For the 48 Over 70 Club, Age Is But a Number
For a small group of local hikers, age pales in comparison to elevation.
The 27 members of the 48 Over 70 club have summited all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot-plus peaks—after turning 70. The first person to accomplish the feat did so in 2011, and since then, several have completed the challenge twice, four have done it all during winter, and, incredibly, two climbed all 48 peaks in a single winter.
Dick Widhu, 74, helped start the challenge a few years back, when he was part of a hiking group led by Carl Rosenthal. “A lot of the members of this group are retired, so a number of us were turning 70,” Widhu remembers. “I was joking around with one of them about, ‘Oh, we should make a patch for everybody who does all the 4,000-footers over the age of 70.'”
Joking turned to reality, and Widhu now awards each intrepid hiker a slightly unconventional patch (below) when he or she conquers the 48th mountain. “I took the international hikers’ symbol and added a walker to it,” he chuckles. “Most of the people got the joke. A few people were a little offended.”
Widhu, a Nashua, New Hampshire, resident who hikes twice a week, has completed the challenge himself, though he says 4,000-footers aren’t really his speed these days. (He’s embarked upon a new project: visiting the highest point in each town in New Hampshire. So far, he’s checked 149 off his list.)
So what’s the secret to joining the 48 Over 70 club? “Keep working at it,” Widhu says. “If possible, find some friends to join you, to help make the journey easier with good conversation and encouragement.”
Even when you get that illustrious patch, the journey may not be over. Just don’t ask Widhu to be your hiking buddy.
“Some people have been joking about doing one for over 80,” he laughs, “but I’m not going to get involved in that.”
Email Dick Widhu at [email protected] for more information.