Presidential Range

A hiker on Wildcat Mountain high above Carter Notch in the White Mountains, N.H.

The Hardest 20 Miles: A Dayhike Across New Hampshire’s Rugged Wildcat-Carter-Moriah Range

By Michael Lanza

We’re moments from embarking on one of the hardest, long dayhikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire when we come to a screeching stop before our first teenager moment. My 16-year-old nephew, Marco, discovers his hydration bladder mouthpiece is cracked and unusable. Then I notice he’s carrying a one-liter bladder from an old, little kid’s daypack he used years ago—hardly enough water capacity for a 20-mile day traversing eight summits. Fortunately, we’re starting today’s hike at the Appalachian Mountain Club visitor center in Pinkham Notch, so we buy him a three-liter bladder. Then I see that his daypack belt has no buckle; he insists it’s fine, but I persuade him that the dollar spent on a new buckle will feel like money well invested by around mile 10.

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