Leave No Stragglers: How to Hike the White Mountain 4000 Footers

4000 Footer Patch

4000 Footer Patch

My friend Joe has this saying, “Leave No Stragglers”, which is his mantra for hiking the White Mountain 4000 footers in a time and energy efficient way. He’s working on his second 4000 footer Grid (see The Grid, Gridiots, and the Gridiocracy), where you hike all 48 of the four thousand foot and higher peaks in the White Mountains each calendar month of the year (576 ascents), so he’s an expert at this game.

The 4000 footer list rules allow you to bag multiple peaks on the same hike, so you should try to summit all of the peaks close to one another on the same hike. That’s what Joe means when he says, “Leave No Stragglers.”

For example, hiker typically try to put together the following combinations of peaks into one hike. Longer combinations are possible, but these are fairly standard:

  • Lafayette, Lincoln
  • Liberty, Flume
  • North Kinsman, South Kinsman
  • Whiteface, Passaconaway
  • Osceola, East Osceola
  • South Hancock, Hancock
  • Tom, Field, and Willey
  • Washington, Monroe
  • Jackson, Pierce
  • Wildcat A, Wildcat D
  • Middle Carter, South Carter, and Carter Dome
  • Galehead, South Twin, North Twin
  • Hale, Zealand
  • Bondcliff, Bond, West Bond
  • Madison, Adams
  • Middle Tripyramid, North Tripyramid
  • Jefferson
  • Washington
  • Eisenhower
  • Canon
  • Moosilauke
  • Carrigan
  • Isolation
  • Cabot
  • Waumbek
  • Garfield
  • Moriah
  • Owlshead
  • Tecumseh

Of course, you should only hike these peak combinations when weather conditions and your abilities permit, but this is how serial peakbaggers and Gridiots manage to blow through the White Mountain peak lists so quickly.

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7 Responses to Leave No Stragglers: How to Hike the White Mountain 4000 Footers

  1. Chris G January 10, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    Great Guide. I have a few other ‘favorites’ if you have the endurance. Can really help you hammer through the list. I’m sure you already know them Phillip just posting incase other people were interested.

    These hikes are increasing difficulty but not Presidential Traverse level and are probably do-able with a ‘normal’ training regime. Of course there are harder combinations but these are hikes a semi-sane person may find themselves on.

    Harder:
    -Lafayette,Lincoln,Liberty,Flume
    -Jackson,Pierce,Eisenhower

    Advanced:
    -Zealand+Bonds(Long day but rewarding)
    -Madison,Adams,Jefferson(Northern Presi Traverse)
    -Isolation ‘can’ be combined with Washington or Monroe if you use the Glen Boulder approach.

    Pretty Darn Tough:
    -Hale+Zealand+Bonds
    -Washington,Monroe,Eisenhower,Pierce,Jackson(Southern Presi Traverse)
    -Tripyramids,Whiteface,Passaconaway

    Don’ts:
    -Garfield and Galehead may look close but that ridge trail can get tough and probably isn’t worth it if you are trying to serially knock peaks off
    -Cabot and Waumbek may look like a nice ridge day but the intermediate peaks are brutal and will just slow you down
    -Go to Owl’s Head except in times of dire need

    P.S. Feel free to edit my post if you think I have mis-rated something.

  2. Raymond January 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    Gee, the only two times I’ve climbed Garfield and Galehead I’ve done them together.

    The first time, it was Garfield, Galehead, and South Twin, with a bum knee, wrenched the day before on Flume.

    The second time, Galehead, Garfield Ridge East, Garfield Ridge West, and Garfield, on Veterans Day, driving up from, and returning home to, Eastern Mass. the same day.

    Haven’t even seriously considered any Presidential traverses, though.

    • Philip Werner January 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

      2nd time- that would be a long day. That’s why I backpack when I can.

  3. Thomas Murphy January 10, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    Garfield and Owl’s Head are a great combination. Carrigan with the Hancocks is on my bucket list.

    • Philip Werner January 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

      yeah – I could see that. I’ve always wanted to do South Hancock-The Captain-Carrigan. Now that would be something!

    • Kris January 12, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

      I did a loop over/around Hancocks and Carrigain last summer as a 2-night trip (using some logging roads/bushwhacking to complete the loop), that was a great trip. The Hancock Notch Trail beyond the split at Cedar Brook is very wild and some of the Irene damage in that area is impressive.

      I agree that these combos are good for maximizing efficiency (especially for gridiots) and they’re good for first-timers. Having completed my first round of 4k’s I enjoy finding new and interesting routes and combos to visit them. Of course my motivations are different, I am more interested in seeing new trails and bushwhacking now.

      One of my favorites was an overnight: start at Lincoln Woods to the Bonds (stay at Guyot Tentsite) then Twins and Galehead and drop down to 13-Falls and hike back to Lincoln Woods. Another good one is Twins, Zealand, Hale loop using the abandoned Fire Warden’s Trail.

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