This year, the EMS team is taking on Mount Washington for the 23rd annual Seek the Peak! This annual gathering of New Hampshire’s hiking and outdoor community at large is the premiere fundraising event for the Mount Washington Observatory (MWObs), a 91-year-old climate and weather research institution based at the summit of the Northeast’s largest peak. Eastern Mountain Sports is a longtime sponsor and outfitter of the non-profit, and is also a presenting sponsor for this year’s Seek the Peak fundraising event. Below, we highlight event details and sit down with EMS Traveling Manager Heather Patterson, who will be leading the EMS team this year.

goEast: Thanks for meeting today, Heather! We’re super excited to have an EMS fundraising team this year. Can you tell us a bit about you, your background, and what you’re most looking forward to for this year’s event?

Heather: I am an outdoor lover and weather enthusiast. I hike every year with my brother up in Crawford Notch but also enjoy visiting my local home trails in Rhode Island and Connecticut, where I can bring my dog, Kahlua, who is an excellent hiking buddy.

I came across Seek the Peak on my own and was going to participate anyway, and per usual with my hiking trip ideas, convinced my brother he needed to come. I then realized this could be a great opportunity to have an EMS team since we’ve never had one before. Recently back with the company as a traveling Store Manager, I thought it would be a great way to tie together all my favorite things. I am really looking forward to this hike and, although we could have hiked anywhere for the fundraiser, it was really important to me to hike Mount Washington because I never have before and it seemed like the right opportunity and a wonderful reason to do so. I also think it’ll be a great opportunity for other people who want to join the team to know that you can still come and do it for your first time. We’ll be experiencing and exploring together. It’ll be a great adventure. I am most looking forward to meeting the other team members that will join me and the hike itself.

Heather and her brother on Cannon Mountain

goEast: What is your plan for this year’s hike? Do you have routes figured out, a timeline, etc.? Are you doing any training hikes?

Heather: I’m still mapping out the route but with some advice from colleagues and friends who have hiked it before, I have a pretty good idea. I wanted a route that was scenic but not extremely challenging. We’ll start between 7 and 8 am, and I expect the hike to take about 7-8 hours—which will get us back in time to clean up and then hit the Après Hike Party. For training, I’ve been doing mostly endurance exercises when hiking, since RI and CT don’t have a ton of elevation. However, my experiences hiking in and around the Crawford Notch and Franconia area should hopefully come in handy.

goEast: The Mount Washington Observatory team offers free tours of the weather station for participants. Have you checked it out before, or will you be this year?

Heather: I did not know that but will definitely be checking it out! I am a huge weather fanatic and it has always been a goal of mine to go there.

goEast: We’ve talked a bit about gear for hiking Mount Washington in the spring and summer. Do you have any must-have pieces you take along?

Heather: Water! Haha— But seriously, water. Especially with the uncertainty of weather and the time of year. I’ll be hiking with a 3-liter water bladder. Also, a first aid kit, sunscreen, and bug spray—the essentials. My guilty pleasure is a beer. I like to carry one up and crack it open on the peak or wherever my hiking destination is. It’ll probably be the EMS x Outerlight collab for this trip, Klinkii. I also take Clif bars and Nuun tablets. And an apple or banana. And I’ve learned to always take a rain jacket. You can ask my brother about the trip where we did not bring one and now I’ll never go anywhere without it!

goEast: How else do you prepare for a hike above 4,000 feet? Do you have any tips for someone who might be doing so for the first time?

Heather: Since I am doing a hike this big for the first time, my tip would be to research and try to be prepared as much as possible. Be patient with yourself as well. Give yourself time to enjoy it. It’s not a race. Know what you want to get out of it and know your body. I personally have a tough time with elevation when it comes to breathing, so I’m practicing endurance and breathing techniques on my hikes. I also have an injury in my left leg that slows me down and I have to be careful about taking too much impact while hiking. Know your limits. If possible, take a practice hike above 4,000 feet so you can use that to measure your performance and what you need to work on.

goEast: Thanks, Heather! We’ll see you at the after-party down at the base! You can join and/or support Heather and Team EMS here. Find more event details here and below.

  • Fundraise: Register as an individual or part of a team, then share a link to your personal fundraising page with friends, family, and colleagues asking for donations to support your hike as well as the Observatory’s work in weather forecasting, research, and education. Your commitment to this event allows MWObs to provide hikers like yourself with vital weather information to stay safe in the White Mountains.
  • Hike: Whether you participate as a team or individual, plan to summit Mount Washington, visit other beautiful White Mountain vistas, or seek your own peak at home, rallying your supporters to donate in honor of your hiking challenge makes you a part of the vibrant MWObs community.  
  • Celebrate: After your hike, gather with fellow participants and MWObs supporters for the Après Hike Party on Saturday, July 15, at Great Glen Trails. Enjoy live music, food trucks, a beer garden, and an epic gear raffle. For friends and family not registered to hike, admission tickets will be available on the registration pages.
Seek the Peak 2022's Après Hike Party Gear Raffle
2022’s Après Hike Party Gear Raffle

Also, Hike and Make Friends is a new initiative that gives hikers the option to be paired with up to 3 other participants of similar ability level, in order to complete a hike of their choosing. Participants registering for this option must be able to do their hike on July 15 and meet at the registration area at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center at their designated registration time. By selecting to participate in Seek the Peak via the Hike and Make Friends option, participants agree to have their email shared with up to 3 other participants to coordinate hiking routes beforehand. Participants may choose to do any hike they prefer and are advised to chat with a trail steward, MWObs volunteer, or AMC staff member upon arrival at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center to assess trail conditions and review the selected route.

Keep in mind that the Mount Washington Auto Road offers a one-way shuttle service to hikers who want a ride down from or up to the summit of Mount Washington. They will have extra shuttles ready for Seek the Peak hikers on July 15 for those who want a ride. Cost is $55 per passenger and may be purchased from the Auto Road on a first come, first served basis on the day of the event at either the Summit Stage Office or the Stage Office in the base lodge of Mount Washington Auto Road (for those wanting a ride to the summit).

See you out there!