Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am 49 years old and am a Stay at Home Mom with a very active 8 year old son. He and my husband are my frequent walking and hiking companions. I have lived in New Hampshire for over 45 years, moving to the NH Seacoast when I was 2 and have more or less be here ever since, with the exception of the few years I spent at college in NY (although I was still home most summers). Before my son was born, I spent the better part of 20 years working in Human Resources Information Technology. I was the person who made sure the payroll and timekeeping system worked the way they were supposed to so that people would be paid correctly. My last job before my son was born was at Eastern Mountain Sports when they were still headquartered here in NH My husband and I have been married for 10 years now, after dating for almost 6 years prior to that.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma, which caused two things to happen. First, I lost a balance nerve when the tumor was removed. Second, the surgery left me clinically deaf, and I now “hear” through the use of a Cochlear Implant. Those two things combined make my balance, well, uneven. Hiking, surprisingly, helps it. I was a hiker before the surgery and I continue to be one after the surgery. It’s fabulous therapy. It does give me vertigo, so I’m not a fan of cliff edges or high exposure trails. But, I’m still out there and still doing it. I might be a little more picky about the type and distance of trails that I hike, but there’s still plenty of places to get out and explore.
What else? I’ve hiked all 48 of the 4,000 foot peaks in NH and all 5 of the 4,000 foot peaks in Vermont. I’ve been to 14 State High Points. I love to travel and have taken 2 cross country road trips. I read, pretty much anything – fiction, biography, non-fiction and romance. I don’t like to read historical fiction and science fiction. Pretty much anything else is fair game. I used to do a lot of cross stitching, although that has dwindled a bit over the last few years. I love sports and watch pretty much any Boston team – Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins. Less of the Celtics these days, but those mid-80s teams were awesome. In pre-COVID days, my husband and I enjoyed going to the movies. We recently went to see our first movie in a movie theater in over 2 years.
What are your favorite ways to get your miles?
I get probably 95% or more of my miles from outside walking and hiking. I’ve also been known to use the Leslie Sansone walk at home videos, especially in the winter. I get bored easily, so I like to mix up where I go. In the future, I am hoping to add some variety with a recumbant bike over the winter and then, possibly, a regular bike for the summer. With my balance, I’m not sure how that will go, but I’m willing to give it the old college try.
What’s your favorite outdoor memory?
Back in the summer after my senior year of high school, I attended the National Youth Science Camp in West Virginia. We had a lot of science lectures and stuff, but on the weekends, we got to try different outdoor things. We went for a hike one weekend. I got to try spelunking another weekend. The third weekend, they randomly selected 20 of the 100 campers (yes, I was obviously one of them) and we got to go white water rafting while the rest went hiking or spelunking. It was probably a class 2, maybe a small class 3 in a spot or two, but it was the first time I’d ever tried something like that and it was exhilarating..Toward the end, they let us get out of the raft and “float” down the last rapid (keeping our feet up, of course, nobody wanted broken ankles). It was an amazing experience and one I’m glad I got to have at that time. I’ve only white water rafted one other time since then.
Do you have a “disaster” story?
Most of my disaster stories are weather related. I hike primarily in the White Mountains, and weather there has been known to turn on a dime.
The very first hike my (now) husband brought me on in the White Mountains was to a beautiful pair of mountains called Welch-Dickey. A not super difficult trail, only about 4 miles long with stunning views. On Dickey mountain, there is a long, sloped ledge that you basically walk along the top of. The weather was nice on Welch mountain, but, by the time we got over to Dickey, the clouds had rolled in, and it had started precipitating. It was April, so we got freezing rain and hail. I wear glasses, so they were instantly useless and I had to walk all the way across this sloped ledge, which scared the bejesus out of me. I was a very new hiker at that point and didn’t understand my gear or the terrain, and I didn’t have hiking poles at the time, so all I could do was walk very, very slowly across that ledge. Obviously, I made it, and I learned a lot from that experience, but, wow, it was an interesting lesson.
