Wildcat Memories of Mom

Side note from Eric:
My mom was the biggest influence in developing my passion for hiking.  We started hiking together when I was around age 4.  My first mountain was Mount Major.  By age 11, I progressed into bigger and more challenging hikes including Mount Chocura and Franconia Ridge, so my mom felt Mount Washington would be a fun challenge.
My mom had reserved bunk space at Joe Dodge Lodge at the base of the trails to Mount Washington.  We arrived early.  The mountains around us were huge and I was excited to hike something before dinner at 6PM.  An AMC staff member recommended Wildcat Mountain across the street (upon reflection not sure what he was thinking).
This journey became one of my mom’s favorite stories.  Those who know, Wildcat Mountain is among the most challenging and technical climbs on the AT.  We were definitely not in the know at that time.
Even as a kid, I always wanted to get to the top.  I was having a great time scrambling up the steep open ledges.  My mom, not so much but she continued pushing on, likely getting more and more nervous how late it was getting.  We eventually made it to the summit and to my mom’s delight and relief, we were able to catch a ride on the last gondola down to the base (Wildcat is also a ski mountain).
We arrived in time for dinner too.  This also happened to be the first time I met a thru-hiker and learned there was a trail that extended from Georgia to Maine.  The seed to thru-hike the AT had been planted.
Wildcat Mountain had remained a special place throughout my childhood. My mom being a teacher received discounted season ski passes for $99 and would purchase one for my brother and me. We got good use out of those passes each year and have many great memories.
My mom passed away in May 2020.  One of her final resting places is on top of Wildcat Mountain.  We had hoped to camp nearby on the summit during our thru-hike.  Unfortunately, an intense system was going to hit that night so we decided to hike down Wildcat while it was still dry as it is very steep and technical.  It was nice to be in her presence again while on trail even for just a few moments. She was very supportive of my 2011 thru-hike and I know she would be very supportive of our 2022 thru-hike.
She was always excited to be a part of and Hayley’s and my hiking adventures. She was also willing to do anything to help including dropping us off in any place we needed to complete a backpacking trip including  Salisbury, CT and later picking us up again in North Adams, MA and various places in New Hampshire to backpack the Presidential Traverse.
One of my favorite memories was our backpacking trip of 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine. She dropped us off in Monson and was planning on picking us back up in Baxter.  It was by shear coincidence when Hayley and I were finishing our last few miles of the 100 Mile Wilderness when we ran into my Mom near Little Niagara falls.  She was so excited to see us on trail and we gratefully accepted the offer for a hotel room before climbing Mount Katahdin.
We miss her and think about her often. We are glad we had the time we did with her.

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