded and stoked, we decided to pat ourselves on the back for the speed of our climb with what we were told was a far more relaxed and leisurely stroll down Boott Spur. Although it’s a somewhat longer route, the opportunity to get some moderate sections where we could get into a less jarring and smooth cadence would be well-received. Blow the jets out, loosen up, and go faceplant some much deserved turkey.
This pleasing scenario was entirely of our own making and in reality, non-existent. Not only was Boott Spur longer, but it also seemed to be even more highly concentrated with rocks and roots. And steep crevasse and ravine hand and butt slides. Straight down. Forever. Payback for our somewhat aggressive scaling of Mount Washington was being doled out with time and a half. Some folks in this squad (again, not to point fingers at myself) were making sounds upon ground contact that they had never made before. But we made it down, group intact, with an abundance of respect and reverence for New England’s highest peak.
The dinner was exceptional, and by all measures, the event was a winner. As is the case whenever there’s a chance to be immersed in a community of people who share your passions, the takeaway was that we hikers, backpackers, thru hikers, and general outdoor gadabouts care about and celebrate good things in the natural world around us. Whether people signed up for this gala for personal enjoyment of the mountain, or to support the research that helps us understand it, we wish the organizers of Seek the Peak continued growth and success. Thanks for having us!
For more information about Seek the Peak, head to the event page here.