Another weather story was when we were hiking the Wildcats. There’s four of them – labeled A through D. We hiked up A, went over B and C and were standing at the top of Wildcat D when we could see the storm clouds over Mount Washington and heading straight for us. Fortunately, Wildcat D is also a ski area, so we could just head down one of the beginner ski trails. Except ski trails have lots of metal snowmaking pipes along them and the storm coming in was bringing thunder and lightning with it. We booked it down the ski trails as fast as we could. We were maybe 500 yards down the trail and we looked back and watched a lightning bolt hit where we had been standing just a few minutes before. Fortunately for us, it did not hit near the metal snowmaking pipes, or that would have been a completely different experience.. That was a very scary trip down the mountain. When we got to the bottom, the sun came out, of course.
What have you always wanted to try?
On my personal bucket list is ziplining and skydiving. Ziplining is certainly a possibility. Skydiving is a bit pie in the sky. I just want to try it once. My husband thinks I’m nuts.
I also want to try getting back on a bicycle. It’s easily been 30 years since I’ve been on one and I haven’t been on one since my Acoustic Neuroma surgery. I’m curious if the “it’s as easy as riding a bike” really is true.
What are you looking forward to?
I feel like I missed fall. I”m not usually a big fan of winter, but I’m looking forward to trying more hiking and snowshoeing with my son this year. The couple of times we got out last year were a lot of fun. You just have to pick your days.
Christa, you seem to get a lot of your miles hiking with your family in some breathtaking places. Do you plan these hikes in advance or just go on the spur of the moment?
We really hike a combination of planned and spur of the moment hikes. My husband and I have been hiking together for about 15 years now, and we have hiked all over New Hampshire, so we’re very familiar with many of the mountains and the associated terrain. Some hikes absolutely require planning. For example, you do not want to be caught above treeline in the Presidentials on a bad weather day, so you have to watch the weather and go when the weather presents itself. Other hikes can be as much as 20 miles long, so you want to try to do those in the middle of summer when you have the most daylight. When we were finishing up hiking all of the trails in the Belknap Range last summer/fall, we definitely had to plan our what our hike was going to be to make sure we hit all of the pieces and parts of the trails. Since we usually hike on Saturdays, we will usually wait until we can see a weather forecast on Thursday or Friday and then choose which hike we will do. we ALL have lists of hikes to do and places to check out in the back of our minds (yes, even the 8 year old has one). There have, however, been days when we’ve woken up on Saturday morning and changed our minds and gone somewhere completely different. Or, days we’ve planned to hike and wake up and choose not to and, sometimes, even vice versa. When we go on our camping vacations, we have a list of hikes we’d like to do in the area and have tentatively slotted into certain days, but they’re flexible based on how we’re feeling any given morning. This past summer, we had an unexpectedly humid day and knew we didn’t want to do our planned hike, so we pulled out the map and our trusty guidebook that has ALL the trail descriptions in it and said “hey, this looks reasonably short and flat – let’s go do this”. And, we did.
Do you prefer going out hiking alone or with friends/family? Why?
I, personally, prefer to go out hiking with friends/family. With my hearing and balance issues, it’s not entirely safe for me to be out on many trails alone. I will go out alone on my local Rail Trail or other local trails that I’m familiar with. I will hike a trail alone if I know it’s a popular trail where I will pass many other people if I need assistance. But, I am not comfortable hiking alone in unfamiliar areas. Have I done it? Yes. I just did it last week when I went out to Balance Rock. I didn’t see a soul the entire time I was on that trail. Do I prefer it? No.
Are you enjoying the 365 Mile Challenge?
Yes! The 365 Mile Challenge gives me ideas of places to go see, ways to get miles, and motivation to get outside and just move.
You are a big source of inspiration for the group. What inspires you?
My son inspires me. He soaks up everything, so I am inspired to constantly find new things to try or places to explore to be able to give him a wide variety of experiences and the opportunity to figure out what he likes to do and where he likes to be. We do a ton of hiking in different places, but we’ve also gone to the beach, played disc golf, checked out botanical gardens and animal sanctuaries. I always have a list of things to try. Next year’s goal: get him into a kayak.
Thank you, Christa!