A million years ago, when I was in sixth or seventh grade, I played a very minor role in my middle school’s production of Fiddler on the Roof, which is only semi-relevant to the story that follows in that the sole thing I remember from the show is its opening number, and I can no longer think of a winter hike up Mount Tecumseh without my brain immediately sing-screaming “TRADITIIOONNN!” at me.

How It Started

Like most traditions, I don’t even actually remember how or why we started doing this. There was a brief period of time (perhaps two or three years) in which I was a New Year’s Day 5k kind of girl, and I can vaguely recall doing other outdoorsy things—hiking, snowboarding, maybe ice climbing?—on most New Year’s Days (the one exception I can think of is the year a friend and I did our own little “yoga crawl” and squeezed in as many classes as we could at all our favorite studios). But in 2018, my husband, Tim, and I decided to begin our year by venturing up Mount Tecumseh, and that’s how we’ve spent every New Year’s Day since.

Year of Accidentally Starting a New Tradition: 2018

My best guess for how this all began is that, in 2017, we did a Tecumseh hike/skin-and-ski trip on January 2nd with our friend Doug, and one of us—likely me—was probably like, “Aw man, we should have done this yesterday, it would be a fun way to start the year” and then the following year we made it happen. My second-best guess is that Tim and I had just adopted a dog a few weeks earlier and couldn’t be away on an all-day adventure, so we went for the option we knew would only take us a few hours. Either way, on January 1, 2018, the three of us hiked Tecumseh and our new New Year’s Day tradition was born.



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Year of the Sidewalk Chicken: 2019

Winter was actually wintry at this point that year, so 2019’s New Year’s Day plan consisted of Tim and Doug skinning up the Mount Tecumseh Trail while I trudged behind in snowboard boots and snowshoes, then “stealthily” cutting across to Waterville Valley on the Sosman Trail for a fun descent on the ski slopes. Since we weren’t simply hiking, it meant that the dogs—the neurotic 3-year-old mini Aussie Tim and I had rescued at Christmastime in 2017 and the 9-year-old Aussie we adopted just weeks previously to be his emotional support—would have to be left alone, which meant they needed a nice, long walk before we left.

There are two things I remember about this second Tecumseh-on-New-Year’s trip: it was the only one where the “ski down” part of the plan was successful, and two blocks into my tire-out-the-dogs-before-we-leave walk, I had to pry half of a rotisserie chicken out of their disgusting little mouths.

New Year Tradition
Honestly, being able to share this absurd photo was the real reason I wanted to write about this tradition at all. | Credit: Ashley Peck

Year of the “Ice Coast” Slander Being 1000% True: 2020

As evidenced by the fact that A) I only have photos of the ascent from our third New Year’s Tecumseh trip, and B) we haven’t even bothered packing skis/snowboards since then, the skiing in 2020 was trash. Lots of snow in the woods all along the Mount Tecumseh Trail and the Sosman had gotten our hopes up, but when we popped out of the trees at the top of Waterville’s summit runs, we were greeted with nothing but ice as far as the eye could see/the ear could hear dull edges scraping against while desperately seeking even the teeniest bit of purchase. The parking lot beers tasted extra delicious after surviving such treachery though, so at least there was that.

Hiking as a New Year's Tradition
Cutting across the Sosman Trail. It’s all fun and games until the snow is ice instead. | Credit: Ashley Peck

Year of the Dog: 2021

Doug broke with tradition in year four—and, as previously mentioned, we weren’t going to bother attempting to ski down after the previous year’s letdown and the clear evidence that winter just gets to New England later now—so Tim and I let our younger dog, Flurry, tag along on 2021’s hike. Flurry was in peak hiking shape, thanks to the pandemic leaving us with not much else to do but bring him to the mountains in 2020, and he loves the snow, so I’m pretty sure he had the most fun out of the three of us. As for me, I didn’t have to wrestle an animal carcass out of anyone’s mouth and I didn’t nearly kill myself snowiceboarding, so it was wins all around that year.

New Year's Treat
Flurry is the master of patiently waiting to get his high-five, and also of eating summit snacks. | Credit: Ashley Peck

Year of the White Room: 2022

Full disclosure: this one was a mere two months after my dad’s sudden passing and I was a mess. I remember absolutely nothing from the fifth iteration of our New Year’s Tecumseh adventure. My photos show that Doug was back in the band (yay!) but the weather was weird and there was zero visibility at the summit (boo!). Doug insists he showed up at our house that morning with his ski stuff only to realize that conditions were going to be terrible, then borrowed a pair of Tim’s boots to hike with us. Tim initially agreed, then “spent entirely too much time” studying the photos and concluded that the boots Doug is wearing in them are not borrowed.

Who knows? Who cares! What matters is that the tradition lived on.

Their album has been pushed back a few times, but it’ll drop eventually. | Credit: Ashley Peck

Year of Sharing the Fun: 2023

Doug didn’t make it again in year six, but my cousin did! Conditions were weird again—oddly warm, very little snow on the ground, no views at the summit—but the company was delightful, and we did see a pretty amazing rainbow on the drive out of Waterville Valley. My favorite moment of this year’s hike, however, was actually the night before when my cousin and I were texting and she asked if I thought she’d need snowshoes or “those things that go around my boots…crampons? Is that how it’s spelled?” I told her that just MICROspikes would be sufficient and assured her that she had indeed spelled “crampons” correctly, to which she replied: “It looked too much like tampons so I wasn’t sure🤣

Hiking Mount Tecumseh
I’ll keep my climate change thoughts to myself for now, but January 1 in New England looking like shoulder season is very much NOT COOL. | Credit: Ashley Peck

How It’s Going

I haven’t heard rumblings of doing anything else to ring in the new year, so I assume 2024 will begin the same way the past six years have: slogging up this silly little mountain that has somehow remained one of our favorite 4000-footers despite having done it more times than we can count (besides New Year’s Day, we head to Tecumseh at least 2-3 times a year) and the fact that it’s technically not even a 4000-footer anymore. But just like Pluto will always be a planet in my heart, so too will Mount Tecumseh always be one of the 48. All that’s left to be determined is which of our friends—whether two-legged or four—will join us this time.