By Matthew Dunn, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Steep, often slippery, and high above the meandering roads below, the peaks of New Hampshire’s White Mountains have challenged and tested even the most seasoned hikers. This summer, however, a local Westborough family has completed their 3-year marathon to scale all 48 4,000-foot peaks together.
Henry and Alice Marcotte, ages 10 and 8, respectively, completed their final ascent of Mt. Isolation along with their parents Doug and Laura. The family is looking forward to joining the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) 4,000-footer club, an official club with approximately 14,000 members who have succeeded in scaling all of the mountains’ peaks.
According to Laura, accomplishing this feat with her children and her husband was an unforgettable experience that spanned over three summers.
“We spent hundreds of hours on the trails together, and the time that we spent together is what I will remember most. The views were amazing, and we saw some beautiful sights, but I will never forget the conversations that we had and the silly games that we made up and played on the trails,” she said.
Hiking together as a family, away from other distractions and obligations of daily life, provided a unique opportunity for the Marcotte family to spend time with each other and grow closer. The experience, however, did not come without challenges and unexpected circumstances.
Doug noted that an unexpected storm hit while the family made their ascent up Mt. Moriah – a difficult circumstance at the time leading to one of his favorite memories of their journey.
“The most memorable hiking moment for me was hunkering down on Mt. Moriah during an unexpected storm. We’d checked the weather before the hike, and it looked like we were in for a beautiful day, but it started pouring while we were climbing the upper ledges of the mountain,” he recalled. “We had rain gear, and the kids had ponchos that we’d gotten from Santa’s Village the day before.”
The passing storm may have gotten the Marcotte family wet but didn’t stop them on their ascent up the mountain.
For eight year-old Alice, the views at the summits were well worth the effort to get there, especially Bondcliff, an isolated rocky outcropping providing one of the best scenic vistas in the White Mountains.
“Bondcliff has a very good view of the surrounding mountains, and I liked being able to look over the edge. You can’t see any roads or buildings. It’s totally in the wilderness,” Alice said.
Joining AMC’s Four Thousand-Footer Club by the age of 10 is an impressive feat, and Henry shows no inclination to slow down. His passion for hiking and the outdoors are obvious as he details his future goals and plans.
“I want to hike the Huntington Ravine trail up Mt. Washington, which is supposed to be the hardest hike in the Whites. I also want to start the Terrifying 25 list. Someday, I want to hike Machu Pichu and the Matterhorn, too,” he said, a clear sign his days on the trails have just begun.
The Marcotte family can count themselves as members of the select few that have summited all 48 4,000-foot peaks in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The memories they’ve made along their journey, sharing both the challenges and small victories that come with summiting each peak, will last far longer than the patches on the family’s’ backpacks signifying their accomplishment.
photos/courtesy Marcotte Family