The Four Thousand Footers
March - August, 2020
New Hampshire, USA

As Covid took hold on the world around us I found myself living in New Hampshire with plenty of free time to explore the White Mountains with my friends.

The forty-eight four thousand foot peaks became an obsession and a welcome distraction from the pandemic. In total this project took roughly 148 Hours, 261 miles of hiking, and 92,073 vertical feet.

MARCH 22, 2020

Pierce & Eisenhower

25 degrees, sunny, and very little wind. Beautiful, clear day made for a pretty easy hike. After summiting Pierce we traversed over to Eisenhower and then back down Pierce. Hiked with Sarah and Scott. 7.25 hours, 10 miles, 3,696 ft elevation gain. 4/10 Difficulty

MARCH 28, 2020

Liberty & Flume

48 degrees, sunny, and no wind. Clear day and great views from Liberty. Traversed over to Flume in the snowshoes in an hour roundtrip. The new snowshoes were a huge help. Flume was too steep to go down solo with all the ice so we went back down Liberty in about 90 minutes. Hiked with Colleen. 6 hours, 8 miles, 3,626 ft elevation gain. 5/10 Difficulty

MARCH 29, 2020

East Osceola

38 degrees, lots of hail, wind, and snow. Very steep and icy as we got close to the top. Pretty brutal wind and the crampons were a must. We crawled down some pretty treacherous patches of ice and were very careful not to slide down off of the trail and into the woods. Zero visibility at the top, we were in a snow cloud. We went up via the Greeley trail. Hiked with Sarah. 4.5 hours, 5.75 miles, 2,468 ft elevation gain. 7/10 Difficulty

april 4, 2020

Lafayette & Lincoln

Absolutely beautiful views along the entire Franconia ridge on the way up. Lots of snow on the ridge line as we made our way over to Lincoln and then to Little Haystack. Pretty steep and slushy on the way down from Little Haystack. Micro spikes a must. Hiked with Sarah and It was my favorite so far. With a couple more hours we could have connected to Liberty and Flume. 6.5 hours, 8.86 miles. 4,078 ft elevation gain. 6/10 Difficulty

april 5, 2020

Tom, Field, & Willey

Just beat a pretty gnarly looking rain cloud when we wrapped up the hike around 5:30pm. Tom and Field have a pretty nice view of the Presidential Range. The views on Willey are obstructed by trees and is really only worth the trek to check off the 4K footer on the list. Overall a pretty easy hike to bag three of the 4K footers but it was fairly steep on the way down from Avalon (I wiped out twice). 6.25 hours, 9 miles, 3,257 ft elevation gain. 3/10 Difficulty

april 11, 2020

Whiteface & Passaconaway

New Hampshire got a ton of snow a couple days before I set off on this one and it made for a tough hike! While little snow remained on the ground around the house, several feet of powder was piled up on the mountains. The 3.5 mile Rollins Trail from Passaconaway to Whiteface hadn’t been traversed in a few days so I had to pack down the trail with the snowshoes. Beautiful hike and I imagine it is significantly easier in the summertime. Solo hike. 8.25 hours, 11.8 miles, 4,188 ft elevation gain. 8/10 Difficulty

april 12, 2020


Pretty quick and easy hike to check one of the 4,000 footers off the list. The lot was closed because of COVID-19 so I had to tack on an extra mile or so to get to the actual trailhead. Fairly steep section towards the top of the hike but not a bad hike to squeeze in before heading back home. Solo hike. 3.25 hours, 6.3 miles, 2,448 ft elevation gain. 2/10 Difficulty

april 19, 2020

Hancock & South Hancock

I ended up going up South Hancock (4,358) and then traversing over to Hancock (4,420). The snow from the day before was packed down pretty well so it was pretty easy going with the micros/snowshoes. Don’t let the first few miles fool you, the last mile or so is steep! Especially coming down Hancock. Solo hike. 5 hours, 9.1 miles, 2,575 ft elevation gain. 4/10 Difficulty

april 25, 2020

Tripyramid North & Middle

This was pretty intense. It’s ranked high on the New England “Terrifying 25” for a reason and the ice and snow certainly didn’t help. The trail gains 1,200 vertical feet in .5 miles. What a rush. The first couple miles are a walk in the woods before you get to the base of the slope. It was different from all the other hikes so far because there are no turns, tree cover, or switchbacks until you get to the top. I was grasping onto rocks, roots, and anything that stuck up through the snow so I wouldn’t fall back down the slope. Definitely go up North and down Middle. Hiked with Sarah. 7.75 hours, 11 miles, 2,900 ft elevation gain, 9/10 Difficulty

april 26, 2020


I understand why this hike is so popular. After an easy, gradual climb to the top you are rewarded with a spectacular 360 view of the surrounding mountains and the Presidential Range. I didn’t see a single human after I started down Ravine Road to park on the trailhead. I trekked by a seemingly abandoned lodge (due to the pandemic), and made my way down a deserted wooded trail careful not to startle any black bears or moose. The whole thing was absolutely beautiful but felt a little apocalyptic with the lack of human life around me. I was all alone in the woods. 3.25 hours, 8.25 miles, 2,506 ft elevation gain, 2/10 Difficulty

