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Thread: Is it possible to be a long-term hiker without resorting to lists?

  1. #1
    Senior Member B the Hiker's Avatar
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    Is it possible to be a long-term hiker without resorting to lists?

    I love hiking! I love being outside, in large part because my work largely keeps me inside, and inside a city at that. Every time I go to the mountains my batteries get recharged.

    Maybe it's just due to Facebook, but boy there seem to be a lot of people for whom hiking has become work. They post about their "goals for the winter." They post the number of the mountain before even the name--and many of these folks are doing so having hiked barely a dozen mountains. Maybe it isn't true, but I get the sense that those folks will not repeat a mountain before finishing off their 48, not for anything.

    I understand that for many folks, especially those with weight problems, hiking is instrumental in achieving other goals, but gosh, it really feels like very few people hike for the love of hiking any more, without being informed by one list or another.

    I think there is a difference between saying, "I love hiking, and I use a list to get me out to mountains I otherwise wouldn't hike." and "I'm hiking a list, and don't even think of asking me to hike a mountain when I've already checked the box off my spreadsheet."

    It feels like the longer I'm in the hiking world, the larger the percentage of people I see in the latter category.

    Maybe this is a loss, or maybe it's just inevitable if one goes to the mountains a lot. It just seems to me that there are a lot of people who don't go to the mountains a lot and still take the latter approach, for better or for worse.

    Brian

  2. #2
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    I work on lists and redline mainly because I prefer to go to different places and that was one of the pleasures when we were hiking the NE 100 highest. We may never have gone to some of those places otherwise. Occasionally, we'll repeat mountains like Katahdin and a few of the Presidentials but most often it is via a different trail, a different season or part of a different objective. However, finishing the NE 100, which we did over 10 years, was kind of liberating because after that we felt more freedom to do whatever piqued our interest.

    It often sounds like some peakbaggers do it primarily to check it off without much attention to other amenities of being out in the mountains. Some seem to do it for bragging rights. Say! Let me tell you about ....

    To each his own and I suppose in the end the compulsion to peakbag is preferable over being a couch potato, no matter the motive.

  3. #3
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    I stopped keeping track of lists years ago. I do occasionally set goals if I run into a new trail that sounds interesting.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I stopped keeping track of lists years ago.
    I suppose lists do provide us with a way to "keep score" of ourselves and our associates.

    When I stoped running lists I kept hiking, but I started visiting "lesser" ranges that were not on most lists.

    What a refreshing change!! Few people, new sights and trails, and wonderful hiking.

    The Ossipies, The Belknaps, Evans Notch, Kearsarge South, Mt Potash, the Moats, Doubletop, OJI, Russell Pond, the "list" goes on.

    I found it freeing to be relieved of the tyranny of the list.

    As for the grid? It's either true list love or an obessive-compulsive disorder! I'm not sure which!

    cb
    "Experience is a harsh teacher.
    It gives the test first and the lesson afterwards."

  5. #5
    Senior Member Driver8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B the Hiker View Post
    I love hiking! I love being outside, in large part because my work largely keeps me inside, and inside a city at that. Every time I go to the mountains my batteries get recharged.

    Maybe it's just due to Facebook, but boy there seem to be a lot of people for whom hiking has become work. They post about their "goals for the winter." They post the number of the mountain before even the name--and many of these folks are doing so having hiked barely a dozen mountains. Maybe it isn't true, but I get the sense that those folks will not repeat a mountain before finishing off their 48, not for anything.

    I understand that for many folks, especially those with weight problems, hiking is instrumental in achieving other goals, but gosh, it really feels like very few people hike for the love of hiking any more, without being informed by one list or another.

    I think there is a difference between saying, "I love hiking, and I use a list to get me out to mountains I otherwise wouldn't hike." and "I'm hiking a list, and don't even think of asking me to hike a mountain when I've already checked the box off my spreadsheet."

    It feels like the longer I'm in the hiking world, the larger the percentage of people I see in the latter category.

    Maybe this is a loss, or maybe it's just inevitable if one goes to the mountains a lot. It just seems to me that there are a lot of people who don't go to the mountains a lot and still take the latter approach, for better or for worse.

    Brian
    If I love a mountain a lot, I'm inclined to visit it again. Also, sometimes I bite off, in a peakbag effort, more than I can chew, but consider the hike a success even so.

    A year ago, I visited the Kinsmen, but was too slow to get past K Pond. Was making a slow climb, and, once to Lonesome Lake, I questioned, based on my pace, whether I'd even get North K. But it was gorgeous! Crystal clear day, the fall colors were coming into peak, esp the grasses and wildflower and scrub around the lake. Took tons of pics. Said to myself, as light shimmered off the lake and I drank in all the beauty, "This is why you're here today. If you make a peak, great, but if no, this, plus the exercise, are more than enough." My only regret on that hike is I didn't think of bringing tent and bag to make it an overnight, but time and work pressures probably precluded that anyhow. Next attempt, that is my plan.

