Michaud had gone from Maine to Rhode Island, where he had a date in Providence with the tourist office. As he chatted with the director, the latter was handed a note. It was a warning that a bomb had been planted in a nearby office, and everyone was evacuated from the building. Michaud got a special escort. By now his uncut hair and beard were making him look like the cartoonist's stereotype of a bomb-lobbing anarchist.
Rhode Island's 812-foot Jerimoth Hill was Michaud's first complete climb since the 43 days on McKinley. He walked up, again with some Girl Scouts, and while demonstrating rock climbing at the top he fell and scratched his wrist. "You can get killed falling live feet," he said this time.
Michaud returned to Maine to reclimb Katahdin, then drove to New Hampshire for 6,288-foot Mt. Washington. His comments about falling live and 10 feet should be posted all over the mountain; Dan Doody climbed Mt. Everest in 1963 and was killed in 1968 on Mt. Washington. In fact, more climbers may have been killed on Washington than on any other mountain in the world. Meteorologists agree that some of the worst weather anywhere is found on its summit, and the highest wind velocity ever measured was recorded there on April 12, 1934—231 mph. On the August day Mitch Michaud climbed Washington, the wind at the summit blew at 55 mph.
Michaud was dismayed by the elaborate tourist facilities at the mountain's base in Pinkham Notch. The Appalachian Mountain Club has a number of buildings there, with a restaurant, rest rooms and showers and enough bunks for 100 people. "This is indicative of what we'll have everywhere in 10 or 20 years," Michaud said. "I have nothing against people, but places like this mean more sewage and more pollution." Mt. Washington was a scenic climb and the weather seemed fine, but Michaud knew its history and respected it. He picked his way along the edge of Tuckerman Ravine, famed for daredevil skiing in the spring. Then, 800 feet below the summit, the way steepened. Large boulders and strong gusts of wind made climbing difficult. Michaud concentrated on the ground ahead. Finally, he looked up to get his bearings. A yellow Volkswagen was moving along the road at the rim of the summit.
Mitch Michaud and Pete climbed the highest mountains in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Massachusetts in four consecutive days. On each of them they moved tirelessly up the steepest grades, over boulders and through brush, rarely breaking stride or stopping to rest. Other climbers, sprawled exhausted along the way, looked puzzled as the pair trudged by.
Now there were 16 climbs to go. Five of the remaining mountains were over 13,000 feet. Michaud knew Montana's 12,850-foot Granite Peak would be a problem. Frank Ashley of Los Angeles, who had climbed the 48 highest in 1969, had been injured on Granite last August. Michaud got to the summit in four days, but on the way down he became ill. He was badly dehydrated, couldn't keep any food down, and he spent two days in a hospital being fed intravenously.
But it was still October, there were only 11 climbs to go now and Michaud was confident. Besides, the worst was far behind. Not his perilous climb in Alaska. Not the tense moments on Granite or Whitney. The really bad time, at least for Michaud's peace of mind, took place back East in September at 55 feet above sea level. On the way from Connecticut to New Jersey, the kids talked him into stopping in New York City for a day. It was one of the worst combinations of all time, Manhattan and Mitch Michaud. He arrived at rush hour and by the time he found a parking space for the camper he was getting a little paranoid. By the next morning he looked terrible, but before fleeing the city he phoned The New York Times sports department to tell them of his project. "Naw," the guy who answered said, "we're only interested in recreational or competitive sports."