Maggie & Molly, the 48
Chaski Coach Maaggie Fox is a competitive track, road, and trail runner, as well as a long-time running coach. Maggie has also been on the USATF New England board of directors since ’16 and currently holds the position of Vice President. She's a member of Greater Boston Track Club since 2012 and has represented the team at multiple National Championships. Maggie recently got her Masters Degree in Sports Administration last 2021. Aside from coaching at Chaski, she is the new full time assistant XC/ track & field coach at Babson College.
New Hampshire has 48 mountains that are over 4,000 feet in elevation, and at any one point in time, thousands of hikers are working towards their goal of climbing them all. Read through to know why and how Coach Maggie summitted all 48.
During all the horribleness that comes with dying in a hospital from stage IV lung cancer, my 58 year old dad was lamenting things that would never come to pass: how he would never meet his grandchildren or my future spouse and how he would never grow old with my mom. Instead of thinking about these very big things, he fixated on some very little things like how he would never know how The Walking Dead ends, and how he would never get his 4000 footers patch.
There are 48 mountain peaks in New Hampshire over 4,000 feet. If you climb them all, The Appalachian Mountain Club awards you a patch. My dad made it to somewhere around 30 peaks before multiple knee surgeries, and ultimately his hip and knee replacements slowed him down. He always figured he had more time. It's such a stupid thing to regret, but it was causing him distress in the moment. So, I said I'd do it for him.
"I never had any intention of summitting all 48..."
He was a Marine (“Once a Marine Always a Marine” and all that) and was in the National Guard for many years. He did outdoorsy things with us, but I would never have considered myself an avid hiker. I grew up with once-a-year backpacking trips with him and car camping trips which included my mom and siblings. There wasn’t a lot of vert involved in either.
In 2015, before he was diagnosed, he helped me plan my first backpacking trip without him. The hike was exhilarating and I found that I was pretty good at it. He talked about the list of 4000 footers, so I picked those to climb next, but I never had any intention of summitting all 48 until he was dying.
This “mission”, if you will, has made all these hiking trips so much more meaningful. I was able to complete eight peaks while he was still with us, but he was right there with me for the other 40. I think of him regularly, but specifically when I'm up in these mountains. It made it harder at times, emphasizing his absence, but now I have all these beautiful memories even after he's been gone. And it feels like he shared them with me.
I did not undertake this journey alone. My cousin and former NCAA DI lax player, Rachel (Fox) Nabhan, completed nine of the peaks with me. Not only was she the winner for most peaks in my 48, she was the best confidante and personal hype man I could ask for.
Amanda Wright and DJ Raboin impressed the hell out of me with our six peaks in two days- though, I may never get Amanda to hike with me again! Stephen Imparato climbed five of the peaks with me and shared the coldest night of my life on Liberty. Thank you for giving me your extra gloves for my feet!
My brother, Joe Fox Jr., hiked three of the peaks with me in one day and was willing to humor me and play personal photographer. Jimmy Hamel shared two peaks in the Presidentials and made us take a full-on nap on the mountain, a first for me. Grace Polak and Matt Pelletier climbed two peaks with me and will forever be appreciated and remembered as the ones who shared my first 4000 footer.
Lastly, Ian Wright can claim one and a half peaks with me, both of which will be remembered when all the others blur together. He and DJ ran down Waumbek with me, sharing my first real mountain running experience and inspiring subsequent forays in the MUT world. Ian also hiked halfway up Isolation, only to be turned around by multiple feet of May snow still on the peak; it is the only trip that I didn’t bag a single peak.
Mount Washington was my final peak. It certainly wasn’t the most difficult climb, and in truth it didn’t have the most beautiful views. It was overcrowded and very built up in the most “Disney World” fashion for a mountain peak. It even had lines! However, it was the perfect finish because my hiking-averse family was able to ride the Cog Railway to the summit and share the moment with me. Rachel hiked with me, and my mom, my aunt & uncle, my brother, and my sister's whole family were all there at the top. It has taken seven years to achieve this goal and they have been the best supportive cheerleaders. I can’t imagine finishing any other way.
"She made me brave and was the best companion..."
Not to leave her out, Molly is the fittest and toughest dog on the planet. She finished all 48 with me- and all a week before her eighth birthday. We ran Waumbek, Cabot, Hale, and the Lincoln Woods section of Owl’s Head. We had lots of hiking buddies, but 20 of the peaks we hiked solo, and we had 10 overnights. The bear bell on her pack kept all sorts of wildlife away and her occasional deep “woofs” at night kept me safe in our tent. She made me brave and was the best companion. We hiked slower this last year and her once full pack carried little more than her bowl and paw wax since I’ve started carrying all her food and water. She started this with me and I’m so happy and impressed that she was able to finish it as well.
People have asked me, “What’s next?” Truth be told I thought my mountain climbing days were going to be behind me by the time I finished this list. It started as a promise and has transformed into a lifelong relationship. I am itching to get back out there and visit all the little mountains, offshoots, and waterfall trails I skipped along the way in my tunnel vision for the 4000 footers. I may take a break from devoting my summer weekends to mountain hiking these next few years, but I have a lifetime ahead of me. Afterall, there is another patch for the 67 peaks over 4000 feet in New England, and I am a sucker for checking off a list.
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