    I'm very determined to make the 48 and the 67 and the 50 finest, over time (really love it when I get one from that last list, like Mt. Ellen last weekend). But these are not my only hikes. Beloved Talcott and Sleeping Giant see me each year, likewise Mt. Tom, Mass, and Everett/Race/Bear. Slowly but surely visiting new parts of the AT, too. Often I just go for a nice walk of the streets here in town.

    I speak only for me, but the principal thing is the enjoyment of hiking and being out in the woods, along brook and stream. But the ambitious part of me is bent and determined, too, to hit those high peaks, and take in their beauty, whether of the green tunnel or long view variety, or both. I intend to be hiking as long as I can, and to share that enjoyment with others.

    It does seem that there are a lot of ppl directed more solely towards checking off the lists, but who knows? You hope ppl are enjoying themselves and the outdoors in the process. The kid in me still pops out and has a ball with it, never more than when presented with an all-world view, day combination like last Sunday evening at Ellen. That was one of the best I've enjoyed, and I thanked my lucky stars, and the mountains, in the moment.

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    Last edited by Driver8; 10-03-2015 at 04:09 AM.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    Ok Brian, so you brought up the peakbagging thread.

    I think Driver8 hit the key point in one line, at least speaking from my philosophy:

    Quote Originally Posted by Driver8 View Post
    That was one of the best I've enjoyed, and I thanked my lucky stars, and the mountains, in the moment.
    I agree. my emphasis in bold. If you are in the moment in nature and present, "why" you decided to hike the mountain is irrelevant. You are most likely enjoying it if you are present.

    However, some thoughts to add:

    Brian - you hit on it by saying, "maybe it's just Facebook." That's part of it I would guess. The people on Facebook are one faction of the hiking community. Being a faction that is interested in social media of this sort, some things may be true. Facebook is used to let everyone know what you are doing and to find out the same about others - it's a natural place to want to highlight accomplishments. Maybe Facebook users tend toward lists as a way of checking off status-type accomplishments. I don't have a Facebook account. No judgment either way.

    "I still have to GET Owl's Head." This to me sounds like the words of someone who looks at hiking as work.

    I have known people who finish the 48 and really never hike again. They stopped liking hiking along the way; maybe it became a chore because they were so devoted to the list? Most people I know were inspired by the 48 to continue.

    Last weekend I was in the Whites. I opted to walk to a rather large Beech tree and some Hemlocks in the woods near Appalachia and spend some time there as opposed to "banging out" some grid mountain. I do that often.

    I hike often and am lucky to be able to do so. That gives me the freedom to stray from a list without feeling like I am not achieving a goal. If you decide to hike a list, I understand the goal mentality. You're working on something and want to make progress. If you have a smile on your face while doing it or are getting satisfaction and feeling better about yourself, then I say go for it. There are those who hike peaks on lists, do not enjoy it, check it off, and then complain about it. I think those issues go deeper than hiking.

    I am a half-assed peak bagger. About 3 of 5 hikes of mine are on some list. When I'm not hiking a mountain on a list, it's because I feel like it. If I'm hiking a mountain on a list, it's because I feel like it.

    I keep track of the grid. I'm nearing 50%. I don't care if I finish, but if I do, it will be an accomplishment. I hike Adams and Madison often. I cannot count the number of times I have looked at my grid spreadsheet, 52WAV, TW, NEFF, or some other list I have (I keep a lot), and said, screw that, today is a day for Mount Adams. Par example, To not hike Mount Adams simply because I have already done it in July is no reason to not hike Adams. I hiked it 5 times last summer on days I could have gridded, etc. A few weeks ago, I hiked up to the Quay and then went back down.

    I continue to hike the 48 and continue to keep track of grid hikes for a few reasons:

    - They are the 48 and simply the biggest, most impressive mountains in NH. I'm staying with them. There are lots of other good hikes in NH, yes, but these are the big guys. Period. I spend lots of time on the other mountains and on trails with no mountains. I like trees too.

    - I do best when I have a goal I am working toward. It keeps me training at home to know I have goals in the mountains. It keeps me focused on healthy eating. So, I use the 48 to set goals that drive a healthy daily lifestyle. If I know I am going to attempt a single season winter 48 (I am not currently planning this), I need to be in good shape to start that goal as well as to maintain health throughout. Mountains and lists make for great long term goals which give people daily encouragement to get to the gym or skip that cake.

    - I'm one of those hikers that finds a variety of reasons to mix up the 48. For example, hike the 48, then hike the 48 in winter, then the 48 in winter solo, then the 48 with a different companion on each, then run the 48......I use the grid sheet as a way of keeping track of multiple goals which is ultimately a way to keep my ass moving daily when I'm not in the mountains. I'm not skipping a Presi Traverse simply because I've done those mountains in a certain month though.