may 2, 2020

Carter Dome, South, & Middle

Perfect day for a hike. I only saw a few Subarus at the trailhead and only crossed paths with two people on the trail. Started out pretty easy on the way up to Carter Dome but it got moderately steep and very snowy the last couple of miles. I felt crazy for hauling the snowshoes up the mountain but they were really necessary at the top of Carter Dome and then on the travers over to Middle and South. The views of the Presidential Range from Carter Dome are stunning. It’s the next range to the west so you see the full height and beauty of the Presidentials. The views from Middle and South really pale in comparison. I got a late start so I was hustling to get back before nightfall at 8pm. 8 hours, 12.9 miles, 4,485 ft elevation gain, 6/10 Difficulty

may 3, 2020


I was expecting a walk in the woods but it is definitely not a cakewalk. You depart from the end of a residential street and begin walking through an area that seems to have been destroyed by logging. It’s a pretty gradual climb around 25% the entire way up. I was actually moving pretty quickly on the ascent. Enjoyed a nice sandwich at the top and had a great view of the Carters that I climbed the previous day and past that the Presidentials. The three Carter summits from the day prior looked so far apart from one another. It really is difficult to tell how far you’ve traveled when you’re on the path and under tree cover. 4.75 hours,  8.75 miles, 3,387 ft elevation gain, 5/10 Difficulty

may 18, 2020

Garfield & Galehead

This was the longest hike yet. It was a pretty steady climb and the elevation gain wasn’t a killer. However, the 10 mile walk back to the car after summiting Galehead was a little exhausting. The view of Lafayette, Lincoln, Liberty, and Flume was pretty impressive from the top of Garfield. The views from Galehead were just decent as they were mostly obstructed by the Twin mountains. 8.75 hours, 17 miles, 3,946 ft elevation gain, 6/10 Difficulty

may 22, 2020


Perfect day for a solo hike up one of the Presidentials. Jackson was a very easy and quick hike for a really amazing payoff at the top. I’m surprised it doesn’t get more traffic or attention. I was the only person at the top while I enjoyed a beer and a sandwich. Very little wind and plenty of sun. The last scramble right below the summit has been one of my favorites so far. Hiked solo. 3 hours, 5.2 miles, 2,394 elevation gain, 2/10 difficulty

may 23, 2020

Wild Cat A Peak & Wild Cat D Peak

Pretty much the opposite of Jackson (which I hiked the day before). Before you start up the trail there is a fairly wide river crossing with a pretty strong current. I ended up tying my shoes to my pack and wading through the freezing water to the other side. The first mile was a very steep scramble with some pretty exposed sections near the edge of the mountain. Hard work and slow going. Just before the 2 mile point you reach the first peak which has a ski lift on the top. Lots of people came up the ski route (which I found out is a much easier way to the summit). The traverse over to the second peak was much easier. When I returned to the river crossing at the very beginning of the hike, the water had risen and the current had picked up. It was too dangerous to cross so I ended up adding about a mile and a half to walk all the way around. 8.25 hours, 10.3 miles, 3,980 ft elevation gain, 9/10 difficulty

may 30, 2020


This was an interesting one because I had already submitted East Osceola earlier in the winter. We had to turn back due to awful winter weather before summiting Osceola. Hiking this same trail in the warm weather with no snow was a completely different experience. It became clear to me how much snow and ice pile up on the top of these mountains. I recalled one treacherous section from March that must have been covered in 6 feet of ice. Probably for the best that we turned back in March because the “Chimney” would have been a tricky climb on the way over to Osceola. Hiked solo. 4 hours, 7.2 miles, 3,139 ft elevation gain, 3/10 difficulty

may 31, 2020


I had been looking forward to this hike. In my opinion, Carrigain has one of the most interesting profiles in the White Mountains and I always looked for it as a point of reference from the other peaks. It stands alone as the tallest mountain in its surrounding area, making for a great view from the top and an easily identifiable ridge line from the other 4,000 footers. After a pretty long and steady climb up, you are rewarded with stellar views from the open ridgeline. The summit is no disappointment either, with a watch tower that provides great 360 views. The steel watch tower was covered in frost and consistently hammered by wind. Hiked with Matt and Ashley. 6 hours, 11.25 miles, 4,175 ft elevation gain, 6/10 difficulty

June 19, 2020

Cannon, North & South Kinsman

I started the loop in the direction of the Kinsmans. It’s a fairly easy hike up to Lonesome Lake, which was pretty busy with hikers and families, before begin a fairly steep ascent up to North and South Kinsman. The summit offers pretty solid views but not without some strong wind and lots of bugs. After dipping back down to about 3,200ft the climb back up to Cannon is very steep and rocky. Cannon’s summit really isn’t too far from the highway but the incredibly steep scramble definitely takes some time and effort. The view at the top is stunning. One of my favorites in the area. I spent the night in the tent to take in Owl’s Head in the morning. 7.5 hours, 12.6 miles, 4,862 ft elevation gain, 8/10 difficulty

