Most kids today will be found playing soccer or video games on the weekends, and for much of their summers. Not 12 y/o Natalie Sisemore, a 7th grader at Sunapee Middle High School. She will regularly be found with her father SY Sisemore, hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. She has been hiking since she first clambered to the top of Mt. Sunapee at the age of 3. Natalie climbed her first 4,000’er, Mt. Moosilauke, at the age of 9, Washington at 10, and Katahdin at 11. On November 12th the summit of Mt. Moriah marked the completion of hiking all 48 of NH’s famed 4,000′ peaks. This is a difficult task for anyone, but for a 12 year old to accomplish it is quite a feat.
“We have had a very busy season, 26 peaks since May this year. Many of them in the rain, clouds, even sleet and hail in June on Mt. Jefferson.” – SY
My daughter has continuously impressed me with her strength, both physical and the strength of self that she has. Her mother, Amber Grantham, and I have never looked at her as a child we are raising, but a future adult. We want her to have the ability to find her own path in the world; and to have the confidence and independance to be herself; and to overcome obstacles and challenges that present themselves along the way. Resilience, flexibility, and a creative approach to what life has to offer.
I have seen her resilience and adaptability grow to levels that surpass many adults I know. She has been intensely independent since birth, always has her own idea of how to do things, and being in the woods is the one place that she will defer to my expertise, usually. I have a strong background and history in the hiking community, and I firmly believe that the finest people on earth can and will be found on the trail. Hiking is where she and I can really bond and learn from each other, she can challenge herself with the understanding that I am there to protect and support her. I gave her the trail name “peanut” when she was much younger, due to her very small build. She is easy to underestimate, and that would be a mistake, she is far stronger, and more capable than her size might indicate.
Her self confidence is matched by her modesty, or humbleness. A great example of this presented itself when she was 10. She came home from school one day very frustrated. I asked what was wrong and she replied BOYS! Haha I suggested this would be an ongoing source of frustration and asked her to explain. She said that some boys had told a bunch of their classmates that they hiked up Mt. Washington, and that girls couldn’t do that. I always made a point to demonstrate to her that being a girl would not prevent her from accomplishing anything she chose to pursue; and that it was never an issue in what we did. I told her we could go do Washington on Saturday if she wanted, and that we did. Up the Tuckerman’s ravine trail we went. She hiked brilliantly and we went down via the Lion Head route. When she came home on Monday from school, I asked if she told her classmates what she accomplished. She said “I don’t need to tell people what I can do, I know.” Oh Snap!
Note: The boys had hiked a much easier path up the mountain.
Her longest hike was this summer’s trek to Owl’s Head, an 18+ mile round trip that is generally regarded as the least pleasant of all the summits due to its remoteness. We did it in a single day with a trek through the woods off trail (known as bushwhacking) to save some time on the way in. She demonstrated her ability to use a compass, and determine direction and our location on the map quite well. She was not impressed with bushwhacking, and prefers to stick to the trail.
While hiking she has learned about many aspects of human interactions unique to hiking, such as the concept of yogi-ing (the art of politely gathering food from other hikers/campers by means of conversation without actually asking for it. ) and hitch hiking. We have been saved some really long road walks due to the kindness of other hikers driving by and giving us a ride. I always return the favor by giving rides whenever we can. On Mt. Garfield she overheard a hiker talking about the really bad weather the day before on the Franconia Ridge. I went to talk to him and found out he was a AT thru-hiker and really needed a ride to Gorham to check on a very ill family member. We gladly drove him to town after we came off the mountain. This is all just part of the hiking community that she is learning to embrace.
Some anecdotes and insight from “Peanut”
some of the biggest challenges i had when hiking was climbing over rocks, since i’m small,ice because it makes the trail slippery,weather, because it always depended on how the weather was for that summit, and the mountain itself, all of them were steep, so I had to work every step of the way.
my most difficult hike would have to be the Flume Slide Trail. it was very steep and rocky, so it was kind of scary, and the rocks were all wet, so that made it harder to get up them.
. i would tell them that getting to the parking lot and just showing up to the mountain won’t get them the reward of a great view and feeling of accomplishment at the top, that you have to work for it every step of the way. the old saying, “One step at a time,” is true, every step gets you that much closer to the top. take your time, you have all day, and there’s no need to rush.
i’ve learned that im a strong, young girl, and that i can do anything i want. i know some people think girls are like snowflakes, unable to do anything for themselves, but im NOT A SNOWFLAKE. i am like an iceberg, strong, but my strength is not easily seen by those who think girls are weak, like baby horses. i can do anything in the world if i really put my mind to it.
im really looking forward to taking a break, and skiing this winter, and having fun with my friends at Mt. Sunapee. me and my dad are planning on taking a little break next year, and just have fun, and spend lots of time with family.
Baltimore Jack, we miss you, and wish you were still here with us. me and my dad finished the 48 4000 fters on November 12, 2017, Baltimore Jack’s birthday, so Happy birthday Uncle Jack.
Note: Baltimore Jack (Jack Tarlin-AKA Uncle Jack) is a legend of the Appalachian Trail having thru-hiked 8 consecutive years. One of our closest friends who passed away a year ago May.
Natalie is very humble and nonchalant about her accomplishment, to her it’s just hiking with dad. She is very confident in her abilities, and one afternoon several hikers were talking about the Appalachian Trail and someone asked if she was “going to try to do it one day.” She replied matter of factly “I’m not going to try, I’m going to do it.”