I guess I’m a “gridiot” now. That’s the endearing name given to hikers working on The White Mountains Grid, which requires climbing the 48 White Mountain 4000 footers once in each calendar month, for a total of 576 summits.
A lot of people will tell you that hiking the grid is boring. I suppose it can be if you try to hike all 576 peaks in one calendar year using the same trails to climb the peaks every time. But there are a lot of ways to make it much more interesting and enjoyable. For instance:
Follow Different Trails
There are multiple trails you can follow to climb most of the 4000 footers, approaching them from different directions, on each hike. This is a good way to make progress hiking all the trails in the AMC’s White Mountain Guide (formerly called redlining), especially since the trails to the 4000 footers are some of the toughest ones on that list. You can even mix in some easy bushwhacking to add in even more variety or follow old abandoned trails to some of the summits.
Backpacking the 4000 footers
Most of the 4000 footers make nice backpacking trips, especially if you string multiple peaks together on the same trip. Check out my free online guidebook – Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, for some good trip plans to get you started. I’m hiking these routes again and inventing new ones all the time.
Spread the Grid Out across Multiple Years
You don’t have to finish the Grid in one year. If you aim for 10-15 peaks per month, you can spread the list out across multiple years and/or avoid hiking the same peaks on adjacent months to keep it from getting boring.
Make New Friends
One of the things I love about hiking in the White Mountains is the camaraderie that exists between hikers, especially people who are working on a common goal. There are a lot of different ways you can meet new people to hike with or share experiences with both online and off. Facebook is one place to find people to hike with. Meetup.com is another and the volunteer leaders with the New Hampshire or Boston Chapters of the Appalachian Mountain Club run lots of hiking trips where you can meet people too. Personally, I make a point to talk to the hikers I come across on my hikes and make a lot of new friends and hiking partners that way.
Those are just a few of the most common and obvious ways to keep hike the White Mountain 4000 Footer from getting boring to finish. As for me, I’m enjoying revisiting the 4000 footers I haven’t been on for a while. The hikes are a great full-body workout and the kind of mental challenge I enjoy. I also try to mix in some Tenkara fly fishing on my day hikes and backpacking trips since there are rivers, streams, and brooks near all of the peaks on the Grid. So no, hiking the grid doesn’t have to be boring, especially if you take your time and savor it.