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Thread: Freedom of the New England Hills

  1. #31
    Senior Member bignslow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    What you get to do is stand on the top of Lafayette or maybe Isolation or any other prominent peak in any season and look all around you with the knowledge that anything you can see is attainable to you. You're only limited by your imagination for new routes and objectives. It's all available to you. That's the "Freedom of the New England Hills" that I'm talking about.
    I like this statement a lot. I know that I have personally been trying to move from a role of strong hiker to that of more of a mountaineer, so I think that this is a very good description of where I would like to go as an outdoorsman.
    Warning: BigNSlow may not actually be all that slow

  2. #32
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    Well, certainly many people feel that way, and the List, Grid, and Redline all fit into that mentality quite well. But what I'm suggesting is sort of the opposite: figure out your limitations and then take active steps to overcome them. I personally like to learn, and this list keeps me focused on what I don't know.
    What I am suggesting is Freedom is obtained once you have learned and demonstrated what you didn't know. Maybe I am not gripping your self imposed paradigm but I do know what freedom of the Hills is to me personally. IMO it is just that self imposed goals and challenges and meeting them. What might be one's Freedom is most not likely an others.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    Upon completion of the list, rather than receiving a patch, what you get to do is stand on the top of Lafayette or maybe Isolation or any other prominent peak in any season and look all around you with the knowledge that anything you can see is attainable to you. You're only limited by your imagination for new routes and objectives. It's all available to you. That's the "Freedom of the New England Hills" that I'm talking about.
    This description kind of reminds me of how I approached my progression for winter backpacking.

    - camped out in the backyard (Central MA) after a snow storm, melted snow for water for supper and breakfast
    - hiked around the neighborhood in my snowshoes and backpack and then camped out in the backyard
    - car camped at Hancock CG and day hiked to Black Pond
    - camped overnight near Black Pond
    - camped 2 nights relatively close to Zealand Hut & did day hikes
    - abort a planned 4 night trip after one night due to temp outside my ability
    - camped 2 nights in the Little River drainage & did day hikes

    Each trip builds on the previous one. An intermediate goal is a PEMI valley traverse using the XC sking route. Another is spending a few winter nights at Chimney Pond or Katahdin Lake.

  4. #34
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    And did you add items to your list (skills or trips) which you feel enables you to claim the Freedom of the New England Hills? I, for one, would enjoy seeing an ordered progression of skills or trips which would ultimately lead you to claim success. This is where I was going with the reference above to the Pemi Loop attempt in the blizzard... would you include that as a gate to achieving your Freedom of the New England Hills?

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  5. #35
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    I do know what freedom of the Hills is to me personally. IMO it is just that self imposed goals and challenges and meeting them. What might be one's Freedom is most not likely an others.
    Absolutely agree, it's a personal list and requires personal reflection. This is just my version. I could imagine a person standing on Lafayette and thinking, "All of these peaks are available to me, I am free" even if they only hike on trails in the summer. Similarly, I have no intentions of completing some of the mixed rock/ice routes that were recently put up on Cannon cliff. Inteligent people could argue my list is soft. Or hard. That's what subjectivity gets you.

    Still, I think this list captures most of the skills that can be gotten in the northeast (notable exceptions being mixed climbing and skiing). And it captures some real classics. And it opens up a huge world of opportunities outside of New England. These things are worth something to some people and are not worth so much to others.
    Sure. Why not.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish View Post
    I, for one, would enjoy seeing an ordered progression of skills or trips which would ultimately lead you to claim success....to achieving your Freedom of the New England Hills?
    Tim
    I view this concept as a quest having no end, no finish, no final resolution. Each trip/skill opens the door to new paths. The possibilities expand rather than contract.

    Freedom of the Hills is a journey without a destination.

  7. #37
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    At some point, won't you run into the natural limits of New England? The weather only gets "so cold", the wind "so high", the visibility "so low", the trip "so long" (well, you can stay out an arbitrary number of days, but...) leading (enabling) you to leave New England... or simply tack on days to length, or wait for possible small % changes in the "so cold|windy|visibility" measures.

    I guess you could simply exist year round with a backpack and a tent in the mountains living off whatever you can find.

    I know, for example, I am missing several things which could apply in New England. I don't ice / rock / mixed climb; I don't backpack; I don't back-country ski; I have limited bushwhacking experience... the latter being the one I am interested most in expanding.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  8. #38
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    Sierra, yes my first trip to the North Cascades about 10 years ago was eye-opening, that is for sure. 5 years in CA also helped put a clear focus on all of the things I didn't/don't know.

    Tim, I know you're asking about a patch tongue in cheek, but it gets to a key point, which is that this list isn't meant to be a measure of accomplishment; i.e. I completed the "Freedom NE" list, therefore I've accomplished something. Instead, it is meant to illuminate an individual's shortcomings (not in the pejorative sense). One can look at the list and think, "I'm a pretty good backpacker, but I certainly could not hike a straight line from Lincoln to Bondcliff, so maybe that's a skill I want to work on for the next year or two." Maybe you've done some winter trips, but you're not confident/competant enough to embark on a presi-traverse, how can you improve your skills in order to make a good style attempt?

