I have attempted to calculate the daily distances and elevation gains of the eight day 4,000 footer adventure, based on my guesses as to which trails were used. I believe that any errors will be minor, with little impact on the totals.
It was while computing this table that I was finally able to understand this achievement. Previously it had seemed incomprehensible: not merely was it beyond my ability to emulate; it was beyond my ability to understand. With increased understanding came more, rather than less, respect.
Let me begin with day 4. I have done the Bonds/Twins traverse, and found it exhausting. I certainly could not have done any hiking for a couple of days after it. Not only did they do it in the middle of daily hikes, but before starting on it they also did the Hancocks, a "mere" ten miles!
I have attempted two Presidential Traverses, in both cases ending at Pierce and bypassing a few summits. Again, an exhausting hike requiring a few days of recovery. They did the traverse going over all the peaks in the middle of a week of intense hiking. And instead of going gently down from the summit of Mount Washington to Lakes of the Clouds Hut, they made a "slight" detour. They went down (with a few ups) the Davis Path to Mount Isolation, then descended to the Dry River, and finally climbed out of that valley to the hut. Instead of about a mile of downhill they hiked about 13½ extra miles with about 3,500 feet of elevation gain!
I invite the reader who is familiar with these peaks to look at each day; to try to imagine the effort required to do it; and finally to imagine stringing these trips on consecutive days, with no rest in between.
|Kinsmans and Cannon||13.0||4,700|
|Tripyramids, Whiteface, Passaconaway||17.4||4,900|
|Day 3||Flume, Liberty, Lincoln, Lafayette, Garfield, Galehead and Owlshead||34.2||9,950|
|Bonds, Zealand, Twins||22.8||5,900|
|Day 5||Tom, Field and Willey||8.5||3,100|
|Day 6||Wildcat and Carter-Moriah Ranges||18.7||7,100|
|Day 7||Presidentials (including Isolation!)||33.7||12,250|