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Managing the White Mountains

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 5:33 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2020 at 8:44 PM EDT
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QUECHEE, Vt. (WCAX) - At the Skinny Pancake, Colin Pope handles the pandemic like most restaurant managers by preparing for the unexpected.

“I kind of like that, because it forces you to adapt on the fly,” Pope said.

That’s also Pope’s mindset away from the restaurant as well as he gets ready for what he says is his hardest physical challenge of his life. This week he begins a journey called the White Mountain Direttissima. Direttissima is Italian for, “direct way.” Pope plans to traverse across all 48, 4,000-foot mountain peaks in the Whites. It’s about 220 miles and 80,000 feet of elevation gain.

“It’s rugged. It’s really unpredictable,” Pope said. “To me, if I’m able to complete this, I know it’s going to feel pretty damn good.”

Pope has been interested in the challenge for about two years. He saw a Facebook post about a man, who in 2016, hiked the continuous route of New Hampshire’s White Mountains in record time, finishing in just over 6 days. If Pope completes the Direttissima, he’ll be one of just more than a dozen to do so.

A Sharon Academy alum, Pope went on to play soccer at Norwich University. In the seven years since graduating from there, he took a class in Wyoming, falling in love with backcountry hiking.

“Every single time I’m out there, something else and something new happens and I really like that variety that broad spectrum of experience is really fulfilling to me,” Pope said.

A running coach helped Pope build his stamina. He’s been putting in between 40-70 miles a week leading up to the Direttissima, mostly in the mountains.

“I’m just really looking forward to environments, experiences, the weather, how I’m going to be feeling emotionally, physically, mentally and all those different variables and how they’re going to tie in together,” Pope said.

Originally, Pope wanted to break a speed record with his trek in the White Mountains, but about six-and-a-half weeks ago, he suffered a severely sprained ankle.”

“And I honestly thought my summer was going to be over,” Pope said.

But Colin’s coach helped him get back on track. So, while the speed record is off the table for now, he’s looking to complete the Direttissima in about 10 days.

“Failure to me is success in progress,” Pope said. With each one of those failures, I’ve always strived to kind of go back to that point to see if I complete it. If I don’t, I know I gave it everything I had.”

You can follow Pope’s progress by clicking here.

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