    Upon completion of the list, rather than receiving a patch, what you get to do is stand on the top of Lafayette or maybe Isolation or any other prominent peak in any season and look all around you with the knowledge that anything you can see is attainable to you. You're only limited by your imagination for new routes and objectives. It's all available to you. That's the "Freedom of the New England Hills" that I'm talking about.
    That last paragraph hit home for me. I still remember my first 4k ( Liberty). I remember looking over the vast mountains and thinking, OMG look at all those peaks, I felt small, lost and overwhelmed. I also new that one day, I would know them all. Now when I sit on a summit and someone ask me " Do you know what that peak is?" I answer yes and think of Liberty way back then.

  9. #39
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    That last paragraph hit home for me. I still remember my first 4k ( Liberty). I remember looking over the vast mountains and thinking, OMG look at all those peaks, I felt small, lost and overwhelmed. I also new that one day, I would know them all. Now when I sit on a summit and someone ask me " Do you know what that peak is?" I answer yes and think of Liberty way back then.
    Yeah, I have the same feeling now too. Although now I'm also aware of how much more there is to learn about the Whites. (those 'known unknowns').
    | 61.6% W48: 19/48
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  10. #40
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    Yeah, I have the same feeling now too. Although now I'm also aware of how much more there is to learn about the Whites. (those 'known unknowns').
    I agree, my dog is working on the 4k's and I'm doing peaks I haven't done in many years, using routes I've never done, it's kind of fun.

  11. #41
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish View Post
    At some point, won't you run into the natural limits of New England?
    Yes you most definitely will. You won't learn about glaciers or altitude in New England. The kinds of available climbing rock are limited. (Different kinds of rock require different climbing techniques.) There are a number of climates that do not exist in NE (eg deserts and rain forest).

    The vast majority (perhaps everywhere) in NE is reachable from a road in a day or less which greatly reduces the commitment.

    Visit the American and Canadian Rockies and the desert SW (to name just three places that are very different from NE) and you will see lots of things that you won't see in NE. And, of course, there are environments in the world that are not found in the US or Canada.

    Doug

  12. #42
    Senior Member Puma concolor's Avatar
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    As far as goals and bucket lists, I don't think there is any doubt that setting a definite goal and following through on it forces you to increase your skills set. It's just a matter of picking or creating a list that matches up well with the skills you want to improve upon. If you want to be a better bushwhacker, pursue a goal that includes a lot of bushwhacking; if you want to improve glacier skills, pick a goal that takes you out of the Northeast; if you want to move beyond Class 1 and 2 hiking, then pursue a goal that forces you to go on steeper terrain.

    It is all very individualistic. You see it on these forums all the time ... blanket statements to the effect that this thing or that thing is "the next level." Well, maybe for you, but not necessarily for me. Kinda goes back to my first post on this thread that real freedom of the hills is being able to ignore all the need to attach status to mountain pursuits and do whatever it is that YOU want to do.

    Interesting thread.

  13. #43
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish View Post
    And did you add items to your list (skills or trips) which you feel enables you to claim the Freedom of the New England Hills? I, for one, would enjoy seeing an ordered progression of skills or trips which would ultimately lead you to claim success. This is where I was going with the reference above to the Pemi Loop attempt in the blizzard... would you include that as a gate to achieving your Freedom of the New England Hills?
    Yes, absolutely. For me it was/is an organic process, and I tend to separate my trips into two categories: those that are well within my abilities, and those with which I'm trying something new. I get bored and feel stagnant if I'm always doing the former, which is why I'll probably never Grid and may never even finish The 48. Given a choice, I generally prefer to learn something new. I don't pretend this is the One True Way to Hike or to live life, but this philosophy has led me to acquire a reasonably well-rounded foundation for being comfortable in a lot of different situations in the mountains. That said, I most certainly have not yet acquired The Freedom as I've defined it, but I'm getting there.

    I can remember riding a chairlift at Loon or maybe Waterville sometime in the late '80's and seeing a sign on one of the stanchions that said, "Skiing: the better you get, the better it gets!" And then there was some advertisement about taking a lesson. Over the years, I've found that statement to be amazingly accurate with regard to skiing: as my ability increased, more terrain was available to me, and I continued to feel more comfortable and happy on skis, regardless of the terrain. Eventually, as long as the boards were strapped to my feet, I was happy. I've found a similar situation with hiking: as I've increased my skill set, I've become more comfortable and happy in a wide variety of situations, and more things are available to me.

    An ordered progression of skills is a very interesting idea. If work continues to be slow perhaps I'll start a new thread on that subject. With additional input from some of the hard men and women on this site, I suspect we could come up with something pretty valuable: a way for a person to "know what they don't know." Speaking for myself, I can remember a time when I thought I "knew" map and compass. It wasn't until some folks (an AMC short course, matter of fact) showed me what those two items could actually do in skilled hands that I realized in fact I didn't know map and compass. There is value in knowing what you don't know. It could provide some direction to folks who want to take the next step in their development as a hiker.
    Sure. Why not.

  14. #44
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul View Post
    You won't learn about glaciers or altitude in New England.
    I think the other big one is exposed scrambling. Very tough to get experience with that one in the northeast, although I find roped class 5 climbing helps somewhat.
    Sure. Why not.

  15. #45
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    One more thing that's bothering me about my own tone is this thread (and then I'll shut up for a little while, I promise!): If it does it for you to just do day trips in the summer, or maybe you draw the line at 3-season backpacking, whatever, I have no problem with that. This "progression" bit is not, in my opinion, the One True Way to be an outdoorsperson. There is room in the Appalachians for a wide range of styles and ambition. And there is a lot to be said for knowing how far you want to take it and having the confidence to say, "I'm not interested in going further, and I don't care what other people think about it."
    Sure. Why not.

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