New Ipswich man tackles winter hike of Wapack Trail

  • David Graves of New Ipswich has been chronicling his winter hikes on social media for his grandchildren. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/23/2021 10:29:13 PM

Snow is on the ground, and the weather is cold and crisp. Not ideal hiking weather.

But that doesn’t stop David Graves.

The New Ipswich man is currently on a quest to complete a winter hike of the Wapack Trail, about 22 miles through New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

This winter is Graves first serious foray into the world of winter hiking, so he’s taking his time, splitting the hike into four different sections he and a friend have been tackling as their schedules allow.

“I used to hike a lot when I was younger,” Graves said. “I discovered I had a fear of heights in high school, so naturally, being the person I am, I started to climb mountains. I’m a believer in doing the things that scare you until they don’t anymore.”

Graves said he hadn’t been hiking in years, but about five years ago, picked it up again as an activity to do with his grandchildren when they visit from out of state.

And when they have gone home, Graves said, he wanted to continue, and find a way to still share it with them.

Armed with a camera and camcorder, Graves started hiking more regularly, tackling the state’s list of 48 4,000-foot summits, and recording his progress on his social media accounts, “Hinds Feet on High Places,” referencing the Biblical passage: “The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like hinds' feet, and He will make me walk on my high places.”

“That verse has always spoken to me, and seemed to fit,” Graves said, because hiking is often a spiritual experience for him.

“There’s obviously the physical fitness aspect, and conditioning my body,” Graves said. “But it’s also about taking in the sheer beauty of the world God has given to us. I enjoy going out there with friends and just spending time without the distractions of modern life. There is definitely a spiritual aspect for me.”

His most recent post follow along as he and a friend from his church have been hiking the sections of the Wapack. So far, the duo have completed the trek from the Temple Mountain to the Windblown Cross Country Ski Area in New Ipswich, and in separate hikes, crossed from the Windblown Ski Area to Binney Hill in New Ipswich, and Binney Hill to Mt. Watatic.

Next week, they plan to take on the southernmost quarter of the trail to finish the entire hike.

“I’ve done the Wapack before. This is my first time in the winter. It’s definitely very different. The views and experience is just different in the winter,” Graves said.

Graves said some of his favorite hikes have been early morning endeavors, where he reaches the summit in time to watch the sun come up.

“Someone once said, ‘The mountain is my temple,’ and I get that,” Graves said. “I always feel closer to God in the woods and in the wild places, especially on mountains. We like to take our time. I see people trying for the fastest time. I don’t see the point in that. I don’t see the point in seeing how fast I can do it, if I miss the joy of doing it.”

Graves said he’d like to eventually tackle some of the harder peaks New Hampshire has to offer, and this year’s foray into winter hiking is part of that. It’s a very different venture from hiking during the warm months, he said.

“But the hiking season ended, and I wasn't ready for it to be over,” Graves said.

Between lower temperatures and less traction, it requires extra careful preparation and the right equipment. Graves said he’s been practicing mostly on local trails, in hopes of being able to work up to hikes such as the Presidential Range in the White Mountains, which include the highest peaks in the state.

“By doing small mountains and local hikes, we’re able to learn by trial and error, with a lot less risk,” Graves said.

Graves said he’s well aware of that risk, and he takes the appropriate precautions when hiking, and even more so for winter endeavors.

“The number one thing I can say is respect the mountain. It can sneak up on you. You’ve got to respect the mountain, because it will make you respect it, if you don’t. The mountain will always be there another day. If you’re making an attempt, and something doesn’t sit right, listen to yourself and go back. The mountain will always be there.”

To learn more about Graves and his hikes, follow him on Instagram at www.instagram.com/hinds_feet_on_high_places, FaceBook at www.facebook.com/HindsFeetonHighPlaces, or on YouTube as HindsFeetOnHighPlaces.

Graves is currently running a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Hospital through his YouTube channel. If he raises a total of $1,000 by April 15, he has pledged to shave his head and beard on livestream. Visit tinyurl.com/DavidGraves to participate.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.




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