Meet Jo Biscoe, Single-Season Winter 4,000-footers finisher
Lincoln, N.H. — The Heart of the White Mountains:
“There is nothing — and I repeat, NOTHING — like experiencing these particular mountains in the middle of winter. The morning sunrise on Madison as it lit up Adams, the brilliant sunshine for most of the day, and a stunning warm light illuminating Washington as we headed out from the summit of Monroe!” - Jo Biscoe, Single-Season Winter 4,000-footers finisher
Jo Biscoe is an unlikely peakbagger. Originally from Cornwall, England, where the highest point is only about 1,000 feet, the elementary school teacher in Lisbon, Maine, had little interest in hiking as recently as two years ago.
Yet Jo, who turned 60 this past December, also liked to challenge herself, and when she noticed her friend Andrew Michel’s hiking posts on Facebook, her interest was piqued.
“That could be an interesting lifetime achievement,” she thought.
Jo hiked her first 4,000-footer in November of 2017, when she and Andrew were fortunate enough to enjoy a warm day on Mt. Madison. Once above treeline, the winds almost swept her off her feet, and the rock scrambling brought back pleasant memories of the days she used to spend clambering over the rocks of Cornwall back in England.
The peaks came quickly from there, and less than a year later Jo officially completed the 48 4,000-footers. Her finale came on Oct. 13, 2018, when she summited Mt. Garfield, but her journey wasn’t finished. Not by a long shot.
Jo connected with Philip Carcia, who was just finishing up his historic Single Year Grid and who helped her push her own hiking limits. She completed her first solo Presidential Traverse in the summer of 2019, hiking across the entire Presidential Range in just 13.5 hours. It would have been even quicker too if she hadn’t had to circle back to bag Eisenhower.
Before she knew it, she’d re-hiked half of the 48 by mid-August. So at that point she decided to complete a single-season summer round, finishing it with West Bond on Sept. 22, 2019.
What comes next? Jo knew she needed a new goal to strive for, and with the season beginning to turn, it wasn’t long before she had one. “Why not a single-season winter?”
Jo started with Carrigain on Dec. 22. It wasn’t easy. She felt tired and her pace was sluggish all the way up the 4,700-foot mountain. Could she really do this? The following week she got her answer, when she completed the nearly 20-mile round trip to and from Owl’s Head in the heart of the Pemigewasset Wilderness with enough energy to jog the final few miles out on the Lincoln Woods Trail.
At that point she knew she could do it.
The longest hike of the season was the Presidential Traverse, which was a whole different ballgame in the winter compared to her summer traverse a few months prior. As she approached Eisenhower, she became worried that the trail’s steepness was going to be too much.
“I drew on all the mantras my gym trainer had instilled in me. Dig deep! You can do anything for 30 seconds, which in this case was one foot in front of the other. It’s all in your head,” she said. “Before I knew it we were on top of Eisenhower, sauntering to Pierce and an elated ‘second wind’ had me jogging down the Crawford Path to the finish.”
Jo finished her single-season winter round on March 15, enjoying a nice sunny day on Carter Dome with a double IPA and a cupcake to celebrate. She credited her friends Andrew and Philip for her success, as well as the companionship of so many others who share the same love of the White Mountains and its hiking community.
Her journey is also proof that it’s never too late to find yourself and follow your passions, especially if that passion involves answering the call of the White Mountains.
Burgeon Outdoor was founded in 2019. Burgeon’s mission is to help mountain communities flourish. Burgeon proudly manufactures premium outdoor apparel in Lincoln, NH. By manufacturing locally, Burgeon creates year round jobs in the White Mountains. 5% of Burgeon’s sales support its community and environment efforts. To learn more, please visit our studio at the Village Shops in Lincoln, our website burgeonoutdoor.com or call us at 603-745-7123.