So, what exactly is a Grid Finish and what is a Double Grid Finish? In the state of New Hampshire, there are 48 mountains, all of which have an elevation of 4000 feet or more (technically there are more than that, but in order to keep this short, I won’t go into the semantics and rules of peak bagging). Many people set out with a goal of hiking all of those summits… once. Others aim to do their 48, and then they also do their “winter 48” which is all 48 summits in winter (and many start that journey literally a few minutes after it’s officially “winter”). There are even more ambitious people who seek to hike all 48 4000 footers in winter, spring, summer, and fall. Finally… you have The Grid. People who set out to complete the grid are often affectionately referred to as “Gridiots”. “The Grid” is completely all 48 4000 foot summit, and all 12 months of the year. For those of you keeping count, that’s 576 summits! Relative to the 48 4000 footers list, there are not a lot of people who set out to finish a grid so grid finish hikes are rare. Even more rare, is two people finishing the grid on the same day! Gridding represents… well a very serious commitment to hiking. It often means hiking in sub-zero temperatures, in sizzling hot temps, in rain, and yes, there are many nice days as well. To say it requires passion and dedication is an understatement!
If you hike in the White Mountains long enough, you will eventually run in to Jason (often referred to by newbies as “that guy who hikes at night all the time”) and Andrew. I was thrilled to be a part of this hike, and I brought a camera with me. For their final summit, they both chose Owl’s Head via the Black Pond and Brutus bush whacks.
Congratulations to Jason and Andrew for summiting their 576th 4000 footer on December 21st, 2014!
This is Jason, one of our grid finishers.
Meet Isis, one of two four-legged people (and also quite an accomplished hiker) that joined us for this 17 mile journey.
Heather Hess (who many refer to as “Kali’s Mom”), and Kali. Both Heather and Kali (I believe the current number of canine grid finishers can be counted on less than 10 claws, I think Kali may have been #6) are grid finishers themselves.
And here’s our other Grid Finisher for the day, Andrew Soares (noticing Isis peaking around wondering why we’ve stopped).
Owl’s Head is somewhat notorious for the number of crossings it has. Fortunately we avoided some of them via the Black Pond bushwhack, but you can’t avoid them all. Fortunately in the winter time, ice bridges make it a lot easier!
Time for the snow shoes. For those not familiar with hiking or snow shoeing, see the little blue wire? That’s a heel elevator. Heel elevators are wonderful for climbing very steep terrain as they lift your heel off the snowshoes as if you had stairs built right in to the side of the mountain.
Someone needs a chin rub and an ear scratch!
Andrew taking a victory lap!
And the first celebration begins (technically, you haven’t finished until you reach the trailhead under your own power but summits are a good place to celebrate) at the summit of Owl’s Head.
You’d think that smile is because Jason knows he’ll never have to hike Owl’s Head if he doesn’t want to… but remember what I said about passion? Jason is currently working on his 2nd grid.
For many experienced hikers in the White Mountains, this bridge near the Lincoln Woods lot is a very welcome site as it marks the end of a long day, and means you’re on your way to share a big meal and a nice beer with friends!
And the second celebration. The Woodstock Inn is a standard apres hike gathering spot for hikers. That’s all! See you on the trail. If you’d like to see more photos from this trip, visit this link: http://www.symphonyphoto.com/jason_and_andrew/