June 20, 2020

Owl’s Head

You really have to want to complete the 48 for this summit. No view at the top, but lots of bugs, river crossings, mud, and a pretty difficult rock climb. The summit is a pretty anticlimactic pile of rocks in the middle of the woods. The joy of Owl’s Head for me was the trail run to the final rock climb. I packed light and decided to run about 13 miles of the hike as the majority is very flat. This seems to be a popular choice as I saw a lot of trail runners jogging out to the summit, and joined some of them for a few miles. Another popular option was to hike in, camp below the last summit push and climb up in the morning. About a mile before the summit you start climbing one of the steepest, most exposed climbs I’ve encountered yet during the 48. Thunder was rumbling above while I made my way up the rock climb. 6.75 hours, 18.75 miles, 3,326 ft elevation gain, 9/10 difficulty

June 27, 2020


Isolation is aptly named and one of my favorite hikes thus far. It’s pretty steep heading up at the start but you break out of the tree line to a beautiful rocky scramble with killer views. It’s pretty amusing that you have to hike up over 5,000 feet to the Boot Spur to hike back down to reach Isolation. The views from Isolation are nice but I thought the views from Boot Spur, right next to the Presidential range, we’re amazing (that’s where the photos were taken from). Plenty of wind. Hiked solo. 6.75 hours, 12 miles, 5,328 ft elevation gain, 7/10 difficulty

June 28, 2020


This one has been on the list for a while due to its northern location. It ended up being a pretty easy hike. Straight up to Starr King, fifteen minute jaunt over to the Waumbek summit, and then straight back down. A mediocre view is available from the top of Starr King and the top of Waumbek is a pretty sad kearn in the middle of a wooded trail. Hiked with Matt and Ashley. 3.25 hours, 7 miles, 2,729 ft elevation gain, 2/10 difficulty

july 4, 2020

The Twins, The Bonds, Hale & Garfield

We had been planning the Pemi loop for a little while. Definitely wasn’t a hike you wanted to roll out of bed at 11am for. We started the hike at 7am and cruised up and over the two Twin mountains by about 10am. Gorgeous views and an amazing ridge line. It was a super sunny day so we each were carrying about 5 liters of water, weight that gradually decreased throughout the day. As we spoke to other hikers on the route, it became clear that there were multiple versions of what people refer to as the “Pemi Loop”. The Bonds were grueling, but by far some of the most beautiful, isolated mountains we’ve climbed yet. Bondcliff looks like a short walk when you start hiking from West Bond, but it’s a deceivingly hard, rocky mile. Hale and Zealand were incredibly underwhelming after the Bonds and Twins. No views whatsoever. We ran out of daylight and finished the last mile or so with our flashlights. Very long day but well worth it. If there’s a hike on this list that deserves 10/10 difficulty, it’s this one. Hiked with Matt and Ashley. 14 hours, 24 miles, 7,800 ft elevation gain, 10/10 difficulty

july 29, 2020


Needed to knock this one out before the Presidentials this weekend. Everyone I spoke to about the 48 said “don’t finish in Cabot.” I see why. It’s far north, isolated, and has no views. Was still a fun evening hike to squeeze in after work. Finished just before complete darkness. The highlight was driving by a moose on the way to the hike and then another one on the way back. Hiked solo. 2.75 hours, 8.9 miles, 2,880 ft elevation gain, 3/10 difficulty

August 1, 2020

The Presidentials

Saved the biggest and the best for last. This was my first point to point hike of this little adventure, so we left a car near the Cog Railroad for the ride back. We started hiking up Madison around 8am and faced a tough 4 mile climb to the summit. After entering the Alpine zone on this peak, we didn’t head back into tree cover until we were descending from Monroe 9 hours later. I can see how dangerous this hike would be in the winter time with the volatile weather. The clouds are constantly shifting above the peaks, but we had really great views for the majority of the day and even had visibility on Washington. The views from Madison, Adams, and Jefferson are gorgeous, but looking back into the ravine from the hike up to Washington was spectacular. Adams is by far my favorite summit scramble of the 48. Washington is a little underwhelming as it is crowded with tourists that drove up or took the train. It’s a very odd interruption in an otherwise epic trek over the mountains. The best part of the day was the descent from Washington to Monroe, as you have a beautiful view over the southern mountains and of Lake of the Clouds, not to mention that all of the difficult climbing for the day was behind us. Even though this hike was shorter and had roughly the same elevation gain as the Pemi Loop, my feet and knees were in worse shape from traversing over all the jagged granite. The terrain is unforgiving. Monroe was my final of the 48 and I couldn’t have picked a better summit to finish on. It was an easy 8 min ascent from the Lake of the Clouds Hut and had an amazing view over Pierce and Eisenhower (the first two 4,000 footers I climbed. I came full circle through the White Mountains. Hiked with Matt and Ashley. 13 hours, 17 miles, 7,900 ft elevation gain, 10/10 difficulty

© Sean Packard 2022