Brian DuPont has handled many a challenge as information technology director for the Town of Wellesley, from enabling online Town Meeting to supporting an increasingly remote work force. That kind of job requires getting away from it all at times, and for DuPont this often means heading to the White Mountains.
Over the past 5 years, DuPont has bagged all 48 4,000-foot peaks in New Hampshire’s White Mountain range, qualifying him for the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) Four Thousand Footer Club. He finished in October, and recently submitted his application to the club.
In his application, DuPont wrote: “My White Mountain journey began in September of 2017, when a group of 3 friends took to the trails to remember and honor the life of another who left us too soon. With overly heavy packs, we left the parking lot at the Lincoln Woods Trailhead to start a Pemi Loop. Several hours later, with cramping legs and sore shoulders, we bailed on our original plans and hiked down the Liberty Springs Trail for a 6-mile road walk back to Lincoln! Thankfully, we salvaged the weekend the next day with a loop of the North and South Hancock summits.”
Hiking all of the 4,000-footers in New Hampshire wasn’t something that crossed DuPont’s mind at that time. “Forty-eight seems like a really big number at the start, but somewhere along the way you realize that completing the list is achievable,” he wrote to the club.
I asked DuPont if one attraction of the mountains is getting away from technology.
“Hiking is definitely an escape from the office,” according to DuPont. “That said, technology is starting to creep into the mountains, most notably for navigation purposes. Cell phones and online mapping apps (e.g. AllTrails, Gaia, Guthook) are common nowadays. But any good technology professional would tell you that it’s always good to have a backup plan, and these apps are no substitute for a good old-fashioned map and compass!”
While duplicating DuPont’s feat might seem daunting, he insists that anyone can do it. DuPont did many of his hikes with friend Daniel Elliott and was glad they were able to hike DuPont’s 48th summit—Wildcat D—with their sons.
DuPont’s advice to others: “Start by getting yourself a good guidebook like the AMC’s White Mountain Guide, or my personal favorite, the 4000-Footers of the White Mountains. Understand the risks posed by each route and know your own capacity for dealing with changing conditions. Start with a smaller peak and shorter route, like Mount Tecumseh or Mount Jackson, before tackling the Northern Presidentials.”
Referring to himself as a geographer by trade, DuPont says reaching a summit or viewpoint drives him on his hikes. “I love that feeling of standing on the world’s biggest topographical map and pointing out neighboring peaks and other faraway places. It’s that same feeling that drives me to the window seat every time I board an airplane,” he says.
Now that DuPont has knocked off all the 4,000 footers in New Hampshire, he’s not done. “I can’t wait to get back up into the White Mountains again… to help my friends finish their lists… to spend more time with the next generation of hikers… or to simply get away and gain some new perspective,” he wrote in his club application.
Someday he’d like to say that he’s hiked every mountain on the New England 4K list.
When DuPont does head back out to the Whites one way to recognize him will be by the 4K footer patches, which he plans to sew onto his hiking packs.
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