On the first Friday of this month, 68-year-old Jack Scanlon was where he is most at peace - scaling a New England mountain.
It was the latest in his ongoing list of peaks he is looking to conquer in this part of the country. The Falmouth native explained his passion for hiking is tied to his love of the outdoors; it keeps him fit and healthy; and then there’s the ultimate payoff, which are the views.
His most recent conquest was Mount Crawford in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire. As he stood at the summit, he said, “I could probably see eight to 10 of the 4,000 footers I did. I was sitting there trying to remember which ones were which… That gives me satisfaction. Then I was looking at some on my list I still want to do. The views are unbelievable. That’s why it is worth it.”
While Scanlon has always enjoyed hiking – his first climb was popular Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, while still a high school student in 1964 – he started becoming serious about the activity in 1994. That is when he embarked on the task of climbing all 48 4,000 footers in New Hampshire.
He achieved that goal in November 2007, doing the last with his daughter Martha. During that 13-year stretch, he overcame several odds that included cancer, diabetes and arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He has since climbed all 67 mountains over 4,000 feet in New England, finishing that list in 2010.
His latest endeavor is the 52 With-A-View in New Hampshire. He is more than halfway there, scaling 32 with 20 remaining. “These 52 are more casual,” he said. “I’m not killing myself to get it done.”
For Scanlon, who also skis in the winter, mountains are a place to celebrate life. In fact, on his 50th birthday he hiked Mount Katahdin in Maine. When he turned 60, he hiked Saddleback, which is also in Maine. “I’ll do something when I turn 70,” he promised.
Scanlon epitomizes the X-Wear philosophy of embracing the outdoors, regardless of one’s age. For those looking to follow in his footsteps, he provided some additional advice on starting your own New England adventure.
AMC GUIDEBOOKS – According to Scanlon, these are must haves for anyone hiking the region’s mountains as they provide detailed trail descriptions and safety tips that are useful for those of any skill level.
NEW ENGLAND TRAIL CONDITIONS (www.newenglandtrailconditions.com) – This website provides up-to-date conditions on mountains and trails, serving as a great reference point prior to tackling any of the peaks in the region.
MOUNTAINS – When it comes to his favorite mountains, Mount Katahdin is at the top of Scanlon’s list though it comes with a warning – it is strenuous. What makes it worth it, he said, are the views “which are incredible… It’s also the end of the Appalachian Trail so some people are finishing their hikes. It’s exciting because families are meeting them with bottles of champagne.”
For those starting out, he recommended Mount Crawford; Hedgehog Mountain in Conway, New Hampshire; and Mount Moosilauke in Benton, New Hamsphire. The first two will take roughly 4 hours, round trip, he said, while the last is between 6-7 hours.
TIMING – Scanlon recommended hikers begin their ascent in the morning; he usually departs on his treks by 8 am. Because there is still snow in the spring and black flies and mosquitoes are prevalent from May to early June, he does not begin hiking until the middle of June, continuing until around Columbus Day.
HIKING ALONE VERSUS WITH FRIENDS – Scanlon has done both. When he is with friends or family, there is time to talk and socialize. When he is alone, he tends to go slower, pacing himself so he does not get hurt.
WILDLIFE – During his hikes, Scanlon has encountered deer, moose and even a fisher cat. All of his encounters have been benign.
EQUIPMENT – Proper hiking shoes, a first aid kit, compass, rope, backpack and rain gear are just a few of the items Scanlon brings with him on his hikes. He also packs as much water and food as he can.
If you’re looking for gear to start your mountain adventures, you can begin with our water bottles. Our line of Herschel hats are ideal for those fall, winter and spring hikes in colder weather. At X-Wear, we have an assortment of backpacks which you can find here; we recommend our Quiksilver Sea Locker and Smith Borah Travel Pack, which comes in black or grey, as they have plenty of storage space for all your hiking gear.
Every hiker should consider a good pair of polarized sunglasses that are durable, rugged and can properly withstand the elements. Our line of performance brands, which includes Maui Jim, Native, Oakley and Wiley X, are a good place to start.
Finally, if you want to chronicle your hiking experiences consider a GoPro camera which captures the highest quality video, at an affordable price. If you buy one, make sure to check out this blog on GoPro settings and this one on GoPro accessories that will help you get the most out of your camera.
And if you want to read more about hiking, check out this blog we wrote last year when we caught up with Andrew Hamilton to talk about his incredible feat in which he climbed all 58 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains in less than 10 days.