This is teamwork beneath blue bird skies in April. Each person in this group is an integral part of what we’ve deemed the best kind of team hiking, the kind where at day’s end you feel like you’ve truly conquered a mountain, and you have. You are exhausted and smelly and proud and maybe even a little relieved after feeling scared once or twice. A few of these folks had never done Tucks before or seen this amazing back country view in person, including our friend Mike Wade who is seated in a mono ski next to my husband Geoff. He wasn’t really sure what he was getting himself into when Geoff made the call Friday night suggesting (as only Geoff can) that he should join us on this adventure. But when Geoff tells you it will be a memorable and powerful moment in your life of sport, how do you say no? You don’t. You say, “OK, Geoff, I’ll meet you in the parking lot. What should I bring?”
The good news is Mike enjoyed the adventure of getting there, even if it physically draining and emotionally overwhelming. He shared, “Going to Tucks was an amazing experience that was highlighted by the size and beauty of the mountain, along with the effort and encouragement from our group and the other people we encountered along the way. Definitely a day I’ll never forget!”
The daughter of good friends and a student at PSU, Samantha aka Mac Bevier, also joined the first-timer’s call, having survived a 6 AM car ride with the Krill family over the river and through the woods. Geoff’s co-coordinator and our organizing neighbor, Matt Nestor, brought his friend Derek Russell along to do some pulling. Geoff also included fellow Loon coaches, Linsey and Russ, along with some of their friends, who are young and fit and ready for outdoor adventure. It’s been tradition over the last few trips that we make friends with a stranger who can’t help himself and just wants to be a part of the upward movement. This year, we thank a super nice guy named Scott from Maine who enthusiastically clipped in to pull Mike up front. Our former neighbor Seth Chandler, a Tucks veteran 30 times over, saved the day helping Mike to navigate the narrow and bumpy Sherbourne Trail down. One of my best friends and fellow Lin-Wood teacher, Rebecca Steeves, whom I hike with all summer long, brought her boyfriend Mike Harrington, who in all his years of hiking in the north woods, had also never been up this side of Washington. Another friend and Lin-Wood teacher, Aaron Loukes, along with 13 year old son Charlie, our son Carver’s personal idol, helped wherever they were needed–whether that was hiking and pulling Geoff, skinning and dragging a rather heavy gear sled with me, or entertaining the three young children traveling with us, who began to lose steam about 2.5 hours in. Charlie was also tasked with staying with Carver as they skied down the Sherbourne Trail, something beyond my level of skill in the mogul field which is back country- snow filled- narrow trail skiing.
Geoff believes the team aspect is what sets this kind of outdoor experience apart from others. “The camaraderie is what makes these moments memorable; of course, that journey up together is what also allows me to do what I love best: ski down. I’m proud of Mike for trusting us and for taking the opportunity to climb with this crew of great people.”
Matt Nestor also reflected upon the hike in looking back realizing, “The truth is that my first time hiking Mt. Washington with Geoff years ago was in large part about helping Geoff get there. But, the shared experience with many different people coming together to make it happen is what I took away…I’m grateful for amazing adventures shared with great friends who never take you for granted, and for our special way of climbing mountains.”
The other part about hiking Tuckerman’s in the spring is what draws together all sorts of different people; there are full spandex- clad men and women running up for fun; there are the inappropriately dressed women in jeans and faux fur carrying their handbags and glass bottle of Perrier; there are the mountain men skinning up at mock speed; but regardless of who we see on the trail, they are passing us. We are never passing them. My dear friend Michelle, wife of gear organizer Matt and mom to Olivia, seen above in pink helmet and purple jacket, who at age 9 made her second trip up Washington her first time on skins, hikes with me and our children. This year was made better by the fact that we skinned up instead of carrying our skis and boots. But we are not fast. Neither are our kids. That is okay. We are teaching our children to enjoy the journey and adventure and snacks along the way which help to pass the time. Greta is already a tremendous hiker moving constantly forward while Carver wanders the trail side to side sometimes spinning around, falling down on purpose, and dying for breath needing to rest approximately every 4 minutes. Uphill sports are not his thing he will tell you.
Michelle and I are definitely realistic about the hiking with children part. It isn’t always fun or glamorous, but as she says, “Even though I’m exhausted and my feet are blistered, I can’t wait until next year as this Tuckerman’s trip is the essence of teamwork.”
Greta looks up at the actual bowl, which is Tuckerman’s Ravine, and wonders aloud if we are closer to Heaven. I look around the old and new friends who surround us in the warm April sunshine, the faces of those who physically and/ or mentally supported one another on the journey; I see the wonder and pride in Mike Wade’s eyes, the eager anticipation of the more ambitious hikers in our crew who can’t wait to get a little higher up; I watch Geoff prepping Mike for the ski down the Sherbourne trail, and I agree with our five year old daughter; I’m pretty sure we are damn close to Heaven up here on Mt. Washington, surrounded by both God and Mother Nature’s grace in 360 degree panoramic beauty.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts and ski boots, to the the climbing crew of 2017. We made some awesome memories yesterday with our children, and we could not have done it without you.
Heather, Geoff, Carver and Greta Krill
PS. I’m a writer, and I have an author page on FB at Heather Krill. You should “like” me and buy a copy of my novel True North; you can also follow me on Twitter @heatherkrill1.