Hiker Intro: Meet Bananamasher – the Photographer Exploring the Northeast

I’m Matt aka Bananamasher. The name comes from the fact that I often misplace bananas in my sack and find them once they are all mushed up. I have since moved on to dried banana chips. I’m a photographer and micro-explorer based out of Boston who beertends at a local rock’n’roll brewery, Bone Up Brewing Company, just north of the city. When I’m not at the brewery or hiking, you can usually find me at music venues snapping away at the bands performing. This year, I am thru-hiking the 92-mile Midstate Trail in Massachusetts in the spring and aiming to complete the NH48 ending with the Pemi Loop in the White Mountains.

Growing up and living in a city does not leave you with many places to seek solitude in nature. Sure there are wonderful reservations, arboretums, small parks, and even a few garden cemeteries around, but more often than not, there are (several) people in close proximity. A few years ago I began strolling around in the Middlesex Fells Reservation, one of the larger patches of woods near me, which led to climbing a few smaller mountains with friends such as Greylock in Massachusetts and Monadnock in New Hampshire. Seeking more of an adventure with a desire for a more profound experience, I decided to go on my first solo trek – to summit Mount Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont. Coming around the bend and seeing the summit through the clouds took my breath away. I guess you could say it was all downhill from there.

The summit of Mount Mansfield hidden in the mist. (2016)

Upon my return home, I chased the feeling of adventure by looking at the White Mountains in New Hampshire and discovered all the challenges you can do and figured I’d start where most others begin, with hiking all forty-eight of the 4,000+ foot mountains (the NH48). Soon day trips turned into overnighters as I bagged peak after peak. Considering I was hopping around different regions of the national forest and not repeating any trails, I noticed my mileage was adding up and decided to mix in doing the guidebook tracing challenge. This way I can plan trails accordingly to maximize gains and avoid repeats. At the time of this posting, the guidebook tracing (formally dubbed redlining) goes by the 30th edition of the White Mountain Guide and consists of 1,454 miles of trail. Currently, I have 19 summits and roughly 90% of trails remaining.

With my interest in backcountry hiking and camping steadily increasing and my adoration for hikers trekking along the Appalachian Trail, led me to discover smaller long trails near and far like the Long Trail, Bay Circuit Trail, Finger Lakes Trail, and the Midstate Trail. With photography in mind, I am always seeking majestic scenes and strive to find locations and settings that are rarely tapped and often looked over. My approach is slower, and far from setting FKTs, but to embrace the scenery and the experience along the way. Future hikes include strolls around Acadia, The Adirondacks, and Baxter State Forest.

My favorite cereal to eat in the White Mountains, Fruity Pebbles! (2020)

In a couple of days, I set out for the 92-mile footpath known as the Midstate Trail which cuts the state of Massachusetts in half spanning fourteen towns from the New Hampshire border to the Rhode Island border. The trail passes through local parks, state forests, wildlife management areas, private (mostly farm) land with permission, and even a federal flood control project maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a less popular trail and not really setup for thru-hikes as the established shelters can be few and far between, the longest stretch would be a 30+ mile day, but a few campsites sprinkle the path. I’ll go more into detail about the Midstate Trail in my next post, go over some gear, and get into Day 1.


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