Denise Stassis is the first woman and fifth person to finish the New Hampshire Triple Crown of Hiking, finishing the White Mountains 4000 Footer Grid, Hiking the White Mountains Trails List, and Climbing New Hampshire’s 500 Highest.
- The White Mountains 4000 Footer Grid involves hiking all 48 of the White Mountain 4000 footers in every month of the year, for a total of 576 peaks. On average, it takes about 3300 miles of hiking with 1,000,000 feet of elevation gain to complete. 120 have finished to date, some multiple times.
- The White Mountains Trails List requires hiking all of the trails listed in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Guide which lists 652 trails for a combined length of 1470.8 miles. On average, it takes most people closer to 2500 miles to finish it because the trails are not contiguous and repeats are often necessary. 76 people have finished to date, some multiple times.
- The New Hampshire 500 Highest requires climbing the 500 tallest mountains in New Hampshire which are spread out all over the state, many in the middle of nowhere. Several hundred of these mountains don’t have trails, which makes this a very challenging list, because you have to navigate off-trail to climb them. No one’s counted up the miles or elevation gain required to complete this list yet, but it’s a lot. So far, just 16 people have completed this list.
Denise began hiking on Memorial Day in 2013 when she was 48 years old after joining the Four Seasons Hiking Group where she learned about the White Mountain’s hiking and peakbagging lists. Now a retired dental hygenist, she raised two children as a single mom, before marrying her second husband in 2020. Her former name, Denise Carignan, and trail name “Buffalo Girl,” appear on the list of finishers for the Triple Crown Lists posted on 48×12.com and in many of the glass jars and canisters marking the 500 highest summits in New Hampshire.
Looking back, Denise says it took her 3 years, 10 months, and 11 days to finish the 4000 Footer Grid, 4 years 1 month and 2 weeks to finish the White Mountains Trails list, and 7 years to finish the New Hampshire 500 highest with the majority of the off-trail hikes taking place in 2020 and 2021.
Hiking the 4000 Footer Grid got her into the “best shape of her life” and “taught her to trust herself as a solo hiker”; hiking the White Mountain trails taught her how to “navigate on remote trails” off the beaten track; while climbing the New Hampshire 500 Highest helped he perfect her “map and compass skills and awareness of the lay of the land.”
Her advice to other women who want to tackle any of these lists is to “Go for it!! Hiking in general or hiking a list makes us feel alive, reduces stress, and boosts self-confidence. Hiking is a great individual sport that anyone can pursue with their own style!”
Denise lives in the foothills of the White Mountains and continues to hike in New Hampshire. “Hiking has become my lifestyle”, she says, and she plans to continue hiking in New Hampshire, Vermont, and section hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine.