One of the finest yet toughest backpacking adventures out there in NH’s Wilderness….
Some trails, or in this case, a collection of trails, spark excitement in the hikers that tramp upon them. The 31+ mile Pemi Loop can certainly do this, but not always. Eventually the sight of the same old rocks, still plunked down in the same old places, can get old. Guides are at risk, in particular, thanks to repetition. At some point the feet may move only the body but without furthering the spirit.
There are fixes, though. One is to do a bunch of hiking elsewhere, to the point of desperately longing for those same old rocks plunked down in those same old places, then coming back, excited and eager to get back out there and hike our wonderful wilderness trails as if new once again.
Another fix for the guide is, believe it or not, to get out there and guide. We are keenly aware that those we lead may have never seen any of those old rocks or any of those old places. To our guests it’s new. It’s exciting and fresh and fills them full of wonder and awe. This, to observe it, is contagious. Savoring our guests’ experience can reinvigorate us. As Redline Guide Arlette Laan — to which both fixes were applied — tells it after leading a four day, three night Pemi Loop with one guest who was absolutely loving it, feeling the wonder and awe for her very first time…
Does it get boring to guide trails you’ve hiked several times before? Sometimes, yes, but most of the time, no. The Pemi Loop is a gem. My guest’s excitement about hiking it for the first time was contagious. I absolutely love helping someone achieve a goal they weren’t sure they could do. And the weather was great!
And this time it felt like visiting an old friend. Having been away from the White Mountain National Forest for two years, it was wonderful to be reacquainted. To think about the first time I hiked that loop. To reminisce about that winter when the snow was piled so high that the trail signs were at our feet. Then that horrible buggy hike with my niece and nephew over South Twin and the Bonds.
This hike was also a good opportunity to get some mountain fitness back with a guest who was about the same pace. All while soaking in the views, crouching down to see the mushrooms in the vibrant green moss, creating a bond with another wonderful human being, and even seeing a bear. It’s contagious!
Boring? Definitely not! Rewarding? Most definitely, yes! —Arlette
Now for some photos…