Presidential

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The Presidential Ridge of the White Mountains is as spectacular as its name implies.  Encompassing 11 peaks (including the highest in the Northeast — Mt. Washington) and 23 miles, the ridge for the most part is above tree line, wide and open, with the rest of the White Mountain ridges falling off in folds along the horizons on every side.  Many NH hikers at some point do a Presidential Traverse, with most, like me, doing it in sections.  I did it in 1998 with Adrienne, Alison and Anne, staying at two of the Appalachian Mountain Club huts, and covering 9 of the peaks, in three days.  It was so much work for my body, no matter how much I ate for two days afterwards I was still hungry.  Then there are those who do a Presidential Traverse in a single day, usually around the summer solstice so they have maximum light, even still having to start and finish in the dark.  I can’t even imagine doing it.

A much easier way to experience the Presidential Ridge is to do a day hike to one of the peaks.  Yesterday David, Betsy and I climbed Edmand’s Path, a remarkably even-footed and easily ascended trail, to Eisenhower.  For a November day it was amazingly still and warm.  Having been to Lake Willoughby earlier this summer, for the first time I could look to the northwest horizon and recognize the notch of Willoughby, and the higher Green Mountains beyond.  The close view was equally beautiful, with a small scrubby bush having turned purple in the cold weather and creating a carpet of color on the open ridge.  The day was a treat we gave ourselves.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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