hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


February 21, 2013

Spurling -- a life of ups and downs


He shared the adrenaline rush with his son on that climb, though his initial hike with a 12-month-old grandson was a bit tamer on the northern peak of Mount Pawtuckaway, safely ensconced in a child-carrying backpack.

“Hopefully, it was the first of many hikes with him,” says Spurling.

The day he nailed Mount Katahdin (the northern apex to the Appalachian Trail), it was in the dead of winter with a trail marked by ice and the nearest plowed road being 12 miles away.

“Attempting it in winter is serious business,” he confirms. “You must be ready to ski or snowshoe 24 miles round trip, but the effort is richly rewarded when you reach the top. No crowds. You have the whole summit to yourself. I hope to make my third trip up this March.”

There’s a method to all this madness — or fun, as Spurling calls it.

“It puts me close to a spiritual experience,” he admits. “I get away from the noise, chaos and clutter of modern day life. The quiet and solitude are priceless.”

Photographer and writer Tom Vartabedian is retired from The Haverhill Gazette. He contributes this regular column.

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