Seeing Triple: Declan Kiley Hikes Three Rounds of the NH-48 in a Single Winter
On March 19th, 2020, as the sun set in the final hours of winter, I reached the summit of Mount Moosilauke to complete my third full round of the N.H. 48 in a single winter season—the triple single-season. It is difficult to believe that my journey in the White Mountains began less than seven months ago, when I first hiked up Moosilauke on August 31st. From that day I knew I was hooked, but I had no idea what I would be able to achieve in my first several months of hiking. I completed my first round of the 48, solo, less than two months later on Mount Isolation, then repeated my Summer peaks for a single-season Autumn round.
As winter approached I was eager to get out and test my abilities as a winter hiker. My original stated goal was a SSW NE 67, but as Winter progressed I found it difficult to leave New Hampshire, even after my SSW48 was complete. I then adjusted my goal to a SSW67 and a double SSW48, figuring I could travel to Vermont and Maine towards the end of Winter after I got my additional 48 fix. Finally, as the DSSW48 was nearing completion, I realized that I was simply too reluctant to leave New Hampshire and it made more sense to strive for a Triple SSW. While it was initially difficult to get past abandoning my stated goal, I figured that this goal was no less lofty than my original intention of the SSW67. To my knowledge, only two people before me have completed the Triple SSW, and I estimate that I summited more NH 4000-foot peaks than anyone else in this past winter season.
This was certainly not an easy goal to achieve, yet I am grateful for the many advantages I had. I am currently a full-time student in Manchester, NH which had both its advantages and disadvantages. I did not have to worry about food and lodging half of the week, I have class only four days a week, I had two weeks of vacation at the beginning of winter, and other than classes I had no real commitments (e.g. a family or full-time job). That being said, finances quickly became an issue with all of the expenses for food and travel (no major gear upgrades this winter as a result) and it was quite difficult to balance schoolwork with the hiking and commuting.
One of the biggest advantages in getting in so many peaks is that I have no qualms about hiking solo or in the dark. You’d be surprised how many hikes you can work in if you’re willing to start or end in the dark. Pre-dawn starts were the norm for most of the winter, and towards the end I frequently had to begin at night and hike totally in the dark to get the last several peaks in.
This all would have been impossible without the Notch Hostel and its owner, Serena Ryan. On weekends and during my vacation time I did work-for-stay at the Notch, allowing me to save a great deal of money and hike multiple consecutive days, rather than commuting for each hike. More important than that is the incredible community built around the Notch. I met nearly all of my hiking partners through the Notch, and I am very grateful to have made so many wonderful friends at the hostel in such a short time. I feel privileged to have become a member of the “hamily” (hostel family), and look forward to beginning full-time work at the Hostel this summer!
Special thanks go to my regular hiking partners John Pike & Rebecca Schubert. Additional thanks also goes out to the many others I shared the trail with this winter, including: Alex Thibedeau, Matt Jannarone, Courtney Farr, Jo Biscoe, Will Robinson, Steve Corcoran, Serena Ryan, Caitlin Quinn, and Philip Carcia. Special thanks to Phil not only for sharing time with me on trail, but providing much support and inspiration. This list is not all-inclusive of those who deserve my thanks—thank you to anyone that was a part of my journey this winter.
Numbers, stats, and superlatives:
733 miles (approx.)
250,000 feet of vertical (approx.)
50 hiking days
3 Presidential Traverses (two of these single-day traverses were hiked on consecutive days)