    The psychology of mountain lists is certainly fascinating. Some people wouldn't ever hike a mountain not on a list. Other people have no understanding whatsoever for those who hike those lists. Most of us are in between those two extremes.

    I'm as much concerned with "how" people are hiking as to "why."

    Are you peak bagging today? Don't care.

    Did you bring a headlamp and carry out all your trash? Did you trample alpine vegetation? Do you know how to keep a spring safe for everyone's use? I increasingly care more and more about these things.

    It's an interesting question Brian. And I'll add this - I think we are all noticing some changes in the patterns of behavior of those hiking in NH.
    Humankind has not woven the web of life.
    We are but one thread within it.
    Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
    All things are bound together.
    All things connect.
    ~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~

  7. #7
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    There appears to be a strong bias with regards to the FB users as the two biggest groups are both about the 4000-footers (7500, 6400 users) and so those who are new to the 4000 footers are the primary participants. That said, there are a fair number of posts that start with the apology "I know this isn't a 4000-footer, but..." which indicates to me that this is the best resource for other hikes. By comparison, the Hundred Highest has close to 300 members and the New England 4s has 24 members, the latter being the result of the NE4s being discussed within the NH4s groups. The other large group of participants enjoy promoting their particular point of view - LNT being a big one. Rather than promote it in an educational sense, they beat newbies over the head with it.

    I suspect also that people who are "collectors" or goal-driven, are not only attracted to lists, but to sharing on FB. This increases the bias that people are only hiking the 4Ks (or other lists.) I further would bet that a lot of people who are hiking the 4Ks are posting on their timelines and not for the world to see (I am an example of this.) Personally, I have grown tired of people criticizing the style in which I hike and thus I have stopped sharing it.

    While it is true that I keep track of the grid peaks, I did 8 peaks this year not on the NH 4K list.

    Tim
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    Senior Member BISCUT's Avatar
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    Raven said the "psychology of mountain lists is certainly fascinating." Very well said and I'm on board with that big time. I am certainly that "A" type that finds comfort int he lists and the accomplishment of completing said lists....BUT in the mountains, the White Mountains particular, the history, mystique, and that indescribable feeling you get when you summit has a way of moving you. These are not feelings I get on many other summits. And I often find the White's throw surprised at you! I was not expecting Cabot to be anything special. But then I had a blast and really did enjoy the summit, the Horn, and thought Lost Pond was beautiful.

    Then there are those days I'm driving to the mountains with the darkness fading, the sun coming up and on a whim I change my target form some mountain on a list to one of my favorites. I have a few left on my 48'er list. I sure won't be quitting when I'm done! The White's are a special place for me. I'm in the Adirondack's sometimes and very much enjoy! BUT it's not the same feeling!! As much as I chase lists like so many others, It' just another facet of my time in the Mountains. A fun one at that.

  9. #9
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    I work on lists and redline mainly because I prefer to go to different places and that was one of the pleasures when we were hiking the NE 100 highest. We may never have gone to some of those places otherwise. Occasionally, we'll repeat mountains like Katahdin and a few of the Presidentials but most often it is via a different trail, a different season or part of a different objective. However, finishing the NE 100, which we did over 10 years, was kind of liberating because after that we felt more freedom to do whatever piqued our interest.

    It often sounds like some peakbaggers do it primarily to check it off without much attention to other amenities of being out in the mountains. Some seem to do it for bragging rights. Say! Let me tell you about ....

    To each his own and I suppose in the end the compulsion to peakbag is preferable over being a couch potato, no matter the motive.
    "Bragging rights" certainly seems to be a huge part of it for many hikers now. Seems like everyone on social media talks about how fast they do hikes, how many miles they did in "x" days, how many consecutive days they go out, etc. You also see tons of comments about the more difficult trails (like a Huntington Ravine or the North Slide) and how they "ripped it up", "it was a piece of cake", etc. We're in the "look at me and how awesome my life is" age with the proliferation of technology, social media and mobile devices so I suppose it is only natural that this would spread into hiking too. I don't think it is just a hiker phenomenon but a cultural shift overall.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 44/48; NY 46: 3/46

  10. #10
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that FB is the "highlight reel" of most people's lives. The "making of" would be (even more) boring.

