Day 25: Ridge Runners

Zealand Hut to Liberty Spring – 17 miles

All day the trail was swarming with ridge runners. Given that it’s a Sunday in the White Mountains, this was not surprising.

Most were out running the Pemi Loop (short for Pemigewasset), a 30-something mile loop that traverses 8-12 of New Hampshire’s 4,000+ foot peaks, and which Backpacker Magazine named the country’s second hardest day hike.

Others aimed specifically to bag peaks and check them off their “grid,” a goal to climb all of the state’s forty eight 4,000 footers in each of the year’s 12 months.

By evening only a few, calmer, straggling runners remained. These guys mainly had specific objectives to train for longer speed hikes or FKTs (Fastest Known Times). I lingered with Maple Syrup Ben and watched the sunset on the exposed Franconia Ridge. After the gold turned to gray, Dartmouth photographer Eli and I ducked back below treeline.

Their objectives are different than mine, but we’re all out enjoying the same beautiful land. I was glad to have the company.

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