By Sumner Ford
The first known ascent of New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington was in 1642 by Darby Field. He summited the Northeast’s highest peak to prove that Abenaki gods did not live on top of the mountain. Pine Island’s own Sarah Hunter, along with her husband Jason and their sons, long-time Pine Islanders Caleb and Silas, made the trek up Mt. Washington last spring, but with a far different goal in mind.
In September of 1998, Sarah was asked to join a friend on a mission to summit Mt. Hale in the White Mountains. Cold rain and a tree-covered summit did not inspire Sarah to continue hiking in the Whites. The only reason she was on the proverbial dull peak was to help her friend toward her goal of hiking the 48 4,000-foot peaks in the White Mountains.
Caleb Hunter’s first summer at PIC was in 2014 and Silas arrived the following year. Both proved to be “tripping fools,” spending large chunks of the summer out on trips, hiking trips in particular. They returned home with spectacular tales of time on the trail and a newfound passion.
With both boys at camp, Sarah and Jason decided to see if they could handle the tortuous White Mountains. Sarah immediately caught the hiking bug. The following winter she began bagging peaks in the snow, ice, and cold. We can only presume that this is because she found hiking in the summer to be too easy. As her list of summited peaks grew, Sarah realized that she could hike all 48 of the 4,000-foot peaks in the Whites. The pursuit would bring her to mountains off the beaten path and push her to hike when the weather was less than perfect.
This past spring, on Father’s Day weekend, Sarah, Jason, Caleb, and Silas pushed to the summit of Mt. Washington, Sarah’s 48th summit, and Sarah became a member of the exclusive 4K Club.
Sarah has not retired from hiking. She continues to help friends and family in their quests to become 4K Club members, sometimes re-climbing 4,000-footers she has already summited – Sarah has hiked Eisenhower five times! Sarah is also attempting to complete her New England 67 – a compilation of all the 4,000-foot mountains in New England. She has bagged 58, and by press time she should have 59 after her trip to Baxter State Park to summit North Brother on January 13. Both Silas and Caleb have summited nearly 40 of their 67 New England peaks, many of which they climbed on Pine Island trips.
Sarah has inspired us so much that we hope to create a 48 program of our own, attempting to put a camper on every 4,000-foot peak in the Whites sometime soon.