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

  11. #11
    Senior Member Driver8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BISCUT View Post
    And I often find the White's throw surprised at you! I was not expecting Cabot to be anything special. But then I had a blast and really did enjoy the summit, the Horn ...
    I had a similar experience with Starr King and Waumbek. The stretch from 3000 feet to the first summit was a feast for the eyes, the sun broke through the clouds between the summits for me, lighting up the fields of ferns, and the icing on the cake was that the only time Presidential high summit views opened that afternoon was around the time I was at the overlook just past Waumbek summit. I find the Presidentials particularly awe-inspiring, charming and beguiling, both from up close and afar.
    Last edited by Driver8; 09-27-2015 at 01:22 PM.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Grey J's Avatar
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    The lists only enhance what is an otherwise enjoyable activity. I hiked for years before I even knew there was a 48. But are you master of the list or a slave to the list?
    "I am a pilgrim and a stranger"

  13. #13
    Senior Member Ed'n Lauky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B the Hiker View Post
    I love hiking! I love being outside, in large part because my work largely keeps me inside, and inside a city at that. Every time I go to the mountains my batteries get recharged.

    Maybe it's just due to Facebook, but boy there seem to be a lot of people for whom hiking has become work. They post about their "goals for the winter." They post the number of the mountain before even the name--and many of these folks are doing so having hiked barely a dozen mountains. Maybe it isn't true, but I get the sense that those folks will not repeat a mountain before finishing off their 48, not for anything.

    I understand that for many folks, especially those with weight problems, hiking is instrumental in achieving other goals, but gosh, it really feels like very few people hike for the love of hiking any more, without being informed by one list or another.

    I think there is a difference between saying, "I love hiking, and I use a list to get me out to mountains I otherwise wouldn't hike." and "I'm hiking a list, and don't even think of asking me to hike a mountain when I've already checked the box off my spreadsheet."

    It feels like the longer I'm in the hiking world, the larger the percentage of people I see in the latter category.

    Maybe this is a loss, or maybe it's just inevitable if one goes to the mountains a lot. It just seems to me that there are a lot of people who don't go to the mountains a lot and still take the latter approach, for better or for worse.

    Brian
    The title of the thread seems to ask if you can hike long term without being goal oriented, and the body of the thread seems to ask if you can hike long term and enjoy it if you are goal oriented. Obviously the answer to both questions is yes. The last few years we were in New England Lauky and I were doing a round of the 48 each year. At the same time each year we payed at least one visit to the classic great view hikes not on the 48 list such as Chocorua, Welsh-Dickey, Mt. Major, Cardigan, Kearsarge north and south and even Monadnock although that last one I only did once because of the no dog rule. Those peaks were always crowded because of the great views not because of a list and they always will be. After moving to North Georgia because of the location our goals changed to long trail section hiking such as the 400 mile AT--Benton Mackaye loop and the the 125 mile Bartram trail. Having the goals, I feel, only heightened my enjoyment of hiking while giving a sense of satisfaction in the accomplishment. Apparently in his next book Tom Ryan is going to have a chapter on why he doesn't believe in peak bagging so I guess he will be defending that point of view. To each his own. My feeling is that people hike for different reasons, if they're keeping safe and in their own way enjoying themselves so much the better. Let's just live and let live.
    I used to look at my dog and think 'If you were a little smarter you could tell me what your were thinking', and he'd look at me like he was saying 'If you were a little smarter I wouldn't have to'. Fred Jungclaus

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  14. #14
    Member hiker0200's Avatar
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    I'm just glad more people are "getting up off the couch" and into nature! Whether you're doing the GRID or section-hiking the Wapack Trail, hike your own hike .

    As for me, I'm not the type that can hike the same mountains over and over . I live about 20 min. from Dunbarton, NH (geographic center of New England), so I have a crap ton of options for day hikes. Yea, I did the 48, and fairly religiously. After that, I started doing the NE67, but as I branched out into new areas and states, I realized that there's a lot of cool stuff out there! So much to see, so little time. Every now and then, I'll make a couple trips to Maine to check off a few more, but since I have 7 states at my disposal for day hikes, I'll occasionally go on hiatus for a month or two and just see what I can see!

    Of course, to each their own. I don't think I could get myself to do, say, the GRID because of what it entails, so I have mad respect for those who do it
    NH4K: 48/48 (Completed 10/4/2014)
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Driver8's Avatar
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    I see the grid as overboard for my purposes. I'd want too much to see unseen territory. Of the 21 NH48's I've done, there've been some I'm eager to get back to - Lincoln, Liberty and Flume, Ike, Pierce, Cannon, Wildcat D come to mind - and three I already have - Big W, Moose and Lafayette. There've been others I enjoyed but don't yearn for, and some which have no pull on me.

    12 times for a peak, other than something close to home, is a lot. There might be 10-15 that would hold my interest that long in the Whites. Add in VT's Camel's Hump, Killington, Mansfield (still pending) and Stratton due to the family name and killer views. Saddleback in ME, plus the Bigelow's, Abraham and the Baxter 4K's maybe.

    Let me get to them all once, some of them twice or more, and I'll get back to you. Nice problem to have - all those peaks out there waiting.
    NH4K: 21/48; N.E.4K: 25/67; NEHH: 28/100; NEFF: 14/50; Northeast 4K: 27/115

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