Notes from New England v.4 - White Mountains


by Aaron Hughes
(Read Notes from New England v.1
here, v.2 here, v.3 here)

One of the greatest challenges in life for me, that I hope to one day overcome, but which only seems to get worse the further our society delves into providing endless choices for absolutely everything, available anytime you need, is my indecisiveness.

I’m confident I’m not alone in this. I am definitively not the only person paralyzed whilst doing the endless scroll through Netflix or Spotify or standing in line for ice cream. I mean we can literally listen to every song ever recorded whenever we please. It’s hard enough choosing between Miles and Coltrane when I want to listen to jazz, let alone delving into the annals of endless classics recorded exclusively in the late 50’s and early 60’s, but wait, do I want to watch Parks and Rec instead?

New Hampshire’s White Mountains is kind of like the Netflix of hiking. Hosting some of the earliest developed trails in the United States, over the centuries 352 trails have been created in one little National Park.

For someone like me, a total completist, who wants to see and do everything possible, arriving 2-3 hours before dark and having this one afternoon to take in an entire National Park, picking out just one of 352 trails is an absolute nightmare. I have tracked down every Sufjan Stevens song ever recorded and available online, along with everything he’s ever released on vinyl for goodness sake. I cannot randomly choose one trail from hundreds, I need to at least be able to walk the best trail, of which there is no online consensus, but mostly involve 8-hour-plus hikes. We have 2 hours tops. It’s like picking one average Sufjan 7” to be the only thing I can listen to for the rest of my life. Kill me now!

With Shannon’s patience at my procrastination in picking something slowing fading we end up essentially stabbing in the dark and choosing what appears to be a good option for the time we have, in the location we can manage. Of course we weren’t disappointed, as we likely wouldn’t have been with any of the options. Also there is no such thing as an average Sufjan song.

After years spent traveling the world, generally on severely limited time and budget, you’d think I would understand by now that seeing everything a place has to offer, or even managing to somehow see the best of a place, does not guarantee the most enjoyment. I’m slowly learning to appreciate that there is no ‘best’ or ‘correct’ choice when it comes to selecting a road to drive, a podcast to listen to or a trail to hike. It’s about making the most of the choices you do make, and this day we pushed through the paralyzation and made the most of it.