Doug Mayer was kind enough to send me an email with some thoughts on the various hiking adventures he and his friends had, and has allowed me to reproduce it.
Anyway, some miscellaneous thoughts about our two 4,000 footer hikes, in no particular order:
We did know about the Fitches before our first hike. Guy and Laura had recounted their story to me—it really inspired me, too. That sort of fun, silly adventure in the mountains among friends was pretty much exactly what I had in mind. Unfortunately, the only friends I had were Al and Bill, so I had to settle for them. (Guys, I'm joking, I'm joking.)
The choice of 8 days seemed to be the most comfortable number of days that appeared doable for us. I do remember thinking we might have done it in 7 (and two years ago we mulled that over, partway through the trip if I remember right??), but that seemed too much for us—if we were going to have fun, be able to joke about it when we were hiking and actually get a good night's sleep. The Fitch list, of course, is slightly different than the current list, if anyone pays attention to those things. (What am I saying... I know others do. I don't have a brain that works to keep track of lists very well.)
It was interesting to see your elevation totals. That surprised me. It might also explain why Parlett's feet swelled up so much . (Bill, seen any studies on rapid decompression of the pedal extremities during hiking, due to changes in altitude?)
You asked about training. Eating Ben and Jerry's, running in to visit the RMC trail crew and hiking to Gray Knob for dinner were my three components. Bill took the opposite approach, and seems to generally choose to sit at his desk and rest for months in advance—and after, our hikes. Not sure about Al, though I don't think he's human, anyway. Seriously, I did nothing special. Just a bunch of hiking. Living in Randolph and supervising the RMC trail crews makes that almost mandatory...
Personally, I'm glad we didn't break the Fitch record, since that's how the hike would have been defined by others, I suspect. For me, the memories will always been about the long, fun days cruising through the Whites with my friends, and all the great anecdotes that were created. Some day, years from now, Bill, Al and I will no doubt be sitting in the Coos County old folk's home in Berlin, and be telling these stories, while nurses try to analyze why we have no cartilage left in our knees.
So, those are my rambling thought on the topic. The folks cranking through the list in 3 or 4 days are, obviously, in a totally different league from us slackers. All I know is we had a blast, and I hope they're having just as much fun! (Who knows, maybe I can rally Bill and Al again to do it in a few more years. Bill says I have to see how much it hurts when I'm over 40...) I do like to do long hikes every summer—Mahoosucs in a day, Huts Traverses, etc., so I still do a bit of that every year, or try to.
Okay, back to work. Hope that's at least somewhat useful or insightful—though I'm hardly every accused of being either!